Tuesday, September 17, 2019

September 17, 1962 -- Loyola University Opens New Downtown University Center

September 17, 1962 – The $2.75 million Loyola University Center at the southwest corner of Rush and Pearson Streets opens to students.  Loyola’s president, the Very Reverend James F. Maquire, says, “The center enables the university to accommodate meetings and gatherings of alumni and friends, to provide facilities for public lectures, luncheons, and conferences, and to serve other functions and activities for business and community groups.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 16, 1962]  The new building will include two cafeterias, 18 classrooms, a bookstore, conference rooms, student lounges, and a formal meeting room for administrative meetings.  A two-story enclosed walkway will connect the University Center to Lewis Towers, the main classroom building, which sits to the east just off Michigan Avenue.  As part of the dedication ceremony, at which His Eminence the Archbishop of Chicago Albert Cardinal Meyer officiates, a mural by Park Ridge artist Melville Steinfels is dedicated.  It depicts 400 years of Jesuit education.  The student center is the next step in a move downtown that began in 1946 with a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frank J. Lewis – an 18-story skyscraper located at 820 North Michigan Avenue, located just to the west of the city’s historic Water Tower. The site is considerably different today as Loyola’s eight-story School of Communication wraps around the north and west sides of The Clare, a senior independent living high-rise, at 55 East Pearson.  A new student center is located just to the west on the northwest corner of Pearson and Wabash Streets.  The photo shows Lewis Center as it appeared in the 1950's, shortly after its purchase.  The second photo shows the area as it appears today.

September 17, 1922 –The new $1,600,000 Madison Street bridge is lowered into position for the first time at 2:00 p.m., leaving the Clark Street bridge as the only center-pier bridge left in the central area of the city.  It will be three weeks before pedestrians will be allowed across the new bridge, and it will be at least six weeks before traffic crosses the new span.  The bridge’s sidewalks will be 13.5 feet, eight feet wider than the sidewalks on the old center pier bridge that is being replaced.  Work on the new bridge began on December 1, 1919, but there is a long delay in the fabrication of the steel for the span.  It isn’t until late September of 1921 before work resumes.  In March of 1922 the bridge’s bond issue expired, and work was once again is ordered to a halt.  In June Chicago voters approve a new bond issue, and work resumes on August 1.  According to historicbridges.org “This bridge stands out among the bridges of Chicago as one of the most historically and technologically significant since it is the first example of a design that Chicago would use in construction on many bridges during a period of over 40 years.  It also retains ornate sidewalk railings that greatly contribute to the visual beauty of the bridge.” The above photo shows the bridge under construction in 1922.  In the right foreground is the swing bridge which it will replace.

September 17, 1954 – The first new office building to be constructed in the Loop since 1933, the ten-story Sinclair Oil Corporation’s office building on the northeast corner of Wacker Drive and Randolph Street, is officially opened as more than 200 business leaders and officials from the state and city attend the ceremonies.  The new building contains 225,000 square feet of office space and 14,000 square feet of basement parking space.  The structure will consolidate various divisions of the corporation that were previously scattered in four separate locations.  The building is gone today, replaced by the Goettsch Partners tower, finished in 2010, at 155 North Wacker Drive.  The Sinclair building is outlined in the older photograph.  The award-winning Goettsch replacement is shown to the left.

September 17, 1969 – The City Council, by a vote of 30 to 6, approves two ordinances that clear the way for the office and residential development that Chicago now calls Illinois Center.  One ordinance establishes guidelines for the development of the area, and the other codifies the relationship between the city, the owner of the property, Illinois Central Industries, and three developers.  The plan calls for buildings of up to 90 stories with 45,000 workers, 17,500 apartments with 35,000 residents.   In an editorial the Chicago Tribune writes glowingly about the project, asserting, “Chicagoans must feel some exhilaration to see, at long last, this strategic area built on in a manner suitable to its location in the center of the city.  And Chicagoans should take an eager, continuing, and responsible interest as Illinois Center plaza gradually develops . . . A brilliantly successful development here will be a civic asset the importance of which it would be almost impossible to exaggerate.” [Chicago Tribune, September 19, 1969]  The photo at the left shows the approximate area where the Hyatt Regency Hotel stands today.

