Thursday, January 10, 2019

January 10, 1954 -- Chicago Mansions Disappearing as Suburbs Beckon
January 10, 1954 – The Chicago Daily Tribune features the ninth in a series of articles discussing “the origin, history, and significance of some of Chicago’s principal thorofares.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 9, 1945]  This feature covers some of the mansions that once graced the wealthiest areas of the city, residences that are disappearing, victims of “The automobile age, which has dispersed the very wealthy on country estates in the suburbs, the substitution of gadgets and self-service for costly or unobtainable domestic help, and a change in social values [that] have made the Lake Shore dr. that was a relic of the past.”  Just in the preceding year two of the most impressive mansions on Lake Shore Drive have been lost to the wrecking ball – the home of Edith Rockefeller McCormick at 1000 Lake Shore Drive and the Potter Palmer “castle” a few blocks to the north. Also notable vanished relics are the home which Abraham Lincoln’s son, Robert Todd, lived at 1234 Lake Shore Drive and another at 1020 built by a lawyer and mining engineer by the name of William Borden.  The article labels Astor Street, just to the west of Lake Shore Drive, as “the last fashionable residence street left within the city proper and singles out the residences at 1430 and 1365 as particularly noteworthy.  The home at 1430 Astor was the home of Joseph T. Bowen who built a mansion with 40 rooms in 1891. The home of James Charnley, a lumberman, at 1365 Astor “is now taken for an early specimen of the style made world famous by Frank Lloyd Wright” with plans drawn by Adler and Sullivan.  There also was a “millionaires’ row” on South Michigan Avenue, starting at about Twenty-Sixth Street.  Of the homes in this area the one designed for Ferdinand Wythe Peck by William LeBaron Jenney, was perhaps the most impressive.  Also notable were the Charles W. Brega house at 2816 South Michigan, the mansion of John W. Gates at 2944, and the brownstone mansion of John Cudahy, the meat packer, at 3254.  Ashland Avenue, named after the Lexington, Kentucky home of Henry Clay in 1859, also had its day as “the finest residence street of the west side.”  The Cudahy mansion on South Michigan Avenue is pictured in the black and white photo.  The corner as it appears today is shown in the second photo.

January 10, 1965 – Shareholders of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific approve a merger with the Union Pacific Railroad by a margin of 8 to 1. This end-to-end merger would give the Union Pacific entry into the Chicago market, but the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad led a number of railroads that objected to the deal to such an extent that the government took ten years to make a decision on whether or not to allow the merger.  During that crucial ten-year period the “Rock,” a railroad that began in 1851 on trackage between Chicago and Joliet, hemorrhaged money … 1965 would be the last year the railroad would show a profit.  Between 1965 and 1974, the road’s management, hoping for the merger to be approved sooner rather than later, conserved cash by scrimping on track maintenance and locomotive servicing.  Rolling stock began to look tired, and derailments occurred with increasing frequency.  By the time the merger was approved in 1974 the railroad had deteriorated so much that Union Pacific ended up walking away from the deal.  On January 24,1980, a federal judge announced his decision not to approve the railroad’s plan for reorganization, and the last train on the line tied up in Denver on March 31,1980.  In the above photo a "dead line" of Electro Motive Division E-8's waits for final disposition in 1981 after the shut-down of the railroad in the preceding year.

January 10, 1956 – Plans are announced for a $5,000,000 building program that will give the Armour Research Foundation at the Illinois Institute of Technology “one of the most complete industrial research centers in the world,” according to foundation vice-president Dr. Haldon A. Leedy.  The plans call for three new buildings on the I. I. T. campus with “extensive additions” made to two other buildings on the south side campus of the school.  The buildings will include a physics and engineering research building, a chemistry research building, an administration building at 10 West Thirty-Fifth Street, a mechanical engineering research building and a metal research building.  According to Leedy, “The building plans are based on the assumption that the foundation will have a research volume of $16,000,000 a year and a staff of 1,600 by 1961.  [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 11, 1956]  Leedy says that since the foundation was established in 1936, it has conducted 70 million dollars of research in more than 3,000 projects for industry and the government.  The Richard D. Irwin Publishing Company building at 3201 South Michigan Avenue, pictured above, was the original home of the electrical engineering research labs when the Armour Research Foundation opened in 1936.

January 10, 1951 -- Claiming that he had "important architect-engineer projects involving the national defense" and, with a year still remaining in his tenure as the chairman of Chicago's Plan Commission, Nathaniel A. Owings submits his letter of resignation. The decision came 48 hours before a city council committee was to deliberate over a resolution demanding that the principal in Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill be forced to step down because of contracts the firm had obtained for the design of the 100-acre, 1,870-unit public housing site that came to be known as Lake Meadows.

No comments: