Tuesday, January 22, 2019

January 22, 1946 -- Chicago River Property Sold for just over a Half-Million

January 22, 1946 –Announcement is made that the entire block bounded by Adams Street on the north, Market Street (which disappeared when Wacker Drive was completed)  on the east, Quincy Street on the south, and the Chicago River on the west has been purchased for $525,000 in cash.  There are two buildings on the site, one of six stories on Market Street and a ten-story building overlooking the river with an entrance on Adams Street. An interesting combination of sellers signs off on the deal, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the University of Chicago, and the Chicago Natural History museum.  The property was formerly owned by steel magnate Martin A. Ryerson, who bequeathed it to the three institutions in his will.  The land includes approximately 38,000 square feet and the two buildings have a total floor area of 250,000 square feet. Arthur Rubloff and Company will manage the property.  What stands on $525,000 worth of land today?  Architect Harry Weese designed 200 South Wacker Drive, which opened in 1981.

January 22, 1903 – Chalk one up to “the amazing projects that never got built” department.  The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that the South Park Board and the Lincoln Park Board will submit a bill to the legislature authorizing a $2,000,000 bond issue to construct a half-mile subway beneath the river between Michigan Avenue and Pine Street.  The south portal will be at Washington Boulevard, and the north end will be situated at Ohio Street.  Daniel H. Burnham has already drawn plans for the subway which “is to be elaborately constructed with a view to securing the highest ornamental beauty.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 22, 1903] The length of the project will allow the grade to be slight and “in every detail it is proposed to make it free from the ordinary objections to tunnel communication.” Lincoln Park Board President W. W. Tracy says, ‘We believe that the subway project will appeal to the north side people as the only true solution of the communication problem.  A viaduct would not offer a satisfactory solution.  The proposed subway will be an elaborate and ornamental tunnel, which will not contain any of the objectionable features of ordinary subways.” The subway, of course, was never built, and it would be another 17 years before the bridge spanning the river at Michigan Avenue would be opened.

January 22, 1953 – The president of the Federal Reserve Bank, Clifford S. Young, announces that the summer will see the addition of four stories to the 15-story building.  The bank at 230 South LaSalle Street holds nine billion dollars in its own assets and 18 billion for the treasury and banks belonging to the federal reserve system.  The architects will be Naess and Murphy, the same firm that will design the Prudential building, still two years away, and the Sun-Times building on the river that will be started the year that Prudential finishes.  The four floors of the bank on La Salle Street will add 88,000 square feet of space to the building that first opened in 1923.  The building will not need any additional foundation work to support the weight of the addition, and that addition will relate aesthetically to the classical design of the building as well as to the Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company of Chicago directly across La Salle Street to the east.

January 22, 1954 -- The Chicago City Council Finance Committee votes to allocate $950,000 from motor fuel tax funds for construction of a steel viaduct extending Lake Street eastward across Michigan Avenue to Beaubien Court. At that point the viaduct will turn south to Randolph Street, passing along the west side of the Prudential building, which is under construction. A new viaduct might not sound like a big deal, but that piece of infrastructure, along with Prudential, were the first steps in converting the massive railroad yards, extending from the river south to Randolph and from Michigan Avenue to the lake, into what is today's Illinois Center. The grainy photo above, taken over ten years later, shows a portion of the viaduct, the "L" shaped roadway in the lower left corner of the photo. Randolph Street is the long horizontal roadway at the bottom of the picture with the river winding through the photo's middle. Just below the river, where the second long train shed from the left stands, is the location of today's Hyatt Regency Chicago on Wacker Drive.

Monday, January 21, 2019

January 21, 1992 -- Block 37 Ice Rink Opens

January 21, 1992 – In an attempt to “put the best possible face on the specter of open land in what was once one of America’s most thriving commercial and retail strips” [Chicago Tribune, January 22, 1992] Mayor Richard M. Daley officially opens a 75-foot by 125-foot ice rink on the site known as Block 37.  The rink will charge no admission and will be open from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. while weather permits.  At the opening ceremony 1948 Olympic gold medalist Barbara Ann Scott invites spectators “to skip lunch and spend an hour skating instead.”  The mayor forgoes a run around the ice, saying, “… can you imagine the mayor going out there and falling down?”  Three years earlier the city leveled a square block of buildings on the site with the exception of a Commonwealth Edison substation and then sold the title to developers for $12.5 million.  The development plan, which consisted of two towers and a large retail mall similar to Water Tower Place on North Michigan Avenue, crashed and burned in the huge real estate downturn of the early 1990’s.  Finally, in 2005 the development of the site began, leading to the present mixed-use block of retail, residential and office space.  The two pictures are an interesting before and after look at the site.  The black and white photo looks east from Dearborn Street.  The second photo looks west from State Street.

