Wednesday, February 20, 2019

February 20, 1970 -- O'Hare Headed for Upgrades with Revenue Bond Approval

chiagotribune.com
February 20, 1970 – The City Council finance committee approves the sale of $52 million of revenue bonds to finance improvements at O’Hare International Airport, including a new parking garage and runway.  The garage will rise six levels and hold 9,350 cars.  The new runway will be the airport’s sixth and will run northeast to southwest.  The committee also approves a resolution asking the Public Building Commission to sell $65 million of revenue bonds to finance 28 public improvements projects, including a new underground parking facility for McCormick Place, 11 new fire stations, two police area headquarters buildings, a new police academy, two health care centers and ten sanitation facilities, one of them a new incinerator.   Things worked pretty quickly back in those days.  The above photo shows the first cars entering the new parking garage on December 16, 1972.

Dwight H. Perkins
February 20, 1910 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that the Chicago Federation of Labor has stepped up in defense of suspended Chicago Board of Education architect Dwight H. Perkins, adopting a resolution “denouncing ‘star chamber trials’ and demanding that Architect Perkins and ‘all civil service employés’ be given public trials when charges are preferred against them.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 20, 1910] Oscar F. Greifenhagen, a member of the trial committee of the Board of Education’s school management committee, says that the demand that Perkins be given a trial by his peers is “absurd.”  For five years Perkins had served as the Chief Architect of the Chicago School Board, designing close to 50 schools, and as a noted engineering journal at the time wrote, “It is greatly to be regretted that for purely personal and political reasons Chicago is to lose a man who has so efficiently served the city, and who has rendered so great a service to modern school architecture in the United States.” [The Technology Review, Volume 12, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1910]  For more on Perkins, turn to these entries in Connecting the Windy City here and here and here and here and here.

March Chagall
February 20, 1958 -- Marc Chagall arrives in Chicago to deliver three lectures at the University of Chicago under the auspices of the Committee on Social Thought.  Dr. John U. Nef, the chairman of the committee, a man who has worked for over a year to get Chagall’s visit approved, introduces the artist to the assembled group.  Speaking in French, Chagall speaks of “mankind’s need to reform to first principles:  love thy neighbor as thyself, forgive thine enemies.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 21, 1958] The artist says, “For me life divides itself into two parts – Life and Death – and for me whatever is not an inner truth is death.  But maybe – to be a little more concrete – or, if you prefer, more truthful, one must use the word ‘love,’ because there is the true color, not only in art, but in life.”  During his stay, Art Institute officials will photograph him with his works, and for the first time in forty years he will see “Birth,” one of his early paintings that the late Maurice Culberg donated to the museum.  It would be another decade before Chagall would return to a dramatically changed city to supervise the installation of his “Four Seasons” mosaic at the corner of Randolph and Dearborn Streets.


February 20, 1947 -- The Illinois Department of Aeronautics approves Chicago's plan for the construction of the Northerly Island downtown air terminal. There are a couple of caveats -- no instruction flights would be permitted and the airport must be closed under unfavorable wind conditions. Additionally, a power boat must be kept available at all times for emergency use and pleasure boats would need to be prevented from becoming obstructions in landing approach zones. The island, originally created for the 1933 and 1934 Century of Progress World's Fair, is in the process of being converted to a multi-use recreational area. The new incarnation of the park began at about 1:30 in the morning on March 31, 2003 when Mayor Daley ordered the bulldozing of the runway at Meigs with no advance warning, not even to the FAA.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

