Friday, August 17, 2018

August 17, 1976 -- Conrad Hilton Sniper Wounds Two

August 17, 1976 –A sniper opens fire on a crowd in front of the Conrad Hilton Hotel, wounding two people.  Witnesses say that as many as five shots may have been fired from an elevated sidewalk across the street in Grant Park.  William Charnota, an elevator starter at the hotel at 720 South Michigan Avenue, is grazed in the back of the leg by a bullet, and a minister from San Diego, in town for the Convention of the International Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, is wounded in the hip.  The minister’s wife says, “I wasn’t too keen on coming here in the first place.  I’ve heard all about Chicago and unfortunately it all came true, too true for me.”  Charnota says, “Everybody was falling down, hitting the sidewalk.  When you see all that, you know it’s not just firecrackers. It was pretty crowded.  I guess he figured he had a good target.  It happened in seconds.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 18, 1976] Although a witness describes the assailant to police, darkness and confusion allow the gunman to escape.  In the above Chicago Tribune photo, police search the area in Grant Park across the street from the Conrad Hilton Hotel.

August 17, 1982 – Preliminary plans for transforming Goldblatt’s closed store on State Street into the Chicago Public Library are unveiled at the Library Board of Director’s meeting.  City architect Joseph Casserly declares that a plaza at the Jackson Street entrance to the building is part of “a design that will give a new, highly imaginative identity to the building.” [Chicago Tribune, August 18, 1982] The plan also has the city demolishing the Kee Department Store on the corner of Jackson Boulevard and State Street, thereby making a Jackson Boulevard entrance to the library feasible.  It is anticipated that the main library will begin moving its collection into the renovated department store sometime in January of 1984.  The top photo shows an artist's rendering of what the converted department store would look like once it became the new main library.  The photo below that shows how close the new library on State Street south of Van Buren is to the proposed Goldblatt's conversion.

August 17, 1950 – A homeless Navy veteran, James Wagster, 45, leaps into the Chicago River from the Lake Shore Drive Bridge, setting in motion a remarkable series of events that ultimately saves him from death.  Birdell Grant, 28, comes upon Wagster as he stands on the bridge, looking down at the water.  Grant, just released from the prison at Statesville and having been rejected for jobs at 25 places, asks Wagster for directions to an office where he can apply for work as a stevedore.  Wagster’s answer is a question . . . he asks Grant if he has a drink on him.  When Grant replies that he dioes not, Wagster announces that he is going to get one and jumps from the bridge.  Grant, who suffers from a bone ailment for which he has undergone five operations, runs down the bridge stairs to the water’s edge, removing his shirt and shoes on the way, and jumps in the water, suffering cramps just as he reaches Wagster.  Two passing motorists hear the commotion and they, too, jump in the water and swim 60 yards to the two men.  By that time the two bridge tenders, Jack Northrup and Leo Loughran, toss life preservers to the men and a Coast Guard boat arrives to help all four men ashore.  In his efforts Grant loses his last 15 cents;  one of the bridge tenders gives him money for his transportation back home.  Wearing only shorts and wrapped in a police blanket, Wagster, when asked in South State Street Court why he had jumped, tells the judge, “Judge, I must be crazy.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 17, 1950]

Thursday, August 16, 2018

August 16, 1965 -- United Air Lines Flight 389 Crashes Off Highland Park

August 16, 1965 –United Air Lines Flight 389, carrying 24 passengers and a crew of six, disappears from radar screens only five minutes from its scheduled arrival at O’Hare International Airport.  Boats searching the lake about seven miles off Highland Park are hampered by darkness, but twisted pieces of wreckage are reported.  The last communication with the flight occurs at 9:18 p.m. as the O’Hare control tower gives directions for approach to the airport, receiving a “Roger” from the pilot.  Search plans and helicopters drop flares in an attempt to illuminate the search area, and by 1:00 a.m. more than 20 vessels are there, many of them private boats from yacht clubs along the North Shore.  A temporary morgue is also set up in the gymnasium of Highland Park High School. The plane had only been in service for three months at the time of the crash.  Three months later another Boeing 727 crashes on approach to Cincinnati, killing 62 of the 66 passengers on board.  Three days after that United Airlines Flight 227, another 727, crashes on landing at Salt Lake City International Airport, killing 43 of 91 on board.  There is widespread concern that the Boeing 727, first flown in 1963, is an accident waiting to happen.  Extensive review, however, reveals that the airplane is airworthy and properly certified. Those reviews also reveal that pilots, accustomed to flying DC-6’s and other propeller planes, were having trouble adjusting to the rapid descent of the new plane.  The Federal Aviation Agency subsequently required airlines to make changes in training procedures to emphasize the importance of stabilized approaches. The above Chicago Tribune photo shows the crowd gathered on a Highland Park beach, awaiting word from the search area.

August 16, 1893 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that the Art Institute of Chicago and the Armour Institute have joined forces “for the purpose of establishing in Chicago a full and thorough course of study in architecture.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 16, 1893] W. M. R. French will direct the Art Institute coursework, and the Reverend F. W. Gunsaulus will handle the work for the Armour Institute.  The Art Institute library in 1893 had 1,300 books and 19,000 photographs with 200 books and 1,000 photographs relating directly to the subject of architecture.  The Armour Institute had 10,000 volumes in its library as well as physical and chemical laboratories and courses of study in electricity, mining, and mechanical engineering.  Director French says of the decision, “The Armour Institute, under the Presidency of the Rev. F. W. Gunsalulus, has laid out courses of technical study of the highest order. The departments of mechanical engineering, electricity, civil engineering, etc., are equal to those of the Institute of Technology of Boston, and the laboratories, shops, library, and appliances are in accord with the most approved and modern practice in technical schools.  There are already 500 applicants to enter the various departments upon the opening of the first school year, Sept. 14.”  William French is shown above at the easel. Reverend Gunsaulus is the man at the desk in the photo below that.