Monday, September 16, 2019

September 16, 1949 -- Haymarket Theater is a Goner

September 16, 1949 – The Haymarket Theater at 722 Madison Street, near Halsted Street, is condemned to make way for a connection between the new Congress Street Expressway and the Edens Expressway with the city paying $215,075 to the building’s owners.  The Haymarket opened in 1887 as a playhouse with seating for 2,475 on an orchestra floor and three balconies.  After a time the playhouse became a vaudeville theater, and by 1916 it was one of the city’s best-known burlesque houses.  After 1932 it became a second-run movie house with its seating by 1945 reduced to less than 1,000.  In the spring of 1950 the theater was demolished to make way for the highway.  [cinematreasures.org]

September 16, 1909 – The World Series Champion Chicago Cubs fall to the New York Giants in the West Side Park, 2-1, but that is not the real story of the day.  The game takes place with a special visitor in the stands, the President of the United States, William Howard Taft.  The Chicago Daily Tribune attests to the level of interest with which the Chief Executive views the game, reporting, “A leading constituent might be confiding an important party secret to the presidential left ear while another citizen, whose name appears often in headlines, might be offering congratulations on the outcome of the battle for revision downward to the right auricle, but while both ears were absorbing messages from friends both presidential eyes were steadily watching Christy Mathewson and the Giants revise downward the standing of the Cubs.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 17, 1909] Fans begin lining up before noon for the late afternoon game, and when the President appears exactly on time, he is escorted to the field where he shakes the hand of each Cub’s player, moving on “to mingle with the rooters … while the Giants were completing their preliminary practice.” Cubs manager Frank Chance starts his “three-fingered ace,” Mordecai Brown against the Giants’ Christy Matthewson … two future Hall-of-Famers.  Before the Giants are retired in the first inning, the team has scored all the runs that it needs to take the contest. 

September 16, 1915 – A dozen years after the Iroquois Theatre fire that claimed 602 lives on Randolph Street, disaster is narrowly averted as 200 patrons at the Alcazar Theater on West Madison Street are watching the conclusion of The Red Virgin at 10:30 p.m.  A small explosion is heard in the projectionist’s booth, and quickly the theater fills with acrid smoke.  The night manager, “possessor of a stern voice,” [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 15, 1915] appears and shouts, “Don’t crowd! There are plenty of exits.  See the red lights in front of you.  There’s plenty of time.  Don’t hurry!  Don’t push!” Ushers keep the crowd moving toward the exits in an orderly fashion, and not a single member of the audience is injured. Miss Mattie Lamb plays the theater piano until the auditorium is empty despite being nearly overcome by smoke.  The only casualty is the projectionist who receives burns on one hand when the film he is showing explodes, beginning the procession toward the exits.

September 16, 1925 – The South Park Commission inks a contract to cover the construction of the $2,000,000 John G. Shedd Aquarium.  It will be built in Grant Park about one-tenth of a mile east of the Field Museum.  Shedd began his career as a stock clerk for Marshall Field and worked his way up the corporate ladder, taking over as president of the firm when Field died in 1906.  The aquarium was his gift to the city, one designed to complement the great museum to the west named after his former boss.  Shedd did not live long enough to see the completion of the aquarium in 1930; he died just over a year after the South Park commission made its 1925 announcement.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

September 15, 1961 -- Marina City Construction Accident Claims Three

September 15, 1961 – Three carpenters fall 43 stories to their deaths as a scaffold on which they are being lifted separates from the hoisting hook inside the core of the east tower of Marina City, under construction north of the river on State Street.  Mike Einsele, a worker inside the core, says, ‘We were raising forms inside the core and I was about five feet above them.  They were standing on the scaffolding, and I guess a cable slipped.  I heard a loud noise and I turned around to look.  The bodies bounced crazily, hitting one obstruction after another, until they hit the bottom.  I heard the thuds when they hit and I got sick.  I got out of there then.”  [Chicago Tribune, September 16, 1961]  Another worker, Will Bridges, who was working ten stories below the scaffold and who had just stepped out of the way to get a drink of water, says “Everyone inside the core heard them fall.”  Speculation about the cause suggests that the heavy forms on the scaffold that were being hoisted for the next phase of concrete work jammed against the wall of the core and twisted the hoisting hook enough so that the scaffold fell away.

September 15, 1966 – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reveals a plan to target downtown stores in Chicago in an effort to create jobs for African Americans in the city.  Speaking to a rally of 500 in the Greater Mount Hope Baptist Church at 6034 Princeton Avenue, Dr. King says, “I’m going to march straight up Michigan avenue and straight up State street and organize every store in the city.”  [Chicago Tribune, September 16, 1966] The next day, he reveals, pickets will demonstrate in front of the Saks Fifth Avenue store on Michigan Avenue.  In his address Dr. King also criticizes Senator Everett Dirksen for his opposition to the civil rights bill.

