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.