August 16, 1978 – In an editorial the Chicago Tribune states its opposition to a recommendation by the Chicago branch of the American Association of Architects that a way be found to preserve Chicago’s Loop elevated structure.  The paper asserts, “Anyone who finds a resemblance between Chicago’s elevated and San Francisco’s cable cars must have been standing at Lake and Wabash so long that the screeching has softened his brain.  No way can the “L” be considered charming, quaint, fun, or attractive to visitors . . . There is no good reason, either sensible or sentimental, to preserve the “L” one day longer than is economically unavoidable.  The noisy, dirty eyesore is of no architectural value and will interfere with the practical and esthetic pleasures and profitability of both the State Street mall and the North Loop renewal plan.”     

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

August 15, 1893 -- Grant Park Workers' Mass Meeting

August 15, 1893 –A mass-meeting of unemployed workers is held at 2:30 p.m. at the Columbus Statue in the Lake-Front Park, today’s Grant Park.  The gathering, organized by the Allied Woodworkers’ Trades Council, is made up of delegates of various trades, among them cabinet makers, piano varnishers and finishers, upholsterers, carvers, box makers, and sash, door and blind makers. The call to the meeting suggests it will deal with the questions: (1) Why are we idle and how can we be furnished employment; (2) Is it men or conditions we have to deal with; and (3) Shall we warn the unemployed of other cities, towns and States to stay away from Chicago or shall we let them come? [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 15, 1893] The Depression to which the workers are responding could possibly have been the worst in the country’s history. Even as the great World’s Columbian Exposition was drawing millions to Chicago, the nation’s gold reserves fell steeply, touching off a financial panic that closed four thousand banks by the end of the year.  Some fifty railroads failed in the crisis, a fact that hit Chicago, the railroad capital of the nation, particularly hard.  Unemployment climbed to 20 percent, and Chicago police were stationed at railroad stations to keep the unemployed from coming into the city. It would not be until 1897 that things would begin to improve. 

August 15, 1860 – The Chicago Press and Tribune provides its annual review of the city’s fire department, introducing its inventory with a homage to “the gallant wearers of red shirts and fire hats, that on the occasion of a jingling of wild bells in an alarm of fire, used to start up from all corners and nooks, and come dashing up areas and round corners …”  [Chicago Press and Tribune, August 14, 1860] The fire department took a leap forward in 1858 when it purchased the first steam-powered fire engine, dubbed the “Long John” after the nickname of the mayor, “Long John” Wentworth.  In the two years that followed, “… hand machines have been sold to other cities, costly hose carts have sought the rural districts to be the wonder of the smaller communities, the steam machines with a few hand engines and hose carts located in different remote sections of the city …” constitute the fire department, manned by paid professionals.  With just a few strokes of a bell, the paper reports, “… in less than two minutes steam engines with attendant hose carriages … all drawn by over thirty powerful horses are in the streets moving at a hard gallop toward the scene of conflagration.”  A partial inventory of the department includes: (1) The Long John, drawn by four horses and housed on LaSalle Street near Washington.  The engine has a force of eleven men, including an engineer, a fireman, two drivers, five pipemen, and an engine house watchman.  (2) The Enterprise, a Seneca Falls machine housed on State Street near Harrison, drawn by four horses with the same complement of personnel as the Long John.  (3) The Atlantic, a Seneca Falls machine housed on Michigan Avenue near the river with four horses and a force of eleven.  (4) The Island Queen, a third Seneca Falls machine, housed on West Lake Street with four horses and a crew of eleven.  (5) The U. P. Harris, a Philadelphia machine, housed on Jackson Street near Clinton on the west side with four horses and eleven crew members.  (6) The Little Giant, a moskeag machine, housed on Dearborn Street near Washington with two horses and eleven crew members.  The Long John, with forty pounds of steam pressure, could produce four streams of water through 100 feet of hose horizontally 150 feet; with sixty pounds of steam pressure two streams of water could be thrown 160 feet horizontally. The machine weighed five tons and cost about $5,000.  The Long John is shown in the above photo.

August 15, 1911 – As 50,000 watch the third day of the Aero meet being held in Grant Park, two accidents take the lives of aviators and silence the crowds.  Mike Badger of Pittsburgh, flying a Baldwin biplane, dies as he executes a low-level flyover of Grant Park, ending with a dramatic climb that tears his plane apart.  The plane falls 50 feet and the wealthy daredevil dies at St. Luke’s Hospital.  St. Croix Johnstone, flying a Moisant monoplane, dies as his plane falls into Lake Michigan a little after 6:00 p.m. about a mile off shore opposite Twelfth Street.  He is attempting to do a corkscrew maneuver when 800 feet above the lake the “spidery monoplane tipped a bit, shot downward with a sickening swoop, overturning just before it splashed In the water.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 16, 1911]   Before he goes up on that day, Badger holds a wide-ranging interview with a Tribune reporter, saying, “That’s the nuttiest idea people have about aviators.  They think they don’t mind death at all.  Why, I set just as much store by my life as you do.  I love life.  They think we go out of our way to invite death.  They say we don’t take ordinary precautions.  I don’t consider that I take one chance in 10,000 with my life . . . You must be sure of your machine.  I am sure of mine.  You must be sure of your good muscle and your clear brain.  I am sure of mine.”

