Thursday, January 31, 2019

January 31 1968 -- Lake Michigan "Sick ... But shall Not Die"
January 31, 1968 –U. S. Secretary of Interior Stewart Udall, in a statement to 600 people attending the four-state Conference on Water Pollution in Lake Michigan at the Sherman House, says in a statement “Lake Michigan is sick, but I believe we are all determined it shall not die.”  [Chicago Tribune, February 1, 1968]Reading from a speech prepared by Udall, the Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Max N. Edwards, continues, “Delay means death to Lake Michigan, and the death of Lake Michigan would be a national tragedy.”  Udall, in bed with the flu after attending the opening night of Ford’s Theater in Washington, D. C., is unable to attend the conference in person, but his remarks are nonetheless cogent.  “I ask that the results of this conference be action – specific, strong, and coordinated action by the states, as individuals, the states as a group, and by the federal government,” he writes in his prepared remarks … I assure you that I will be prompt to do my part to see the recommendations carried out.” Mayor Richard J. Daley and Illinois Governor Otto Kerner open the conference with Daley saying, “Meet the problem in a bold and concerted manner.  Drastic action is required to meet an urgent problem … [the physical resources of Chicago] are ready to help save our lake.  It will never be cheaper to end pollution in Lake Michigan than right now.” Officials from Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan hear Kerner’s plea to support a ban against dumping polluted materials into the lake and to support federal laws to regulate pollution from boats.  “The success of this action program to free Lake Michigan from pollution must be shared by every individual organization, corporation, and government agency,” Kerner says.  The above photo appeared in Life Magazine at the time and depicts the Indiana Harbor Ship Canal with a caption describing the canal as "an old caldron running through east Chicago."  Such were conditions up and down the shore of Lake Michigan.

January 31, 1958 – The Chicago Sun-Times holds a formal dedication for its new $15 million plant on the Chicago River between Wabash Avenue and Rush Street as Marshall Field, Jr. dedicates the nine-story building to the memory of his late father.  Ground was broken for the new building, designed by Naess and Murphy, in November of 1955.  Marshall Field, II founded the Sun-Times in 1941 as the Chicago Sun and the paper merged with the Chicago Times on February 2, 1948.  For more information on the building that sat where today’s Trump Tower sits, you can turn to this blog in Connecting the Windy City.

January 31, 1913 – The Board of Trustees of the Art Institute commission Lorado Taft to begin work on the sculpture that will be known as “The Fountain of Time.”  The plan is for the sculpture to be erected on the Midway in Hyde Park, with a fountain and “three bridges with groups – ‘The Arts,’ “The Sciences,’ and “Religion’ connected with single figures.”  The report proclaims, “If carried out the Midway with a small lagoon, fountains, bridges and statuary, will be one of the beauty spots of the world.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 1, 1911]  The sculpture will be created from “creamy Georgia marble” and will take five years to complete.  It will be paid for using $30,000 from the Ferguson endowment, held in escrow at the Art Institute.  The sculptor explains the plan in this way, “The scheme for the decoration of the Midway embraces the embellishment of the park space one mile in length, connecting Washington and Jackson parks at Sixtieth street, with fountains, bridges, and connecting rows of figures.  There would be a stream of water along this park space, and the principal bridges would be at Ellis, Woodlawn, and Madison avenues.  The Fountain of Time would be at the western terminus.  Whether it will or not rests entirely with the park board.  The Bridge of Arts at Woodlawn avenue, which practically bisects the Midway, would form the center of the whole scheme of beautification, and would be more elaborate than either of the other two bridges, Religion at Ellis avenue or Science at Madison avenue.”  Although the final sculpture is a spectacular addition to the western terminus of the Midway, the grand scheme proposed on this date was considerably scaled back from the grand vision that was introduced to the city on this day in 1913.  Even the “creamy Georgia marble” went, and the 200 figures of the sculpture are made of hollow-cast concrete reinforced with steel.

