Sunday, December 23, 2018

December 23, 1894 -- John Root's Grave Marker in Graceland
December 23, 1894 -- The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that “There has just been erected in Graceland Cemetery a monument that is probably the most unique as well as one of the most notable in the country.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, December 23, 1894]  The monument to which the paper refers is the stone marking the grave of architect John Root.  Pointing out that the funeral service for the great architect, three years earlier, was of “the utmost simplicity,” the paper observes that “… it seemed fitting that the stone that should mark his earthly resting-place should express to the utmost the simplicity of art and its traditions.”  A Celtic cross, designed by Daniel Burnham, Charles Atwood and Jules Wegman, marks Root’s grave site.  The plans “called for red Scotch granite of even color and material, without a flaw, and the carving to have the true archaic weather-beaten appearance as seen on the old Celtic crosses in Scotland and Ireland.”  The design executed in Scotland as “It was deemed improbable that the peculiar character and feeling sought for in the design could be brought out by any stonecutter in the United States.”  In the center of the cross, surrounded by “the motif by which the Druids symbolized immortality” are the outlines of the entrance to the proposed art institute, “the drawings of which were probably the last which Mr. Root executed.”  It is a monument to a man “who builded his monuments in brick and stone in life, and who, now gone, has his place in the history of American architecture and the arts for all time, his grave marked by a simple cross, yet covered in time-defying granite.”

December 23, 1907 – The permit for a new La Salle Hotel that will stand at the northwest corner of LaSalle and Madison Streets, is taken out.  Estimated to cost $2,800,000, the permit for the hotel is the largest issued in 1907.  The permit itself cost $2,400.50.  Construction of the hotel is expected to begin sometime between March 1 and May 1 with an estimated 15 months required to complete the 22-story structure.  When finished, the new La Salle Hotel will be the largest hotel building in the world.  The hotel stood until 1976 when it was demolished to make room for the Two North LaSalle office building.

Governor William Stratton
December 23, 1954 – Illinois Governor William Stratton gives formal approval to the engineering report that will impact over 320 miles of high speed highways in northern Illinois, new “super highways” that may end up costing as much as $458,085,000.  Upon the governor’s approval preparations begin for the sale of $390,000,000 worth of revenue bonds covering the cost of two of the new highways and part of a third.  The proposed highways include:  (1) a “Tri-State” route, extending from near the Indiana border to a point just south of the Wisconsin state line; (2) a route heading from the Edens expressway, completed in 1951, as it begins in Chicago and continues northwesterly to an area near Rockford; and (3) the first section of an east-west route beginning at the proposed Tri-State route and continuing to Aurora.  It is hoped that the road-building projects will be finished by 1957.

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