Friday, November 30, 2018

November 30, 1929 -- Chicago Yacht Club Breaks Ground for New Home
November 30, 1929 –Ground is broken for the new home of the Chicago Yacht Club at Monroe Street and the lakefront as 200 members witness the ceremony.  George F. Getz, the building chairman, says, “Here will stand the finest yacht club in the world.  Chicago will be proud of the structure.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, December 1, 1929] A telegram from the head of naval aviation, William A. Moffett, is read in which he “lauded the organization and congratulated the club on its activity.”  Judge C. C. Kremer, who holds membership number one in the club, is also introduced to the gathered crowd.  Actual construction is expected to start on March 1, and it is hoped that the club can be in the $2,500,000 building by January of 1931.  The new eight-story clubhouse is to replace an older building, built in 1902, that had sat at the foot of Randolph Street until it was moved to Monroe Street to facilitate the construction of the outer drive. Optimism quickly faded as 1929 turned into 1930, however – the timing couldn’t have been worse as the stock market crash in 1929 ended the plans for the new building.  In 1935 a display home at the Century of Progress World’s Fair, “The House of Tomorrow,” is moved to the site as a temporary clubhouse.  It isn’t until 1955 that construction is finally begun on the first section of the clubhouse on its present site at the foot of Monroe Street. 

November 30, 1976 – Isamu Noguchi dedicates his outdoor sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago, a monumental piece standing on the east side of museum, facing Grant Park.  The fountain, commissioned to celebrate the bicentennial of the United States, is made up of two 40-foot pieces of granite and stainless steel, one horizontal and the other vertical and V-shaped.  The forms are set in a reflecting pool that will allow year-round operation.  The $250,000 piece is another sculpture that comes from the Ferguson Memorial Monument Fund.  Naguchi says, “I am always astonished that things work so well in Chicago when they don’t seem to elsewhere.  Chicago has always been a great place for me.  This is a very happy day in my life.” [Chicago Tribune, December 1, 1975] At the dedication it is also announced that the Chicago Park District has passed a resolution to place a monumental outdoor sculpture at the northeast corner of Fullerton Avenue and Cannon Drive.  Eventually Ellsworth Kelly would be chosen for that work.  In 1981 his Curve XII, known as his “I Will” sculpture was installed at the location named five years earlier.  Naguchi may have jumped the gun on his amazement that things work so well in the city.  His work, as one can see from the photo above, is not working all that well and seems to have been largely forgotten.

November 30, 1951 – At a meeting of the Irish Fellowship Club of Chicago at the Morrison Hotel proposals are put forth to bring the only Nazi submarine ever captured at sea to Chicago.  The plans have the United States Navy towing the U-505 from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where it is anchored, to Chicago, where it will be placed on a foundation near Buckingham Fountain.  Jack Foster, a naval reserve officer, tells the crowd that a Chicagoan, Admiral Dan Gallery, commanded the anti-submarine task force that captured the German U-boat and its top-secret codes and that makes Chicago the appropriate final resting place for the captured sub.  The head of the Irish Fellowship Club, Dunne Corboy, appoints an engineering consultant to head a committee that will study the proposal.  The new effort comes after the Science Museum in Hyde Park gives up its efforts, citing the prohibitive costs involved in the operation.  The U-505 finally comes to Chicago in September of 1954, as a result of a renewed effort on the part of the museum.  The photo above shows the U-boat just east of Michigan Avenue as it arrived it the city in 1954.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