January 31, 1911 -- The Home Insurance Company building at the corner of La Salle and Adams Streets is sold for $2,150,000. James and Charles Deering purchase the property. Their father, William, had founded the Deering Harvester Company, and the family hit the jackpot when financier J. P. Morgan purchased the firm and merged it with the McCormick Reaper Company and several other farm implement manufacturers to create what we know today as International Harvester. The Home Insurance Building, designed by William LeBaron Jenney and completed in 1884, is considered by many to be the world's first metal-framed skyscraper. It was the tallest building in the world for seven years. It's gone now. It was demolished in 1931 to make way for the magnificent Art Deco skyscraper at 135 South La Salle.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

January 30, 2017 -- Frango Brand Goes to Garrett
January 30, 2017 –It is announced that Garrett Brands, the owner of Garrett Popcorn Shops, will buy the Frango chocolate brand from Cincinnati-based Macy’s.  Andrea Schwartz, a spokeswoman for Macy’s, says, “Frango is very popular among both our local shoppers and visitors at our Chicago stores.  It’s great to see such an iconic Chicago brand staying in Chicago.” [Chicago Tribune, January 31, 2017]  Although the popular brand will not be sold in Garrett stores, the owner of Garrett Brands, Lance Chody, says, “Frango is a perfect fit for our company’s portfolio, aligning well with our strategy to preserve and grow iconic brands that have historic franchise value with a unique and storied past.”  Although long associated with Chicago, Frango actually began in Seattle as a product of the Frederick and Nelson Company … the original name of the candy was Franco, a shortening of the original company’s name. Marshall Field and Co. acquired the brand in 1929 and for nearly 70 years the candy was made on the thirteenth floor of Field’s State Street store.  When Dayton-Hudson bought Field’s in 1990, the production of the candy was transferred to a Pennsylvania company although some production was returned to Chicago in 2007 after Federated Department Stores converted the Chicago-area Field’s stores to Macy’s.  Unloading Frango returns the brand to Chicago production even as the action is yet another sign that Macy’s is working hard to stay afloat, having announced the closure of 68 stores earlier in the month.

January 30, 1962 – Officials of the Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company announce that the institution will provide nearly $20 million in financing for the first phase of the Carl Sandburg Village urban renewal project.  Because of the area involved – east of LaSalle Street and south of North Avenue, near the city’s Gold Coast – interest runs high in the potential for the $42 million project.  Projections call for 1,875 units, ranging from efficiency apartments to two- and three-bedroom townhomes located on 15.63 acres between North Avenue and Division Street.  Although Continental’s financing plan is subject to the rezoning of the site by the Chicago city council and a commitment from the Federal Housing administration, the chairman of Continental bank, David M. Kennedy says that “the project gives the bank another opportunity to contribute to the development of Chicago.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 31, 1962] It is difficult today to think about what a risky venture this was at the time.  As the Chicago Tribune reported early in 2018, “Security concerns were high at the development … A block away was Wells Street, lined with raucous bars … The new construction was a $40 million-plus gamble to save the Near North Side and, in turn, to stave off the blight threatening Chicago’s business core to the south and the Lincoln Park neighborhood to the north.” [Chicago Tribune, January 29, 2018] Sandburg Village brought about the gentrification of nearby Old Town, South Lincoln Park and sections of the city west of the Gold Coast.  Indirectly, the success of the development led to two other developments in the city that worked in similar ways, Presidential Towers in the southwest Loop and Dearborn Park.

January 30, 1953 – Final arguments are heard before Master in Chancery Jerome Nelson at the Kendall County circuit court in architect Mies van der Rohe’s mechanic’s lien suit against Dr. Edith B. Farnsworth.  The suit was filed in July of 1951, claiming that Dr. Farnsworth owed the architect $28,173 in unpaid fees for a weekend home he designed for her on the Fox River.  The doctor’s attorneys argue that Farnsworth asked for a home to cost approximately $40,000 and ended up with one that cost $73,872.  They say further that the house has a leaky roof and defects in its mechanical systems and that the travertine floor has buckled.  Attorney Randolph Bohrer asserts that Van der Rohe is not properly qualified as an architect and that exceeding the original cost estimate “is attributable either to gross incompetence or stupidity of the plaintiff,” a man he labels “an ordinary charlatan and an egoist of the Bauhaus school which has committed more frauds upon this country than any other organization.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 31, 1953] 

January 30, 1947 -- Randall H. Cooper, executive secretary of the State Street council, asserts that redevelopment of Chicago's "blighted areas" is a necessity and that the Loop is "faced with more problems than ever before in its history." The continuing flight of families to the suburbs and the resulting loss of tax and business revenue have the merchants feeling blue. They would get bluer. The 1947 photo above was taken at Wells and Madison.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

