Monday, April 30, 2018

April 30, 1886 -- Commercial Club to First Infantry -- How 'bout a Gatling Gun?

April 30, 1886 – At the annual reception of the First Infantry, held a day earlier, word gets around that a fine gift for the organization would be a brand-new Gatling gun.  Members of the Commercial Club who are present get up a subscription list, and by the morning of April 30, $2,000 has been collected, and the gun is ordered by telegraph with the hope that it will reach the city by the evening so that it can be turned over to the regiment.  Representatives of the Commercial Club also assure officers of the First Infantry that when the lease on their present armory expires, “the regiment will find a new and permanent one ready for them.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, May, 1886] Five days earlier 25,000 workers had walked in a procession from the west side, near where the Haymarket riot would occur a month later, to a rally on the lakefront near where many of the city’s elite families made their homes.  Their cry was for an eight-hour work day, and anger was in the air.  Following the events of May, the Commercial Club did far more than purchase a Gatling gun … the members made it possible for the United States government to secure land north of the city, next to the Chicago and North Western Railroad tracks, so that infantry and cavalry units could be easily moved into the city in case of trouble. That was the origin of Fort Sheridan.  The First Regiment Armory would be finished by 1890, standing on South Michigan Avenue not far from where those 25,000 workers rallied in 1886.  It is pictured above.

April 30, 1959 – At 10:30 a.m. the Dutch freighter Prins Johan Willem Friso, slides into a berth at Navy Pier and becomes the first ship to travel through the new St. Lawrence Seaway to Chicago.  Forty American Indians ride a tugboat out to the ship and accompany it back to the dock where Mayor Richard J. Daley and the Fifth Army band greet the ship and its captain, Sander Klein.  From the dock the mayor escorts Klein to Michigan and Ohio Streets where a parade kicks off, heading down Michigan to the Blackstone Hotel for a reception at which the captain is made an honorary citizen of Chicago.  A small amount of the ship’s cargo is offloaded from at the pier, but the bulk of the freight will be taken off in Calumet Harbor where the ship will receive a cargo of industrial and agricultural products bound for European ports.

April 30, 1903 -- A new tactic is used in an effort to appropriate land in Grant Park and use it for the construction of public buildings. The Illinois House of Representatives votes on a Senate bill to provide a site for the privately-funded Crerar Library, a legacy of Chicago businessman John Chippewa Crerar who left $2.6 million as an endowment for a free public library. The bill will empower park commissioners to authorize the construction of a free public library building on a site of their choosing, provided district tax payers approve the plan in a municipal election. The Chicago Daily Tribune editorializes, "There is land east of Michigan avenue where a site is available on which the trustees of the Crerar library will erect a handsome building if given an opportunity to do so. The land cannot be put to a better use. The house should give them an opportunity by concurring in the senate bill it is to vote on today." Although the legislation passed, the referendum never made it to the voters. The battle over the library, led by merchant A. Montgomery Ward for much of the rest of the decade, continued all the way to May of 1912 when the library trustees admitted defeat and announced their intention to purchase the land at Randolph and Michigan for the building. That building, designed by Holabird and Roche was delayed by the outbreak of World War I and finally finished in 1919. By the 1950's the building could no longer support all of the library's holdings, and the institution affiliated itself first with the Illinois Institute of Technology and then with the University of Chicago, where the current library, designed by Stubbins Associates, was completed in 1984. The late 1950's photo above shows the 1919 library across Randolph Street from what is now the Chicago Cultural Center and across Michigan Avenue from the Coca Cola sign. 150 North Michigan Avenue occupies this location today.  That is the A. Epstein & Son's design with the diamond top, pictured below the first photo.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

April 29, 1963 -- Wolf Point Residential Tower Announced

April 29, 1963 – Mayor Richard J. Daley announces plans to build an 80-story apartment building west of the Merchandise Mart on Wolf Point.  The building will be the tallest building in the Midwest and the fourth tallest in the world, rising 782 feet with a 571-foot antenna at its top.  It is projected to hold 1,300 apartments and a 320-room hotel with a plaza that rises two floors above the bridge at Orleans Street.  The cost of the project, which will occupy 5.76 acres of land, is $45 million.  Studio apartments will rent from $120 to $200 a month; the 512 one-bedroom units will go for between $180 and $280 a month; 256 two-bedroom units will rent for between $270 and $370; and 128 three-bedroom units will top out at $420.  Each apartment will have glass from floor to ceiling with seven-foot balconies extending the width of the unit.  The first tier of apartments will not begin until the building reaches the 120-foot mark with four restaurants and a theater, along with shops making up the first floors of the building.  There will be two levels of parking below ground that will hold 800 cars.  The architect for the project is Chalres Booher Gunther, who founded PACE Associates, an engineering firm that worked on early drawings of Marina City.  One can see the similarities to the two Marina City towers on the river six blocks to the east.  The project actually got a permit from the Federal Aeronautics Administration for the antenna, but that is as far as it ever went. The top photo gives some idea of the look of the colossus.  Below that is a Chicago Tribune rendering of the space that it was projected to fill at Wolf Point.  The bottom photo shows what Wolf Point will look like when the last of the three towers is topped out in the next four years or so.  Probably a good thing the original plan got shelved, right?