November 29, 1910 -- North Channel Opens
November 29, 1910 –As President R. R. McCormick of the Board of Trustees of the Chicago Sanitary District removes the last shovelful of clay, a crowd of 1,000 residents of the North Shore cheer, and the waters Lake Michigan enter the North Shore Channel of the drainage canal at Wilmette.  There are no speeches; the day is raw with a cold wind out of the north, not great weather for the workmen standing knee-deep in the water, digging away at the dam that separates the lake from the channel.  By 10:40 McCormick, joining the workmen with a shovel, is able to admire the completed project as “the water licked over the disappearing clay obstruction and in another moment began sweeping through the flume.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, November 20, 1910]  On November 8, 1903 the Board of Trustees of the Sanitary District authorized an ordinance that provided for a channel through Wilmette and Evanston, intersecting with the Chicago River at Lawrence Avenue, a distance of a little over eight miles. The channel, costing close to $4 million and taking three years to dig, had two basic purposes.  One was to take reasonably clean Lake Michigan water and divert it through the channel, forming enough of a stream so that, when it reached the North Branch of the Chicago River, which had for a half-century been notorious for its stagnation and offensiveness, it would move the whole mess south toward the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.  A secondary purpose was to divert the sewage of Evanston, Wilmette and Winnetka toward the channel so that it would no longer flow directly into Lake Michigan.  With the completion of Chicago’s Deep Tunnel project, the North Shore Channel is a much more attractive place as the storm waters of the city, except in extreme situations, is diverted away from the channel.  Because there was a difference of over four feet between the North Shore Channel and the North Branch of the Chicago River, a man-made dam was created at what is now River Park at 5100 North Francisco Avenue.  This year that dam, the last one in Chicago, was removed by the Army Corps of Engineers.  It is hoped that this will make the North Shore Channel an even richer environment with increased biodiversity.  The Chicago Park District’s manager for the project, Lauren Umek, says, “So the fish are coming, swimming upstream – they hit that concrete wall and they’ve got nowhere to go.  They can’t go up the North Branch of the Chicago River.” []  The $14 million removal of the dam is part of a much larger project known as the River Riparian Connectivity & Habitat Improvement plan which has the goal of making “Chicago’s rivers and canals cleaner, more inviting and functional.” []  The above photo shows the channel nearing completion in June of 1910.

November 29, 1935 – Robert Dunham, the president of the Chicago Park District, announces that a new highway will be built to serve as a north side connection with the bridge across the Chicago River, currently under construction.  Dunham says that plans are to begin the new highway in December with the section from Ohio Street to North Avenue completed by the time the Lake Shore Drive bridge across the river is finished.  

November 29, 1902 – Explosions shatter the Swift and Company’s refrigerating plant at Forty-First Street as a boiler explodes, killing 13 and injuring 26. The huge refrigeration building’s boiler room contained 11 boilers, and one of the five boilers on the north side of the room apparently boiled dry and exploded, lifting the majority of the boilers off their bases.  The explosion occurs at 10:00 a.m.  According to the Chicago Daily Tribune, “One boiler was lifted thirty feet in air and carried over the two story storage room just west of the boiler room.  As it dropped to the earth it carried away the west wall of the building, leaving an opening through which fifty frightened employees of the storage room rushed to safety . . . Another boiler was blown fifty feet to the north, where it collided with a freight car.  A third ended its flight thirty-five feet eastward, after it had penetrated a brick wall and brought death to two workmen who were excavating for a sewer along the boiler room wall.”

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

November 28, 1886 -- Clock Towers Dominate the Skyline
November 28, 1886 – At a time when good watches were expensive and poorly made watches could not be relied upon to deliver the time accurately, the Chicago Daily Tribune runs a feature on the six great clock towers in the city, each of which allowed the average citizen access to the correct time of day.  The first of these is found at LaSalle Street and Jackson Boulevard where the Board of Trade stands.  The clock is “the largest and strongest clock in the United States and probably any in the world.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, November 28, 1886] Each of the four dials is eleven feet in diameter.  “During the first few months,” the Tribune reports, “the Board of Trade clock got off time by one-third of a second and nearly broke its maker’s heart, though none of the Board of Trade people ever discovered the dreadful discrepancy.” There are two clock towers on the North Side, one at Clark and Division Street, above the offices of the North Chicago City Railroad, and the other at the Chicago and North Western Railroad depot.  The paper says that the C & NW clock, “ … is useful to let one know when he is too late for his train, so that he need not break his neck down the stairs in the vain endeavor to be in time.  Of course it is also useful to let him know if he has time to warm himself in an adjacent groggery before the train starts.”  Four dials, nine feet in diameter, make up the clock at the Polk Street depot, a clock that “is said not to have altered a second since it was put up.”   The Rock Island Railroad terminal has a clock tower “but at present it is so crowded by new sky-scraping buildings and overshadowed by the big Board of Trade clock that it is almost ashamed to show its face.”  But this is the only clock to use American-made glass on its face.  All the other tower clocks use glass manufactured in France. The clock at Seipp’s Brewery, located at Twenty-Seventh Street and the lake, is the only one located near a residential community, which might pose a problem for “the husband who gets home at 4 a.m. and wants to make his wife believe it is not yet midnight has no show, for she is sure to pull back the window-curtains and look what time it is by ‘Seipp’s Tower.’  Many wise husbands have moved the bedroom to the other side of the house for that very reason.”  The above illustration shows the C & NW depot just to the north of the river on Wells Street and its imposing clock tower.