January 29, 1944 -- W.G.N. Moves into Television Era
January 29, 1944 –The vice-president of W-G-N Inc. announces that the radio station has placed an order for a 40,000-watt transmitter and filed for an application for a television wavelength and construction permit with the Federal Communications Commission. Although no work can begin until the conclusion of the war, W-G-N’s application will be the first permit that will lead to construction when hostilities cease.  The announcement comes on the heels of the station’s announcement on New Year’s Day that it plans to build a new building on a site owned by the Chicago Tribunethat fronts on Michigan Avenue.  The building will “contain large spaces suggestive of Hollywood movie stages … The entire top floor of the building will be devoted to television, under plans tentatively approved.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 30, 1944]  W-G-N has also ordered four television cameras, two equipped with telephoto lenses.  It is anticipated that in-home receivers, which before the war measured 12 by 15 inches at the most, will have screens up to 18 by 24 inches when production begins … although “staggering economic problems must be solved before these potentialities may be realized.”  The photo shows preparations to lay the cornerstone at the new television building on July 6, 1950.

January 29, 1900 – Mayor Carter Harrison presents a proposal to the City Council concerning the removal of center pier bridges and other obstructions from the Chicago River.  The mayor sets forth two goals in his proposal: (1) to rid the city of all of the old swing bridges and replace them with bascule bridges; and (2) to clear the river of impediments, such as the massive turntables on which the swing bridges are seated, so that the river will have a maximum flow toward the new Sanitary and Ship Canal, opened less than a month earlier.  The mayor’s proposal states, “The trustees of the Sanitary District, with wise forethought, have kept all obstructions out of their canal.  There is not a center pier defacing its surface or interfering with its free use or shipping from Robey Street to the controlling works at Lockport.  The river, today a part of this channel, should be equally free of obstructions.  Without its free and unobstructed use the day is not far distant when the requirements of the sanitary law of a minimum flow of water may not be had.  Increased flow of water will be impossible while the center pier bridges, now obstructions in the main branch and that portion of the South Branch from Lake street to Robey street, remain.  In short the existence of center pier bridges threaten the efficiency of the canal … I would recommend that either the special committee already referred to or the standing Committee on Harbors, Viaducts, and Bridges be instructed by your honorable body to request the Trustees of the Sanitary District immediately to take up the question of removing at their own expense, all center pier bridges now serving as obstructions in that portion of the Chicago River which may properly be regarded as a part of the drainage channel and substituting in their stead modern bridges of the bascule type.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 30, 1900] Two years later the city’s first trunnion bascule bridge would open at Cortland Street on the North Branch, and it would be followed in rapid succession by many more.  The above photo shows the bridge at Rush Street and gives a clear idea of the impediments that the river bridges' center piers created.

January 29, 1872 – The Chicago Common Council takes up Section 7 of the proposed Fire Ordinance, which reads:  “No wood building or part of building within said city limits shall be raised, enlarged, or repaired, except as herein provided: nor shall any such building, or part of building, be removed from one lot or place to another within the said limits of said city; nor shall any such building be removed from without the city limits to any place within said city; nor shall any wooden building within the limits of said city, which may be damaged less than 50 per cent of its value, be so repaired as to be raised higher than the highest point left standing after such damage shall have occurred, nor so as to occupy a greater space than before the injury thereto.”  This is a strict covenant that attempts to make sure that the disastrous fire of three months earlier does not occur again.  But the council members go straight to work on amending the strictness out of the bill.  One amendment substitutes “fire limits” for “city limits.”  Another amendment proposes that the Board of Public Works may grant permits to move any building from one place to another as long as the move occurs outside the fire limits.  An alderman moves to amend the article with the phrase “provided it shall not be moved on to an improved street.”  An Alderman Gardner “thought the Council might just as well pass no ordinance at all as to pass that amendment.  It defeated the protection of the city, and was its death-knell.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 30, 1872] Another amendment is offered, proposing that “Any person wishing to remove a wooden building, for the purpose of building brick or stone on the same lot, will be allowed to move further away from the centre of the city; also, any person owning a house on a leased lot shall have the same privilege.”  Ultimately, the amendment that carries the night is offered by Alderman Gill.  It considerably weakens the original wording of Section 7, following the words “from one lot or other in the said limits of said city,” in the original with this addition, “except it be removed in a certain direction, to-wit, from the centre of the city toward the city limits.”  That amendment is approved, and the meeting immediately adjourns.  As the city begins to rebuild, the struggle to save the ruined city from itself moves forward.  The above diagram shows that the final ordinance did do much to diminish the prominence of wooden buildings, but it also clearly shows that huge sections of the city are left out of the mandate.