January 21, 1992 – The first details of a $150 million effort to create a new recreation center at Navy Pier are unveiled, showcasing “a glass-walled indoor park of palm trees, gazebos and fountains, dubbed the Crystal Gardens, and a three-story pavilion which will become the permanent home of the Chicago Children’s Museum.” [Chicago Tribune, January 22, 1992] Officials are particularly excited about the Children’s Museum.  The chairman of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority board, John Schmidt, says, “The Children’s Museum is very important because it’s an anchor.  It really sets a tone for the pier.  It’s a core of people and activities.”  Mayor Richard M. Daley, who is at the pier when the plans are announced, says that Navy Pier will become “a major center for family and recreational activity.”  As the photo above shows, before summer was over the long freight sheds between the pier's head house and Grand Ballroom on the east end would be gone and work on the new incarnation of the pier would begin.

January 21, 1900 – With the impending demolition of the Rock Island railroad station at Van Buren Street and Pacific Avenue, the Chicago Daily Tribune provides a look at the oldest train station in the city, a place that pre-dates the Chicago fire of 1871.  The Rock Island was the second railroad to enter the city, following the Chicago and Galena closely, and its first station was an “old whitewashed barn” in the same location as the station scheduled for destruction.  On October 7, 1871 as the great fire began to consume the city, the president of the Rock Island, stayed at the station until the end, locking all of the railroad’s papers in the station’s big vault.  Although the building was gutted, the papers survived intact.  The Rock Island’s Superintendent of Telegraph, who had been with the railroad since 1849, reminisces in the article about the old days of railroading in the city, “When we first ran in here we used an old barn for a depot … across the street, where the Rialto and Board of Trade Buildings now are, was vacant ground.  Our company had a track run across Van Buren street, and we switched our cars half-way down to Jackson boulevard … at that time the Stock-Yards were located at Michigan avenue and Twenty-second street, and all our stock trains were switched over there.”  Times changed, though, and it was no longer practical, from a logistical or a financial point of view, to keep a station in the heart of the Loop.  The article concludes with this thought, “Chicago is so big now, they say, that there is nothing particular to be gained by having terminals in the congested down-town districts.  In fact, many of the old-time railroad agents are of the opinion that union stations farther out would now be better for the city and good for the public.”

January 21, 1963 -- Both the inbound and outbound Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee trains are delayed as they begin their last runs. Engineer William Livings, with 50 people onboard, operates the final train into Roosevelt Station on the electric line that began as a Milwaukee street railroad in 1891. 170 people ride on the six cars of the last train north, the majority of them sailors returning to the Great Lakes Naval base. The line has operated at a deficit for over half of its existence, but the combination of new superhighways and the increase in commuting by car spell the end for the little electric line. For more on the railroad visit http://www.connectingthewindycity.com/…/chicago-look-back-a…

Sunday, January 20, 2019

January 20, 1918 -- Heatless Mondays Begin

Harry Augustus Garfield
January 20, 1918 – At the stroke of midnight the city begins the first of a series of ten consecutive Mondays in which the heating of businesses is forbidden.  Although meat markets and stores that sell food will be exempted from the ban, all department stores will be closed.  High schools are open although grade schools will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.  The prohibition is issued by the head of the Federal Fuel Administration, Harry Augustus Garfield, in response to a nation-wide shortage of coal that is the result of a massive transportation logjam on the east coast.  The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that many saloons obey the letter of the law although not the spirit of it.  “Bartenders wearing overcoats, sweaters, and gloves bustled about setting ‘em up for the chilled patrons, who also kept bundled up while they were partaking of the drinks the government had ruled were not to be dispensed,” the Tribune reports. [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 21, 1918] M. J. McCarthy, the secretary of the Liquor Dealers’ Protective Association, says, “I regret that we were not able to impress upon them that it is the feeling of the fuel administration that no liquor should be sold at all.  The Liquor Dealers’ Protective association does not believe in obeying the letter and violating the spirit of the law.” It is estimated that 200,000 men and women will be out of work on the heatless Mondays with a resulting loss in income totaling $3,500,000.  The cost of violating the law is steep – a fine of $5,000, imprisonment of two years, or both, with each infraction of the law counting as a separate violation. 

January 20, 1955 – Mayor Martin H. Kennelly digs the first shovel of dirt, and the construction of the northwest highway begins.  The shovel is the same one used by late Chicago Mayor Edward Kelly in 1938 when he kicked off construction of the State Street subway.  The northwest highway ceremony takes place at 740 West Adams Street where the Consolidated Construction Company will build a $425,499 bridge to carry Adams Street traffic over the new expressway.  The highway, which will begin at the new Congress Street expressway and head northwest to O'Hare Field, is expected to cost $139 million.  The expressway will be officially opened on November 5, 1960.  A week after President John F. Kennedy is assassinated on November 22, 1963 the Chicago City Council votes unanimously to rename the expressway in honor of the late president.  The above photo shows the opening of the expressway on November 5, 1960.  Illinois Governor William G. Stratton presides as Mayor Richard J. Daley on his left and Cook County Board President Dan Ryan on his right look on.

