Wednesday, February 7, 2018

February 7, 1956 -- Morton Salt Announces New Headquarters Building

February 7, 1956 – Morton Salt Company announces that its intention to build a new four-story office building in the block bounded by Wacker Drive, Washington and Randolph Streets and the Chicago River.  The company expects to use the first floor and a portion of the second and lease the rest of the building. This will provide 55,000 square feet of office space, compared to the 37,000 square feet the company now occupies at two separate locations, 120 South LaSalle Street and the Merchandise Mart.  The design will come from Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, Inc. and will consist of reinforced concrete construction with the main entrance and lobby of the building in the middle of the block on Wacker Drive.  Morton Salt was founded in Chicago in 1848 and had its first offices at Clark and Washington Streets.  In 1896 the company erected its first real office building, a replica of the old Boston statehouse, that sat on the south side of the Chicago River just west of today’s Lake Shore Drive.  The new headquarters building on the river would be finished in 1958 and is again in the news because it is about to be demolished to make room for a glassy skyscraper designed by Goettsch Partners that will include a 45-foot wide Riverwalk passing beneath its western face.

February 7, 1968 – Nine people are killed when a fire and explosion completely wrecks the offices of Mickelberry’s Food Procucts Company at 301 West Forty-Ninth Place.  The conflagration apparently begins when a Harrigan Oil Company gasoline truck moving through the alley behind the plant scrapes a steel garbage container, knocking the shut-off valve from the truck’s discharge pipe and sending gasoline into the basement of the plant where the boiler ignites it.  Fire fighters on the roof of the building are in the process of removing 15 to 20 employees of the plant from that location when a tremendous explosion rips the building, toppling ladders and fire fighters and sending those on the roof through the air.  More than 30 of the 79 people who are injured are neighborhood kids who hear the sirens and come running to see the excitement.  The 9-11 alarm fire brings to the scene 26 engines, five hook and ladder trucks, three snorkels, five rescue squads, ten ambulances, and seven hazardous chemical units.  Tragically, four fire fighters from Truck 18 are killed – Firemen Edward Keifker, Chales Bottger, Thomas Collins, and Captain John J. Fisher, Sr.

February 7, 1943 -- The sky falls when Michael "Hinky Dink" Kenna misses his first Sunday afternoon pre-election meeting of the First Ward Democratic club in 46 years. The 5' 1" Kenna, who, along with "Bathhouse" John Coughlin, ran the most notoriously wicked, graft-driven ward in the city, controlled "The Levee" for another three years until his death at 89 in October of 1946. John Budinger, who had been chosen to replace Kenna on the City Council said of the "empty chair" at the meeting, "When our leader called me in and told me I had the privilege of being his candidate for alderman, it was the grandest thrill that ever happened to me." Chief Bailiff Albert J. Horan assured Budinger that he would have no trouble winning the seat, one way or another. He said, "We are not afraid of cries of investigation, for we are as open as babes in their mother's arms."

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