September 15, 1976 – Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Walter Mondale, speaking to reporters at Midway Airport, says that President Gerald Ford’s record “belies and puts a falsehood to everything he says he’s now for.” [Chicago Tribune, September 16, 1976] Using notes that he had jotted down during his flight to Chicago, Mondale attacks Ford on four fronts.  In the area of health care, Mondale says that the President has made no proposal for a health-care program affordable for most Americans.  In education he asserts that the federal oversight of education under Ford “is the worst in 40 years.” Mondale finds that “The record is absolutely miserable,” showing that 2.5 million Americans have lost their jobs since Ford took office. He also finds that the Ford administration is responsible for high interest rates that make affordable housing difficult to find.  “Their record couldn’t be worse on all of their objectives,” the Democratic candidate states.  “I think it’s clear that on the issues he has raised, he has a miserable performance record. And if trust must be earned, he doesn’t deserve the trust of the American people.” The election went down to the wire, but the Carter-Mondale ticket pulled out a narrow victory.  If 3,687 votes  in Hawaii and 5,559 votes in Ohio had been switched from Carter to Ford, the incumbent would have been victorious.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

September 14, 1908 -- Chicago Public Library Gets Trolley Tracks

September 14, 1908 – Work begins on the laying of trolley track in Garland Court on the west side of the Chicago Public Library. Elaborate preparations have been made for the project, which will ultimately allow the removal of the tracks of the City Railway on Michigan Avenue and on Madison Street..  The City Railway has agreed to pay the expenses for changes in the public library building that are required because of the railway that will pass adjacent to it.  These alterations to the building will be completed according to plans prepared by Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, the original architects of the structure. The above streetcar on Randolph is making the turn onto Garland Court on the west side of the Chicago Public Library, today's cultural center.  The top photo shows the tracks turning south off Randolph Street and ducking down Garland Court.  The second photo shows Randolph Street as it appears today.

September 14, 1939 – The Chicago Housing Authority is notified that its application for $7,719,000 of Public Works administration funding for the construction of a public housing complex has been approved.  This will be the fifth federal housing project in the city, following the Jane Addams houses, Julia Lathrop homes, Trumbull Park apartments, and the Ida B. Wells project that is under construction at Vincennes Avenue and Pershing Road.  Although the location is not disclosed so as to forestall real estate speculation, it is most likely that the new project will be near the Jane Addams homes and will comprise the Robert Brooks Homes with 835 row houses.  Elizabeth Wood, executive secretary of the Chicago Housing authority, says, “We will definitely be in competition with the lowest slum area houses.  We particularly want to afford accommodations for those families who now live in $15 a month flats.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 15, 1939]  

September 14, 1934 – United States marshals seize the excursion boat Florida at its dock east of Michigan Avenue, pending a court hearing and settlement of the claims of 21 crew members for $2,000 in back pay. The Florida has a fascinating history, as it turns out.  As far as I have been able to determine the boat is still taking up space at the bottom of the river just east of Goose Island, opposite the north end of 600 West Chicago, the old Montgomery Ward's warehouse building.  What eventually became the S. S. Florida was originally the City of Mackinac, built in 1882 as a side-wheeled cruise boat on Lake Michigan.  The latter part of its service was spent providing lakefront excursions to the 1933 Century of Progress.  In the mid-1930's it was sold to a scrapper at which time its upper decks were removed, its engines stripped, part of a conversion into a barge.  The Columbia Yacht Club bought the vessel in 1937 to serve as its club house.  On Friday, May 13, 1955 a galley fire caused the ship to sink at its dock.  Members raised the funds and raised the ship, which was used until 1982 when the club acquired the former Canadian ferry, the Abegweit, as its new base of operations.  A trucking magnate, Joe Salon, bought the ship in 1985, renaming it the Showboat Sari-S II, using his daughter's name in its new appellation, and moved it to the river a few blocks north of Ontario Street, before selling it.  The Showboat Sari-S II might be confused with another paddle-wheel steamboat that Salon ran as a restaurant, beginning in 1962.  They are two different vessels.  The last reference to the boat that I can find is in the "Metropolitan" section of the Chicago Tribune on August 28, 1992.  This brief item reports, "The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers has ordered the owner of a 215-foot boat that sank last month in a little-used part of the North Branch of the Chicago River to remove the vessel or face legal action . . . The owner of the vessel was ordered to install markers around the boat until it is removed.  The vessel sank in 16 feet of water on the east side of Goose Island just north of Chicago Avenue, said Lt. Col. David Reed, commander of the Corps District . . . Only the cabin portion is now above water, and the sunken craft obstructs about half of the navigational channel, Reed said."  Kind of a sad story of a once proud vessel that was very much a part of the city's history. The photo above shows the boat when she was the clubhouse for the Columbia Yacht Club.  