January 29, 1911 -- A new tunnel is opened that carries Washington Boulevard under the Chicago River, the second tunnel at this location. The first one was opened in 1869, but an act of congress in 1904 declared it an "unreasonable obstruction to free navigation," and the Secretary of War ordered its removal. Because the roof of the old tunnel was less than 17 feet below the surface of the river, vessels were constantly grounding themselves on it, obstructing river traffic in a narrow channel that was filled with ships heading to the lumber yards and grain silos to the south. When the river was reversed in 1900, the river had even less depth which prompted the action of congress four years later. The new tunnel lay 27 feet below the surface and extended for 1,520 feet. The tunnel was still used by streetcars in the early 1950's, but the portals were filled in during the 1960's and a tunnel at Washington Street ceased to exist after close to a hundred years of service.

Monday, January 28, 2019

January 28, 1961 -- Hubbard Street Fire Kills Nine Firefighters
January 28, 1961 – Nine firefighters die while battling a fire at the Hilker and Bletsch Company, 614 West Hubbard Street.  The fire starts in the upper floors of the seven-story building and burns for some time before nearby railroad workers spot the flames.  The first alarm is sounded at 6:23 a.m., and within 20 minutes the alarm is raised to a 5-11, followed by a special alarm.  This brings over 300 firefighters, 67 pieces of equipment, four ambulances and three rescue squads to the scene.  Two fireboats stand by on the river, pumping water directly to the fire scene.  Battalion Chief George Kuhn leads a few firefighters to the top of an adjacent two-story building that holds one-gallon containers for packaging food in an attempt to run a hose into the warehouse.  Without warning the warehouse wall closest to their position collapses, burying Kuhn and those who are with him.  Firefighters race to free the trapped men, but before they have a chance to dig into the debris, the roof of the two-story building collapses, trapping a number of them.  The weather, with temperatures that stand near zero, makes a dire situation nearly impossible as water quickly freezes, and fire apparatus becomes immovable as it is frozen in place.  Fire Commissioner Robert Quinn leads men in a desperate attempt to extricate those trapped in a burning jumble of debris, but the effort is in vain.  It is not until late afternoon that the last man is found.  At a memorial service held in the City Council chambers a few days later, the city officially mourns the lives of the nine men who died in the line of duty.  Fire Commissioner Quinn says, “We here are greatly saddened by the loss.  Two men, one a veteran battalion chief, the other a candidate fireman of seven months, following normal fire fighting practices, went into a building next to a fire building to see if the fire could be kept out of the building. Without warning a portion of wall fell and cut their means of escape.  Seven other members of the department, realizing that the two men could be saved if they could force open a metal door, ran to the door and began to break it open.  As they toiled to free their comrades, the entire seven-story structure came down, ending their heroic efforts.  Where, but in the fire service, will you find such bravery?”  [, April 1961]  The men who lost their lives on that freezing January morning included: Chief George E. Kuhn of the Fifth battalion, a fireman since 1929; Chief George R. Rees, of the First Battalion, a fireman since 1943; Lieutenant Louis Repkin of Truck 19, a fireman since 1949; Fireman Stanley M. Sliwinski of Engine Company 26, a fireman since 1959; Fireman Robert E. Burns, a rookie since June of 1960; Fireman Hilliard Augustine of Rescue Squad 10, a fireman since 1954; Fireman William E. Hillistad of Engine Company 44, a fireman for two years; and Fireman Ciro Zuccarello of Engine Company 26, a fireman since 1955.

January 28, 1994 – Continental Bank Corporation announces that it has agreed to join BankAmerica Corporation in a deal valued at $1.9 billion.  Continental, a banking presence in Chicago for 137 years, occupied space in the Rookery Building before it moved into its own building just north of the Board of Trade on LaSalle Street.  With Contiental’s $22.6 billion in assets, BankAmerica will become the second largest bank in the United States, just short of the assets of New York-based Citibank.  Richard Rosenberg, BankAmerica chairman and chief executive says of the merger, “There is a superb fit between the two organizations.  We complement each other remarkably well in terms of business lines, balance sheets, and geographic presence.”

January 28, 1929 – Two hundred passengers are shaken up, and forty-two are injured as a Rock Island commuter train crashes through the bumper at the La Salle Street station, the second serious train accident of the week.  Four days earlier a passenger died and 39 others were injured when two Chicago and Northwestern passenger trains collided near Lake Street.  In the Rock Island crash the vice-president of the railroad blames the cause of the accident on the engineer’s failure to have his train, made up of seven steel coaches, under control as it entered the station.  The engineer, J. Boyd, maintains that fog and steam inside the train shed clouded his view and that the wheels of the train slipped on the tracks as he applied the brakes.   

