Wednesday, April 11, 2018

April 11, 1900 -- Diversey to Complete Boulevard System

April 11, 1900 -- The Lincoln Park board decides to sign contracts for the remaining sections of Diversey Boulevard, a move that will complete the ring of boulevards around the city.  Alderman K. Blake asks that the assessment regarding the completion of the boulevard be put off for a year or two, but the board’s attorney tells him that “a rebate had been granted on the first assessment which would more than equal the amount of the proposed assessment.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 12, 1900] The board does, however, delay the new assessment of $1.17 a foot until January of 1901.  In 1869 the Illinois legislature created the three park districts in the city, one for the south, one for the west, and one for Lincoln Park.  The legislation charged the three districts with the development of a unified system of parks and boulevards ringing the city, the first major planned system of parks and roadways in the country.  The west park system was to be connected to the Lincoln Park system by way of Diversey Boulevard.  The ring of boulevards was largely complete, except for Diversey, by 1880.   For two decades precious time was lost as a perfect storm of opposition to the widening of the street gathered.  The working- class residents with homes at a distance from the lakefront objected to the increases in taxes that would come as part of the project.  The wealthier residents with stately mansions near the lake felt that widening the road would diminish their property values.  Industries and factories near the river, where a bridge would be needed, understandably objected to losing part of their property as the road was widened. Most importantly, in the two decades that had elapsed since the rest of the boulevard system was completed, Diversey had filled with residences, businesses, and factories to such an extent that its widening simply became impractical at any price.  The 1879-80 map above shows the boulevard system largely complete with Diversey Boulevard only finished up to the west side of the river.

April 11, 1949 – Ceremonies are held to dedicate Farr and Fowler Halls, the first two dormitories in the $15-million building program at the Illinois Institute of Technology.  Farr Hall is located at the southwest corner of Thirty-Third Street and Michigan Avenue and is dedicated to Charlotte Farr, the mother of real estate dealer Newton C. Farr, who also is a member of the board of trustees for I.I.T.  Fowler is located one block north and is dedicated to the memory of Mr. and Mrs. James M. Fowler, residents of Lafayette, Indiana.  Each of the four-story dormitories will accommodate 109 students with each building costing $239,640, including landscaping and furnishings.  Dr. Henry T. Heald, president of I.I.T., speaks at the dedication as well as James D. Cunningham, the chairman of the board of trustees.  Donald L. Sickler, a freshman architecture student from New Jersey, represents the student body.  In the above photo notice the English course brickwork and the lettering that Mies van der Rohe selected.

April 11, 1945 -- For the first time since the Stockyards fire in May of 1934, every piece of fire equipment in the city moves to battle two lumberyard fires, one at 1800 N. Ashland Avenue and the other on the south side at 2452 Loomis Street. 45 pieces of equipment respond to the 5-11 alarm blaze on Ashland, and while it is still burning, 61 are dispatched to Loomis Street. Eleven firemen are injured in the battle to contain the fires as 54 mile-per-hour winds make the work nearly impossible. 500 fire fighters work to get the fires under control. As the Chicago Daily Tribune photo below shows one would have had a pretty good look at the flames from the north side fire if it occurred today . . . the trestle in the photo still exists today.  It was moved from this location to carry the "606" bicycle and walking trail over Western Avenue.

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