Friday, August 31, 2018

August 31, 1925 -- Continental Bank Becomes Park of Bank of America

August 31, 1994 -- August 31, 1994 – After 137 years Continental Bank at 231 South LaSalle Street, the oldest financial institution in the city to operate as an independent bank, becomes part of BankAmerica Corp., the holding company for Bank of America.  With $187 billion in assets Bank of America scoops up Continental and its $22 billion in assets for a reputed $2 billion. Continental Bank was formed in 1957 as Merchants’ Savings, Loan and Trust Co. with founders such as Cyrus McCormick, George Armour and the city’s first mayor, William Butler Ogden.  In 1924 the bank moved into an impressive new building on the southeast corner of Jackson Boulevard and LaSalle Street.  Standing across the street from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago the impressive headquarters had a spacious Grand Banking Hall and a second-floor chairman’s office paneled in oak taken from a sixteenth-century English mansion. [Chicago Tribune, August 31, 1994]In the 1960’s and 1970’s the bank pulled ahead of its chief local rival, the First National Bank of Chicago, and was the first local bank to open a branch in a foreign country.  By 1981 it was the nation’s sixth largest bank.  Things soured in the 1980’s, however.  In 1982 the failure of Penn Square Bank of Oklahoma City forced Continental to write off $326 million in Penn Square loans. Two years later rumors that the bank would be sold started a world-wide run on the bank that caused the United States government to step in with a restructuring plan that included a $4.5 billion commitment by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

August 31, 1925 – The first one-eighth mile of the new Wacker Drive, running east and west along the south side of the river is opened, a project that is expected “to take 41 per cent of the traffic congestion out of the loop.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 31, 1925] All day motorists are attracted “into that broad one-eighth of double decked esplanade like bees to a posy.” The “smooth upper level roadbed” is 72 feet wide and is bordered on one side by a 24-foot sidewalk and on the other by an 18-foot sidewalk which overlooks the Chicago River, 15 feet below.  The paper reports that United States Vice-President Charles G. Dawes has recently conducted a tour of the project for General Geroge Goethals, the chief engineer of the Panama Canal, finished 11 years earlier.  Goethals reportedly remarked, “There isn’t anything equal to this at home or abroad.” Reports the Tribune, “From the finished one-eighth he could visualize the finished stretch of concrete quays, lower level street, upper level street, circling stairways, balustrades, pylons, lamps, pilasters, pedestals and arches which will sweep gracefully along the river’s south bank for three-quarters of a mile from North Michigan boulevard to the junction of Lake and Market streets”. The east end of Wacker Drive begins to take shape where the barges are docked across the river from the Wrigley Building.

August 31, 1891 – The Chicago Daily Tribune greets news that a new art museum will be built on the lakefront with an editorial in its favor.  “The most important feature of the scheme, however, is the securing of a permanent art gallery for the city of sufficient dimensions to meet all demands for long years to come . . . It may be anticipated that the new structure will be as perfect as money and skill can make it, and as beautiful as artistic taste can suggest . . . something which will more clearly reflect the growth of enterprise, skill, and artistic taste in the World’s Fair City.”  The paper, and the city along with it, got its wish.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

August 30, 1911 -- Unity Building Leans Dangerously

August 30, 1911 –Chicago Building Commissioner Henry Ericsson says that the 16-story Unity building at 127 North Dearborn street is leaning 30 inches out of plumb toward the south.  Ericsson says that it is a dangerous situation and that the building will eventually collapse if something is not done quickly.  Thirteen months earlier building department engineers found the building fifteen and three-eighths inches out of plumb at the fifteenth floor, but no action was taken.  The office tower, at one time the tallest building in the city, would be jacked back into place and would stand for another 78 years until destruction began in 1989 as part of the levelling of the structures that stood on Block 37.  It had quite a history.  In 1891 John Peter Altgeld took out a $400,000 loan from the Chicago National Bank, controlled by John R. Walsh, a tough rags-to-riches banker who controlled the Chicago City Council.  When Altgeld was elected governor in 1892, Walsh lobbied for control over the state’s patronage employees, but the scrupulously honest Altgeld refused. When a nation-wide Depression came in 1893, Altgeld lost $500,000 on the building, and it was sold into receivership. It was in Room 711 of the building that the first meeting was held to form the service club that would become Rotary International.