February 19, 1978 -- Deep Tunnel Assessment

Metropolitan Water Reclamation District
of Greater Chicago Photo
February 19, 1978 – The Chicago Tribune features an assessment of progress on the $7 billion Deep Tunnel project, opening with the statement, “Chicago’s multibillion-dollar Deep Tunnel – called the most expensive public works project ever devised – apparently will not achieve the flood control and pollution goals for which it was designed.” [Chicago Tribune, February 19, 1978]  After a month-long examination of the project, the Tribune and the Better Government Association conclude that the 132 miles of tunnels bored 200 feet below the city will achieve only modest goals … “A more pleasant environment for picnicking and boating along the Chicago waterways, some limited fishing in the waterways; and swimming and fishing in a short stretch of the Illinois River.”  The Chicago Sanitary District’s proposal for the project, which was begun in 1975, envisioned a two-part answer to the city’s water pollution and flooding problems.  A system of tunnels would carry sewage and storm water into three underground reservoirs, which would hold the unholy soup, gradually releasing it into treatment plants, where it would be cleaned up and gradually sent into area waterways.  But the federal government split the project into two phases, placing each phase under a separate bureaucratic arm.  Phase One, overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency would bring 110 miles of underground tunnels to the city and nearby suburbs.  Phase Two, administered by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, would pay 100 per cent of the cost of flood control work.  Without the second phase the plan will not work, critics say … and Congress has only authorized funding for the first phase of the gargantuan effort.  Vinton Bacon, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee and the originator of the Deep Tunnel idea when he was the Sanitary District general superintendent from 1962 to 1970, says, “We saw the antipollution effect as a side benefit that made the project ever more worthwhile, but the flood storage had to be there to make the whole thing work.”  Phase One of the project was wrapped up in 2006, but the original skeptics of the scheme saw their views validated in early 2018 when a February 20 storm dropped more than two inches of rain on the city’s frozen ground.  The tunnels filled with water, as did the newly opened McCook reservoir that was built to hold wastewater until it could be treated.  With the 5.1-billion-gallon system filled to capacity, “leftovers from the storm surge began backing up in basements and pouring out of overflow pipes into the Chicago River and other area streams during the next two days.” [Chicago Tribune, March 15, 2018]  Phase Two of the project is not projected to be completed before 2029.  

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes
February 19, 1906 – Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes hands down a unanimous decision of the United States Supreme Court in which the jurists find that the City of Chicago does not pollute the waters of the Mississippi River to any great extent.  The Chicago Daily Tribune reports, “The decision throughout is a rebuke to the politicians in Missouri for their action in this case, because it shows that after all their labor they had been unable to establish, even by inference, that the sewage of the city of Chicago after passing through the drainage canal and the Illinois river was half as harmful to St. Louis as the sewage of that city is to towns and villages lower down the river.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 20, 1906] The court finds that there is virtually no evidence that would indicate the sewage of Chicago reaches the waterworks in St. Louis. In fact, the suit that St. Louis filed is, in effect, thrown back in the city’s face as “the court warns the Missouri city that if they had won their suit against Chicago many other suits would be instituted, and St. Louis would be held responsible for the contamination of the father of waters as far south as the Supreme court might care to recognize the injury to health.”  The court does not doubt that the Mississippi River is polluted and becoming more so.  Its decision absolves Chicago from blame for the pollution in the river around St. Louis as the justices indicate, “Where, as here, the plaintiff has sovereign powers and deliberately permits discharges similar to those of which it complains, it not only offers a standard to which the defendant has a right to appeal, but as some of those discharges are above the intake of St. Louis, it warrants the defendant in demanding strictest proof that the plaintiff’s own conduct does not produce the result, or at least so conduce to it that the courts should not be curious to apportion the blame.” Reaction in Chicago is swift as Chief Engineer Isham Randolph says, “It is a great victory and due in large measure to some pioneer scientific work which the sanitary district instituted.”


February 19, 1918 – Frank Lloyd Wright tells members of the Chicago Woman’s Aid at the Art Institute that he sees in Chicago “at once a despair and a great hope.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 20, 1918] "A Chicago smokestack has more vitality as a work of art than the effete gray ghosts of a dubious past which now haunt the lake front at the foot of Monroe Street,” the architect tells his audience.  He continues, “Is anything uglier than dirt—unless it is noise?  We have both.  Some one defines dirt as ‘matter out of place.’  In this sense Chicago culture is just dirt—matter out of place in all its ugliness.  Chicago is Indian for onion—in name, as in reputation, unesthetic [sic].”  Wright suggests a new city seal, according to the newspaper’s coverage, a “shield trifoliate—on onion, beautifully emblazoned on the shield; beside the onion, on the right, a pig, rampant; at the left, a poet, also rampant.”  He blasts the building that houses City Hall, calling it a “big bluff in vain classic costing thousands a month for great columns that are a huge and expensive load to carry instead of carrying the load.”  Demanding a new vision to replace the old Beaux Arts style he sees as  out of place in the middle of the Midwestern prairie, he says, “We are plundering the old world of all its finery and dressing ourselves up in it as a kind of masquerade.  This is not culture in any real sense.”  In his conclusion, Wright states, “Only revolt can save the city for the culture that is for all time.  One thing Chicago must do; she must take her great heritage—the lake front – and shape it to her own liking.”  The eight-year-old City Hall against which Wright railed is pictured above in a 1915 postcard.


