Saturday, October 27, 2018

October 27, 1940 -- Ida B. Wells Homes Dedication

chicagoganghistory.com
October 27, 1940 –Close to 15,000 people attend the dedication of the Ida B. Wells Homes at Thirty-Eighty Street and Vernon Avenue even though the first families will not move into the homes, which will eventually hold 1,662 families, until January 18, 1941.  The Chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority, Joseph W. McCarthy, hosts the event with Oscar W. Rosenthal, the chairman of the Illinois State Housing Board, making the statement of the afternoon, saying that the project “will be ‘just a pile of masonry’ unless it gives impetus to the democratic spirt and strengthens American life.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, October 28, 1940]  Nearly 16,000 families have applied for inclusion in the project which will charge rents ranging from $18 a month for a two-room apartment to $23 a month for a half-dozen rooms.  The development would be the largest of the demonstration developments built under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Public Works Administration and the first such development in Chicago to include a city park with a playground and playing fields. [idabewellsmonument.org]  Although it was a mecca for carefully-screened two-parent families in its opening years, a variety of factors brought about a spiral of disintegrating conditions that ultimately led to the development’s closing in 2002.  It was demolished to make room for the mixed-income community of Oakwood Shores.


October 27, 2007 – Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamen begins his column with this disclosure, “Donald Trump hung up on me this week after he phoned to defend the blatantly commercial 10-foot-tall Michigan Avenue kiosk for his 92-story-hotel-condo tower.” [Chicago Tribune, October 27, 2007] A week earlier the paper’s Tempo column had run a story about the kiosk that sat on a sidewalk in front of the Wrigley Building.  That stirred a fire under Forty-Second Ward Alderman Burton Natarus, who vowed to get the advertising taken from the kiosk despite the fact that it was he who had backed the legislation allowing the advertising in the first place.  Trump, before he hung up, reminded Kamen of the fact that the glitzy kiosk was justified because he had spent $18 million to rebuild the superstructure of Wabash Avenue next to the new tower, saying, “This is a very small element of a very big commitment that I made to Chicago.”  As Kamen pressed the issue, Trump ultimately responded, “Write it any way you write it.  I’ve had it with you.  Thanks Blair.” It would be over two years before the kiosk would come down, but finally on January 8, 2009 it was dismantled. The city won this fight against a guy who never forgets a slight. Trump would go on to place his name on one of the city’s signature buildings in letters so large that a 10-foot-tall glitzy kiosk he was told he couldn’t keep five years earlier seemed almost laughable. 


October 27, 1971 – The announcement is made that plans are complete for an 800-unit building that will sit on the lakefront border of the Illinois Center development being created over a former railroad freight yard.  The Chicago architectural firm of Solomon, Cordwell and Buenz will design the building and the developers will be the Illinois Center Corporation, a subsidiary of Illinois Central Industries, Inc. and Talman Services Corporation, a subsidiary of Talman Federal Savings & Loan Association.  The residential building, today’s Harbor Point, will benefit from a city plan to reroute Lake Shore Drive so that it will curve around the building’s east side, ensuring that the tower will be more easily accessible, allowing it to stand as an architecturally significant statement on the southeast side of the Illinois Center development.  Harbor Point stands next to the lake to the left in this photo.  Note that the old "S" curve still exists as the new road is being constructed, and running east and west along Wacker Drive are strings of freight cars where today's Lake Shore East stands.

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