January 20, 1944 – Mrs. Adele Born Williams dies in St. Luke’s Hospital after being shot a night earlier in her room at the Drake Hotel.  Williams is the 58-year-old wife of Frank Starr Williams, an attaché of the United States State Department, posted in Washington, D. C.  She entered her eighth-floor apartment at the hotel with her daughter, Mrs. Patricia Goodbody, almost immediately encountering a woman who was “gray haired, about 50 years old, and wore a black Persian lamb coat, and flowers or red trimming in her hair or hat.”  [Chicago Daily Triune, January 21, 1944] Investigators picture the murderess as “a little cunning, a little savage, and probably a little mute … she uttered no word, no cry as she opened fire on her defenseless victim.”  There were four shots, fired at such close range that the flame from the weapon seared the victim’s face and left hand.  Two witnesses hear the gunfire and see the fleeing woman who fired them.  “I opened the door as I heard the shots,” Chester P. Brewster, general manager of the K-D Tool Manufacturing Company of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, says.  “As I did so, a woman brushed by me, then a few seconds later there was a scream and a woman, whom I now know as Mrs. Goodbody, came out of apartment 836 screaming, ‘Do something, do something!  My mother’s been shot!’”  An intensive investigation would drag on for months, with twist after bizarre twist intriguing Chicagoans. No one is ever prosecuted for the crime, and the case remains unsolved.

January 20, 1909 -- Over 50 laborers perish in the intermediate crib of the George W. Jackson tunnel building company, 1.5 miles from the Chicago shore at Seventy-First Street as it is engulfed in fire. There are only a few windows in the structure, which served as a base in the tunnel building effort to supply the south side of the city with fresh water. Men fight one another to jump into the freezing lake waters in order to escape the flames. Survivors say some men even jumped down the 180-foot shaft connecting the crib with the tunnel under construction. Some make for shore; one man with one eye dangling from its socket is rescued clinging to an aerial tramway connecting the crib to shore. The tug T. T. Mumford, tied up at Sixty-Eighth Street, makes for the scene as quickly as it can in the ice-choked lake, arriving to find naked men, awoken from their sleep, clinging to ice floes and shouting for help from the water. The tug manages to pick up over 40 survivors, dropping the less grievously injured off at the Sixty-Eighth Street crib before continuing to shore with the most severe cases. In the meantime fireboats arrive to find the crib totally ablaze. As the day wears on it is clear the death toll will be high. Not a single body that is recovered is identifiable. 45 victims arre buried in Mount Greenwood Cemetery.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

January 19, 1903 -- Illinois Telephone and Telegraph Upgrades Service

January 19, 1903 – Illinois Telephone and Telegraph workers begin wiring downtown buildings for “automatic telephones” with 10,000 phones to be in operation by the First of May.  A building at 191 Fifth Avenue – today’s Wells Street – will house five floors of switching equipment, making possible the elimination of party lines in the business section of the city and cutting the cost of telephone service by half.  The maximum charge for office telephones will be $85 a year with a $50 charge for private residences.  The phones will first be installed in all drug stores and other public places where “slot” telephones are placed.  A customer who wishes to make a call will be charged five cents, payable to a store clerk.  The business will get to keep the profit from all receipts that exceed the $85 yearly charge for the business.  The president of the company says, “We are going to make telephoning cheap in Chicago – so cheap that I expect to see 250,000 phones in use here within ten years where there are now only 40,000 main line instruments.  If we can realize the average amount which the gas company collects – which is about $3 a month a customer, I believe – if we can realize that much we will still make a better profit than the gas company for we will have no coal bill.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 18, 1903]

January 19, 1970 – Judge Julius J. Hoffman rules in United States District Court that the conspiracy trial of the “Chicago 7” will be conducted seven days a week, beginning at the time of the decree.  William Kuntsler, one of the defense attorneys for the individuals accused of conspiracy and inciting to riot during the 1968 Democratic convention, argues that the defense needs the weekends to continue to prepare its case.  The decision to add Sunday court sessions in a trial that started on September 24 is made when Kuntsler protests Hoffman’s order on the previous day to add Saturdays to the court schedule to move the trial along.  When the judge denies Kuntsler’s motion to end Saturday court sessions, Kuntsler then moves for the court to meet seven days a week, to which Hoffman agrees.  It isn’t until February 18, 1970 that a verdict is returned with each of the seven defendants acquitted of conspiracy although two men are found guilty of crossing state lines with the intent to incite a riot.  While the jury is deliberating, Hoffman cites each defendant and the lawyers in the case with a number of contempt charges, carrying sentences from a few months to four years.  On November 21,1972 all convictions are reversed in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh District, and the contempt charges are dropped as well.  The United States decides not to retry the case.