February 19, 2009 -- Full-out rant at the Board of Trade as CNBC commentator Rick Santelli rails against President Obama's mortgage bailout plan. "The government is promoting bad behavior," Santelli storms. "This is America! How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor's mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can't pay their bills?" Santelli follows up by suggesting that a modern Chicago tea party might consider dumping derivative securities into Lake Michigan. It was on this Thursday morning that a whole new era in American politics is born. Here's the segment, just for old time's sake . . 

Monday, February 18, 2019

February 18, 1964 -- Lincoln Park Urban Renewal Plan Unveiled

google.com
forgottenchicago.com
google.com
February 18, 1964 – Lewis W. Hill, the city’s Deputy Urban Renewal Commissioner, presents a plan for “modernizing” [Chicago Tribune, February 19, 1964] a significant portion of Lincoln Park at a public meeting held at Waller High School.  This is the first in a series of neighborhood meetings at which the plan involving 266 acres with an estimated price tag in excess of $14 million in federal and city funds, will be shared with citizens.  The area in question is bounded by North Avenue on the south, Lincoln Park on the east, Webster Avenue on the north, and an “irregular boundary” made up of Halsted Street, Larrabee Street and Armitage Avenue on the west.  Under the plan Ogden Avenue would be closed from North Avenue to the intersection with Clark Street and Armitage.  The right-of-way between the Clark-Armitage intersection and Wisconsin Street would be turned into a 1.5 acre-public plaza.  The Ogden right-of-way between Wisconsin and North would yield 67 cleared acres to be “parceled out” for redevelopment.  Secondly, 644 structures would be cleared in 56.3 acres with redevelopment proposed for five areas: (1) a 15-acre tract proposed for a new community park bounded by Webster, Larrabee, and Dickens and Burling Streets (today's Oz Park); (2) both sides of Larrabee between Webster and North; (3) the north side of North avenue between Larrabee and La Salle Street; (4) both sides of Lincoln Avenue between Webster and Armitage, and (5) scattered locations along the route of Ogden Avenue. These five areas are indicated in the aerial view above with yellow numbers.  Provisions in the plan also encourage owners of 1,423 properties covering 209 acres “to carry out repair and modernization programs …”  Four small public housing projects are also proposed, two for senior citizens and two composed of small row houses.  It is interesting to note the fate of poor Ogden Avenue, which begins way out in Oswego.  Note the diagonal blue line in the top aerial view.  That section was closed in 1967 between North Avenue and Armitage.  According to Forgotten Chicago [forgottenchicago.com], another block was closed in 1983, south from North Avenue to Blackhawk Street.  By 1993 the street, opened in 1848 and named for the city’s first mayor, William B. Ogden, saw the demolition of the viaduct that carried it across Goose Island, cutting it back to just north of Chicago Avenue. Forgotten Chicago notes, "The street did not need to be closed, but was done so as a result of poor planning and deferred maintenance."  It is also interesting to compare the present configuration of streets and parks in the area with the look of the area on a map from the mid-twentieth century.  The two maps are also shown above.  


February 18, 1881 – The City Council Committee on Streets and Alleys for the South Division meets in the City Clerk’s office to take up the matter concerning the vacation of La Salle Street between Jackson and Van Buren.  A letter from the city’s law department makes it clear that “… there is no doubt that, by a three-fourths vote of all the Aldermen elected the City Council may vacate LaSalle Street” and that “Should such vacation be made, their [sic] would be no obligation on the part of the city to refund the money originally collected to pay the damages when the street was opened.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 19, 1881] The lawyers warn, though, that there could still be damages that a jury would be responsible for determining and “What damages a jury might award and what benefits a Commission might assess to pay the same, and what property would be selected to bear the burden it is manifestly impossible to say.  All that a mere lawyer could say would be that, unless all damages were absolutely released, it would lead to varied and interesting litigation.”  The chairman of the committee offered his opinion that it did not seem feasible for the City Council to vacate La Salle Street unless a release was obtained from all the property-owners who could bring damages against the city.  Although no decision is reached in this afternoon meeting, the general feeling among the members of the committee is that an agreement can eventually be reached by which Sherman Street and Pacific Avenue, streets that were the southern extensions of LaSalle Street in 1881, could be widened and if the north end of these streets was not used for Board of Trade purposes within a specific time, then these streets could be reopened.  It would be a year or more until the Illinois Supreme Court removed all obstacles to erect a new Board of Trade building on a plot of land provided by a vacated La Salle Street.  The above photo shows the Chicago Board of Trade, completed in 1885, and its position on a vacated La Salle Street.  This building would give way to a tower designed in the Art Deco style that would open in 1930.


