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.”

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