Wednesday, July 4, 2018

July 4, 1883 -- Lake-Front Park, a "Tramps' Paradise"

July 4, 1883 –A reporter for the Chicago Daily Tribunesets out for a stroll through the Lake-Front park, today’s Grant Park, as “a deliciously cool breeze fanned his perspiring brow.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, July 4, 1883]He discovers that nearly every bench had one or two occupants, concluding that “as a tramps’ paradise the park was an eminent success.  Deep, raspy snores, indicative of a tranquil slumber, floated up from various quarters of the park, and here and there could be dimly seen a recumbent figure, flat on its back, its arms and legs ungracefully distributed about it, a coat serving as a pillow and darkness as a cove.” Encountering a police officer on his way out of the park, the reporter asks if the situation is normal and if anything is being done about it. “Yes, sometimes we pull ‘em in,” responds the officer. “but not often. It’s only when they’re drunk and come down here disturbing the quiet sleepers.  They’re not all bums that sleeps here.  Some of ‘em are pretty well-to-do, but put on their old clothes, leave their valuables at home, and come down here to sleep.  It’s cooler, you know, than sleeping in a close room.  Come down and try it some night, and I’ll see that you ain’t arrested.” The above photo shows the park as the decade comes to an end.

July 4, 1974 – The Chicago Tribune reports that an attorney for the owner of the Marquette Building on the northwest corner of Adams and Dearborn Streets has labeled a city proposal for saving the building as “premature and not pertinent.” [Chicago Tribune, July 4, 1974]  The city’s proposal had been put forth on June 10 when the city Commissioner of Development and Planning, Lewis H. Hill, suggested that the building could be saved if the owner, Romanek-Golub and Co., was given “lucrative zoning bonuses” that would allow it to raze the buildings in the block bounded by Adams, Dearborn, Clark and Monroe Streets while allowing the Marquette to remain.  The position of Romanek-Golub is that it cannot “earn a fair income on operation of the Marquette under any circumstances” and that landmark status for the building “stigmatizes any building in the eyes of lending agencies and others.”  A position paper in which the Department of Architecture at the University of Illinois Chicago Circle assesses the worth of the building states, “The preservation of the great works of architecture, which are this city’s unique, valuable, and ongoing contribution to the culture and civilization of the twentieth century, must be seen as a positive force that will enhance the quality and thus the life of the city.”

July 4, 1902 – 10,000 people gather in Independence Square at Douglas Park and Garfield Boulevard as Illinois Governor Richard Yates unveils a great fountain as a band plays, Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean and 700 school children sing along.  In his speech the governor says, “You may go around the world, and into every port, and you will find no flag so dear to the seekers for freedom as the stars and stripes that wave over there.  It represents an unequaled, a sublime, and unprecedented citizenship.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, July 5, 1902]  The sculpture by Charles J. Mulligan stands on top of a 15-foot base in the shape of the Liberty Bell.  The children in the sculpture hold Roman candles that once served as fountainheads.  The also carry a flag, bugle and drum in the celebration of an old-fashioned Fourth of July.  Today the fountain basin is dry, surrounded by a ten-foot high fence as the above photo shows.

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