August 30, 1867 – A forewarning of things to come is issued at 4:00 a.m. when a fire is discovered on the second floor of a five-story brick building situated at No. 20 State Street, the approximate location today of the Tortoise Club just north of Marina City.  The fire in a building that houses the David Henry wholesale liquor dealer and importers is well underway before it is discovered and destroys an entire block of businesses before it is brought under control.  The David Henry Co. values its stock at about $70,000 with only $17,500 covered by insurance.  Other adjoiing businesses suffer as well … what fire doesn’t claim, water from the efforts of the fire brigade ruins.  A narrow alley runs along the south side of the David Henry building, and much of the water used to douse the fire runs into the rear of basements extending back from Lake Street, ruining much of the stock in buildings that are not affected by the flames.  It will be a little over four years later that a fire will destroy most of the city, but the fire on State Street on this day shows how quickly things could get out of hand in a city built principally of wood. The block that burned is shown as it appears today in the above photo.

August 30, 1891 – The Chicago Daily Tribune greets news that a new art museum will be built on the lakefront with an editorial in its favor.  “The most important feature of the scheme, however, is the securing of a permanent art gallery for the city of sufficient dimensions to meet all demands for long years to come . . . It may be anticipated that the new structure will be as perfect as money and skill can make it, and as beautiful as artistic taste can suggest . . . something which will more clearly reflect the growth of enterprise, skill, and artistic taste in the World’s Fair City.”  The paper, and the city along with it, got its wish.  

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

August 29, 2013 -- Wolf Point West Receives Caisson Permit

August 29, 2013 –Chicago issues a permit that allows contractors to begin drilling caissons for the 48-story Wolf Point East residential tower.  The construction of the tower will reportedly cost $170 million and bring 400 construction jobs to the area at the junction of the three branches of the river.  The 507-unit tower, designed by bKL, will have an all-glass curtain wall and a split in its western face to allow for twice the number of south-facing balconies inset into the structure.  It will be the first – and the shortest – of three buildings to be constructed on the historic site.  Today Wolf Point West, the second tower on the site, is moving skyward.  

August 29, 1993 – A lengthy Chicago Tribune article seems to signal a coming rebirth for the Chicago River, a long-awaited event captured in one of the opening paragraphs of the article, “…a second life is being pumped into the 130-mile Chicago waterway. Once choked with steamboats and barges, the river—if developers and planners have their way—will be populated with pedestrians, tourists and businesses.  Already being built or on the drawing board are riverfront walks, parks, gardens, apartments and offices.” [Chicago Tribune, August 29, 1993] Three months away will be the opening of a “continuous Riverwalk from Michigan Avenue to the lake.”  In the coming spring the new downtown campus of the University of Chicago will open just east of Michigan Avenue.  And in another year a revitalized Navy Pier will open.  The city’s Commissioner of Planning and Development, Valerie Jarrett, observes, “We look at the river as a critical planning corridor … it’s just not enough that buildings have river walkways, but linkages – and it's challenging with the bridges.”  Numerous projects sit on the drawing board, all of them looking at the river as being an attractive enhancement to development.  River Bend includes 900 feet of river frontage; it will not be completed until 1992.  CityFront Center, a 60-acre mixed-use development on the north side of the river between Michigan Avenue and the lake has begun with the completion of the 1,200-room Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers a year earlier.  CSX Real Property, Inc., the real estate arm of CSX Transportation, Inc., owns property all along the South Branch of the river between Harrison Street to Roosevelt Road.  The company’s regional director of development, Bill Cromwell, says, “All our plans incorporate the river as an active ingredient.”  From Cermak Road to Sixteenth Street, the Chicago Park District is beginning to develop an eight-acre parcel on the east bank of the river for the Chinatown Riverfront Park.  It will be another half-dozen years before Ping Tom Memorial Park will open along that stretch.  The Park District also has a $35 million plan to renovate 100 acres of land around the mouth of the river with ground being broken in 1994 for Du Sable Park, to be developed jointly with the Chicago Dock and Canal Trust.

August 29, 1925 – After 80 years the South Water street market dies at noon as progress moves forward and the first link of the new Wacker Drive, between Franklin and Market Streets prepares to open to traffic the following day. This is the day on which wreckers start demolishing buildings on the north side of South Water Street east of La Salle to begin the eastern extension of Wacker Drive.  With this action a market that began on the oldest street in the city, on a street where the first Board of Trade was established in 1848, with annual business of over $300,000,000, closes down and moves to a new location bounded by Fourteenth Place, South Morgan Street, South Racine Avenue, and the Baltimore and Ohio terminal.  This market closed in 2001.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

August 28, 2015 -- Elevated Station at Madison and Wabash Auctioned, Piece by Piece

August 28, 2015 –As part of its “Madison and Wabash Bash,” the Rebuilding Exchange auctions pieces of the 119-year-old CTA station that formerly stood at the corner of Madison Street and Wabash Avenue.  The Rebuilding Exchange, a not-profit market for building materials from another era, joins the Illinois Railway Museum and Preservation Chicago to auction off the materials at 1740 West Webster Street.  The station at Madison and Wabash opened in 1896 and was one of the last original station houses in the Loop before it was closed on March 16, 2015 to create room for a new station at Washington and Wabash. The station houses themselves will be held for two years while Preservation Chicago seeks an institution or individual willing to take them in.  The station house as it looked while in operation is shown in the top photo. Below that are the sad remains at the Madison and Wabash Bash.