November 28, 2008 – Deutsche Bank Trust Co. Americas files suit against developer Donald Trump in the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, claiming that Trump owes the bank $40 million after defaulting on a $640 million construction loan for Chicago’s Trump International Hotel and Tower.  This will be the second suit filed within a month concerning the 92-story tower on the river.  In October Trump had filed his own suit against Deutsche Bank, “seeking to excuse a repayment of more than $330 million due on Nov. 7 and extend the construction loan for an unknown period of time because the global economic crisis was a ‘once-in-a-lifetime credit tsunami.’” [Chicago Tribune, December 1, 2008] The developer also asked for $3 billion in damages.  The bank’s suit “calls for Trump to make good on the personal payment guarantee he signed in February 2005 for the building if he didn’t make the loan payments on time.” Deutsche Bank alleges that Trump missed a $330 million payment on November 7, a date that had already been extended previously.  By March of 2009 the bank and the developer decided to make nice with one another and suspend the lawsuits with just a couple of months left before the expected completion of the tower.  “I think it’s going to sell nicely,” says Trump.  “we’re doing better than anybody else in Chicago.” [Chicago Tribune, March 4, 2009]

November 28, 1914 -- The completion of Sheridan Road is celebrated as members of the Sheridan Road Improvement Association start from the Congress Hotel and drive the new road to Highland Park, where they join with the Highland Park Business Men’s Club.  The end of the road is at Forest Avenue in Highland Park, and from a raised platform at that point Highland Park Mayor F. P. Hawkins officially opens the road to the public.  W. G. Edens, the chairman of the Illinois Good Roads Committee, then accepts the new road.  The dignitaries then proceed to the Moraine Hotel where they enjoy a luncheon.  Plans are to extend the road to the Wisconsin border in the coming years.  The statue of General Phillip Sheridan, pictured above, stands at the intersection of Belmont and Sheridan, about a half-mile north of the point where Sheridan Road begins.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

November 27, 2012 -- Wolf Point Plan Pulled from Plan Commission
November 27, 2012 – Alderman Brendan Reilly, representing the Forty-Second Ward, pulls a proposal to build three towers on Wolf Point from the agenda of the Chicago Plan Commission. Reilly says, “Unfortunately, the ‘final’ documents sent to my office yesterday afternoon did not accurately reflect all of the many changes made to the proposal and also introduced a particular blend of uses never previously discussed with my office or community groups.” [Chicago Tribune, November 28, 2012]  A major issue concerns hotel rooms, which in the proposal could be as high as 1,800 units.  Developers of the ambitious project deny that there will be anywhere near that number of units.  A spokesman for the developers also denies that there was an attempt to “blindside” Alderman Reilly.  Neighbors, already concerned about traffic and density in an already crowded area, began contacting Reilly’s office upon learning of the 1,800 hotel rooms.  The developers, which include Christopher Kennedy, whose grandfather bought the site in the 1940’s, state that the figure of 1,800 refers only to the number of units that could be built under current zoning regulations.  It all worked out. The second tower on the site, Wolf Point East (shown above), is nearing the halfway point in its climb.  

November 27, 1954 – The extension of Lake Shore Drive from Bryn Mawr Avenue to Hollywood is opened to traffic as representatives of four government levels join in the ribbon cutting ceremony.  Chicago Mayor Martin H. Kennelly who calls the new road “a monument to co-operative enterprise.” [Chicago Tribune, November 28, 1954] is joined by representatives of Cook County, Illinois and the Chicago Park District as a hundred onlookers “shivered from a cold wet wind off the lake.”  A Cook County commissioner, Arthur Elrod, says that he hopes one day “to attend such a ceremony opening a lake front drive as far north as the Wisconsin line.”  When the barricades are removed at noon, motorists take one of three choices as they continue north.  They can head west on Foster toward the south end of the new Edens Expressway.  They can turn onto Bryn Mawr and head for Peterson Avenue and Ridge Avenue.  Or they can continue north to Hollywood and Sheridan Road, heading through Rogers Park and Evanston.  The choices are pretty much the same today, over sixty years later.  The top photo shows the area north of Foster Avenue in the late 1930's.  The photo below that shows the same area 20 years later after the Lake Shore Drive extension  opened.  Easily seen is that the new road was not good news to the owners of the Edgewater Beach Hotel, the building in the foreground of each picture.

November 27, 1953 – Colonel Frank F. Miter, Commander of the 45th AAA brigade, a battery of 120-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, announces that the battery will be moved from its site at the north end of Meigs Field to a “safer Chicago park district site.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, November 28, 1953]  The site, in the direct path of planes landing and taking off, was never terribly appropriate, but a realignment of the entire air defense structure of the city made it possible to initiate the move.  There was more than that, though.  It was becoming apparent that the guns were out of step with the next generation of air defense.  According to the Tribune article, “Actually the transfer, it was learned was fitted into a large realignment of Chicago’s ground defense facilities.  The new AAA pattern, it was reliably reported, will include sites for the location of batteries of missile men trained in firing the army’s new Nike guided missile [rocket] which is reported to be more accurate and have a longer range than the big 120 mm. guns.”  The photo above, although taken at Montrose Harbor, shows the guns that protected the city as the Cold War began to heat up.

Monday, November 26, 2018

November 26, 1978 -- Bilandic Unveils Five-Year Plan
November 26, 1978 –Before the Big Snow that would end his career moves in, Mayor Michael Bilandic unveils a $7.4-billion public works plan that over a period of five years “promises to change the face of much of Chicago by the early 1980’s.” [Chicago Tribune, November 27, 1978]  Nearly $1.1 billion will fund projects in the heart of downtown.  The biggest of those projects, one that never made it off the wish list, is the Franklin Street subway project that, as it is proposed, will run beneath Franklin Street in the Loop. $173.8 million will go toward roads and infrastructure improvements associated with the development of Illinois Center.  Columbus Drive will be extended to the north from Monroe Street at a cost of $44.7 million, and a Columbus Drive bridge across the river will be built for $20.2 million.  Also in the works is the straightening of the “S-Curve” on Lake Shore Drive, relocating and reconstructing Lake Shore Drive from Wacker Drive south to Twenty-Third Street, extending Roosevelt Road and Eighteenth Street from Michigan Avenue to Lake Shore Drive, completing the rehabilitation of Navy Pier, and the construction of a new State of Illinois office building at the site of the old Sherman House Hotel.  Away from downtown, the biggest project is the Crosstown Expressway, expected to cost in excess of a billion dollars, following a path along South Cicero Avenue from the Eisenhower Expressway to Midway Airport and from the airport on a southeasterly path along an undetermined route to join Route 57. Upgrading terminals and construction of a new terminal at O’Hare Airport will take up another billion dollars.   All in all, the plan totals close to 30 major projects, and with the exception of the Franklin Street subway (which most probably would have brought the end of the Loop elevated structure) and the Crosstown Expressway project, it is amazing to see how much of the plan actually was brought to completion.   Although the reconstruction of Lake Shore Drive as it passes the museum campus did not occur for nearly two decades, it was one of the items listed on the ambitious five-year plan Bilandic revealed.  The comparison of the two photos shows what a dramatic difference just this one project made.

November 26, 1877 – The City Council takes up a special ordinance authorizing the leasing of lake front property to the “Chicago Base-Ball Club” [Chicago Daily Tribune, November 17, 1877] for a fee of $1,000 a year.  There is a spirited exchange.  One alderman asserted that “if the city hadn’t the right to sell the ground, it hasn’t the right to lease it.”  An opposing alderman said that “there was nothing whatever in the proposition that would be detrimental to the city, and that there was no good reason why it should not be accepted.”  After various amendments are offered and rejected, the ordinance is approved.  Thus, at a cost of a thousand bucks the team that would eventually become the Chicago Cubs is given permission to play “base-ball” on the northeast corner of Randolph Street and Michigan Avenue where Wrigley Square and the Millennium peristyle stand today.  After playing four years at a park on Twenty-Third Street, the team would move in 1878 to the new lakefront park.  In 1877 the team finished second-to-last in the National League with a record of 26-33. The move bumped them up one notch and four games as the team finished fourth out of six teams with a record of 30-30.

November 26, 1963 – The first steel column for the new Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States building at 401 North Michigan Avenue is put in place at 10:00 a.m.  Workers for United States Steel place the 19-ton, 35-foot long column in position on the north side of the site that sits between Tribune Tower to the north and the Chicago River on the south.  The tower, designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, will be located on the site where Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, built his home in the early 1780’s, a site that is a National Historic Landmark.  The Chicago Tribune sold the land to Equitable on the condition that the new building could not be taller than Tribune Tower.  Today 401 North Michigan has been joined by a new neighbor to the south as the new Apple store is receiving its first holiday visitors. Its older neighbor, Tribune Tower, is currently under renovation as it moves into a new life as a residential building.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