January 19, 1872 – A little over a year after Chicago is destroyed by fire, the Chicago Tribune reports on the progress being made at establishing a fire-proof ordinance within the city.  The City Council, according to the article, is leaning toward a strict fire-proof ordinance within the center of the city, but seems inclined to exempt “that part of the South Division west of State and south of Twenty-fifth street, and west of Halsted street; all of the West Division south and west of Halsted, Rebecca, Throop, Twelfth, Reuben and Van Buren streets, and west of Western avenue … all of the West Division beyond Western avenue, north and west of Walnut and Reuben streets and Chicago avenue … in the North Division, all of the territory north and west of Chicago avenue, Wells street, and North avenue.”  [Chicago Tribune, January 19, 1972] This plan, the article indicates, “surrounds the city, north, west, and south, with a cordon, several miles deep of wooden buildings.”  The plan seems to take special care to avoid damaging the lucrative house-moving business, an industry the paper did not look upon with favor.  “No man who erects a permanent building,” the article states, “can tell the day when there may not be backed in on each side of his building some old rotten tenement, to be rented out at extortionate rates for prostitution, gambling, or other equally disreputable business.”  Contained within the ordinance, though, is a stipulation that whenever the owners of a majority of the ground on any block outside of the fire district shall so request, that block shall come under the provisions of the fire ordinance.  The paper urges the legislators to go farther, to make it unlawful “to erect any wooden building, barn, or shed within 150 feet, in any direction, from a brick or stone building already erected.”  The article ends with a plea to pass the legislation, “The passage of an ordinance prohibiting the erection hereafter of any wooden buildings in the city, with proper provision for the enforcement of the law, would be equal, in its financial effects, to the free loan of several millions of dollars.  It would relieve this city of an enormous indirect tax, and would invite hither a large amount of capital for permanent investment, which will avoid us if we continue to be a city of shanties.”

January 19, 2010 -- Researchers report that for the first time DNA of Asian carp has been found in Lake Michigan. The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies quickly move to allay fears about the invasive species spawning on the balconies of River North high rises, saying that there was still no evidence that live carp had entered the lake. Army Corps Major General John Peabody says, "The fact is that we don't know where the fish are. DNA tells us there is a presence in those areas and we've got to begin looking at whether we are getting false positives or negatives so we know what we're dealing with." Hours before the announcement the U. S. Supreme Court refuses to address the carp issue, rejecting Michigan's request for an injunction that would force Illinois to stop any sources of water that might flow into Lake Michigan.

Friday, January 18, 2019

January 18, 1972 -- Chicago Water Poisoning Plot Foiled

January 18, 1972 –A heavy cordon of police is stationed around two water filtration plants after two young men are arrested and charged with plotting to poison the city’s water supply with typhoid bacteria.  Charged with conspiracy to commit murder are Allen C. Schwander, 19, and Steven Para, 18. Both men are arrested in an apartment on Fairfield Avenue in Evanston.  States Attorney Edward V. Hanrahan says, “Investigation disclosed that an organization called ‘RISE’, of which Schwander and Pera were organizers, had allegedly planned poisoning water supplies and spreading deadly diseases in Illinois and elsewhere. Member of ‘RISE’ were allegedly to be inoculated and immunized enabling them to survive … and to form the basis of a new master race.” [Chicago Tribune, January 19, 1972]  Deputy Police Superintendent James Rochford reassures the public, saying, “There is no evidence at this time that these people [the two arrested] have the ability or capability to carry out the act.”  Mayor Richard J. Daley underscores Rochford’s declaration.  “The city’s water is safe and all necessary steps to protect the water in the future will be taken,” Daley says.  Bond for the two men is set at $250,000 for each.

January 18, 1954 – The Vice-President of the Columbia Broadcasting System, H. Leslie Atlass, announces that the network has purchased the Chicago Arena at 630 McClurg Court for $1,500,000 and plans to convert it into a “television city.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 19, 1954] Four studios will occupy 50,000 of the 87,000 square feet in the facility. The remainder of the space will be used for scenery and maintenance shops, storage areas and facilities for film processing.  WBBM-TV will then vacate its current studios at the State-Lake building at 190 North State Street and the Garrick Theater at 64 West Randolph Street within the year.  The Chicago Arena, designed by architect A. N. Rebori, was used for ice reviews, tennis matches and other sporting events. It was finished in 1924 at a cost of $800,000 and was originally called the Chicago Riding Club.  The building achieved a historic milestone on September 26, 1960 when John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon met in the first televised presidential debate in history.  The building was demolished in 2009, and in December of that year the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago bought the site.  On March 25, 2017 the Institute opened the new building, the $550 million Shirley Ryan AbilityLab on the site, serving patients who need extended care and rehabilitation services after they leave traditional hospitals.  The Chicago Arena is pictured in the black and white photo above.  The new AbilityLab is shown on the site in the photo below that.