January 28, 1901 -- WARNING . . . This one is not for the faint of heart, but it does demonstrate that in the days before O.S.H.A. danger was constantly lurking and peril was always at hand. It happened that Dr. B. L. Reise was administering vaccinations to women at the Young Woman's Christian Association Building on Michigan Avenue. Miss Stella Thomas of Burlington, Iowa, seeing that she would have to wait for some time because of the length of the line, headed for her room. There is speculation that the sight of the injections was disquieting to her, and as the elevator approached the fifth floor, Miss Thomas fainted and fell to the floor of the car in such a way that her head extended through the grate of the elevator's door and was caught between the bottom of the elevator car and the lower portion of the fifth floor. Miss Thomas, who had come to Chicago just three weeks earlier to enter the Sherwood Musical College in the Fine Arts Building, died within minutes. The second building from the middle left (next to the mansion on the corner) in the 1901 photo above is the YWCA building where the accident occurred.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

January 27, 1963 -- St. Joseph Hospital Passes Million Dollar Mark

January 27, 1963 – The Chicago Tribune reports that the General Chairman of the St. Joseph Hospital building fund drive, John Sexton, has the first million dollars in pledges for the new $22 million hospital that is being built at 2900 Lake Shore Drive.  Ground was broken for the new St. Joseph in 1961, and it is expected that the 492-bed facility will be completed by December, 1963. The hospital will be 13 stories high and its “Y” shape will allow 85 percent of its rooms to face either Lincoln Park or Lake Michigan.  The new facility will replace the old St. Joseph Hospital, located at 2100 North Burling Street, which is largely antiquated.  One of its two wings is 90 years old while the more recent addition is nearly a half-century old.  The origin of St. Joseph Hospital goes all the way back to 1868 when three Daughters of Charity establish Providence Hospital in a two-story cottage at the corner of what is now Clark Street and Diversey Avenue.  [] In 1871 the Daughters of Charity built a new hospital at what is now Burling Street and Dickens Street.  The Great Fire of 1871 spared the facility, and it served as shelter for many victims of the fire.  That same year the hospital was the first in the city to open a psychiatry unit.  In 1893 the Saint Joseph School of Nursing, affiliated with DePaul University opened and by the time of its closing in 1964, 1,504 nurses had graduated from the school.  Today the hospital is a part of Presence Health, the largest Catholic health care organization in Illinois.  The black and white photo shows the hospital under construction in the early 1960's.

January 27, 1916 – Mrs. Lois Dunning, the president of the Three Arts Club, passes judgment on a Claude Monet painting that hangs among French and Belgian works drawn from the Panama-Pacific exhibition of 1915, a collection on display at the Art Institute of Chicago.  The Monet painting, “Vetheuil,” priced at $9,000, draws the attention of Dunning as she leads 200 women “gathered to hear her discourse on art.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 28, 1916] “Now look at this thing,” Dunning begins.  “A 10 year old could have painted it.  I don’t know whether the artist meant the lavender foreground for a bog, a stream, or a level bit of ground.  It’s awful.  It’s one of the worst things in the gallery.”  The tour continues as Dunning points to a painting by Pierre Carrier-Belleuse, “The Ballet Slipper.” The artist, Dunning declares, “ought to have known better than to have had the girl’s dress up to her knees.  You don’t see such beastly things in American art … we don’t want to see women’s faces brutalized.  That’s what this new school of art does.  It’s a far cry from that art of long ago when flesh was painted so delicately that it looks as if one might pinch it.” 

January 27, 1929 – The Chicago Motor Club opens its new 17-story headquarters at 66 East South Water Street, inviting members of the public to inspect the gleaming interior of this new Art Moderne masterpiece.  The structure is a testament to the marriage of design and the labor necessary to bring the design into reality.  It is the first office building in the city to “embody the ‘art moderne’ theme,” [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 27, 1929] for one thing.  It is impressive that the building was completed in just 234 days, a period that included the razing of the building that originally stood on the site.  The touring bureau for the club occupies the first floor of the tower, a site that reaches 30 feet in height and has no columns or posts.  The artwork is particularly impressive.  The Tribune offers this description, “The east wall is marked by three large windows, extending from floor to ceiling.   On the west wall is painted a map of the United States.  It was executed in modernistic style by John Norton, widely known Chicago mural decorator.  The size is nineteen by twenty-nine feet.   On it are portrayed nineteen transcontinental highways, together with the various mountain ranges and national parks.” The Chicago Motor Club moved its headquarters to Des Plaines in 1986, and the building on South Water Street closed in 2004.  In 2013 MB Real Estate led an effort to convert the unused tower to hotel space, paying about $9.5 million for the building and overseeing its rebirth as a Hampton Inn. 

