Tuesday, January 2, 2018

January 2, 1927 -- Art Institute Inundated by 13 Tons of Soot

January 2, 1927 – As smoke continues to drift from the  hundreds of chimneys all across the city, and the steam engines continue work their way up and down the lakefront, the Chicago Daily Tribune reports on the problems that smoke causes for the city’s premier cultural attraction, the Art Institute of Chicago.  During 1926, the paper reports, thirteen tons of soot and cinders were removed from the roofs of the institution.  Unfortunately, the problem didn’t stop at the roofline, and “Some of the year’s accumulation could not be removed from the roofs because it had seeped into the galleries to the defacing of priceless fabrics, paintings, and statues.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 2, 1927] The director of the Art Institute, Robert Harshe, says, “We ... are the dirtiest museum in the world.”  The photo above shows a fairly smoky city just about the time the Art Institute was sweeping its roof in 1927.

January 2, 1932 – Well, the work on the long-awaited bridge across the Chicago River on the lakefront drive is off once again.  Edward J. Kelly, president of the South Park board, calls a meeting with the heads of the South Park and LincolnPark boards, along with members of the Chicago Plan Commission and the contractors involved in the link bridge project. It is decided that until the park boards receive the necessary revenue, the work is off.  Mr. Kelly says, “We must conserve our cash in the present tangled financial situation.  All construction programs … excluding only the island for the world’s fair, must be dropped if we are to live within revenue and meet obligations.”  Work on the approaches to the bridge had begun in 1929, and work on the bridge itself was started on June 6 of 1932.  The city has cried out for this connection between north and south, a project that was proposed as early as 1909. The bridge would finally be dedicated in October of 1937.  The photo above shows where the project stood at the time.

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