January 18, 1951 – Virgil E. Gunlock, the Chicago Commissioner of Subways and Super-highways, announces that Herlihy Mid-Continental Construction is the lowest of five bidders on the project to extend Wacker Drive between Madison and Washington Streets.  The company submits a bid of $1,076,493 for the work.  This will be the third of eight blocks in the 12.5 million dollar project to construct the two-level extension of Wacker Drive from Lake Street to its connection with the Congress Expressway to the south, which is itself in the final stages of construction.  The Market Street stub of the elevated line, pictured above, ran south along the route of Wacker Drive, formerly Market Street, and had to be removed in order for the project to be completed.

January 18, 1945 -- Agreement is reached between Chicago and airline officials in a plan to build a new terminal building at the city airport, today's Midway International Airport. Scaled way back from what once was proposed as an elaborate $1,750,000 terminal, the new proposal called for a building about 1,400 feet long, costing $470,000. The airlines agree to bear the cost of the new building, along with loading areas, taxiways, and parking places, getting the city to repay the investment by remitting the cost of landing fees over a period of ten years. The city architect, Paul Gerhardt, Jr., will design the building. Each of the eight airlines using the airport agree to rent space at $2 a foot, and a share of the cost of construction will be assessed each air line based on the ratio of its scheduled flights.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

January 17, 1909 -- Chicago and North Western Plans Lead to Razing of Four Square Blocks

January 17, 1909 –The Chicago Daily Tribune reviews “the greatest wrecking operation that ever was carried out in Chicago,” [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 17, 1909] the demolition of four square blocks bounded by Canal, Clinton, Fulton and Madison Streets. Beginning on May 2, 1907 a hundred individual structures that housed more than 500 businesses were leveled within 18 months to make way for the new passenger terminal for the Chicago and North Western Railroad.  Two months before the operation began, three men, working for the Garden City Wrecking Company, inspected every building in the area, in an attempt to assemble an accurate bid for the work.  Leading the list of salvageable material that the appraisers found was lumber worth between $400,000 and $500,000.  The Tribune reports the buildings held “… old joists, beams, and stringers of cork pine that the lumber market today could not equal in quality and sizes.  Timbers twenty odd feet in length without a knot to mar them were the rule.  Forty years ago this pine – now almost extinct – could be bought for $12 a thousand feet; today such pine will sell for $150 a thousand.”  Over a hundred workers spent 18 months clearing the area, hauling away millions of tons of material from the 13-acre site.  The Ogilvie Transportation Center at the bottom of the highlighted rectangle now anchors the section of the city that was cleared in 1909.  It replaced the Chicago and North Western terminal that was demolished in 1984.

January 17, 1920 – Chicago wakes up to the realization that the day of the hangover is gone as Prohibition begins at midnight.  On the previous day “auto trucks were at a premium during the late afternoon and early evening” [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 17, 1920] as individuals pursued the last chance to buy liquor for home consumption and transport it to their homes.  Major A. V. Dalrymple, the “head of the prohibition enforcers” promises that no effort will begin at enforcing the new law for ten days. “Of course I don’t mean that you can sell the stuff tomorrow,” he says. “Far from it. But we will not start any search of seizure until this ten day period has passed.”