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

August 14, 1936 -- Benjamin Marshall Home Sold to Nathan Goldblatt

August 14, 1936 –Nathan Goldblatt signs a contract for the purchase of the residence built by Benjamin Marshall in Wilmette on Sheridan Road opposite the Baha’i Temple. It is reported that Marshall, the architect who designed the Drake Hotel, the South Shore Country Club and the Blackstone Theater and a host of other impressive buildings, had reportedly spent over a million dollars on the home and its furnishings.  The Spanish-influenced home commanded a view of Lake Michigan … the Sheridan Shores Yacht Club used the home’s basement as its clubhouse. Marshall’s work studio had a space for 45 draftsmen.  The home had a 50-foot-high, 75-by-100-foot tropical garden with palm and banana trees. The home’s swimming pool was lined with turquoise tiles from Algiers. Goldblatt reportedly paid $60,000 for the home but did not stay there long, and in 1950 Wilmette had the home razed.  Only the wrought-iron gates remain on the property, which is today owned by the Baha’i Temple.

August 14, 1960 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that a building at 739 North State Street has been raised, and the rubble is made up of the remains of the flower shop that Dion O’Banion ran, a place “where murders, boot-legging, and hi-jackings were planned amidst flowering plants and the scent of roses.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 14, 1960] Ironically, at the time “the same building that once served as the headquarters of a bloody band of killers during the guzzling decade of the twentieth century” was most recently used as a meeting place for the Young People’s club of Holy Name Cathedral.  In April of 2017 it was disclosed that JDL Development had agreed to pay $110 million to the Archdiocese of Chicago for the 90,000 square-foot property three blocks west of North Michigan Avenue.  On January 18, 2018 the Chicago Plan Commission approved a project to build two towers on the site, the taller of which will be the eighth Chicago "supernal" building at 1,011 feet. The killing of Dion O’Banion in the shop in 1924 touched off a gang war that lasted for five years, pitting the north side gang of O’Banion against Al Capone’s gang from the south side.  The photos above show the flower shop and the same area as it appears today.

August 14, 1933 – Joseph Hastings, a Chicago policeman married for only four months, is shot to death during a gun battle with two thieves who rob a city office on Navy Pier.  He is the eleventh policeman to die in the line of duty during 1933.  The money that is stolen was intended for men on emergency relief who were employed by the city to do work at the pier.  Thomas B. Rawls, an official of the West Englewood Currency exchange, used it to cash checks from the workers at a fee of 15 cents a check.  It is unclear why a representative of a private enterprise is cashing checks in an office of the city street department.  Hastings, hearing a shot fired, runs into a second floor office at the west end of the pier. One of the dozen clerks in the office, Charles Eddy, outlines the ensuing events, “Hastings came in the door with his revolver drawn . . . The man at the side wall opened fire.  The policeman fell to the floor and fired two shots in return.  The robbers ran to the door.  Hastings got up, and one of the robbers turned and shot him as he rose.  The robber then grabbed Hastings’ gun and ran out. . .” [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 13, 1933]  Morris Cohen a barber, is captured 30 minutes later at 1331 North Clark Street.  His two companions remain on the lam.  The above photo depicts Navy Pier as it appeared in 1933.

Monday, August 13, 2018

August 13, 1969 -- Illinois Center Development Begins with Development Announcement

August 13, 1969 –The chairman of Illinois Central Industries, Inc., William B. Johnson, announces the formation of Illinois Center Plaza Venture, the corporation that will develop the 83-acre site east of Michigan Avenue, between Randolph Street and the Chicago River.  Jupiter Corporation, Metropolitan, Inc., and the Illinois Central Corporation will be equal partners in the plan, which will see the new company purchasing the property from the Illinois Central Railroad for a base price of $83,625,000 with an escalation rider over a 15-year development period.  The site on which the proposed Standard Oil building will be constructed as well as the site of the 111 East Wacker Drive building, which is under construction, along with two adjacent sites, are excluded from the sale. The Prudential building and the Outer Drive East apartments were constructed on air rights in which the Illinois Central did not share in the profits of the buildings.

August 13, 2009 – Bank of America initiates a suit against Shelbourne Development Group Inc., the developer that began construction of the 150-floor Chicago Spire, construction that was subsequently halted after foundation work was completed.  Bank of America claims that the developer has defaulted on its loan.  The bank says that it is filing a suit in United States District Court in Chicago, seeking $4.9 million in principal and interest from Shelbourne and its chairman, Garrett Kelleher. The complaint alleges that the firm has failed to obtain an “irrevocable construction loan commitment” from a lender, leading the Bank of America to declare a default. [Chicago Tribune, August 14,2009] The photo above shows the remains of the project as they look today.