April 29, 1928 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that the Gage Structural Steel Company, with offices at 3123-41 South Hoyne Avenue, has set a record for placement of steel in a tall building.  According to R. H. Gage, vice-president and engineer of the company, a record of 36 working days was established in the steelwork of the 100 North La Salle building. Gage says, “The first delivery of structural steel was made on Feb. 24, 1928, and the final delivery on April 13, 1928, and the erection of same was completed shortly thereafter in the record time of seven weeks, or thirty-six working days.  Three days were deducted for inclement weather, when the steel erectors could not work, and Saturdays were figured as half days, owing to the fact that the steel erectors quit at noon.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 29, 1928] The 25-story building at the corner of La Salle Street and Washington required 1,958 tons of structural steel.

April 29, 1862 -- Report in the Chicago DailyTribune for this date: "A drunken man named Gates, who resides on Wells street, became suddenly sobered Saturday night, as follows: He was walking along the river dock between Randolph and Lake streets, when, by some means unexplained, he got into deep water. He howled lustily for help, and was rescued by two men, just as he was sinking for the last time. Never was a pickled article more suddenly or completely freshened than was Gates. He was taken in charge by the police and furnished with lodgings in the Hotel de Turtle, West Market station." Poor pickled Gates nearly met his doom just beyond the nearest bridge at Randolph Street, pictured above.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

April 28, 1952 -- Congress Expressway Project Obtains Final Three Lots

April 28, 1952 – Acquisition of land for the Congress Street expressway comes to an end as the Chicago City Council approves purchase of three downtown properties, the last of 1,860 parcels that have been acquired since 1942. The final three properties, purchased for $540,212, are for the widening of the expressway as it reaches Michigan Avenue by means of creating sidewalk arcades at Roosevelt College, the Congress Hotel, and Annes Restaurant at 51-59 East Congress Street.  The Commissioner of Subways and Super Highways, Virgil E. Gunlock, says that about 96 percent of the Congress corridor’s right of way has been cleared of buildings and that the super highway is expected to be completed by 1955.  He didn’t miss by much. The completed expressway opened April 10, 1956.  The above photo gives some idea of how those 1,860 parcels of land came into play as the swath carved out for the new expressway brings it closer to the Loop.   

April 28, 1893 – The Chicago Club moves into “new and commodious quarters” [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 29, 1893] in the structure that formerly held the Art Institute of Chicago before the museum’s move to its new building on the lakefront.  Designed by John Root, the headquarters for the Chicago Club, at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Van Buren Street, “meets the taste of the critic in its plain yet rich proportions.”  Francis M. Whitehouse is the architect charged with renovating the building to make it suitable for the wealthiest private club in the city.  The first story wall will be lowered to make the ceilings of the entry level appropriate for the use of club members and “By this arrangement an extensive and finely proportioned hall was secured two and one-half feet below the level of the reading room.  A flight of marble steps leads up to the latter room.”  Servants’ rooms and a laundry are contained in an addition that has been built over the former courtyard of the Art Institute.  The club’s new headquarters will also have its own ice plant and electricity generating plant.  The elegant building would remain the Chicago Club’s headquarters until 1929 when it collapsed while being remodeled.  The top photo shows the building that the Chicago Club moved into in 1893.  The photo below that shows the same corner today.

April 28, 1909 -- The Cubs come back in the ninth inning to beat Cincinnati in a squeaker, 6-5. Another sports reporting gem, this one by I. E. Sunburn in the Chicago Daily Tribune. "Meek as so many cosset lambs during the early innings of today's game," he writes, "Chance's [player-manager Frank Chance] men suddenly tore off their disguises, converted themselves into ravenous wolves, snatched away from the Reds the victory which was apparently clinched, and plunged a stiletto deep into the vitals of Clark Griffith [Cincinnati's manager]." Reds pitcher Bob Ewing is in command until the seventh inning when he allows two runs, but the Wrigley nine is still down by three going into the top of the ninth. Chance leads off the final frame with a single to right. Third baseman Harry Steinfeldt "poled a long fly" to left, but shortstop Joe Tinker "smashed one so hot that [Red shortstop Mike] Mowrey had no chance of stopping it. Outfielder "Circus Solly" Hofman laces a line drive into center. Chance scores, and "only two runs were needed to tie her up." Cubs second baseman Heinie Zimmerman pulls a line drive between short and second and Reds left fielder Dode Paskert, hustling to cut down a run at the plate "fumbled the ball in his eagerness and it bounded gleefully back toward the fence." Tinker and Hofman score and Zimmerman "sneaked around to third a toenail ahead of Paskert's throw in." Cubs catcher Pat Moran hits a bounder to Reds second baseman Miller Huggins, who makes "a fine shot to the plate to nil Zim's run," but Cincinnati catcher Frank Roth drops the ball. That is all that is needed to seal "the grandest rally that has been pulled off this season in any section of the map." The game is played at Cincinnati's Palace of the Fans, pictured above.