January 17, 1915 – South Halsted Street between Polk and Madison Streets becomes a battle ground as 1,500 unemployed men, women, boys and girls battle the police.  According to the Chicago Daily Tribune, “Shots were fired, clothes were torn, eyes blackened, and heads cracked while clubs, blackjacks, and revolver butts were used with bruising effect on heads, arms and knuckles” as the “hunger procession” proceeded up Halsted Street.  [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 18, 1915] The battle occurs after a meeting of the unemployed at Bowen Hall at the Hull House settlement.  Two detectives inside the hall, dressed as unemployed workmen, listen as Lucy Parsons, the widow of Albert Parsons, who was hanged for alleged complicity in the Haymarket Riot of 1886, speaks.  The detectives, Sergeants Fred Krueger and Herman Eastman, report that trouble is brewing.  Frist Deputy Superintendent of Police Herman Schuettler, who himself was at his post during the Haymarket riot, orders, “Demand a permit from them, and if they haven’t got one order them to disperse. The reserves will be on the way to help you.” A procession forms on Polk Street, just west of Halsted and begins to march, six people abreast, up Halsted, carrying a large black banner with one word, “Hunger,” displayed in white letters.  The police order the marchers to disperse, but the marchers continue onward, a voice crying out, “To h___ with the orders.  We’re hungry!”  The policemen, small in number and waiting for reinforcements, are surrounded.  According the paper’s reporter, “In a minute the cluster under the swaying ‘hunger’ banner was a maelstrom of fists and clubs.  Girls and women shrieked and fell to the ground in the fray.  A small, dark haired girl, climbing on to the shoulders of a man, dove head foremost into the center of the fight, her fingers reaching out for the eyes and hair of the policemen … The detectives drew their revolvers and began to lay to right and left, felling all within reach … Women threw their arms around the necks of the plain clothes men, biting them and tearing their faces with finger nails.”  On the marchers move, coming up to a phalanx of policemen at Harrison Street; the procession breaches the line and continues north to Adams Street where they encounter mounted officers.  On they continue to Monroe Street.  Battered at each new block “the ranks of the marchers were becoming noticeably thinned.  Those remaining appeared to be the more vindictive who had succeeded in fighting their way through.”  Finally, at Madison Street the marchers find themselves surrounded, and many of those who are left “made for doorways, alleys, saloons, lunch rooms, and basements, where they mingled with the surprised patrons and escaped.”  At each intersection along the route of the march arrests are made, and those taken prisoner charged with rioting, unlawful assemblage and parading without a license.  At the conclusion of the festivities the Tribune reports, “Halsted street looked like an armed camp with squads of police stationed at the corners and mounted men patrolling the middle of the street.”  Mrs. Lucy Parsons is shown above, missing a glove, after her arrest.

January 17, 1903 -- Judge Arthur Chetlain sentences George Wellington "Cap" Streeter to an indeterminate term in the penitentiary at Joliet for manslaughter for the killing of John S. Kirk on February 11, 1902 in the "District of Lake Michigan." The dead man had been a watchman for Henry W. Cooper, a man lakefront property owners had engaged to protect their interests on the north side of the river near Oak Street. "Cap" Streeter was not personally connected to the scene where the killing occurred; he was held responsible because testimony indicated that he had told the occupants of the district that if anyone "came fooling' around" to shoot him. After being found guilty in December 3, 1892, Streeter said, ""They found us guilty but it only goes to show that when a lot of millionaires get together and get the help of the state the liberty of a man ain't safe. This whole thing is a scheme." The captain and his missus are pictured above.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

January 16, 1976 -- Wieboldt's Closes the Book on Green Stamps

January 16, 1976 –The management of Wieboldt Stores announces that distribution of Green Stamps with purchases will end in two weeks.  The chain of department stores has been distributing the stamps since 1957, and all redemption centers for the stamps in the Chicagoland area are in Wieboldt’s stores.  Arthur K. Muenze, the president of the company, says the stamps will be discontinued because “public interest in them has decreased and they are no longer effective in attracting customers to the stores.” [Chicago Tribune, January 17, 1976] A spokesman for Sperry and Hutchinson Co., which distributes the stamps, confirms that redemption centers in nine Wieboldt stores will close by the end of January.  “There is no need for panic or for anyone to rush in and redeem their stamps before they want to.  We’re in good shape as a company.  We’re not going to leave anybody high and dry,” the spokesman says.  

January 16, 1892 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that the Executive Committee of the Interstate Exposition Board of Directors has agreed to sell its massive buidling on Michigan Avenue to the Art Institute for $2,100.  This guarantees, the paper reports, “ … the doom of the old structure.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 16, 1892] Representatives of the Art Institute say that a check will be issued immediately and within ten days demolition of the Interstate Exposition Building will begin.  The huge building east of Michigan Avenue occupied the site of the present Art Institute of Chicago for 20 years and was designed by Chicago architect W. W. Boyington.  It provided a place for exhibitors to display their products and also served as an Illinois National Guard Armory, as well as the site of political conventions in 1880 and 1884.  It was also the first home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

January 16, 1925 – At the closing session of a two-day conference of the Great Lakes Harbor Association 300 delegates from 80 cities located on the Great Lakes pass a resolution that requests the United States Secretary of War "to require of the sanitary district of Chicago the installation, within a reasonable length of time, of a modern system of sewage disposal and protested against any legislation that may sanction diversions affecting the water levels of the great lakes.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 17, 1925] The resolution reads, “With an astounding disregard for the rights of her neighbors and in defiance of all precepts of law and justice, under the pretext that the sanitary welfare of that city made the dilution system of sewage disposal necessary, Chicago has for twenty years been abstracting the waters of the great lakes in great quantities.  This abstraction of water has on the one hand caused the lowering of the levels of the lakes to the injury of commerce thereon, and on the other the raising of the levels of the Illinois river to the injury of the land owners of that region.  The sewage which Chicago by virtue of its sanitation system is thus carrying into the Illinois river is polluting the waters of that stream to an alarming degree.”  Officials of the sanitary district plan to leave for Washington within two days “to face the interests which would prevent the city from diverting 10,000 cubic feet of water per second from the lake for sanitary purposes.”