November 25, 1877 -- Baseball on the Lakefront?
November 25, 1877 – On the day before the Chicago City Council is to vote on an arrangement that would lease a part of the lakefront on the east side of Michigan Avenue and south of Randolph Street to the “Chicago Ball Club” [Chicago Daily Tribune, November 24, 1877] a letter to the editor of the paper, signed “Michigan Avenue” justifies the transaction with these points, “Inasmuch as the idea is to pay the city $1,000 for the use of some land for which it has heretofore received nothing, it would seem to be a worthy one; but the Aldermen should carefully satisfy themselves on these points: Whether there is a reasonable chance for the sale of the property for depot purposes; and whether the character of the petitioners, and of the officers of the ball club, is such as to guarantee good management.  With no doubt on these points there should be no hesitation in taking the $1,000.  The question as to the character of the attendance at ball matches cannot possibly be put by a Council which lets another portion of this same property for circuses.  It is without doubt true that many good citizens in business and professions greatly enjoy, as an afternoon’s recreation to see the exhibition of base-ball, and there is no more reason why the City Government should discourage that entertainment than there is for the putting down the theatres by ordinance.”  The team that would eventually grow into the Chicago Cubs would find its home where the Millennium Monument stands in Wrigley Square in Millennium Park today, building two playing fields in six years, moving to the West Side in 1884 for legal reasons. An interesting look at the earliest days of the team can be found in Connecting the Windy City here.  The top photo shows a Harper's Weekly illustration of the second lakefront park in the spring of 1883.  The photo below that shows the one-time park as it appears today, the site of Wrigley Plaza and the Millennium Monument.

November 25, 1908 – Aaron Montgomery Ward issues a lengthy statement in which he reviews “in detail the administration of the self-appointed office of ‘watch dog of the lake front.’” [Chicago Daily Tribune, November 26, 1908]  Far from being a manifesto, the statement is conciliatory, ending with these words, “If the South Park commissioners or the museum trustees can find a way to prevent other buildings from being constructed on the lake front in the future, then I will be glad to withdraw my objection to the erection of the Field museum, but if the dedications and the law affirming them are destroyed for one building, any other buildings may go there within the discretion of the body exercising the trust over the park.”  Much of Ward’s statement details the history of what we know today as Grant Park, a history that begins in 1836 when the United State cedes all of the land from the river to Twelfth Street and from State Street to Lake Michigan to Chicago so that the city can raise funds through the sale of those lands in order to build a canal.  The city platted the land from Madison Street to Twelfth and From State to the lake into lots and public grounds, and on the public ground east of Michigan Avenue the maps carried the words, “Public ground, A common: to remain forever open, clear and free of any building or obstruction whatever.”  Three years later the federal government platted the land to the north, previously occupied by Fort Dearborn, in the same way and on the public ground east of Michigan Avenue appeared the words, “Public ground: to remain vacant of buildings.”  The principle purpose of the designations seems not to have been one of altruism, but of business.  Creating a large area of open space across from the little-used mud path of Michigan Avenue would induce buyers to purchase land in one of the least attractive areas of the central city. It didn’t take long for the city to begin ignoring the responsibility to maintain its open land. Ward details the encroachments that the city sanctioned, “By its permission the old exposition building was erected just north of Jackson street.  North of that was erected an armory building, and north of that building known as ‘Battery D.’ Still north of that and in the rear of those buildings, were erected barns and sheds to stable the horses and wagons used by the city in cleaning the streets from the river to Twelfth street, and from the river to Lake Michigan, and to pile old paving blocks and other material, and for other sheds.  It gave permission to the Baltimore and Ohio railway company to erect and maintain sheds where freight was unloaded form the cars into wagons.  Different express companies were given like privileges.  There were five railroad tracks on the park west of the Illinois Central’s right of way.  The city gave permission to different circuses to show on the lake front for two or three weeks at a time, the circus horses and other animals were stabled upon the park, and when the circus left the debris and offal remained, an offensive nuisance to everybody in the vicinity.  During the winter the snow taken from the streets, together with all the dead dogs, cats, rats, or other animals and garbage that might be thrown into the street was all dumped on this park.  The snow and filth taken from the streets remained there until the heat and the rains of spring and early summer melted the snow and ice and left in its place the slime and filth and dead animals, and that condition remained until the property owners were forced to clean the place at their own expense.”  By 1890 the area was in such deplorable condition that Ward went to court to obtain a restraining order against the further use of the park other than its original condition as open space.  The case ultimately ended up in the Illinois Supreme court, which found in Ward’s favor … “that neither the legislature of Illinois nor any other body could grant to the state or any one else the right to violate the dedication of the federal government and the state government.”  Then Ward turns to the proposed Field museum, saying that --  ”Nobody had a higher respect or admiration for Marshall Field during his lifetime or his generosity in donating a large sum of money for a museum than I have.”  He continues, though, saying that the South Park Board proposes much more than a museum on the park, proposing “to erect four public comfort buildings, a building for the storing of tools, an electric light power plant, sheds for the storing of water and sprinkling carts, stables for horses, a band stand, a boathouse, a refectory or restaurant building, an administration building or office building for the officers of the park board.  In other words, their plan is to provide a site on the lake front for twenty or more permanent buildings, not including the Field museum.”  Ward finishes his statement with words that are prophetic, “I may add that it has been my purpose to preserve the Lake Front park for the people in accordance with the plain intent of the government which gave to the city the land for an open park, free from all buildings, and I am still of the opinion that in so doing I have done the city and the people a real service.”  In the above 1908 photo the tallest building is the headquarters building for Montgomery Ward.  It is clear that the eastern view from its windows did not provide a scene of serenity and calm.  

November 25, 1900 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that General Henry Strong has bought the Lincoln Park Palace on the northwest corner of Diversey Boulevard and Pine Grove Avenue for $75,088.76.  The Palace was completed in 1893 as a “high class apartment building and hotel”.  [Chicago Daily Tribune, November 25, 1900]  The building reportedly cost $200,000 to construct and the sale came about as a result of a suit General Strong filed against Mrs. Mary Edwards, the wife of the developer, C. C. Edwards, who fell from the top of the building as he was inspecting the progress of its construction.  Mrs. Edwards supervised the completion of the building, but it never saw anywhere close to a return on the money that was invested in it, and she took up residence just to the west.  If you happen to stop by Yak-Zies on Diversey, you are in the former home of Mrs. Edwards, so order up a drink of your choice and offer a toast to poor old Widow Edwards.  She deserved better than she got.  The Lincoln Park Palace still stands today as an apartment building, The Brewster, with an unbelievable atrium that rises to the full height of its eight stories.  Glass block walkways on each floor allow light to travel from the roof’s skylights to the vestibule as they provide access to the apartments.  For more information on the Brewster and its fascinating history, please click here.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

November 24, 1883 -- Commercial Club Bids Farewell To General Sheridan
November 24, 1883 –The Commercial Club of Chicago hosts an evening for General Phillip Sheridan as he prepares to leave the city as a consequence of his appointment as General-in-Chief of the United States Army.  The banquet and reception are held at the home of the Commercial Club on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Twentieth Streets.  A sumptuous meal is served beginning with blue point oysters with pompano, prepared “New Orleans style” [Chicago Daily Tribune, November 25, 1883], turkey, spinach, partridge, terrapin, and sweetbreads also on the menu. At 10:20 p.m. the president of the Commercial Club, A. A. Carpenter, begins the business of the evening, thanking Sheridan for what he has done for the city and wishing him well as he departs for the nation's capital. The second toast is offered by J. W. Doane, who says, “Chicago can never forget General Sheridan, when the city was in flames, when men’s hearts failed them and ruin and desolution stared us in the face, all eyes were turned to him whom we honor here this evening.  It was his cool brain, and prompt and ready courage that greatly helped to check the devouring fire.”  Sheridan responds, saying, “I saw the city in its magnificent boyhood, and I saw it burn down, and grow up into manhood, and I have seen the country, West, Northwest, and Southwest, which fifteen years ago, was the home of the buffalo and the Indian, settle up until that wilderness is now covered with cities and towns, and farms and stock ranches and mines and railroads … And I assure you that there is no honor that could be given me – no honor that I appreciate so highly – as being the guest of the people who have been the agents in bringing about this great change, as I see before me in this Commercial Club, the very men who have been instrumental in doing this.”  The General, leaving for Washington, D. C. to live in a residence that wealthy Chicago men have provided for him, ends his remarks with a toast, “The good health and happiness of every gentleman here tonight, member of the Commercial Club or citizen, and prosperity to the City of Chicago, which I think will be the greatest city in the world.  If you will only spend all the money you can in making good streets here (you must not forget that) you won’t have to build so many hospitals; you will improve the sanitary condition, and in the course of time make this the most beautiful city in the world.  The health of all of you, and the prosperity of the City of Chicago.”

November 24, 1951 – Albert Pick, Jr., the president of Pick Hotels Corporation, the owner of the Congress Hotel, announces that 15 feet will be removed from the north end of the hotel so that a sidewalk arcade can be created along the proposed Congress super-highway.  The Glass Hat dining room will be moved to another part of the hotel, and the Pompeiian Room will be enlarged.  According to Pick, new shops will line the arcade with 13 first-floor shops along the Congress Street and Michigan Avenue frontages of the building.  Holabird, Root and Burgee will be in charge of the plans for the buildings re-configuration.  When the arcade is completed, and a similar arcade on the south side of the structure is also finished, Congress Street will have a pavement width of 63 feet.  Similar arcades will be created at the south end of the Sears, Roebuck and Company’s State Street store to allow the widening of Congress between Wabash and State.  The top photo shows the Pompeiian Room as it appeared after the move was completed.  The photo above shows the dining room as it appeared in 1921.

