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.” [chicagopublicart.blogspot.com]  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.” [https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2012/8/2/1116048/-The-Chicago-Teacher-Revolt-of-1933] 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]

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