August 13, 1928 – Construction begins on the Merchandise Mart on the site of the old Chicago and North Western station on the north bank of the Chicago River between Wells Street and Orleans.  A force of 5,700 workers will speed the construction, using cement brought from Wisconsin by boat, and by May 1,1930 the first 200 tenants will begin moving into the 4,000,000 square foot building.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

August 12, 1900 -- Boulevard System Is Complete

August 12, 1900 –A few carriages are seen making the entire circuit of Chicago’s boulevard system after the bridge on Diversey Boulevard is completed and the boulevard project is finished.  There are only two breaks in the 30-mile “ring of parks” that runs around the city on three sides – one between Humboldt Boulevard and Humboldt Park and the other south of Douglas Park leading to the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.  The latter is particularly notable … “a drive of more than a mile over rough cedar pavements, car tracks, through unpaved streets filled with mudholes and through a big ditch near the drainage channel would almost dispel the favorable impressions gained.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 13, 1900]Lake Shore Drive in Lincoln Park is the least impressive part of the completed system, a route on which “A carriage lurches along through holes that are half a foot deep, wheelmen dodge in and out to avoid them.  Water from sprinkling collects in the holes and splashes carriages and riders.”  There are only ten railroad crossings in the entire 30-mile system.  Although there are rough patches along the way, the Tribuneconcludes, “A trip over the system now that it is made possible serves to show most of all at what a comparatively slight expenditure the whole thing might be put in shape … When it is finished Chicago will have the longest boulevard drive in the world.”

August 12, 1999 – A power failure leaves the city’s Greek Town neighborhood and 30 square blocks of the Loop from the center of downtown southward in the dark, sends workers tumbling from high rise office buildings and busses packed with people trying to get home moving slowly through intersections where the traffic lights are not working.  Mayor Richard M. Daley says, “I firmly believe this company better get down to ground zero.  Someone should tell [utility executives] about that infrastructure.  Infrastructure is the key.  They’ve neglected it for too long and it’s come home to roost.”  [, August 13, 1999] The Board of Trade stops trading because of the service disruption.  Banks in the heart of the city lose power, and the downtown police headquarters operates on emergency generators.  Weather is not involved in the blackout.  Three of four transformers at a downtown substation go offline.  One had been undergoing repairs in the preceding week, and another two shut down while, at the same time, two high voltage cables also fail.  This problem comes less than two weeks after a power failure on July 30 that left 100,000 people in the city without power on the hottest day of the year as temperatures climbed to 104 degrees.  Commonwealth Edison spokesman Keith Bromery engages in an epic feat of understatement when he says, “Basically, we know that we have a reliability problem.” [Los Angeles Times, August 26, 1999] The substation at 868 South Jefferson, shown above, is the area in the south Loop at which three out of four transformers failed.

August 12, 1952 – Ground is broken for the 35-million dollar Prudential building on Randolph Street, east of Michigan Avenue.  Mayor Martin Kennelly and Valentine Howell, the executive vice-president of the Prudential Insurance Company of America scoop up the first shovels of earth for one of the 260 caissons that will support the 41-story building as Holman D. Pettibone, president of the Chicago Title and Trust Company, officiates at the ceremonies.  For an in-depth look at the origins of the Prudential building and what it take to get the thing built, you can turn to this blog entry from 2012.  The above photo shows the area east of Michigan Avenue before Prudential was begun.  It would stand just about where the Pabst Blue Ribbon sign is located.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

August 11, 1985 -- Old Town's Cobbler's Square Praised

August 11, 1985 –Paul Gapp, the architecture critic for the Chicago Tribune, pens a column in praise of the Cobbler Square development in Old Town in which “a conglomeration of some 30 old interconnected factory and warehouse structures” have been converted into 297 rental apartments, an exercise Gapp calls “one of the most extraordinary new housing complexes in Chicago.” [Chicago Tribune, August 11, 1985]  The buildings are in the area bounded by Wells and Schiller Streets and Evergreen and North Park Avenues with the oldest buildings occupied originally by the Western Wheel Works, a bicycle manufacturer. Dr. William Scholl rented space in the bicycle factory and while he “parlayed a line of shoes and foot care products into a corporation grossing more than $250 million a year … sporadically built a hodgepodge of additions to it.”  The company Scholl founded left Chicago for Tennessee in 1981 and developer Richard Perlman commissioned architect Kenneth A. Schroeder to create a residential community out of the three- and five-story buildings that remained. Gapp writes of the plan, “The new fa├žade facing Wells Street is a crisp and clean essay in brick and limestone, evocative of both Gold Coast images a few blocks to the east and the storefronts of Wells Street itself.”  The plan includes three courtyards, each larger than the one before it that “planted with locusts, are oases that can almost make you forget you’re in the center of the city – and in a somewhat fringy neighborhood, to boot.” The plan took the 30 original buildings that were part of the complex and reduced them to five, cleverly combining many of them in a scheme that is “the kind of place where youngish or young-thinking men and women pay a lot of attention to what they call their lifestyles and … don’t mind climbing tiny staircases to reach the sleeping platforms supporting their futons.”  In summing up the new community, Gapp views Cobbler Square as an indication that the former tawdry area around Wells Street is, itself, beginning to make its way back to respectability with “Cobbler Square … among the best additions to the neighborhood in recent years – a vehicle of gentrification, actually … obviously an architectural success with considerable fringe benefits.”  

August 11, 1977 – The Chicago Plan Commission votes down a proposed four billion-dollar development proposed for land in the south Loop along the east side of the Chicago River.  The project, a Bertrand Goldberg design for six 72-story towers and 6,000 apartments, is proposed for a 45-acre site bounded by Harrison Street, Roosevelt Road, the Chicago River and Wells Street.  Lewis J. Hill, the city commissioner of development and planning, asserts that city guidelines recommend 1,750 units on the site, and the Goldberg plan far exceeds those guidelines.  “In short,” Hill says, “the River City plan proposes development that is three to five times more intense than that recommended in the guidelines.”  [Chicago Tribune, August 12, 1977] Hill also says that the huge project would also stand in the way of the proposed Franklin Street Connector that is planned to link the Dan Ryan Expressway with Wacker Drive.  Forty years later River Line, a project involving ten high-rise residential buildings lining the banks of the river, is underway, with Perkins and Will responsible for siting the massive project to the north of the current River City, a 1986 community of about 440 units, the scaled-down design that eventually came out of Bertrand Goldberg’s 1970’s proposal.

August 11, 1966 – The Beatles arrive in Chicago in the middle of a swirling controversy, and John Lennon, in a press conference at the Astor Towers Hotel, apologizes for his part in creating the furor that developed after his casual remark that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus.  “I wasn’t saying whatever they say I was saying,” says Lennon, described by the Tribune as a “Shaggy-haired Liverpool performer.”  [Chicago Tribune, August 11, 1966] “I‘m sorry I said it really.  I never meant it to be a lousy anti-religious thing.  I apologize if that will make you happy.  I still don’t know quite what I’ve done.  I’ve tried to tell you what I did do but if you want me to apologize, if that will make you happy, then OK, I’m sorry.”  For a personal essay on the event and how it has stayed with me for fifty years, you may want to look up this blog entry from 2009.  Information concerning Astor Towers, where the press conference took place, may be found here.

Friday, August 10, 2018

August 10, 1940 -- First Regiment Armory Property Sells

August 10, 1940 –The land beneath the First Regiment Armory at the northwest corner of Michigan Avenue and East Sixteenth Street is sold by the Estate of Marshall Field to the Standard Realty and Mortgage Company for an estimated $40,000. The sale is subject to a 99-year lease that Marshall Field made in 1890 with the First Infantry Armory Association at an annual ground rental of $4,000.  The first armory was built on the property in 1893, but it burned down less than a year after it opened.  It was replaced in 1894 at a cost of a half-million dollars, raised by popular subscription.  After two decades of labor unrest, culminating with the Haymarket affair on May 4, 1886 in which people were killed when a bomb was thrown into the crowd, the wealthy residents of Chicago, many of whom lived south of Sixteenth Street on Indiana, Prairie and Calumet Avenues, began to take matters into their own hands.  They opened their pocketbooks and forked over the cash to protect their homes.  In 1886, just months after the Haymarket riot, land convenient to a direct rail line into the city on the North Shore was purchased, and Fort Sheridan was begun.  It is interesting to note that the First Regiment Armory with its thick stone walls, rounded turrets, and rifle embrasures, stood as a massive sentinel north of those wealthy homes. It is even more interesting to note that Marshall Field, himself, held a 99-year lease on the property.  And you can bet with a fair amount of assurance on who stepped up for the majority of those subscriptions to build the armory.  The subscriptions probably sold pretty darned quickly … the Pullman strike that idled 250,000 workers in 27 states and brought violence to Chicago had just concluded.

August 10, 1882:  The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that the city’s Health Office has reported 53 deaths during the preceding day, 30 of those being children under the age of five, 24 of that number being infants less than a year old.  Of the two dozen babies who died, 16 of them succumbed to a disease known at the time as cholera infantum, a particularly pernicious disease that attacked infants primarily during the warm weather months, especially in large urban areas.  Beginning around 1893 infant mortality, thankfully, began a sharp downward trend, most probably brought about by two important initiatives.  First, the four-mile crib off Monroe Harbor was opened in 1891 and shoreline water intake was permanently ended.  Research shows that the act of safeguarding the city’s drinking water lowered the city’s mortality rate between 1870 and 1925 somewhere between 35 and 56 percent.  Secondly, the responsibility for monitoring milk distribution in the city was transferred from an independent body to the health department. Also in 1880 the Chicago City Council approved an ordinance that granted the city’s Health Department the right to inspect and regulate sanitary conditions in the work place and in tenement dwellings, an initiative that began to eliminate the unsanitary and unhealthful conditions in poorer areas of the city.

August 10, 1918 --  It is difficult to believe today, but for years – over a decade – a swimming race was held that had athletes navigating a course in the lake before heading west up the river to Wells Street.  On this day in 1918 Perry McGillivray of the Great Lakes training station wins the tenth annual river swim of the Illinois Athletic Club, establishing a new record for the two-mile course of 33:44.  Miss Rebecca Wells of the Walton Athletic Club is allowed to participate, but she is not eligible for any of the prizes because women are officially barred from the event.  In the 1912 Olympics McGillivray was a member of the American 4 X 200 meter freestyle relay team that won a silver medal.  In 1920 he earned a gold medal as a member of the United States 4 X 200 meter relay team, also participating in the country’s water polo team as it earned a fourth-place finish.  The old Chicago Daily News photo above shows the crowds lining the river as the 1909 race approaches Wells Street.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

August 9, 1964 -- Lake Michigan Hosts Submarine Training

August 9, 1964 –Naval reservists participate in the second day of training in Lake Michigan aboard the 312-foot USS. Rauner.  Six ships of the “Corn Belt Fleet” and aircraft from the Glenview Naval Air Station join in the exercises as reservists practice anti-submarine maneuvers off Chicago.  After the exercises are concluded, the submarine is tied up east of the Michigan Avenue bridge for public viewing.  The USS Rauner, Hull Number SS-476, was a diesel-powered attack submarine launched on October 14, 1944. Her first war patrol was off Honshu, Japan where she sank an enemy minesweeper.  By the time the Raunermade it to her second patrol, Japan had declared defeat.  The Raunerentered Tokyo Bay, and with ten other United States submarines, represented the submarine service at the signing of the peace treaty. The summer of 1964 was the only time she worked in coordination with the Great Lakes Naval Training Center although after service in the Atlantic and Mediterranean she was towed to Great Lakes after decommissioning at the Boston Naval Shipyard on January 15, 1969. There she served as a Naval Reserve Training vessel until she was stricken from the Navy list on December 15, 1971.