Friday, September 13, 2019

September 13, 1963 -- American Dental Association Announces New Headquarters

September 13, 1963 – It is announced that the American Dental Association is completing plans for a 22-story office building on Chicago Avenue just east of Michigan Avenue.  The architectural firm of Graham, Anderson, Probst and White will design the office building which will have 280,000 square feet of space and cost $5 million.  The association has 100,000 members and plans to use only part of the building, leasing the remainder.  The site, which has a frontage of 200 feet on Chicago Avenue and a depth of 135 feet contains two buildings which will be razed, along with a surface parking lot.  It was purchased from the American National Red Cross for $700,000.  The building still is holding its own at 211 East Chicago, right next door to the Lurie Children’s Hospital.

September 13, 1940 – Wendell L. Wilkie, the Republican candidate for President, tours nearly 50 miles through the city and its industrial areas, giving four speeches to Chicago workers.  The candidate says that “he had never been so thrilled in his life as when he stood before thousands of workers and urged them to forsake the New Deal and come into his crusade for a productive, united and strong America, one with real jobs instead of promises.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 14, 1940] Citizens line the curbs of many of the streets through which Wilkie’s motorcade passes, and La Salle Street is “thick with confetti and streamers.” The largest gatherings of the long day are at the Western Electric plant in Cicero and at a baseball park at Thirty-Ninth Street and Wentworth Avenue where 15,000 people crowd together to see him. The loudest applause comes when Wilkie promises “never to send American boys to fight in the trenches of Europe.” On his way back from his address in Cicero, Wilkie stops for a sandwich at a lunch counter at 4714 Cermak Road. At the end of the busy day he retires to the Stevens Hotel where he confers with political leaders.

September 13, 1908 – The Chicago Daily Tribune announces the intention of the Peoples Gaslight and Coke Company to build the “highest building of its kind” [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 13, 1908] at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Adams Street.  Fronting 196 feet on Michigan Avenue and 171 feet on Adams Street, the structure’s cost is anticipated to surpass $3 million with 1,500 offices located within the D. H. Burnham and Co. design.  The outer walls of the first three stories will be of granite.  Above that the walls will be of terra cotta “without the glossy effect, as in the Railway Exchange building.”  The new tower will be constructed in two sections, with the north section of the 20-story building finished first, followed by the section at the corner of Adams Street and Michigan Avenue.  The second half of the building is seen nearing completion in the above photo. 

September 13, 1977 – The Commission on Chicago Historical and Architectural Landmarks sends a proposal to the Chicago Planning Commissioner, Lewis W. Hill, recommending that the South Shore Country Club be designated a landmark.  This is the best hope for saving the club, designed by Benjamin Marshall and Charles Fox and opened in 1905.  The club has been threatened since the Chicago Park District bought the property in late 1974 for $9,775,000 with plans to tear down the old clubhouse and replace it with a new cultural center.   At the same meeting the commission sets dates for similar hearings to determine whether or not landmark status will be recommended for the Old Colony Building, the Fisher Building, and the Manhattan Building, three buildings that stand next to each other on the east side of Dearborn Street. 

Thursday, September 12, 2019

September 12, 1953 -- Glenview Sends 190,000 Gallons of Aviation Fuel to the River

September 12, 1953 – Officials at the Glenview Naval Air Station disclose that an undetermined quantity of jet fuel that could be as high as 190,000 gallons has leaked out of underground tanks at the base, moving through storm sewers and into the North Branch of the Chicago River.  The Glenview fire department works most of the day to flush the film downstream.  Calls begin coming in 36 hours earlier from residents complaining of a smell of kerosene in the Chicago River with more than 40 calls being handled before the police learn from the air station that fuel tanks are leaking. Commander Thomas W. McKnight, executive officer at Glenview, says that sometime during the afternoon it was discovered that sump pumps had somehow begun pumping fuel into the storm sewers.  By September 17 Chicago fire department officials had ordered a close watch on the jet fuel floating down the river, and the Chicago Sanitary District ordered the opening of two locks “to hasten passage into the Illinois river.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 18, 1953]  At that point the fuel had reached Foster Avenue, and a fire was reported on the river at Niles.  Chicago Fire Commissioner Michael J. Corrigan takes the air station to task “for making no attempt to burn the fuel while it was moving thru the countryside.” 