August 28, 1986 – The Chicago City Council approves a plan to build two 25-story office towers on top of Union Station at Adams and Canal Streets.  Alderman Gerald McLaughlin of the Forty-Fifth Ward, the chairman of the landmarks committee, says that the train station does not hold landmark status and that the developers of the property have promised to retain much of its historical design.  In an editorial, the Chicago Tribune says of the plan, “… we continue to believe that these plans will contribute importantly to the revitalization of the west Loop. New rail facilities, new and renovated shops, restaurants—retail space that the area needs so desperately—and office space will draw people to the building’s dramatic waiting room and create an exciting destination point without destroying either the station’s main waiting room or its walls.” [Chicago Tribune, September 4, 1986] All of the meetings, plans, and protests came to naught, however, and the plan died. About ten years ago the American Medical Association proposed the construction of an 18-story office building and hotel above the station, but that plan fell apart as well.  In the spring of 2017 Riverside Investment & Development was named to head up a three-phase $1 billion (or more) project that is expected to include up to two million square feet of office space, 780 apartments and 350 hotel rooms that will be constructed in three phases, starting sometime in 2018.  Riverside CEO John O’Donnell says of the project, “This is probably one of the best physical locations in the city.  It just needs to be dressed up, and I think it needs to have a number of amenities that don’t exist right now.  We can bring an abundance of those to this location.” [Chicago Tribune, May 25, 2017] The two photos above show the station as it was originally constructed and the Riverside Investment & Development rendering of what it may look like in the future.

August 28, 1900 – For five hours “in ranks twelve deep, the white-haired veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic passed in their last grand parade . . . Never again can they meet in such numbers.  They are growing gray haired and aged, and gradually death is mustering them out.  But yesterday they marched 23,000 strong through the down-town streets of Chicago . . .”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 29, 1900]  Beginning at 10:00 a.m. the veterans of the Union Army march down Michigan Avenue until 3:45 p.m.  Commanding General of the Army Nelson A. Miles, upon reviewing the ranks, says, “It was a parade which all Europe, with all its armies combined, could not duplicate.  It was a spectacle which perhaps no American shall witness again.”  Although the 23,000 attendees make up only a small portion of the 2,880,000 men who fought, the encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic taxes the city’s resources.  Trains bring 195,000 people to six different railroad stations.  Elevated and surface line trains handle 725,000 passengers on the night of August 28, and 140,000 people arrive in the city on the day before the parade, putting a huge strain on hotels.

Monday, August 27, 2018

August 27, 1930 -- Lindbergh Beacon Illuminated

August 27, 1930 –The Lindbergh beacon begins official service at 9:00 p.m.  Ceremonies on the roof of the Palmolive building precede the lighting of the mighty beacon which is illuminated when the President touched a button at the White House.  The beacons namesake, Charles Lindbergh, is not at the ceremony, declining an invitation to attend so that he could avoid reporters and cameramen.  An hour before the beacon is turned on a dinner is served on a terrace below the beacon.  In attendance are Rear Admiral Moffett of the Navy’s air forces; Major General Frank Parker, the Sixth Corps area commander; Sir George Hubert Wilkins, a noted explorer; and Captain Fritz Loose of Germany, in town for a series of air races.  Charles S. Pearce, president of the Colgate-Palmolive Peat Company, welcomes the guests and presents Merrill C. Meigs, the chairman of the civic committee in charge of the dedication.  City Attorney William D. Saltiel accepts the light on behalf of the city.  The beacon consists of two beams – one, a rotating two-billion candle power lamp, 603 feet above the street, and the other, a fixed eleven-hundred million candle power light that points directly to the municipal airport. The Chicago Daily Tribunereports, “For a few seconds the big light was held stationary, pointed to the southwest, then it began a leisurely turn, touching the loop skyscrapers as it went. The new Merchandise Mart, already blazing with lights, was given added brilliance by the beam; the Mather tower loomed out of the darkness as the shaft brought it into view, and a degree or two further east the beam gilded the flag staff of the Tribune tower and illuminated the mosque-like dome of the Medinah Athletic Club.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 27, 1930]. The beacon will need some fine tuning, apparently. People on top of a six-story building in Michigan City, 35 miles from the city, report they cannot see the light. A pilot flying the United States mail from Omaha says he was about 100 miles away from the airport when the beacon was illuminated, but he did not see it until he is directly over the municipal airport on the southwest side of the city.  Further tests will be conducted to determine the most advantageous angle for the great beam.  For more on the Lindbergh light, please turn to this entry in Connecting the Windy City.