August 9, 1937 – The rarest of real estate deals occurs when two of the city’s skyscrapers are swapped with no brokers involved in the transaction and with no commission fees paid.  The Marshall Field estate trades the 19-story Times building at 211 West Wacker Drive for the sixteen-story Central Life Insurance Company building at the southwest corner of North Michigan Avenue and East Superior Street.  A representative of the Field estate says that through the acquisition of the Central Life building it now owns the entire block bounded by Michigan, Huron, Rush and Superior.  Through the swap the insurance company will be able to consolidate all of its operations, scattered in various leased spaces in the area, in the Wacker Drive building.  The property on Wacker Drive, shown above, a Holabird and Root design, is still making money.  Saks Fifth Avenue now occupies the corner of Superior and Michigan where the Central Life building used to stand.

August 9, 1972:  A traffic study is released that concludes “Traffic conditions in the Near North Michigan Avenue area will be ‘nearly intolerable’ if the city constructs a bridge over the Chicago River at Columbus Drive.”  The report, prepared for the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association by R. W. Booker and Associates, partially validates a report issued earlier in the week by the Chicago Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.  The report observes that the city has not planned well in proposing a bridge that will connect Fairbanks Court north of the river with Columbus Drive and the developing Illinois Center property to the south.  Taking a special hit is the massive traffic jam that is anticipated during the lengthy reconstruction of the dogleg on Lake Shore Drive north of Randolph Street.  The report makes six recommendations to relieve problems in the River North area if the bridge is built.  They include:  (1) employing rapid transit or people mover systems in the area; (2) widening Fairbanks Court and making it one way south, in the area north of Ontario Street; (3) better enforcement of peak traffic rules and parking regulations in the area; (4) eliminating on-street parking in the area and creating new off-street parking areas; (5) making Ontario and Ohio Streets one way between Fairbanks and Lake Shore Drive and developing grade separation of these two streets with Lake Shore Drive; and (6) making thoro (sic) studies of alternate methods of handling traffic during the reconstruction of Lake Shore Drive, including staged construction to permit continued, limited use of the Drive.  [Chicago Tribune, August 10, 1972]  The bridge was finished in 1982 for a cost of $33,000,000, bringing almost instantaneous development of the area north of the river and east of Columbus Drive.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

August 8, 1959 -- Pan-American Games Hyped in Huge Parade

August 8, 1959 –More than 100,000 people line Michigan Avenue as 50 floats and marching units usher the Pan-American games into the city.  The parade, proclaimed the Chicago Daily Tribune, “had everything … ‘the aye-yi-yi’ of Mexican singers, accompanied by mellow guitars.  There was a Mayan temple and an ancient warrior from Guatemala.  There was a platoon of youngsters in full bull fight regalia.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 8, 1959]There was even a reluctant donkey, part of the Jamaican entry, that refused to budge at Congress Parkway and Michigan Avenue, causing his minder to tie him to a light pole and walk away.  The police were having none of that and ordered the four-legged parade entrant to keep it moving. The Pan Am Games ran from August 27 to September 7.  It would be the first time in the history of the event that the United States sent an Olympic-caliber team.  The games were a demonstration of the city’s ability to pull off a major event on short notice … Chicago had just 18 months to prepare for the Pan Am Games after the original host city, Cleveland, pulled out of its commitment, citing financial problems. There were some glitches to be expected after throwing an international event such as this together on such short notice. Peru’s rifle team had its rifles confiscated when it arrived at the airport.  The 17 members of the women’s basketball team from Chile were crammed into to two hotel rooms.  The soccer team from Brazil was sent to a swimming pool to practice while the Brazil swimming team was delivered to a soccer field.  A Brazilian rower ended up dead, shot through the heart on the campus of North Central College.  And prior to the steeplechase event at the track and field competition some prankster stocked the water obstacles with live fish, delaying the event for an hour while the fish were pulled.  But it came off.  The City that Works made it all work.

August 8, 1933 -- Women’s Court hosts Sally Rand, “whose widely publicized nudity is keeping her busy putting on half a dozen shows daily in a loop theater and at the World’s Fair.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 9, 1933] Listening to a police officer say that her fan dance “made his pulse beat more quickly … [Rand] looked on … with apparent satisfaction.”  At the conclusion of the court case the dancer is fined $25 for staging an indecent performance in the Chicago Theater.  Judge Erwin J. Hasten, the jurist on the bench, says to Rand, whom he calls Sally, “The purpose of this judgment is not in a vindictive, punitive sense.  I’m merely trying to gain this end: that Sally, if she is to continue dancing in Chicago, put on some clothes.”  Rand appears in her own defense.  When the Assistant States Attorney “with a display of nervousness” asks Rand if she could not dance just as well with “the essential parts of her body covered,” she replies, “I cawn’t answer that, because I don’t know what the ‘essential’ parts of my body are …The reason I wear nothing but the fans in my dance is because the feathers catch in my clothing if I wear any, preventing me from using my fans in the way I wish to use them.” 