September 12, 2006 – Although the FBI will not be moving into its new ten-story, 350,000-square-foot office building until the spring of 2007, the building is still officially opened on a rainy day as a color guard, speechifying officials, and the girls’ choir from Neuqua Valley High School contribute to the festivities.  The new $125 million headquarters at 2111 West Roosevelt Road will feature state-of-the-art facilities for processing evidence and for training the 350 agents who will eventually work there.  It is a huge improvement over the old Chicago headquarters in the Dirksen Courthouse on Dearborn Street.  “I am told it was not unusual for the temperature to change from ice age to global warming in a matter of minutes,” says FBI Director Robert Mueller in his address to hundreds of officials and guests at the dedication. He adds.  “Like this new building, today’s FBI is stronger, today’s FBI is more flexible and today’s FBI is more modern.”[Chicago Tribune, September 13, 2006] Today the headquarters building is the world's first LEED for Existing Buildings: Operation and Maintenance project to earn a Platinum level of certification. 

September 12, 1915 – James A. Pugh takes his 40-foot hydroplane Disturber IV and skims it across the lakefront at over 60 miles per hour.  Off the Grant Park shore Pugh makes six runs over a half-mile stretch of the lake.  According to the Chicago Daily Tribune, “Distruber IV’s twenty-four cylinder 1,800 horse power Dusenberg motors ran as smoothly as the movement of a Swiss watch.  The roar of the heavy exhausts could be heard on Michigan avenue and brought thousands of spectators, who lined the shore of Grant park and watched the spectacular flights of ‘Dynamite Jim’ and his two mechanics.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 13, 1915] In the above photo Disturber IV is launched in the Chicago River in July of 1914.

September 12, 1973 – The Hyatt Regency, the first new major downtown hotel in Chicago in more than 20 years, is topped out as Mayor Richard J. Daley attends the ceremonies on Wacker Drive.  Hoisted into place at the top of the new hotel is a piece of limestone, signed by Mayor Daley and Jay Pritzker, chairman of the Hyatt Corporation, that has been salvaged from an old Illinois Central Railroad warehouse that stood on the site for over a hundred years, a structure that served as a shelter for thousands of Chicago citizens who were trapped in the Chicago Fire of 1871.  The hotel also stands on the spot where Captain Nathan Heald, the commander of Fort Dearborn, ordered the fort’s whiskey supply dumped in the water on August 13, 1812, an action that may have been the chief provocation for the attack that two days later led to the death of 63 soldiers and settlers.  [Chicago Tribune, September 13, 1973]

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

September 11, 1937 -- Chicago River Swim Taken by Adolph Kiefer

September 11, 1937 – The world champion backstroke swimmer from the Lake Shore Athletic Club, Adolph Kiefer, wins the twenty-third Illinois Athletic Club’s Chicago River marathon swim.  He covers the 2.75-mile course in 47 minutes and 51 seconds, finishing 35 yards ahead of a swimmer from Buffalo, New York.  Kiefer enters the race less than 30 minutes before it is due to begin and holds the lead for the entire swim, from its start in the lake just off Van Buren Street to its finish at the Wells Street bridge.  In 1935 Kiefer became the first person to break a minute in the 100-yard backstroke when he was just a 16-year-old Illinois high schooler. The time he posted in the Illinois High School Championships in 1936 lasted for another 24 years.  In that same year he represented the United Sates in the Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany, setting a record in the 100-meter backstroke in the preliminary heat, the second-round heat, and the final.  That record stood for another 20 years.  In the over 2000 races of his career, Kiefer lost only twice.  He joined the United States Navy in late 1943 and in short order was put in charge of training over 13,000 Navy swim instructors in a program that ultimately trained two million recruits.  After he left the service, he established Adolph Kiefer and Associates in Chicago which specialized in starting blocks, lane lines, lifeguard safety equipment and apparel.  It was Kiefer’s company that marketed the first nylon competition swimming suit in 1948. He paid the city back for his success, working with Mayor Richard J. Daley to build swimming pools in the inner city, giving thousands of young people the chance to learn to swim.