August 27, 1872 – Montgomery Ward begins the first mail-order company by creating a catalog to reach rural consumers.  The catalog is one page and consists of a simple list of 163 items with ordering instructions.  After coming to Chicago in 1865, Word worked in wholesale operations for several firms and “In tedious rounds of train trips to southern communities, hiring rigs at the local stables, driving out to the crossroads stores and listening to the complaints of the back-country proprietors and their rural customers, he conceived a new merchandising technique: direct mail sales to country people.” [] With a stake of $1,600 Ward and two partners worked from a small shipping office on North Clark Street. A year later both partners abandoned the project, but Ward hung on, and in the next ten years or so saw the growth of the catalog to 240 pages, offering 10,000 items for sale.

August 27, 1978 – At a time when it appears that Chicago’s Loop elevated system is doomed, architect Harry Weese writes a guest editorial for the Chicago Tribune in which he asks that the system be spared.  He begins by calling the elevated system “a landmark of structural and artistic integrity and of historical significance.”  [Chicago Tribune, August 27, 1978]  “Like the old Auditorium Theater,” Weese asserts, “which languished for 25 dark years before being recalled of its former splendor, a redeemed “L” would be a proud symbol of an age when Chicago led the world in its technological revolution.  It is part of the city’s legacy, as much as its museums and park systems and architectural landmarks . . . Putting people underground enhances neither their psyches nor their safety.”

Sunday, August 26, 2018

August 26, 1926 -- Lake Geneva Estate Set Aside as Nature Preserve

August 26, 1926 – Mrs. Frances Kinsley Hutchinson, the widow of the late Charles L. Hutchinson, a Chicago banker and civic leader, agrees to give Wychwood, the family’s 72-acre estate in Lake Geneva, to the State of Wisconsin as a nature preserve.  The estate dates to in 1901 when the Hutchinson’s began their quest to “preserve the natural beauty of an isolated wilderness of native flowers and plants.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 26, 1926] The estate drew scientists, botanists and horticulturists from all over the country as the couple was “vigorously interested in keeping their estate out of the hands of vandals and yet making it available to the nature loving public.” The late Charles L. Hutchinson had been the president of the Art Institute of Chicago while his wife served as president of the Wild Flower Preservation Society of Illinois, and even before Hutchinson’s death the two had set out to find a means of carrying out the plan to keep the estate as a nature preserve.  The agreement with Wisconsin did not last long.  Charles Hutchinson had also been a member of the Board of Trustees at the University of Chicago, and that connection led his widow to seek an agreement with the university in 1933 to donate Wychwood to the school with a 25-year trust to maintain the property.  Frances died in 1936, and the trust expired in 1957 at which time the U. of C. decided to separate itself from the preserve.  Philip K. Wrigley bought the eastern part of the estate, a tract that bordered on his own property.  George F. Getz, Jr. bought the western portion of the property while the middle section which contained the original Hutchinson home was purchased by Clarence B. Mitchell, who removed the top two floors of the home to create a ranch-style home designed in the architectural style of the late 1950’s. Mitchell kept the home for a little more than a year before it, too, went to the Wrigley family.  The original home of the Hutchinson's is shown in the top photo.  Below that is a photo of its appearance today.

August 26, 1927 – The new Adams Street Bridge opens at 2:00 p.m. when Mayor William Hale Thompson uses a pair of golden scissors to cut a ribbon that stretches across its center.  Nearly a thousand cars join a parade from Grant Park to the bridge as boats stream up the river to watch the ribbon-cutting and listen to speeches from Mayor Thompson, Commissioner of Public Works Wolfe and Deputy Commissioner Edward F. Moore.  The new bridge cost $2,500,000 and had been under construction since 1923.  It sits on piers that go down 95 feet to bedrock and extends 265 across the river.