February 18, 1862 – Withdrawal of United States troops from Camp Douglas begins and the Chicago Tribune reports that it will “speedily be cleared of soldiers.”  [Chicago Tribune, February 18, 1862] Word comes that the camp will “soon undergo a complete change of tenants” [Chicago Tribune, February 19, 1862] as Captain Potter of the United States Quartermaster’s Department reports that “as soon as the regiments now in Camp Douglas shall have departed, their place will be occupied by seven thousand confederate prisoners, captured by our forces at Fort Donelson …  All the rolling stock of the Illinois Central Road is now being collected at Cairo as expeditiously as possible for the transportation to this place of the prisoners alluded to, and it is now confidently expected that their arrival here will not be delayed beyond Saturday of the present week.”  Before the end of the Civil War nearly 26,000 Confederate prisoners-of-war would be incarcerated at the camp.  It is estimated that somewhere around 4,000 of those men died in the cramped and unsanitary conditions there.


February 18, 1945 -- It is announced that the Chicago Title and Trust company has finally, after a 54-year buying program, gained control of the largest single piece of privately owned property in the Loop since 1897. The firm originally intended to locate its offices in a new building on the site at the corner of Washington Street and Dearborn, but opted instead to purchase the Conway Building a block west and sell the large corner block next to the First United Methodist Church of Chicago for a development deemed "proper for such a big and strategic location." Ultimately, the Brunswick Corporation purchased the property, and in 1965 the SOM-designed headquarters for Brunswick was completed, at the time the tallest reinforced concrete structure in the world. The photo above shows the Brunswick Building (now offices for Cook County) under construction across the street from the Daley Center, completed in the same year.  The spire of the First United Methodist Church of Chicago separates government from the private sector.


Sunday, February 17, 2019

February 17, 1926 -- Art Institute of Chicago Gains Deering Collection

commons.wikimedia.org
February 17, 1926 – A list of the paintings that the late James Deering, the former vice-president of the International Harvester Company left to the Art Institute of Chicago, is filed in Probate Court.  The paintings are valued at $522,000.  The collection includes four Giovanni Ballesta Tiepolo works valued at $100,000 each.  They include “Rinaldo Enchanted by Armida,” “Rinaldo and Armida in the Garden,” Armita Abandoned by Rinaldo,” and “Rinaldo and the Hermit.”  Édouard Manet’s “Christ Insulted” is valued at $125,000.  Two other paintings complete the inventory, “Mother and Child” by Gari Melchers and Walter McEwen’s “La Madeleine”.  Tiepolo's "Rinaldo Enchanted by Armida" is represented in the above photo.


February 17, 1889 – At 8:30 a.m. a tremendous crash occurs within the Owings building on the southeast corner of Dearborn and Adams Streets, a sound so deafening that people in the area make “a panic-stricken dash for the opposite sidewalks” and “a horse attached to a milk-cart [runs] off and dumps the milk cans.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 18, 1889] Nine sub-floors between the main staircase of the building and the elevator shaft have pancaked and fallen all the way to the basement where three building workers huddle together, amazed that they have survived.  A day earlier 125 workmen had been in the building, and a group of them had raised an 1,800-pound piece of equipment that was to sit on the roof as high as the tenth floor, where it was left secured, five floors short of its destination.  It is those ten floors of fire-proofing tile that collapse on this Sunday morning; the five floors above are left undamaged.  Subsequent investigation reveals little about the origin of the accident.  One theory is that the one-ton piece of equipment got stuck on a girder beneath the tenth floor, and as workmen tried to free it with crowbars, they managed to loosen the tenth floor which fell to the floor below, causing the lower floors to cascade into the basement.  Another theory is that the equipment actually made it to the top of the building from where it fell, dislodging a beam on the tenth floor.  However it happened, everyone agreed it was fortunate that the accident occurred on a Sunday.  One of the building’s architects, Charles Summer Frost (the same guy who designed the older buildings at Navy Pier) uses the event to play up the strength of his tall building.  Says Frost, “Not a hair’s breadth of disturbance has taken place in the walls.  The plastering isn’t cracked in a single spot.  The tile partitions of the interior are in perfect plumb.  A splendid proof of the absolute solidity of the building – that’s what the accident amounts to.”  The Owings Building, which had offices primarily used by financial and coal companies, along with professional men, cost $475,000 to construct and is shown in the above photo.