September 11, 1981 – Under the heading, “Chicago’s river worse than it looks,” the Chicago Tribune’s lead reports, “The Chicago River is so heavily polluted with chemical poisons in some places that the river bottom is classified as ‘hazardous waste.’” [Chicago Tribune, September 11, 1981] The article goes on to report that the United States Army Corps of Engineers, while sampling the river bottom preparatory to dredging the river, has discovered that “the mud and muck are tainted with chemicals that are just waiting to be stirred up, like a venomous snake coiled to strike.”  As a result, the Corps has delayed the dredging operation. The problem is the worst on the North Branch of the river where concentrations of PCB were found as high as 110 parts per million.  Any concentration over 50 parts per million is considered hazardous waste.  Rick Watson, an environmental engineer with the Corps, says, “We can’t dredge because we don’t have a disposal area that is environmentally acceptable … River quality depends on river use. If it is used by heavy industry and boat traffic, you will get only a certain quality. It is unreasonable to expect it to return to its natural state.  That’s the price of civilization.” 

September 11, 1963 – The city council “after more than three hours of heated debate” [Chicago Tribune, September 13, 1963] passes an open housing ordinance by a vote of 30 to 16.  The ordinance bans discrimination by real estate agents, prohibiting them “from discriminating in the sale, rental, or leasing of property of race, color, religion, national origin, or ancestry.”  A “block busting” section of the ordinance makes it unlawful to “solicit for sale, lease or listing any property on the contention that loss of property value may result because of entry into the area of persons of another race, color, religion, national origin or ancestry.” The Chicago Real Estate board goes on record as saying it will take the issue to the courts. The board’s president, Percy Wagner, says, “We’re going to proceed legally but firmly. The time has come when we shall have to take a position of political action. This does not mean we will take political sides, but we will do all we can to protect property rights.”  Shortly before the vote Third Ward alderman Ralph Metcalfe says before the council, “This ordinance … means that people who have the means and good will can move where they want to.  This is a first step.  It is not the ultimate.  The world will not come to an end.  But Chicago today is at the crossroads, and we must support something that is morally right or go backward.”  Outside City Hall thousands of people march against the ordinance.  “The throng,” reports the Tribune, “composed mostly of housewives, formed close lines four and six abreast and encircled the building in a moving, chanting surge.  They waved their placards bearing such slogans as ‘What has happened to our constitutional rights?’ and “We are opposed to open occupancy.’”  Alderman Metcalfe, the winner of four Olympic gold medals and the fastest man on earth in 1934 and 1935, is pictured above.

September 11, 1954 – Three years after the two 26-floor residential buildings at 860 and 880 Lake Shore Drive are completed, the developers, Herbert S. Greenwald and Samuel N. Katzin, reveal that they have acquired the block just north of those towers, a lot bordered by Lake Shore Drive, Walton Street, DeWitt Place, and Delaware Place.   The Chicago Tribune reports that the next project will be similar to the twin towers just to the south although “the new structures will be more conservative in use of wall materials than the ‘860’ towers.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 12, 1954]

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

September 10, 1953 -- North Side Development Plan Unveiled

September 10, 1953 – The Greater North Michigan Avenue Association presents a general plan for redeveloping and preserving the Near North Side, from the Chicago River on the south and west to North Avenue on the north and the lake on the east.  The ambitious plan has a number of long-range objectives.  First up is the rehabilitation and conservation of three industrial districts, the first of which is roughly bounded by Chicago Avenue, Wells Street and the North Branch of the river.  The second area is located at the river, North Avenue and Halsted Street while a third, smaller location, is at the southwest corner of Division Street and Larrabee Street.  The second major recommendation of the plan is the rehabilitation and conservation of an area east of Wells Street and south of Chicago Avenue, through which Ohio and Ontario Streets run.  Another component of the proposal is the conservation of the neighborhoods west of La Salle Street and north of Division Street through the adoption of a minimum standard of housing and zoning laws.  The proposal recommends the widening of State Street from the river north to Chicago Avenue, a project that has been in the city’s plans for two decades, along with the widening of Clark Street form the river north to North Avenue. Also recommended is the development of Orleans Street and Clybourn Avenue as a “semi-superhighway.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 11, 1953]  Also recommended is work on Ohio an Ontario Streets to make them ready to accommodate traffic flowing to and from the proposed highway to be built west of the north branch of the river.  Commuter service by the Chicago and North Western Railroad to a new terminal near Michigan Avenue and the river is recommended as well.   The chairman of the association, Newton C. Farr, says that the program as outlined would take at least a decade to carry out.

