May 20, 1895 –Another step is taken in the City Council in an effort to establish a lakefront park with the following order: “Whereas. The Second Regiment Armory and Battery D, located on the Lake-Front, between Madison and Washington streets, are being used for the benefit of private parties; and Whereas, It is important that these buildings be removed without delay; therefore, be it Ordered. That the Commissioner of Public Works is hereby directed to see that such buildings are removed at once.”[Chicago Daily Tribune, May 21, 1895]In debate over the resolution Alderman Madden observes that “the buildings were only used for dances, prize fights, dog shows, and bicycle races.” Alderman Coughlin countered that the city was using one of the buildings as a police station and a fire engine house and that “It was all very well to talk in time of peace, but when soldiers were wanted the Council gladly would accommodate the regiments controlling the armories.” The bill passes by a vote of 51 to 10. The armory can be seen in the above rendering on the far side of the massive Industrial Exposition Building, which was torn down to make way for the Art Institute of Chicago.
May 20, 1914 – The board of the South Park Commissioners authorizes its superintendent, J. F. Foster, to begin “at once” the first phase of Grant Park improvement by beautifying a strip of land west of the Illinois Central tracks between Jackson Boulevard and Randolph Street. Foster says, “These plans will be worked out by our landscape architects and gardeners from the original complete Grant park plan submitted by Olmstead brothers of Boston. The park will be beautified in units. The second portion to be improved will be that west of the Illinois Central tracks and running south from Jackson boulevard to the proposed new Illinois Central terminal to be built south of Twelfth Street extended.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, May 21, 1914] The above photo, taken in July of 1914, shows Monroe Street as it crosses the Illinois Central tracks. The Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago sits on the right side of the street today on the lake side of the railroad tracks.
May 20, 1965 – The Plaza of the Americas on the north side of the Wrigley building is opened, extending from the lot line on Michigan Avenue almost to Rush Street. This is the first of two great public spaces on Michigan avenue to be developed by private interests. Pioneer Court, jointly developed by the Tribune Company and the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States, will open on the east side of the avenue in the upcoming month. The Plaza of the Americas is a joint undertaking of the Wrigley company and Apollo Savings and Loan Association of Chicago, which occupies the building just to the north of the Wrigley Building. That building is now the Realtor Building at 430 North Michigan Avenue. On this day in 1965 at 11:45 the flags of Chicago and the United States are raised, followed by the flags representing the nations of the Organization of American States. There is to be a pole set aside for the Cuban flag, but no flag will be raised. “It was decided that until Cuba becomes free, its flag would not be flown,” Edward P. Kelly, the chairman of Apollo Savings, says. [Chicago Tribune, May 16, 1965]