Thursday, November 15, 2018

November 15, 1963 -- Grebe Shipbuilding Company Asked to Consider Moving Down the River

November 15, 1953 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that the city’s commissioner of public works, Virgil E. Gunlock, has asked the Henry C. Grebe shipbuilding company to “consider” [Chicago Daily Tribune, November 15, 1953] moving its yards in his continuing effort to replace bascule bridges on the North Branch of the river with fixed bridges.  The city estimates that moving the company south of the Cortland Street bridge would save $1,650,000 in a program to replace old bridges at Fullerton Avenue and Diversey Parkway with fixed bridges.  Gunlock says, ‘The economy of the fixed bridges might more than offset the cost of moving the Grebe firm.  However the question of compensation from the city to cover the cost of the suggested moving will not be considered until we find out if the company can and would be willing to move.”  In 1952 the Diversey bridge opened 123 times while the Fullerton Avenue bridge was raised 116.  Raising the height of new fixed bridges by five feet – from the 16 feet allowance of the bascule bridges to 21-foot fixed bridges – would allow “most boats which now navigate the river to continue,” according to Gunlock.  According to the Henry C. Grebe and Company was the successor to Great Lakes Boat Building, a firm that started in Milwaukee in 1915 and moved to Chicago in 1921.  It occupied over eight acres of land on the North Branch of the Chicago River at Washtenaw Avenue, a site almost directly across from Riverview Park.  Grebe built “large custom yachts for the wealthy of Chicago and across the country.” [], including three high-speed boats of 46’, 65’ and 94’ for P. K. Wrigley.  The firm stayed put as the city continued to replace bascule bridges on the North Branch with fixed bridges.  Grebe built its last boat in 1970 but continued to service boats at the site until 1970, a site that is now occupied by the Belmont River Club townhomes.  The top photo shows the site as it looked when Henry C. Grebe occupied the land.  The photo below that shows the site as it appears today.

November 15, 1953 – Dedication of the $1 million Edgewood Junior High School is held in Highland Park. Although the school has been open since September, this is the first chance that the public has had to view the facility which was for a number of years the subject of considerable debate in the North Shore community.  A referendum for the school was first approved in 1948, but the Voters League protested the construction of the school at the time, asserting that the student population of School District 108 was not growing as quickly as had been anticipated.  A second referendum was approved in October, 1951 and construction finally kicked off in July of 1952.  With an enrollment of 487 students it is expected that the new school will meet the needs of the expanding Sherwood Forest section as well as other developments in the southern section of the town for the next five years.

November 15, 1931 – Chicago Airport, today’s Midway International Airport, opens in ceremonies held in front of the new $100,000 passenger terminal at Sixty-Second Street and Cicero Avenue.  The head of the Illinois Aeronautics Commission, Reed G. Landis, presents Mayor Anton Cermak with the state’s first state airport license.  Also on hand are M. C. Meigs, the chairman of the Chicago Aero Commission and Walter Wright, the city’s superintendent of parks and aviation, the man who led the construction of the $774,000 airport.  The highlight of the event is the demonstration of in-flight radio as Pilot S. J. Nelson of United Airlines flies over the airport and broadcasts a message that can be heard over the terminal’s public address system.  At the conclusion of the ceremony Mayor Cermak takes his four grandchildren on a plane ride, courtesy of Century Air Lines.

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