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.

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