August 26, 1927 – John Philip Sousa conducts “Stars and Stripes Forever” on a terrace east of the new Buckingham Fountain as the fountain is dedicated before 50,000 Chicagoans.  And “As though responding to the direction of the bandmaster and the magic of his baton, the fountain began to glow with misty blue lights circling each of the three tiers.  A moment later the rush of water started.  For half an hour the lights were played on the 134 jets, through which 5,500 gallons of water were poured each minute, and all the various lighting effects were displayed.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 27, 1927]  Walter B. Smith, a friend of Kate Buckingham, the woman who donated the fountain to the city in memory of her brother, Clarence, makes an address explaining the donation for Buckingham, who is present among the guests in the grandstand.  Michael Igoe, a member of the U. S. House of Representatives and a commissioner of the South Park Board, accepts the $700,000 fountain on behalf of the city.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

August 25, 1983 -- Gateway IV Asks for Heliport

Photo Courtesy of
August 25, 1983 – Another great idea that didn’t fly … On this day the developers of the Gateway IV building on the Chicago River ask the Chicago Plan Commission to approve a private rooftop heliport.  Alan Goldboro, the president of Tishman Midwest Management Corporation, the developer of the four Gateway buildings near Union Station, asserts that the other necessary approvals are all in place for what will be the first such rooftop flight deck since the city toughened safety regulations 21 years earlier. Goldboro emphasizes that the heliport will be used only by office tenants and police and fire helicopters with no common-carrier service to O’Hare or Midway Airports. One hurdle that has been cleared is the approval of the Friends of the River, a group that managed to shut down a plan for a commercial heliport at Wolf Point in 1980.  The coordinator of the group says of the Gateway plan, “From street level it shouldn’t make as much noise as a passing bus. From the drawings we’ve seen, the pad won’t even be visible from the street.  It’s completely different from Wolf Point.  

August 25, 1955 – John J. Mack, the owner of a five-story building at the southwest corner of State and Monroe Streets, announces that the building will be torn down to make way for a new structure.  The building to be razed was built in 1872 by E. S. Pike and called the Pike Block.  It later assumed the name of the Ayer Block, and over the years it had been remodeled at least six times.  The loss of the building is significant because the Art Institute of Chicago called the building home when the Academy of Fine Arts, as the Art Institute of Chicago was known at the time, when it was established in 1886.  The corner today is seeing yet another transformation as New York-based Tishman and an investment partner paid $35 million for the 60-year-old property in March, 2015 in order to carve 70,000 square feet of retail and office space out of it and an adjoining structure.  The rendering of the new space is shown above.

August 25, 1972 – Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackman refuses to block the merger of the Illinois Central Railroad and the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad.  The Missouri Pacific Railroad had claimed that the proposed merger would create a near-monopoly that would cripple it.  The merger, which had occurred on August 10 gives the new Illinois Central Gulf Railroad control of 13,532 miles of track.

Friday, August 24, 2018

August 24, 1982 -- Archbishop Bernardin Installed as Archbishop of Chicago

Photo courtesy of
August 24, 1982 –Archbishop Joseph Louis Bernardin is installed as the seventh Roman Catholic archbishop of Chicago in a candlelight service at Holy Name Cathedral. Reverend John Richard Keating reads the papal letter assigning Archbishop Bernardin to the archdiocese of Chicago at 8:01 p.m. before 1,500 priests in attendance. After the reading of the letter is completed, the priests provide Archbishop Bernardin with a two-minute standing ovation.  The Archbishop’s homily is entitled “I Am Joseph, Your Brother,” and in it he promises, “We will work and play together, fast and pray together, mourn and rejoice together, despair and hope together, dispute and be reconciled together.  You will know me as a friend, fellow priest and bishop.  You will know also that I love you.  For I am Joseph, your brother.” [Chicago Tribune, August 25, 1982]

August 24, 1968 -- Seven leaders of the Youth International Party and their candidate for the Presidency of the United States, a 150-pound pig named Pigasus, are arrested at the Civic Center, today’s Richard J. Daley Center.  The Chicago Tribune reports, “Moving quickly and without incident, 10 uniformed policemen and several detectives under the personal direction of Comdr. James Riordan of the First District, loaded the pig into a police wagon as soon as it was placed in the plaza.”  The seven leaders of the demonstration are loaded into the wagon with the pig.  The Yippie leaders are taken to police headquarters where they are charged with disorderly conduct and released on $25 bonds with a court date scheduled for September 19.  Pigasus is taken to the Anti-Cruelty Society where he is “given a bath, fed, and placed in an outside pen,” according to the society’s director.  The demonstration, attended by about 50 Yippies and watched by 200 spectators, apparently is enough to scare Country Joe and the Fish away as the San Francisco  rock group withdraws from the Hippie Festival of Love, scheduled to begin in the city later in the day. 