September 10, 1924 – A magic evening takes place on the lakefront as 3,000 children carrying lanterns march into the Grant Park stadium, today’s Soldier Field, in a “preliminary dedication”. [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 11, 1924] Despite a light rain the Pageant of Music and Light has spectators cheering “as the army of girls and boys marched into the arena and scattered about to form [a] sparkling wheel.”  A mixed mass chorus under the direction of William Boeppler rolls thorugh “The Heavens Declare,” following the song with a rendition of “Beautiful Savior” and the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah. A children’s choir of a thousand voices than takes over, led by Hans Biedermann.  The program concludes with the Civic Band of Chicago leading the crowd in “America.”  The official opening day for the massive stadium will occur a month later, on October 9, the Fifty-Third anniversary of the Chicago Fire. The first event held in the new sports arena will be a police track meet that features a thousand athletes from the police department, drawing 90,000 spectators.  At the urging of the city’s Gold Star Mothers the Municipal Grant Park Stadium is officially renamed Soldier Field on November 11, 1925.

September 10, 1948 – Mayor Martin H. Kennelly gives approval to a proposal submitted to the city council, requiring that city officials and employees be required to sign non-Communist affidavits or face dismissal.  The proposal, sponsored by Forty-Fourth Ward alderman John C. Burmeister, also mandates a “loyalty committee” of three to five aldermen appointed by the mayor.  The mayor says, “I think it’s all right. We don’t know who we have working for us.”  The mayor is pictured in the above photo.

September 10, 1954 – The state civil defense director, Robert M. Woodward, graces Chicago with some upbeat news when he announces that a hydrogen bomb dropped at Madison Street and Kedzie Avenues between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. would cause 3,030,096 deaths and 1,382,421 injuries.  With an evacuation window of 15 minutes there would still be 1,876,227 deaths and 844,013 injuries.  For those wondering why we folks in our sixties and seventies sometimes act so strangely, it might be good to remember that we grew up with regular updates like this instead of the latest updates on Pok√©mon Go.

Monday, September 9, 2019

September 9, 2003 -- Frank Gehry Appraises Work on New Pritzker Pavilion

September 9. 2003 – Architect Frank Gehry visits Chicago, appraising the bandshell that he designed in Millennium Park, as both the bandshell and the park are still taking shape.  He leads a tour of the bandshell for “a well-dressed, well-heeled group of Millennium Park donors.”  [Chicago Tribune, September 11, 2003]  Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin describes the upbeat mood of the event, led by Gehry “with stand-up comic skill.”  Gehry pays particular attention to the bridge he designed that will weave sinuously across Columbus Drive, linking Millennium Park with the Daley Bicentennial Plaza, which today is Maggie Daley Park. He says that he sold Mayor Richard M. Daley on the idea for the bridge through the use of a dinner knife, saying that he didn’t threaten the mayor with it … rather, he turned it on an angle to show how the bridge with its sloping sides would look smaller than the mayor thought. Looking at the “trellis” of steel pipes that will rise above the 300 foot wide by 600 foot long great lawn in front of the bandshell, he quips that he told Cindy Pritzker, who contributed $15 million toward the $63 million bandshell that if it rains, “… you can always pull a shmata over the top and cover it,” using a Yiddish word that is sometimes used in reference to clothing.  Toward the end of the talk, someone in the audience asks the architect about the noise from Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street and how it would affect concerts in the new pavilion.  Gehry answers, “You ask the mayor to turn it off.”  The above photo shows the pavilion under construction, close to the time when the architect visited the site.

September 9, 1917 – The cornerstone of the Church of St. Clement at Deming Place and Orchard Street takes place at 3:30 p.m. in a ceremony at which Cardinal George Mundelein presides.  The Reverend John Webster Melody of St. Jariath’s church delivers the principal address of the afternoon, which stresses that in the national crisis brought on by the war in Europe “liberty and democracy mean greater national opportunity and are best served by spiritual means.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 10, 1917]  After the service a parade of 2,000 men and boys moves past a crowd of over 8,000 people, most of them members of the congregation. The church was designed by architect George D. Barnett in the Byzantine-Italian Romanesque Revival style, influenced by the architect’s design of the Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis and the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.  [openhousechicago.org]  In 2018 a SMNG A project to develop a new entrance to the church and parish center rectory buildings was awarded a Chicago Small Project Award by the American Association of Architects.