January 27, 1901 -- The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that there are only five wolves left within Chicago's limits where once there were thousands. When the great herds of bison on the Great Plains were slaughtered almost to extinction, the wolves that depended on them suffered as well, often turning to the herds of domestic cattle for sustenance. That, of course, only hastened their already tenuous existence as they were hunted ruthlessly with a good gray hide bringing $5 or more. "In America," the paper wrote, "no one renews the game supply and evybody seeks to destroy, blindly, selfishly, unreasoningly . . . There is no other country of equal enlightenment with this which allows its wild game, the property of the whole people, to be stolen for the individual profit of a few." The 1903 photo above shows one of the five wolves in Chicago on display at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

January 26, 1993 -- State Street to Be Liberated from Mall
January 26, 1993 – Mayor Richard M. Daley announces a $30 million plan for State Street that would reopen it for traffic, an acknowledgement that turning the street into a pedestrian mall 14 years earlier was an ill-conceived idea.  A 100-page report that spells out the way in which future development will take place on the street has a central idea at its core, “State Street is making a comeback as the heart of a mixed-use district, with cultural and educational institutions, entertainment and educational institutions, entertainment center and office buildings complementing the retail core.” [Chicago Tribune, January 26, 1993]  At a time when suburban malls beckoned shoppers with acres of parking space and North Michigan Avenue blossomed into an upscale shopping destination, the State Street mall had the effect of “isolating State Street from the rest of the Loop,” as Daley says at a meeting of the Greater State Street Council. Therefore, the idea is to recognize the changes that have taken place and to build on the southern anchor of State Street – the new Harold Washington Library and the expansion of DePaul University into the former Goldblatt’s department store.  Traffic will be brought back to the street, curbs will be straightened, sidewalks narrowed to 36 feet or less, new streetlights installed and trees and shrubs planted.  There is even talk of a light-rail system running along the street. Today State Street has indeed come back.. It’s a far different place than it was 25 years ago, but a mix of college students, residents in new and re-purposed high-rises, and office workers has ensured that State Street is still that Great Street.  The above photo shows the opening of the State Street Mall on October 29, 1979.

January 26, 1923 – A Chicago Daily Tribune editorial strongly supports replacement of movable bridges in the city with permanent “fixed” bridges.  “So long as we allow dredges, tugs, freighters, and other craft to steam through the heart of the city,” the editorial begins, “blocking main streams of traffic at every street which they cross, we will allow an unnecessary handicap to be imposed upon our growth, prosperity, and comfort.  That is not wise city building.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 26, 1923] Replacing the movable bridges could be devastating to owners of elevators, lumber yards, and other freight concerns with valuable property along the river, the editorial concedes, but for the benefit of the entire city, the editorial goes on to add, it would be worth it to condemn the property in question and pay for the owners a fair rate.  “The general welfare of the city is more important than any fancied rights, based upon custom, of these property owners,” the editorial states.  “Probably it would not only pay the city through stimulation of growth and easier circulation of traffic but would return cash dividends through greatly reduced expenditures for bridge construction, operation, and maintenance.”  The editorial concludes, “Fixed bridges are a logical development of a greater Chicago.  We may as well begin to make up our minds to that development and prepare for it.”  The city is still preparing … every bridge on the main stem of the river and the south branch still swings open – although on a far less intrusive and far more regulated schedule than was the case in 1923.

January 26, 1953 – Chief city bridge tender Edward Scott brings news that an era on the Chicago River may be passing, saying that 16 of the city’s bridge tenders averaged less than one bridge opening a week during 1952.  The bridges on the north branch of the river at Cortland Street, Webster Avenue, Ashland Avenue, Fullerton Avenue, Damen Avenue, Diversey Parkway, Western Avenue and Belmont Avenue opened for a total of only 800 “swings” during the entire year, an average of only 50 bridge openings per man for Scott’s crew.  Since the preceding February these bridges have been left unmanned, and when passage up or down the river was required, bridge tenders moved from bridge to bridge in city cars.  The city seems to be moving in the direction of erecting fixed bridges in these locations because of the scarcity of traffic on the once busy north branch.  In a related development the Great Lakes division and Chicago district army engineers have offered the opinion that the dredging of the river north of North Avenue from 9 feet to 18 feet is unnecessary, a move that the city itself once supported but is now against.  The oldest trunnion bascule bridge in the city at Cortland Street is shown in the above photo.