August 24, 1920 – The full-sized plaster model of Lorado Taft’s “The Fountain of Time” is completed after years of work and stands at the head of the Midway Plaisance, west of Cottage Grove Avenue.  The sculptural piece is described as comprising “ . . . scores of figures, arising from mystery, moving through life, and vanishing in mystery.  Some are dancing, some proceed sorrowfully, some are Galahads, some are satyrs.  Towering over all is Mr. Taft’s conception of Father Time.  The huge, weird figure dominates the movement of the pushing mob it faces.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 25, 1920]

Thursday, August 23, 2018

August 23, 1933 -- Tribune Tower Accepts Alamo Rock

August 23, 1933 –A stone from San Antonio’s Alamo is dedicated at 11:00 a.m. in a ceremony held at Tribune Tower to coincide with Texas Day of the Century of Progress World’s Fair on the lakefront.  The stone is presented to the Chicago Tribuneby Miss Emma Kyle Burleson, whose brother was the Postmaster General in President Woodrow Wilson’s administration and whose grandfather, General Edward Burleson, served as the third Vice-President of the Republic of Texas. Mayor Edward Kelly serves as the master of ceremony with a prominent Texas newspaper editor, Peter Molyneaux, offering thoughts on the stone that will join stones from other historic structure from around the world in the tower on Michigan Avenue.  There are a total of 149 rocks embedded in the exterior of the tower, down from 150 after NASA reclaimed a rock from the moon.

August 23, 1985 – Under the headline “Tattered Navy Pier Finds Dance Card Empty,” the Chicago Tribune describes the sorry condition of the municipal pier at the end of Illinois Street and Grand Avenue, finished in 1916 for $4 million.  According to the paper, “…the unique 3,000-foot pier has deteriorated to the point that its sewer system has been plugged up and its roofs are sieves.  The upper walkways are too dangerous, and the floors of lower storage rooms can barely support their own weight.”  The pier has no adequate fire protection system, so that any event held there must keep a fire engine standing by.  With one exception, a major event has not been held at the pier since the inauguration of Mayor Harold Washington two years earlier.  Joe Wilson of the Department of Public Works says, “I don’t think $60 million would give you much more than the basic structure, but it depends on what you want.”  Wilson says that an average of 20 people visit the pier on weekdays and about 75 on weekends.” The above photo shows the east end of the pier in the 1980's.

August 23, 1914 – Henry Korthagen, an unemployed painter, pays the 25-cent admission to the observatory of the Masonic Temple Building on State Street, crawls through a window to the northwest corner of the building and then jumps.  His body strikes the crowded sidewalk on State Street at noon on a Saturday.  A dentist on the twelfth floor of the building, Dr. A. Jay Blakie, sees the body fly past his window, with a black derby hat following 20 feet behind.  “From my position above,” Blakie says, “the sidewalk looked like the surface of water after a stone has been thrown in.  A circle of humanity just eddied back from the crumpled object in the middle of it.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 24, 1914]  Korthagen had visited the Painters and Decorators District Council at 300 West Madison Street earlier, seeking to pay back dues and gain reinstatement to the union.  Those at the union headquarters describe him as cheerful at the time.  The observatory at the Masonic Temple is pictured above, all the way up there at the top of the building.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

August 22, 1982 -- Candy Store Raided

Photo courtesy of Brubaker, William C. 1976
August 22, 1982 –Police raid the Candy Store at 874 North Wabash Avenue at about 1:30 a.m., arresting 13 people on prostitution charges. A 63-year-old woman is charged with being a keeper of a house of prostitution, and 11 other women are charged with being inmates of a house of prostitution.  Things change, right?  Today the Sofitel Chicago Magnificent Mile stands on the site.  The hotel, which opened in 2002 with a design by French architect Jean-Paul Viguier, is on the American Institute of Architects America’s Favorite Architecture list.

August 22, 1942 – At 3:00 p.m. the United States Navy formally commissions the aircraft carrier Wolverine off Madison Street.  The ship is the country’s only paddlewheel aircraft carrier and will be used to train pilots operating out of the Naval air station in Glenview as they practice carrier landings and take-offs.  Captain E. A. Lofquist, Chief of Staff of the Ninth Naval District, makes the dedication address, after which the Navy’s commission pennant, displaying one red stripe, one white stripe, and seven stars set in a field of blue, is raised from the Wolverine’s masthead.  Two fighter planes, one of which is piloted by Commander Edward J. O’Neill, a pilot who flew in the Battle of Midway and the officer in charge of operational training once the ship is commissioned, circle overhead during the ceremony.  The city fireboat Fred Busse and two tugs carry several hundred young men who have signed up to take the naval aviation course. For more on the Wolverine and her sister carrier, the Sable, you may turn to entires in Connecting the Windy City here and here.  Information about Navy Pier and its service during World War II can be found here

August 22, 1969 – The City Council Buildings and Zoning Committee unanimously approves the guidelines for the development of the Illinois Central land and air rights south of the Chicago River and east of Michigan Avenue, asking for a change so that advertising signs will be banned in the area.  Louis, Hill, the Commissioner of Development and Planning, says that developers will provide streets, utilities, a fire station, a dock wall along the river, a six-acre park, a school, and a subway and station to serve the area.  The approval follows four days after the Chicago Plan Commission approves the same plan.   The area approved for the new development is shown in the photo above.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