September 9, 1935 – A proposal to extend Wacker Drive from where it ends at Michigan Avenue by building a road east to the point where it is expected to join the new outer drive bridge is brought up in the City Council.  The estimated cost of the project, which will allow traffic from the west side of the Loop to reach the outer drive, is $1,700,000.  When the ordinance is read, Twenty-Fifth Ward Alderman James B. Bowler asks that consideration also be given to the extension of Wacker Drive along the south branch of the river from its present end at Madison Street to Roosevelt or Cermak Roads “in order to provide a connecting link with whatever superhighways might be constructed in the future to serve the west side.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 10, 1935] As it turned out, the extension of Wacker Drive to Lake Shore Drive was not completed until 1975, 40 years after the city council considered the resolution in 1935.  Even in the City that Works change can take a long, long time.  The above photo shows the completion of work on the Wacker Drive extension in 1975.  At that time it linked up with the old "S" curve south of the Lake Shore Drive bridge across the river.

September 9, 1975 – The trustees of the Art Institute of Chicago announce that no new students will be admitted to the Goodman School of Drama and the final class will graduate in the spring of 1978.  The chairman of the Goodman Theater committee, Stanley M. Freehling, says that it costs the Art Institute $200,000 a year to maintain a school of 25 faculty members for students who pay an average annual tuition of $1,950.  It is stated that the decision concerning the school will not affect the professional theater at the Goodman or future seasons on its main stage.  The school moved to DePaul University in 1977, and the following year the Goodman Theater separated officially from the Art Institute and now functions as the nonprofit Chicago Theatre Group, Inc.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

September 8, 1860 -- Lady Elgin Reported Lost

September 8, 1860 – The schooner Augusta sails into Chicago, reporting that sometime during the night she had collided with the Lady Elgin on the lake.  The Lady Elgin, with somewhere between 400 and 700 passengers aboard, most of them members of Milwaukee’s Irish Union Guard, is holed below the waterline when the Augusta strikes her amidships in the midst of a lake squall, and within 20 minutes she sinks.  No one will ever know how many drown in the lake off Winnetka or die on the rocks just off shore.  Bodies continue to wash ashore well into December, some of them almost 80 miles from the wreck. Many of those aboard the Lady Elgin are never found.  Those who could be identified are returned to Milwaukee for burial, but a number of the unfortunate souls onboard the ship are buried in a mass grave In Highwood, not far from the Port Clinton lighthouse, a place that has since been lost to time.

September 8, 1929 – Gompers Park at the corner of Foster and Pulaski Avenues, a 39-acre expanse of green space that is divided by the Chicago River, is dedicated.  Originally a part of the Park District of Albany Park, one of 22 independent park districts that were brought into the Chicago Park District in 1934, the park’s plan was the work of landscape architect Henry J. Stockman. Clarence Hatzfield, a Chicago architect and member of the Albany Park board, designed the park’s fieldhouse.  The park was originally named after Samuel Matson, who had been the Superintendent of Albany Park’s Park District.  According to the Chicago Park District’s website, “Albany Park District President Henry A. Schwartz, an official of the shoemakers’ union, soon convinced the park board that it was inappropriate to name the park for a living person.” Therefore, on this day in 1929 the district renamed the park in honor of Samuel Gompers, who had served as the president of the American Federation of Labor from 1886 until his death in 1924.  A major donation from the Edward M. Marx Foundation led to the dedication of a life-sized statue of the labor leader on Labor Day of 2007.

September 8, 1973 – Led by the Reverend Jesse Jackson, more than 8,000 people march through the Loop from a starting point at State Street and Wacker Drive, headed for a rally in Grant Park.  A spokesman for the Coalition for Jobs and Economic Justice, the sponsor of the march, says, “We are facing a crisis of everyday living.  It is the story of the jobless at the employment gate. It’s 40 million school children facing the loss of milk.  It’s the crisis of the welfare mother trying to fend off malnutrition at supermarket prices, the closed down factory, the bus line that died.”  [Chicago Tribune, September 9, 1973] Jack Edward, the Vice-President of the United Auto Workers says at the Grant Park rally, “In 1963 we had a friendly wind at our backs—John F. Kennedy. Now we have adversity at our faces—Richard M. Nixon, whose interest in economic and social justice was clearly demonstrated by his veto this week of a bill that would have raised the minimum wage in steps to $2.20 an hour and extended the protection of the Fair Labor Standards Act to about 7 million workers.”  Organizers had predicted a turn-out of 50,000 protestors, an estimate that was clearly optimistic.  As the above photo shows Reverend Jackson is still at it in 1975 as he leads a rally in favor of the Humphrey-Hawkins act that advocated using government-paid positions to combat the ravages of inflation and unemployment.