August 8, 1932:  After a dedication address by United States Senator from Illinois Otis F. Glenn, a 20-foot by 30-foot flag of the United States is raised for the first time to the top of the new 90-foot flagpole atop Tribune Tower in a dedication held on the thirty-fifth floor of the building.  In his dedication speech Senator Glenn says, “History has been made where this flag shall henceforth fly.  The first founders of Chicago settled on the land where the Tribune Tower now stands.  Fort Dearborn was here – almost within a stone’s throw Abraham Lincoln was nominated for the presidency.  Here from a great swamp has grown a great, strenuous, vital city, teeming with four million vigorous, progressive Americans.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 9, 1932]  The proceedings are broadcast over W.G.N. radio and from ten loudspeakers around Tribune Tower to the street below.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

August 7, 1978 -- Columbus Plaza construction Begins

August 7, 1978 –Construction begins on Columbus Plaza, the first residential building to go up on the Illinois Central Railroad property between Randolph and Wacker Drive on the south and north and Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive on the west and east.  The 47-story building will contain 552 studio and one- and two-bedroom apartments. Five buildings have already been erected on the 83-acre site since development began in 1969, but they are all commercial or hotel buildings.  Two residential buildings have been completed east of Lake Shore Drive in this time period, the Outer Drive East condominium and Harbor Point; today they can be found to the west of the reconstructed Lake Shore Drive.  The tower is the product of the architectural firm of Fujikawa Conterato Lohan and Associates.

August 7, 1973 – Following the third murder of a woman in Grant Park in less than a year, the Chicago Tribune editorializes about “Our Unsafe City.”  [Chicago Tribune, August 7, 1973] “That women should be killed in the front yard of downtown Chicago,” the editorial states, “is shocking and shameful.  That the murders remain unsolved compounds the shame.”  The Tribune offers three areas that should be considered immediately.  “The facts call for more than hand wringing.  They call for more rigorous police work in the future than in the past,” the editorial states.  Along with that, “The facts call also for constant concern on the part of everyone for the safety of both oneself and of others.  Public awareness of risk needs to be heightened, tho of course short of panic or neurosis.” And, finally, “… prudence suggests staying away from wooded areas without sight lines to passers-by, even when those areas are in heavily used public parks … Broad daylight is not sufficient protection.”  The editorial concludes, “It is shameful that, more and more, people have reason to become wary like antelopes among predators.  The harsh fact is that vicious crime in public places is an ever present possibility in cities, including Chicago.  Heightened vigilance by both police and public offers the best—tho an imperfect—defense.”

August 7, 1910:  The Chicago Daily Tribune once again editorializes about the evil of the Illinois Central Railroad, writing, “Yesterday was a perfect day in Chicago.  The sky was cloudless and the lake a blue turquoise, save along the eastern edge of the south side.  There the vile smoke from a hundred coughing locomotives of the Illinois Central railroad made it seem the gateway to the inferno.  All along one-half of what should be the most magnificent city water front of the world went the disfiguring trains drawn by engines, the stacks of which belched forth clouds of smoke and showers of embers.  The public library, the Art institute, the hotels, the business blocks, and miles and miles of private residences are all begrimed and polluted by this nuisance.  Books, pictures, and furniture are discolored by it, health is endangered, and a property loss of millions constantly increased.” The paper presents only one viable alternative:  electrification.  Yet, it is pessimistic about such a remedy ever occurring.  “A corporation like the Illinois Central never improves its service until the balance goes against it,” the editorial ends.  “Or until a municipality takes it by the back of its corporate neck and squeezes it into compliance with a popular and imperative demand.”  At this point the Illinois Central operated over 300 steam trains into and out of Chicago.  It would take 16 more years before the commuter tracks were electrified from downtown to Matteson.

Monday, August 6, 2018

August 6, 1946 -- Roosevelt College Reveals Plans for Auditorium Building

August 6, 1946 –Edward J. Sparling, the president of Roosevelt College, tells of the school’s plans to restore the newly purchased Auditorium building to its original beauty.  Sparling says that “old paintings will be restored, remodeling of the hotel into classrooms and offices will follow the original structure as nearly as possible, and the theater will be operated by the college or leased to someone who wants to bring back music and theatrical productions to the 57 year old stage.”  Mrs. Julius Weil, the daughter of architect Dankmar Adler, the architect of the Auditorium building along with Louis Sullivan, says that General Sherman’s march to the sea in the Civil War was instrumental in her father’s plans for the auditorium.  “In every house that was looted,” says Mrs. Weil, “my father eagerly searched for books on architecture.  When he returned to Chicago he cooperated with Theodore Thomas in working out arches and types of construction for better acoustics.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 7, 1946]Sparling says that the renovated building will allow the college to serve 2,000 more veterans. The $400,000 purchase price of the building, he reveals, is the result of “loans by friends, gifts, efficient administration, and profit from the sale of the building at 231 South Wells Street.”

August 6, 1971 – The largest crowd in the history of Ravinia Park comes to the outdoor venue on the North Shore to see Jesus Christ Superstar.  The crowd of 18,718 people breaks the previous record, set by Judy Collins, of 18,491, a week earlier.  More than 150 police officers are on duty, dispatched from five suburbs to patrol a mellow crowd.  “Despite the religious theme of last night’s event,” the Chicago Tribune reported, “The thousands of young listeners looked and acted little differently than at more mundane outdoor rock concerts.  Botttles of wine were passed freely, along with the ever-present marijuana cigarets.” [Chicago Tribune, August 7, 1971] The performance company that provided the show had previously performed in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Toronto.  The Ravinia show attracted at least 5,000 more people than any of the troupe’s previous performances.