January 26, 1865 -- Ralph Waldo Emerson gives a lecture, entitled "Education," at Unity Church, the second of six that he will give in Chicago. The Chicago Daily Tribune describes Emerson as "a plain unaffected gentleman, [who] speaks with marked emphasis and with the utmost propriety, without gesture, and looks more like an educated well to do farmer than the highly cultivated scholarly lecturer."

Friday, January 25, 2019

January 25, 1906 -- Great Lakes Is Born
January 25, 1906 – Plans are presented to the United States Secretary of War Charles Joseph Bonaparte for “the finest naval station in the world … to be erected at Lake Bluff.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 26, 1906]  Total cost of the new base, including the land on which it will be built, is expected to be $2,500,000.  Plans include an administration building, an instruction building, four dormitories, a mess hall, guardhouses, a powerhouse, detention barracks, officers’ quarters, a general storehouse, marine barracks and a hospital.  A railroad spur from North Chicago will run into the base, for which the Chicago and North Western Railroad will pay $14,000.  Plans are for the initial phase of construction to accommodate 1,000 recruits.  Captain Albert Ross, who will oversee construction of the new naval base, says, “We depart from old notions, with the idea that in bringing the youngster in he should not be allowed to pollute the body politic, and so the first step is detention in barracks.  He enters the front door, turns to his right, is taken up by the officer of the day to see that the papers given him are all right and that he has been enlisted properly. He then goes into the barber shop, where he is shaven and shorn, and from there into the disrobing room – all valuables are stored in lockers for that purpose – and he removes his clothes. He then goes into the bathroom where he is scrubbed; from there he is taken to the surgeons’ room, where he is examined, then to the paymaster’s issuing room where he is clothed in uniform. He comes in as a civilian and goes out as a naval recruit … we have five units to cover the training scheme – the detention, messing, sleeping, drilling, and instructing – each one under a different roof and surrounded by the best sanitary and fireproof building attainable.  No other nation in the world has gone so far in this business.”  Between 1909 and 1911, 39 buildings would be built at what is today Naval Station Great Lakes.  All of them would be designed by architect Jarvis Hunt, working from his offices in Chicago’s Monadnock building.  On July 3, 1911 Joseph Gregg of Terre Haute, Indiana was the first recruit to arrive at the base, officially opened two days earlier.  The above photo shows Building One and a parade of recruits in 1913.

William E. Hartmann\
January 25, 1961 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that architect William E. Hartmann, a managing partner of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, has delivered an address at the annual meeting of the State Street council in which he urges a “sweeping downtown building plan.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 25, 1961] Hartmann says, “I suggest a ‘City of Water.’ The idea of Lake Michigan, the Chicago river, and Buckingham fountain should be extended into further water exhibitions in the center area.  The federal and civic center might enlarge on this theme.” He goes farther, asserting that 30 percent of the downtown area should be given over to housing.  An all-weather sport stadium for 60,000 people should be located close to downtown and children should have “a Tivoli, sort of Disneyland or Freedomland, perhaps on an island in the lake.”  Hartman proposes a center for the performing arts as well with a symphony hall, opera house, and theaters.  The focus on art should continue with “public art as focal points – public sculpture, plazas and fountains.”  Finally, the architect suggests that “the iron girdle of the Loop” be replaced with an improved transit system.  With the exception of the performing arts center and the massive sports complex, it is amazing today to see how many of Hartmann’s ideas are on display in today’s Chicago – fountains, public art and sculpture, Maggie Daley and Millennium Parks, and on and on.

January 25, 1955 – The Chicago Daily Tribune goes to press with the following headline on Page One:  Halas to Quit as Bears Coach After ’55.  George H. Halas, the coach of the Bears for three decades, will continue as president of the club that he organized in Decatur, Illinois in 1920 and brought to Chicago the following year.  Says Halas, “I decided to step down two years ago.  When we began rebuilding, I made up my mind that as soon as were a strong contender again, so I could turn the club over under the most favorable circumstances, I’d move out.  I figured it would be about 1956.  Fortunately, everything went according to schedule.  We’re contenders now, we’ll be better next fall and by 1956 I won’t have to ask anybody to take over a loser.”  Halas kept his word, leaving the team in the 1956 and 1957 campaigns, but he was back again in 1958 and coached the team for another decade, winning his last championship with the club in 1963.

