Saturday, September 8, 2018

september 8, 1929 -- Gompers Park Takes Its Name in Dedication Ceremony

September 8, 1929 –Gompers Park at the corner of Foster and Pulaski Avenues, a 39-acre expanse of green space that is divided by the Chicago River, is dedicated.  Originally a part of the Park District of Albany Park, one of 22 independent park districts, that were brought into the Chicago Park District in 1934, the park’s plan was the work of landscape architect Henry J. Stockman. Clarence Hatzfield, a Chicago architect and member of the Albany Park board, designed the park’s fieldhouse.  The park was originally named after Samuel Matson, who had been the Superintendent of Albany Park’s Park District.  According to the Chicago Park District’s website, “Albany Park District President Henry A. Schwartz, an official of the shoemakers’ union, soon convinced the park board that it was inappropriate to name the park for a living.” Therefore, on this day in 1929 the district renamed the park in honor of Samuel Gompers, who had served as the president of the American Federation of Labor from 1886 until his death in 1924.  A major donation from the Edward M. Marx Foundation led to the dedication of a life-sized statue of the labor leader on Labor Day of 2007.

September 8, 1973 – Led by the Reverend Jesse Jackson, more than 8,000 people march through the Loop from a starting point at State Street and Wacker Drive, headed for a rally in Grant Park.  A spokesman for the Coalition for Jobs and Economic Justice, the sponsor of the march, says, “We are facing a crisis of everyday living.  It is the story of the jobless at the employment gate. It’s 40 million school children facing the loss of milk.  It’s the crisis of the welfare mother trying to fend off malnutrition at supermarket prices, the closed down factory, the bus line that died.”  [Chicago Tribune, September 9, 1973] Jack Edward, the Vice-President of the United Auto Workers says at the Grant Park rally, “In 1963 we had a friendly wind at our backs—John F. Kennedy. Now we have adversity at our faces—Richard M. Nixon, whose interest in economic and social justice was clearly demonstrated by his veto this week of a bill that would have raised the minimum wage in steps to $2.20 an hour and extended the protection of the Fair Labor Standards Act to about 7 million workers.”  Organizers had predicted a turn-out of 50,000 protestors, an estimate that was clearly optimistic.  As the above photo shows Reverend Jackson is still at it in 1975 as he leads a rally in favor of the Humphrey-Hawkins act that advocated using government-paid positions to combat the ravages of inflation and unemployment.

September 8, 1860 – The schooner Augusta sails into Chicago, reporting that sometime during the night she had collided with the Lady Elgin on the lake.  The Lady Elgin, with somewhere between 400 and 700 passengers aboard, most of them members of Milwaukee’s Irish Union Guard, is holed below the waterline when the Augusta strikes her amidships in the midst of a lake squall, and within 20 minutes she sinks.  No one will ever know how many drown in the lake off Winnetka or die on the rocks just off shore.  Bodies continue to wash ashore well into December, some of them almost 80 miles from the wreck. Many of those aboard the Lady Elgin are never found.  Those who could be identified are returned to Milwaukee for burial, but a number of the unfortunate souls onboard the ship are buried in a mass grave In Highwood, not far from the Port Clinton lighthouse, a place that has since been lost to time.

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