November 24, 1936 – Nine people are killed and 58 others injured as a North Shore Line train crashes into the rear of an Evanston express elevated train.  The Evanston train is standing at a switch 50 feet north of the Granville Avenue station when the first car of the North Shore train slams into the back of it, plowing “all the way through the wooden rear coach of the Evanston train, shearing off its roof and splintering it like a match box.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, November 25, 1936]  The wreck occurs at about 6:30 in the evening, and the horrors unfold in near total darkness.  The motorman of the North Shore train, Van R. Grooms, says, “I was traveling about 40 miles an hour.  Then I saw the rear of the Evanston train.  The lights were very dim.  I put on my brakes, and that’s the last thing I know.”  Firemen, working with flashlights, raise ladders along the elevated embankment and carry passengers from the wrecked trains.  Eventually, more than 600 police are at the scene, along with two companies of firemen, 20 police ambulances, and three fire department ambulances.  A regular rider on the Evanston train says, “I’ve been taking the train almost regularly for a number of years.  Each evening a few moments after the express switches onto the local track the North Shore roars by on the express track.  I have often thought that the timing of the two trains was too close for safety.”

Friday, November 23, 2018

November 23, 1925 -- Bears Fever as Red Grange Makes His Debut

November 23, 1925 – Bears fever takes over the city as the Chicago Bears, debuting their new phenom, Red Grange, get ready to play the Chicago Cardinals.  The Chicago Daily Tribune reports, “Just about every man, woman or child who ever heard of the Illini phantom, must have landed in the neighborhood of State and Adams streets at the same time.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, November 24, 1925]  The line at the A. G. Spalding store at this location becomes so long that mounted police are called out.  At first, there is no limit on the number of tickets that one can purchase, but the number is cut down to two when “it became apparent that the phenomenal ‘Red’ had brought a new sensation to professional sports.”  Normally, the standing room and bleacher tickets at Wrigley Field would be held until the gates opened on game day, but Bears President William Veeck orders everything to be sold “to clean up everything so that folks who do not hold tickets will not swarm the park …”  At a time when average attendance for a professional football game was about 5,000, the prospect of watching Grange play brought 39,000 fans to Wrigley Field on that Thanksgiving Day as the Bears and their cross-town rivals, the Cardinals, battle to a 0-0 tie.  In the next 18 days the team would play seven games, all of them before record crowds, including 70,000 people who show up at the Polo Ground to see Grange and the Bears play the New York Giants.  The receipts from that game are reported to have saved the Giants as the organization was about to file for bankruptcy. [] 

November 23, 1907 – Michigan Avenue property owners between Randolph Street and the river go “on the warpath” [Chicago Daily Tribune, November 24, 1907] over plans for the improvement of Michigan Avenue.  Twenty-two owners in the area meet at the offices of Attorney George Packard, a space covered in “maps and cross sections drawn by Holabird and Roche” and after much discussion decide “to push the scheme and if possible defeat the Commercial club plan as drawn by Daniel H. Burnham.”  The group united behind a plan for Michigan Avenue in which “the present street grade would be raised eight feet from Randolph street to Illinois street, the Northwestern railroad tracks, just north of the river, would have to be depressed six feet, and intersecting streets between the northern and southern boundaries for the raised grade would be depressed and sent through subways.”  It is interesting to note that nearly two years before the Chicago Plan of 1909 was published, Burnham and the Commercial Club were hard at work on plans to improve the city.  It is also interesting how the two premiere architectural firms in the city have found themselves on opposite sides on this showdown over plans for Michigan Avenue.  Michigan Avenue hasn't much changed three years later when the above photo was taken in 1910.  The picture was taken from the southeast corner of Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street, looking north toward the river.

