Sunday, September 2, 2018

September 2, 1981 -- Mayor Jane Byrne Unveils $3.3 Billion Improvement Project

September 2, 1981–Mayor Jane Byrne unveils a $3.3 billion, five-year public works plan that, if implemented, will bring major changes to the city.  In the plan’s 142 pages a half-billion dollars are allocated for projects in the Loop and at O‘Hare International Airport with $2 billion allocated to the rest of the city.  Byrne says, “This capital improvements program is indeed ambitious, but in that respect it is typical of Chicago.  It embodies not only the best hopes of Chicago citizens and my administration, but also our shared commitment to a better city in the years ahead.” [Chicago Tribune, September 3, 1981]Perhaps the most ambitious aspect of the plan is the $64.8 million proposal to eliminate the S-curve on Lake Shore Drive.  The plan also includes: the construction of the Columbus Drive bridge; the reconstruction of Lake Shore Drive from the Chicago River north to Huron Street; construction of a central public library in the block bounded by State and  Van Buren Streets, Plymouth Court and Congress Parkway;  and redevelopment of the six-square block area bounded by Washington, LaSalle, and State Streets and Wacker Drive.  Close to a half-billion dollars is allocated for improvements at O-Hare, including renovating and expanding terminals, upgrading parking facilities and the possible construction of a monorail system.  Midway is scheduled to see $50 million in improvements as well.  Elimination of the S-curve where Lake Shore Drive crossed the river, shown above, was one of the major projects outlined in the $3.3 billion plan.    

September 2, 1954 – Ten thousand people watch as the captured German submarine U-505 is hauled across Lake Shore Drive at Fifty-Seventh Street on its way to a permanent place at the Science Museum. The drive is closed to traffic at 7:00 p.m. and opened again at 7:00 a.m. the following day as the submarine is moved on rails for a distance of 300 feet across the highway  Directing the move is Rear Admiral Daniel V. Gallery who commanded the task force that captured the vessel off the coast of West French Africa in 1944, taking control of the first submarine ever commandeered in naval combat.  Workmen of the La Plant-Adair Company, a house moving company from Indianapolis, are in charge of jacking up the submarine and transporting it safely to its final resting place at the museum.  The above photo shows the U-505 sitting on the beach at Jackson Park after being rolled off the floating dry dock preparatory to being hauled across Lake Shore Drive to the Science Museum, today's Museum of Science and Industry.

September 2, 1914 – Federal officials begin an investigation to determine the cause of a fire that rips through the passenger ship City of Chicago, which lies beached at the life saving station at the entrance to the Chicago River.  The one big question about the wreck is how a fire could have gained such force if all members of the crew were on duty.  The boat sits with its hull resting on the bottom of the lake in about twelve feet of water with a load of Michigan grapes, cantaloupes and peaches still aboard.  The official report of the Coast Guard describes the event, “When within 5 miles of the end of her run in the early morning of September 1, 1914, the 1,439-ton passenger steamer City of Chicago, bound from St. Joseph, Mich., to Chicago, with 94 passengers, a crew of 56, and a full cargo of fruit, was discovered by her master to be on fire amidships.  To avoid panic no alarm was sounded, and the presence of the fire was kept secret on board until the master was able to lay his vessel, head-on, upon the breakwater protecting Chicago Harbor.  As the steamer rested upon the barrier referred to she lay within a few feet of the old Chicago Coast Guard Station.  The station lookout had observed smoke rising from her before she struck, and keeper and crew lost no time in beginning the work of extinguishing the fire.  The women and children on board were carried down ladders set against the steamer’s side.  With everybody safely landed, the Coast Guard crew devoted their entire attention to subduing the fire, and succeeded, with the help of a fire tug, in putting it out after three hours’ effort.”  The captain of the City of Chicago, Oscar Bjork, says, “There isn’t much to say about it.  You can see where the boat is, and you can bet I didn’t put her there for nothing.  I don’t think it would have been possible to save her anyhow – but I wasn’t figuring on saving her.  It was the passengers I was worried about.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 2, 1914]

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