August 21, 1886 -- Grant Memorial Models Place on Display

August 21, 1886 –The trustees of the Grant Monument Fund place 14 models on display at the Art Institute in a competition for the best proposal.  Awards in the amount of $500 for first place, $300 for second and $200 for third are being offered for the designs.  The models have been prepared on a scale of two inches to the foot. Two are from Florence, Italy, one is form Cincinnati, one from New York, one from St. Louis and four are from Chicago.  The remaining five proposals come from various places in New England. As part of the design competition specifications and estimates of cost were required, and the average expenditure comes in at about $20,000.  The first prize ended up going to a Cincinnati artist, Louis T. Rebisso, who emigrated from Italy in 1857.  Francis M. Whitehouse, a Chicago architect, was responsible for the base and plinth on which the equestrian statue sits.  Despite its being a Lincoln Park fixture today, at the time Chicago sculptor Lorado Taft, called the monument “a nondescript pile of masonry” topped by a sculpture with “a complete lack of artistic distinction.” []  The cost of the memorial was underwritten by nearly 100,000 individuals and was dedicated in 1891.

August 21, 1933 – More than 1,000 teachers and other school employees in the city come to the offices of the Board of Education in the Builders’ Building at LaSalle Street and Wacker Drive in order to receive their share of $1,250,000 in 1931 tax anticipation warrants.  They exchange the scrip issued two years earlier for the warrants that can be turned into cash.  When the exchange begins in the morning, over 100 people are waiting in line.  Between January of 1931 and May of 1933 teachers were paid their monthly salaries only three times. By 1933 Chicago school district employees were owed $22.8 million. In place of their regular salaries the teachers received “scrip” that could then be redeemed at businesses and banks, most of which did not honor the full value of the paper. Earlier in 1933, on April 24, five thousand teachers moved on five of Chicago’s largest banks, “confronting bankers, trashing offices, smashing windows, and throwing ink on the walls.” [] Other demonstrations followed, prompting one teacher to observe, “Few of us are the sweet complacent, non-thinking 100 percenters that we used to be. Our eyes have been opened … After four years of learning that bankers are our worst enemies, that politicians are interested in our votes and power only and use our children merely as pawns in their selfish games, that we can depend on no one but ourselves, we cannot be restored to our previous complacency.”  It would not be until 1934 that an infusion of federal money would allow the teachers of Chicago to receive actual paychecks again as well as the back pay owed to them.  The original Builder's Building is pictured above.  It is considerably larger today as the result of a 1986 addition.

August 21, 1976 – The Chicago Tribune reports of a demonstration by nearly 100 cab drivers at the Civic Center, protesting a ruling by the city commissioner of consumer affairs, Jane Byrne, that they must wear uniforms.  The ruling, due to take effect on September 7, causes anger among the cabbies who say that over the preceding year three drivers have been killed, seven shot, one had his throat cut, and another suffered amputation of a leg as a result of a robbery.  Uniforms will just make them a more recognizable target when they are away from their cabs, the drivers say.  One driver says that he has to drive 16 to 18 hours a day to make a living, and that there is not enough money to buy and maintain a uniform.  Jane Guthrie, a driver for three years, says, “How can the city tell self-employed persons to wear uniforms . . . If your cab breaks down in a bad neighborhood it’s bad enough getting out without having to wear a uniform which advertises that you’re stranded and have money on you from driving.”  [Chicago Tribune, August 21, 1976]

Monday, August 20, 2018

August 20, 1936 -- Ashland Avenue Bridge Dedicated

August 20, 1936 –Before a crowd of more than 10,000 people, Mayor Edward Kelly and other city officials dedicate the new Ashland Avenue bridge over the north branch of the Chicago River at Elston and Clybourn Avenues.  The bridge is worth the $1,713,000 it costs to build it because it is the final link in the widening and extension of Ashland Avenue from Ninety-Fifth street to Devon avenue, a project that began in 1922.  A parade of cars begins at Sixty-Ninth Street and moves along Ashland to Milwaukee Avenue where it is joined by a series of floats that depict the development of the city’s traffic from horse cars to streetcars and buses.  Kelly says, “All of the city will benefit by this great improvement.  It required much planning and is a concrete expression of the ‘I WILL’ spirit of Chicago.  It is a credit to the community, a mark of achievement.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 21, 1936]