November 23, 1912 – The Rouse Simmons, Chicago’s “Christmas tree ship,” is last seen between Kewaunee and Two Rivers, Wisconsin with distress flags flying. The owner of the ship, Herman Schuenemann, began the business with his brother in 1885.  After his brother was lost when one of their ships foundered off Glencoe in 1898, Schuenemann got to work at lowering the cost of the business, sailing farther and farther north where he could buy trees more cheaply and establishing a market on the southwest corner of the Clark Street Bridge at which he could sell the trees directly from the deck of the ship. Schuenemann was an experienced sailor and businessman who had sailed on the annual Christmas tree voyages on at least five ships over the years, but cost cutting may have been his undoing.  The Rouse Simmons was re-caulked after the 1911 trip, but in 1912 the owner skipped the operation.  The weight of the 5000 trees above and below deck far exceeded recommendations for a voyage at that time of the year, and when an early storm moved in early in the morning of November 23, it was too much.  The wet trees on deck began to ice over, and the ship, riding low in the water, was no match for the forces of nature.  A message in a bottle that washed up sometime after the ship went down read, “Friday . . . everybody, goodbye.  I guess we are all through. During the night the small boat washed overboard.  Leaking bad.  Invalid and Steve lost too.  God help us.”  Sixteen men and one woman were lost when the ship went down 30 miles south of Ahnapee, Wisconsin, the town in which Captain Schuenemann was born. Captain Herman Schuenemann with his trees is pictured above.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

November 22, 1930 -- Roosevelt Road Bridge Dedicated
November 22, 1930 – The new bridge that carries Roosevelt Road across the Chicago River’s South Branch is dedicated with Mayor William Hale Thompson, leaving Passavant Hospital where he is recovering from surgery, to take part in dedicating the $3,000,000 span. A parade to the bridge begins at Clark Street and Wacker Drive and heads south to the site of the dedication where a few hundred people are gathered.  Thompson remains in his car as he makes a speech in which he “reviewed the public projects of his administration, called attention to his plans for a new conference here in January on flood control and waterways development, assailed The Tribune as the city’s worst enemy, blamed the federal government and the railroads because it required 12 years to complete the Roosevelt bridge project, and informed the group that he was on his way back to health to work for them in the future as he had in the past.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, November 23, 1930]  The top photo shows the bridge nearing completion with the old swing bridge that it replaced still standing to the left.  The photo below that shows the bridge and the surrounding area as it appears today.
November 22, 1905 – Marshall Field, Jr. is discovered, shot through his left side just below the ribs at 5:30 p.m. in the dressing room of his residence at 1919 Prairie Avenue.  He is rushed to Mercy Hospital where Dr. Arthur Dean Bevan attempts to save his life.  Field lingers for five days before succumbing to his wound on November 27, “… conscious until the last few minutes … his last act before he closed his eyes was to smile encouragingly at his wife.” [Tebbel, John. The Marshall Fields: A Study in Wealth.  E. P. Dutton and Co., 1947] The circumstances of his death are cloaked in shadow.  Some say that he was preparing for an upcoming hunting trip and accidentally discharges a weapon while cleaning it, but accounts at the time indicate that the weapon was almost impossible to discharge accidentally. A report given by the doctor who responded to the shooting at the Field mansion says that Field told him he had no idea how he came to have been shot and called the wound an accident.  Yet, reports suggest that, given the nature of the wound, it would have been unlikely for the shooting to have been an accident.  Rumors also circulate that Field had been shot in an altercation at a club run by the Everleigh sisters on Dearborn Street and carried to his home, just blocks away.  On December 1, a coroner’s jury returned its verdict, the official conclusion to the investigation.  The decision reads, “We find that Marshall Field Jr. came to his death from paralysis of the bowels following a bullet wound in the seventh intercostal space, about four inches to the left of the medial line, and from the testimony presented find that the said paralysis resulted from a bullet wound accidentally inflicted by a revolver in the hand of the deceased at his home, 1919 Prairie avenue.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, December 2, 1906] The Field home, where the only son of the great merchant suffered his fatal wound, still exists today, divided into a number of upscale residential units.  It is pictured above.

November 22, 1936 – Ernest Robert Graham dies at his home at 25 Banks Street at the age of 68, his death attributed to overwork.  At the age of 16 Graham went to work for his father in Lowell, Michigan, as a carpenter and mason.  Of this early labor he later said, “Honest toil never hurt anyone regardless of age.  My work with the trowel stood up with the best of them.  These were the days when a bricklayer laid three thousand bricks a day.”  [Architecture and Planning of Graham, Anderson, Probst and White – 1912-1936. Chappell, Sally A. Kitt]  By the age of 20 he had earned degrees from Coe College and the University of Notre Dame.  At that point he came to Chicago and entered the employ of Daniel Burnham, drawing plans for the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893.  When Daniel Burnham died in 1912, Graham and three other architects took over the firm, going on to design some of the great second-generation buildings in the city.  They include the Wrigley Building, the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium, the Merchandise Mart, 135 South La Salle, Union Station, the Pittsfield Building, and the main post office.  Services for the architect take place at the Fourth Presbyterian Church on November 24, after which he is interred in Graceland Cemetery.