August 6, 1974:  The Queen of Andersonville, a tour boat operated by Wendella Sightseeing Boats, sinks just south of the Coast Guard station at the Chicago lock where the Chicago River meets Lake Michigan.  Hero of the Day is Bob Agra, the captain of a Mercury sightseeing boat, who maneuvers his boat, loaded with about 70 people, alongside the stricken Wendella craft and helps evacuate all 23 passengers, many of them wearing life jackets.  “Some of the rescued people were a little shook up,” Agra states.  “But they weren’t hysterical.”  [Chicago Tribune, August 7, 1974]  Agra attaches the foundering boat to his own with three lines and tows it to an area behind the breakwater, southwest of the lock.  All three lines eventually break, and the Queen of Andersonville sinks before the hoist at the Coast Guard station can be lowered to secure the vessel.  Agra's son, Bob, who was on board that day as a deck hand, is shown above.  Today he is head of Chicago's First Lady, partners with the Chicago Architecture Foundation's premier architectural tour on the Chicago River.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

August 5, 1935 -- Leo Burnett Agency Formed

August 5, 1935 –The announcement is made that a new advertising agency, known as the Burnett Company, Inc. with offices at 360 North Michigan Avenue, has been formed.  The founder, Leo Noble Burnett, was born in St. Johns, Michigan where he resided until his graduation from the University of Michigan in 1914. He came to Illinois, working briefly as a reporter for the Peoria Journalbefore moving on to edit the company magazine for the Cadillac Motor Car Company.  Burnett served a stint in the United States Navy during World War I before becoming vice-president of the Lafayette Motor Company and later, vice-president of the Homer McKee Advertising Agency in Indianapolis.  In 1930 he joined Erwin, Wasey & Company where he oversaw the account of the Minnesota Canning Company, a marketer of Niblets and Green Giant canned vegetables.  On August 1, 1935 Burnett resigned and four days later began the new firm with three accounts: Minnesota Canning, Hoover, and Realsilk Hosiery.  The motto of the new agency became “Reach for the Stars.”  AdAgesaid of the man, “Although a short, somewhat stout man with little physical charisma or pretense, Burnett became a central figure in the Chicago advertising scene as his agency grew competitive with the major New York shops. In 1953, the shop Leo Burnett Company moved onto the list of the top 10 American agencies with billings of $46.4 million.  The following year it won Philip Morris Cos.’ Marlboro account; Burnett took a personal role in repositioning the brand from a women’s cigarette to a men’s with the introduction of the ‘Marlboro Man’ campaign.”  Burnett died at his home in Lake Zurich on June 7, 1971 after putting in a full day at the office.  In 1999 Advertising Agenamed him as the third most important advertising person of the century.  The same publication named the agency’s Marlboro Man, Jolly Green Giant, Pillsbury Doughboy and Tony the Tiger among the top ten advertising icons of the century.  No other agency in the country had more than one in the list.

August 5, 1912 – As the new National Progressive Party with Theodore Roosevelt at its head is at the beginning of its rise, suffragettes parade through Chicago in recognition of the fact that the new party will carry a plank in its platform that advocates giving women the right to vote.  According to the Chicago Daily Tribune, “A crowd of many hundreds, flaunting banners and headed by a band, formed in front of the Art Institute and marched to the Coliseum.  It included women of every age and many stations in life.  There were gray haired grandmothers and young girls still with their schooling unfinished; mothers of families and old maids.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 5, 1912] So many women showed up for the parade that it was difficult to get the march organized.  At one point the main group of marchers was asked to move back about six feet.  Mrs. Catherine Waugh McCulloch, responding to the request, said, “What!  Retreat?  We never retreat!”  A squad of mounted police leads the procession, followed by a marching band, the band followed by a group of young women from the University of Chicago. The lead automobile carried Miss Jane Addams, Mrs. H. M. Wilmarth and Mrs. Isabella Blaney, a delegate from California.  Other cars follow, but the most impressive portion of the procession is made up of the ranks of women, many of whom have never been in a public march before.  One Methodist deaconess, Miss Estella Manley, says, “We are progressives and believe in suffrage because we see the necessity of a progressive movement in our work against the traffic in women.  No one realizes how ineffective a law can be and how much a community is in need of progressive lawmakers until one has done some uplift work in a community.”

August 5, 1970:  With 200 police officers gathered from seven other suburbs on hand, Highland Park’s Ravinia Park gives its stage to Janis Joplin and the Full Tilt Boogie Band.  The Chicago Tribune describes the scene as a mob consisting of “20,000 clapping screaming youths listening to the Full Tilt Boogie band . . . Highland Park Police Chief Michael Bonamarte waiting for a riot.”  [Chicago Tribune, August 6, 1970]  “In her satin hooker clothes,” Tribune music critic Linda Winer writes, “no less than a full fall of purple feathers sitting atop her tangled hair, foot stamping, bottom waving, Southern Comfort swigging Miss Joplin could almost convince you to just watch her sing all night.”  Eight days after the concert at Ravinia Joplin gives her final public concert at Harvard Stadium.  On October 4, in the middle of recording her album Pearl, she fails to show up at the studio, and at the age of 27 she is found, dead of an overdose at Hollywood’s Landmark Hotel.