Monday, April 9, 2018

April 9, 1967 -- Mayor Richard J. Daley Looks at the Future

Mayor Richard J. Daley
April 9, 1967 – Shortly after Mayor Richard J. Daley wins reelection to office by a lopsided margin of over a half-million votes, the Chicago Tribune sits down with him in a wide-ranging interview, an interview that remains timely.  Here are some particularly cogent excerpts from that interview …

Q.  Will Chicago’s growth and redevelopment in the next four years match that of your previous four years in office …
A.  You will see, in the central city where the Loop elevated will be gone and the subway completed.  There will be expansion to the east, such as new buildings over the Illinois Central property, and to the west along Madison street, where only the other day ground was broken for a 27-story building for the Illinois Bell Telephone company … Completion of the rapid transit in the Kennedy and Ryan expressways will bring a resurgence of people to park and ride on public transportation into the central city.  We are going to build the most attractive and best convention hall in the nation on the lake front as a new McCormick Place.  There will be more development like Carl Sandburg Village on the north, the many projects between Twenty-Sixth and Thirty-First streets on the south, and rebuilding taking place on south Michigan avenue.  You will see a modern airport in the lake and islands in the lake for recreation … The Auditorium theater is nearly completed and will be another important cultural asset to our city.

Q.  You are predicting the end of slums in the near future.  How can you be certain when there seem to be so much substandard housing in the city?
A.  We will have the buildings unsuitable to live in removed by December, 1967.

Q.  The comprehensive plan of Chicago deals primarily with the period until 1980.  Are you looking far enough ahead?
A.  Each generation should make a contribution to the improvement of the city.  Our greatest challenge in urban living is to provide those living in the high rises recreation off the lake front.

Q.  When will the Loop elevated be razed and the subway completed?
A.  The subway in Wells street must be completed first.  Then we can tear down the elevated.  We are seeing evidence of what this will do for the downtown with the number of land purchases taking place along Wabash avenue and Wells street … We will see the subway completed and the elevated down by the year 1971.

Q.  Will we have a third airport in your next term?
A.  We need a third airport and we must make a study to see if it is feasible to build one in the lake … If the report is favorable, I would expect we would have an airport in the lake within ten years.

Q.  Let’s discuss sports.  Where do we stand on the proposal for a new sports stadium for Chicago?
A.  There is no question that Chicago must have a sports stadium and it is a matter I will push … It must be a stadium that is built without any expense to the taxpayer.  We are going to have championship football teams in Chicago.  When the University of Illinois expands at Circle campus, it is going to win the Big Ten championship.

Q.  If you feel confident about your predictions today, where will the Cubs and White Sox finish this year?
A.  They will both finish in first place, of course.  We are going to have a subway series in Chicago.  This is a city of champions.

* * * * * * * *

Of course, it didn’t turn out exactly the way the Mayor outlined it so neatly. For the record, the Chicago White Sox finished fourth in the American League, only four games off the lead with a record of 89-73.  The Chicago Cubs finished third, 14 games back, with a season record of 87-74.)

And … the Loop elevated line is still standing.

April 9, 1975 – O’Neil Ford, a Texas architect working on plans for a transformation of the river that flows through San Antonio into a natural people-friendly attraction, speaks at the second of the Bright New City lecture series in the First Chicago auditorium.  Ford outlines the project from its slow beginnings when “a few people started doing good things to the river banks,” [Chicago Tribune, April 9, 1975] to a place where “walks, terraces, and plantings line the banks, where 60,000 people show up on a weekend for an art show with really terrible paintings and where barges and paddle boats ply the waters.”  The architect concludes his lecture by saying, “If people can make the San Antonio River that way, they can make the Chicago River work, too … If something like that isn’t done within 10 years, it will be a disgrace.”  Well, it took a little longer than ten years, but the Chicago River is looking pretty good these days and is getting better with each passing year.

April 9, 1903 -- 800 members of the newly formed janitresses union celebrate a victory in arbitration "waving gingham aprons and mop rags, and beating a tattoo on scrub pails." [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 10, 1903] The women had previously worked for 11 cents an hour until Mrs. Susan Horton, a worker in the Ashland Block at Clark and Randolph (where the Chicago Title and Trust building stands today) organizes the union, leads a process that formalizes demands, and presents them to building managers. After two weeks spent in arbitration, the women are granted an increase of seven cents to 18 cents an hour with straight time for overtime. They are to work for eight hours in the day and six hours if work is done at night. Work on Sundays and holidays will count as double overtime. The photo below shows Burnham & Root's Ashland Block, where the whole thing started.

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