Wednesday, September 26, 2018

September 26, 1979 -- Rock Island Reaches End of the Line
September 26, 1979 –The Interstate Commerce Commission rules that the bankrupt Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad will be taken over and operated by a management group selected from 14 other railroads.  Following the decision, a federal judge denies a request by the railroad to delay action on the commission’s decision.  Vice-President Walter Mondale announces the ICC decision, saying that restoration of service on the strike-bound Rock Island is critical to Midwest farmers who are in the middle of bringing in the annual soybean and corn crops.  The members of the striking United Transportation Union agree to go back to work after the ICC agrees that they will be paid “prevailing industry wage rates”. [Chicago Tribune, September 27, 1979] With that assurance in place, the Brotherhood of Railway and Airline Clerks agrees to talk to the new management team  about returning to work.  The ruling of the ICC marks the first time in U. S. history that the federal government has ordered a major railroad taken over because it is failing.  It is estimated that the federal government will be paying $80 to $90 million to operate the Rock Island for the ensuing eight months.  The railroad traces its history back all the way to 1847 when a charter was granted to its predecessor, the Rock Island and LaSalle Railroad Company. At the height of its operation the railroad extended as far west as New Mexico, as far north as Minnesota and as far south as Louisiana and Texas.  Chicago was its eastern point of origin.  The railroad was ultimately liquidated in 1980 although most of The Rock’s principal routes still exist today under the control of other lines.

September 26, 1925 – Three construction workers die and two others are seriously injured as a steel concrete scoop breaks away from the fourteenth floor of the Metropolitan Building at Randolph and LaSalle Streets.  The three men who die are all working on scaffolds below the scoop.  Two of three workers on the highest of the two scaffolds manage to hang on and survive as the scoop kills the third man on the platform, suspended 25 feet below it.  The crash occurs when hundreds of workers are flooding the Loop on their way to work. The intersections are jammed with people, and police reserves are summoned to clear enough room to permit the dead and the injured to be removed from the area.  The Metropolitan Building as it appears today is shown above.

September 26, 1949 – Chicago learns that the architectural firm of Vitzhum and Burns has won a competition for the design of a church and Franciscan friary to be located at 108-116 West Madison Avenue, the site of the La Salle Theater.  The church, St. Peter’s, will replace one that has stood at 816 South Clark Street since just four years after the Great Fire in 1871.  The Franciscan Fathers made some darned good deals in the process of arranging for their new place of worship.  In 1942 the order bought the ten-story Woods Theater building from the Marshall Field estate for $600,000, property that it sold in June of 1949 for $1,200,000.  At the same time the order bought the site for the new church from the Marshall Field estate for $515,000.  The plans for the new building include a 1,600-seat auditorium, a chapel above the main auditorium that will seat 300, with the two upper floors serving as the friary.  Some heavy hitters participated in the competition, including Edo J. Belli, Nairne W. Fischer, Hermann J. Gaul, Graham, Anderson, Probst and White, Rapp and Rapp, and Shaw, Metz and Dolio.  Due to the scarcity of building materials in the post-war years it took awhile to finish the new St. Peter’s, but the church finally opened in 1955.

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