January 16, 1945 -- In one of the worst fires to hit Chicago in a quarter-century 14 people are killed and 8 injured in a fire at the General Clark Hotel at 217 North Clark Street. The night manager of the hotel states that 76 people were registered when the fire started just after midnight. It was brought under control three hours later, after three people had jumped into firemen's nets and a dozen others had been rescued by ladders.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

January 15, 1964 -- Navy Pier Looks to the Future

industrial scenery.blogspot.com
January 15, 1964 –Mayor Richard J. Daley announces that he has asked city planners to begin a study that examines the future of Navy Pier after the University of Illinois departs in late 1965. Daley says that thought should be given to using the pier as a recreation center, tying it into a new park that will be built just to the west of the pier and adjacent to the filtration plant to the north.  The mayor also says that a 920-foot observation tower that was proposed in October, 1963 as a tourist attraction cannot be built at the pier because its height would interfere with airplanes approaching Meigs Field to the south.  The above photo from the early 1960's with ships from all over the world lined up shows that at this time Navy Pier was still an important port of entry and a significant source of revenue for the city.

January 15, 1882 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that the Archbishop of Chicago has sold the entire lot on Lake Shore Drive between Burton Place and Schiller Street to Potter Palmer for $90,695.  The paper reports, “A concerted effort will now be made by Mr. Palmer and the other property owners to fill up all the depressions between State street and the Lake-Shore drive and lift this property into its rightful place as the choicest kind of residence property, not surpassed by any in the city.”  Palmer’s faith in the area which “is almost virgin ground, and is almost entirely free from objectionable buildings and improvements” is ample evidence that the part of the north side “which lies between the Water-Works and Lincoln Park, and is east of Dearborn street, is rapidly rising in public favor.”  The mansion of Potter and Bertha Palmer, which has been gone now for 68 years, would be built on the corner of Banks Street and Lake Shore Drive.  Designed by Henry Ives Cobb and Charles Frost, it would be the largest private residence in the city when finished in 1885.  Today 1350 and 1360 Lake Shore Drive stand on the lot.  The mansion and the residential buildings are shown above.

January 15, 1916 – The “Foolkiller,” a submarine that has been embedded in the mud at the bottom of the Chicago River at Wells Street yields a grisly find upon its being raised – the skull of a dog and the bones of a man.  The small submersible was originally built in the early 1870’s but had not been seen in a quarter-century. A diver for the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company, William Deneau, discovers the craft somewhat earlier while working in the effort to locate bodies from the ill-fated Eastland, the steamer that had capsized six months earlier.  The identity of the victim found aboard the submarine was never discovered, and there is even some conjecture that the bones might have been planted aboard as part of a scheme to place the whole tableau on public exhibition.  That happened shortly thereafter as customers could pay a dime to see the exhibit at 208 South State Street, a display that was moved at least twice – to Oelwein, Iowa where it was  billed “The Submarine or Fool Killer, the first submarine ever built,” It shared the exhibit space among other top draws, including “The Electric Girl, The Vegetable King, [and] Snooks, the smallest monkey in the world” [mysteriouschicago.com]  The Fool Killer was last heard of when it appeared at Chicago’s Riverview Park where it sat forlornly while the “Last Days of Pompeii,” a “gorgeous fireworks spectacle” with 600 performers was staged alongside the river at Western and Belmont.

January 15, 1954 -- The Chicago city council authorizes the purchase of the Reid-Murdoch building at 325 N. State Street in order to consolidate traffic courts and the police traffic division. The matter had been pending since November 3 when voters authorized a 4 million dollar bond issue for acquiring the building and remodeling it. More on the history of the Reid-Murdoch building can be found here: http://www.connectingthewindycity.com/…/reid-murdoch-buildi… and here: http://www.connectingthewindycity.com/…/reid-murdoch-buildi…