January 25, 1925 -- The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that because the roads through Lincoln Park are the only practical way of getting from the Loop to the residential sections of the city north of North Avenue, the park, originally designed for leisurely carriage rides, is dealing with 5,000 cars per hour passing through it. That volume comes at a cost. In 1924 there are 1,420 cars damaged in accidents with 499 people injured. The photo above shows Lake Shore Drive in the 1920's, looking north from Oak Street. At the end of the road is Lincoln Park, where things got really congested at North Avenue.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

January 24, 1991 -- Navy Pier and Benjamin Thompson and Associates, an Editorial
January 24, 1991 – The editorial board of the Chicago Tribune offers a positive appraisal of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority’s decision to hire Benjamin Thompson and Associates to design and oversee a $150 million renovation of Navy Pier.  Noting that the firm has had success in transformational projects such as Boston’s Faneuil Hall, Baltimore’s Harborplace and New York City’s South Street Seaport, the editorial says that the choice of architect shows that “… the board in charge of reviving Navy Pier is steering in the right direction.” [Chicago Tribune, January 24, 1991]  The piece goes farther, though, urging planners to use the scope of the project to unite two opposing views as to what the future of Navy Pier should be.  “Ever since it became apparent that Navy Pier was disintegrating into Lake Michigan and needed a major bodylift, people who want to preserve it for cultural and recreational activities have been battling those who want to re-create the lively eating-and-shopping waterfront bazaars of Boston and Baltimore,” the editorial states. “But … the pier is so huge that it has room for both concepts."  Concluding the editorial is one final suggestion, “Incorporate the graceful contour of the old pier in the new one; at age 74, it’s still a beauty.”

January 24, 1991 – Hartmarx Corp. announces that it plans to close its 44-year-old Baskin store at 137 South State Street in order to move to La Salle Street.  The company will also close its other Loop store at 3 First National Plaza, shrinking its square footage in the business district by two-thirds.  The chairman of Hartmarx, John Eyler, says, “We had the opportunity to build a second headquarters store for downtown Chicago.  Once you make the decision that La Salle Street is becoming a focal point for quality retail in the Loop, you have to ask, ‘Can I afford to have another store four blocks away?’” [Chicago Tribune, January 25, 1991] In the previous several years Chas. A. Stevens, Wieboldt’s, Goldblatt’s, Montgomery Ward and Company, and Sears, Roebuck and Company have all closed their State Street stores.  During that time La Salle Street has undergone a transition.  Bruce Kaplan, the president of Northern Realty Group, Ltd., says, “Historically, La Salle Street hasn’t been a good place for retail because banks have dominated the ground floors of the buildings there.  But as the automatic teller machines started to dominate and people stopped going to the bank every Friday, they’ve begun to free up these ground floors.  The obvious answer is to put retail in them; it’s probably the highest and the best use of the space.”  For more on the State Street store and what eventually became of it, you can turn to this blog in Connecting the Windy City.

January 24, 1952 – Judge Benjamin P. Epstein of the Circuit Court rules that the Chicago Park District has the right to construct underground parking garages in Grant Park along Michigan Avenue and to finance the project through the sale of revenue bonds.  This is a test case in which the plaintiff, the Michigan Boulevard Building Company, asks for an injunction restraining the park district from selling the revenue bonds, “contending that as a nonprofit corporation the park district has no right to issue the bonds or pledge revenue from them.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 25, 1952] The suit also asks for a declaratory judgment that would uphold the claim that the park district has no right to permit use of park land for the garages.  A year earlier the Illinois legislature passed bills that allowed the park district to construct the garages and to finance them through the sale of bonds.  The first of the proposed underground garages will open on September 1, 1954. The dedication of the garage is shown in the above photo with the partially completed Prudential building in the background.

January 24, 1913 -- At a joint meeting of Chicago Sanitary District officials, aldermen, and representatives of the meat packing companies on the southwest side of the city, agreement is reached to discontinue the use of Bubbly Creek as a drain for the sewage of the stockyards. The attorney for the district says, "The policy of the district always has been that the disposal of the industrial waste in the yards is an individual one for industries there. They can't have their waste discharged into Bubbly creek and from there into the Chicago river or into the canal." It was, of course, too little and too late. The damage had already been done. The unfortunate body of water begins at what once was the northern boundary of the massive Union Stockyards just north of Pershing Road about halfway between Ashland and Racine and flowed north into the Chicago River. According to a 2011 article in the Chicago Tribune when scientists studied the waterway in 2004 they found "fibrous material" on the river bottom up to three feet thick. You can define "fibrous material" any way you want, but however you define it, it ain't good. It's still there, and it's still a-bubbling.