August 20, 1899 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports on a controversy surrounding United States government buildings at the upcoming Paris exposition.  The man in charge of settling the kerfuffle is Chicagoan Ferdinand W. Peck, who must somehow come to a decision regarding the huge issue of whether the letter “V” or “U” will be used on American buildings at the exposition.  Those who argue against substituting the “V” in words that normally would use “U” say that the substitution “is an unwarranted bowing of the knee to the French, an effort unduly to honor words already borrowed from them and a pledge that the United State by and by will make their entire language its own.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 20, 1899] Peck is the one man most responsible for seeing the great Auditorium Theater built a decade earlier, and that building on Congress Street and Michigan Avenue uses “V” in place of “U” in its nameplate.  One of the architects of the Auditorium, Louis Sullivan, says, “The letter “V’ has always been considered more artistic than the letter “U” … the letter is ugly, totally too heavy in the lower portion, and made of no artistic lines.  The “V” is copied from the old Roman and may be found in practically every inscription designed by an artist or an architect.”  In Rome the Latin language of antiquity had no “U,” so one could speculate that the use of the “V” in neo-classical design enhances the effect of the design style.  One could also ask a stone carver which letter he or she would prefer to carve and be fairly accurate in predicting the response. 

August 20, 1980 – Things become heated at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse on Dearborn Street as Judge Marvin Aspen sends 14 sweaty jurors downstairs to the offices of the General Services Administration to complain about conditions in the “sweltering courtroom.”  “Maybe they’ll listen to you,” the judge says.  “They certainly ought to, because you’re paying their salary.”  The Chicago Tribune reports that the assistant building engineer, Michael O’Connell, tells the jurors, “Don’t expect it any lower than 80,” as he explains President Carter’s energy guidelines, which call for the cooling of public buildings to no less than 80 degrees.  The real problem, though, seems to be with the engineering of the building.  According to the Tribune, “In recent years, some Dirksen Building courtrooms have been so hot or so cold that a number of judges have said they cannot conduct business and have threatened to cite the GSA for contempt of court for obstruction of justice.”  [Chicago Tribune, August 20, 1980]    

Sunday, August 19, 2018

August 19, 1974 -- President Gerald Ford Proposes Conditional Amnesty

August 19, 1974 –Speaking before the Seventy-Fifth annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars at the Conrad Hilton Hotel, President Gerald Ford proposes leniency for the 50,000 American military “deserters and draft-dodgers” [Chicago Tribune, August 20, 1974]if they agree to some form of alternative service upon their return.  Ford says, “I want them to come home, if they want to work their way back.”  The President’s speech is greeted with “whistles, cheers, and loud applause” when he sets aside his scripted remarks to say that he opposes “unconditional blanket amnesty for anyone who illegally evaded or fled military service.”  The crowd cools off, however, when Ford says, “I acknowledge a power higher than the people, who commands not only righteousness but love; not only justice, but mercy … These young people should have a second chance to contribute their fair share to the rebuilding of peace among ourselves.  In the spirit that guided Abraham Lincoln and Harry Truman, I reject amnesty and I reject revenge.  So I am throwing the weight of my Presidency into the scales of justice on the side of leniency.  I foresee their reentry into a new atmosphere of hope, hard work, and mutual trust.”

August 19, 1946 – Construction begins on the first major building project in the Loop in nearly a decade as a five-story building that will be occupied by the Baskin Clothing Company is begun. The new store, a design by Holabird and Root, is expected to be completed by May 1, 1947. The whole building will be air-conditioned and long strips of glass block will be featured on the Adams Street side of the structure. Exterior walls will be of Indiana limestone with a strip of polished granite framing the building from the roof line to a recessed space above the shop windows.  An entire floor will be devoted to women’s wear with men’s wear taking up the second and third floors.  Office and tailor shops will be placed on the top floor.  The new building will have a frontage of 76 feet on State Street and 148 feet on Adams Street.  The top photo shows the Baskin's Store at 137 South State Street.  The corner as it appears today -- with an EnWave Chicago cooling plant atop a C.V.S. drugstore -- is shown in the photo beneath that.

August 19, 1963 – Imagine this one happening today!  Coast Guard officials detain five men and a woman aboard a 75-foot boat after the leaking boat is stopped at the Chicago lock because it has no safety equipment and is judged to be unseaworthy.  After removing the crew from the boat, officials discover 500 pounds of dynamite on the top deck and remove the leaking vessel to a point 1,000 feet offshore.  Miss Kiiri Tamm, 21, one of the crew members, tells officials that the group planned to use the dynamite to blow up a sunken barge off Eighty-Third Street in an effort to salvage the metal, which they hoped to sell in order to start a salvage firm of their own.  The bomb squad removes the explosives and the boat is returned to its berth at Goose Island.