Monday, January 14, 2019

January 14, 1969 -- Chicago Loop, Fifty Years Down the Road

January 14, 1969 – An interesting article in the Chicago Tribune fifty years ago makes predictions about what Chicago’s Loop will look like in the century that is to come.  Noting that “Confidence in the Loop’s future already has been expressed by public and private investors,” [Chicago Tribune, January 14, 1969] the article begins with a look at downtown transportation.  “A new subway system will speed and extend public transportation thruout the downtown area … Only historical markers will remain to mark the elevated structure that once defined the Loop and gave it its name,” the article states.  State Street will be “a curious combination of past and present,” with the Carson Pirie Scott building “proudly standing among newer, taller neighbors.”  The street will still be “the retail king,” but once the elevated structure is removed on Wabash Avenue that street will also become “a shopper’s delight.”  Shoppers will browse in “huge commercial concourses … along the two levels of the new subway system” which will feature “moving sidewalks, and, perhaps, electric trains.” The article gets this one right – “West Madison street, fortified by new skyscrapers, will shed its skid row past and become the western heart of the new Loop,” bolstering the claim with a statement from the president of the Mid-City National Bank, E. M. Bakwin, who says, “I can see Madison-Canal expanding north and south as a major complex. I can see it as a new Rockefeller center.”  The Tribune predicts accurately that development of the Illinois Center area will “extend over nearly 50 acres along the Chicago river between Michigan avenue and the lakefront.  It will provide working quarters for thousands and homes for 35,000 apartment dwellers.”  Not quite accurate is the prediction that in this area “Autos will be barred from the surface to underground levels where workers and residents will find transit service … As the Loop enters the 21st Century and its complex public transit system of subways, moving sidewalks, and walk-ways is completed, the last private auto will leave the Loop and be banished forever.”  As the above photo shows the much in the Loop -- and beyond -- has changed, but the el is still rattling along.

January 14, 1924 – The commissioners of the South Park Board convene in a special session to accept the donation of a fountain for Grant Park from Miss Kate Buckingham, the fountain to be built in honor of her brother, Clarence Buckingham.  Miss Buckingham contributes $250,000 for the construction of the fountain with another $135,000 set aside in a trust fund for its maintenance.  The fund will be administered by the Art Institute of Chicago.  The fountain opened to the public on May 26, 1927.  The Chicago Park District’s description of the fountain, the centerpiece of Grant Park, the city’s “front yard,” includes the following: “An important Chicago art patron and philanthropist, Kate Sturges Buckingham (1858 – 1937) was the last member of the Buckingham family.  Originally from Zanesville, Ohio, the Buckingham family made its fortune in grain elevators, real estate and steel.  Kate and her brother Clarence Buckingham (1854 – 1913) were both avid art collectors and benefactors who donated valuable prints, paintings, sculptures, and objects to the Art Institute of Chicago… Architect Edward H. Bennett of the firm Bennett, Parsons and Frost, designed the fountain and French artist Marcel Loyau produced the sculptural elements.  Architects Jacques Lambert and Clarence W. Farrier served as associates on the project.  The fountain is composed of pink Georgia marble, with some granite elements, and bronze sculptures. During the planning phases, Kate Buckingham expressed a wish that the fountain’s lighting tshould emulate ‘soft moonlight.’ According to an early Chicago Park District brochure, ‘though advanced in years,’ Miss Buckingham ‘worked night after night with technicians, trying out various colors of glass and adjusting the control of electric current’ to produce ‘blends… that pleased her— and indeed, there is a mystical aura around the lighted fountain suggesting moonlight— in fairyland.’”  The above photo shows the fountain under construction in 1925.    

January 14, 1898 – Another chapter in the continuing story of Aron Montgomery Ward and the area we today know as Grant Park unfolds as Ward reacts strongly to a plan that would see a great exposition hall built in the park, a project that would receive city abatement of ground fees, taxes and assessments.  Ward minces no words, saying, “To erect a large building [in the park] would be doing an injustice to those who have spent millions in erecting fine buildings and halls throughout the city … They have paid their fair and full proportion of taxes and assessments for years, and their investments in assembly halls have not paid them 2 per cent.  Now they can see their way, with the increased population and the evident return of prosperity to the country, to make simply the interest on their investments … Why should this great octopus be given land with no ground rent to pay and free from taxes and assessment? … It is one of the biggest schemes ever sprung on the citizens and taxpayers of Chicago.  All others pale before it.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 15, 1898]  One day maybe someone will gather the funds to erect a statue to Ward in the park on the lakefront.  In his continuing battle to protect the property, he did more than anyone else to keep it open, clear and free so that we might enjoy its many benefits today.  The area under consideration for the new exposition hall is pictured above.

January 14, 1927 -- The report of George M. Wisner's testimony before Charles Evans Hughes, special master of the United States Supreme Court, is printed. Eisner, the consulting engineer for the Chicago sanitary district, attempted to answer the demands of Wisconsin and five other Great Lakes states seeking an injunction that stopped water diversion from Lake Michigan into the Chicago River. Eisner recounted what life in Chicago was like before the river was flushed with lake water. He said, "The Chicago river was a pest hole of typhoid and intestinal disease germs . . . It was a big septic tank festering on the bottom and sending upwards dangerous poisonous gases. The crust of filth sometimes became so thick that a chicken could walk across the river. At other times the crust caught fire." To avoid a return to those days, Wisner asserted that a maximum of 10,000 cubic feet of lake water per second was needed to cleanse the river. Chicago lost the battle when the Supreme Court decreed on April 21, 1930 that the diversion of lake water be gradually reduced to 1,500 cubic feet per second by December 31, 1938. The photo above pictures the river as it looked about the time Wisner offered his testimony.