February 17, 1928 -- “A great crowd” [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 18, 1928] streams through the gates of the Dearborn Street station to greet the Santa Fe Chief as it stops on its way to New York, bearing the body of comedian Eddie Foy to his final resting place in New Rochelle.  Six of his children greet the train, along with his manager, Harold Munnis, his latest partner, Monica Skelly, and his wife, who is “so grief-stricken that she had to be carried from the train.”  It was Foy who was performing in a Wednesday matinee performance of “Mr. Blue Beard” at the five-week-old Iroquois Theater in December of 1903 when fire broke out after a spotlight short-circuited.  The day after the fire claimed 500 lives the Chicago Daily Tribune wrote of Foy’s bravery, “The coolness of Foy, of the orchestra leaders and of other players, who begged the audience to hold itself in check, however, probably saved many lives on the parquet floor … Those in greatest danger through proximity to the stage did not throw their weight against the mass ahead.  Not any died on the first floor, proof of the contention that some restraint existed in this section of the audience.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, December 22, 1903]  Chicagoans did not forget Foy’s heroic actions even after a quarter-century had elapsed.  The photos above show Mr. Foy as well as the character he played in Mr. Blue Beard, Sister Anne.


February 17, 1885 -- Item from The Chicago Daily Tribune: "Mr. John Root, of the firm of Burnham & Root, delivered the third lecture of a course before the Art Institute last evening. His thoughts on architecture were expressed in rather technical language. He explained the necessity of simplicity, repose, and proportion in buildings; also how poorly-constructed chimneys accumulated soot. He illustrated his remarks with diagrams and pictures. About 150 people were present." What must it have been like to have been one of those 150 fortunate souls? Root's remarks would have been made at the second home of the Art Institute, pictured above, on the southwest corner of Van Buren and Michigan Avenue, a building designed by Burnham & Root and which is now occupied by the Chicago Club.


Saturday, February 16, 2019

February 16, 1863 -- Chicago Tribune Decries Lakefront Burial Site

hidden truths,northwester.edu
February 16, 1863 – An editorial in the Chicago Tribune laments the conditions at Camp Douglas, an area of the city that lies along the lakefront south of the business district in which a camp has been established to imprison Confederate prisoners-of-war. The editorial points with alarm at the fact that “The great increase of mortality at Camp Douglas … now brings another source of impurity to light, of a most alarming nature, and one which threatens the most alarming consequences, unless it is immediately remedied.” [Chicago Tribune, February 16, 1863]   Since the establishment of Camp Douglas in early 1862, the editorial observes, 640 bodies of rebel soldiers have been buried in Potter’s Field, an area that today we know as the green space of Lincoln Park – this despite an 1859 ordinance that forbade the sale of family plots in the city cemetery just west of Potter’s Field.  On top of this the county poor house, located several miles west of the city, has been sending its deceased residents to the cemetery.  “It must not be forgotten,” the editorial states, “that our cemetery is intersected, north and south, by this slough, which drains the whole cemetery; and that it discharges a little north of the City Water Works, which supply the entire city, north, south and west, with the water they daily consume.”  A strongly worded conclusion to the piece cries out for action, “It has been enough to endure the yet unremedied impurity and corruption of the river.  But the wisdom of our City Fathers, inadequate, as yet, for the relief of that foul source of corruption, is now willing to add to the already corrupted waters we daily drink, the yet more foul and subtle elements of death, exuding from our cemetery, almost into the very pipes which carry the element of life or death into every household.”  It is difficult to believe that in the quiet park land of Lincoln Park today there once were in excess of 15,000 bodies buried in this Potter's Field. 


February 16, 1879 – The Chicago Daily Tribune prints a special dispatch from the London Telegraph in which the British paper is “highly eulogistic of the City of Chicago.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 16, 1879] Pointing out the city’s amazing growth – from wilderness 50 years earlier to a city of 500,000 inhabitants – the paper observes, “…the record of Chicago leaves San Francisco, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Melbourne far in the lurch … It is, indeed, the proud boast of some among its aspiring citizens that, within the lifetime of children recently born, Chicago will in population be the second city of the Anglo-Saxon race, and will be surpassed in this respect by London alone.”  The article speaks in amazement of the city’s commerce … in the preceding year 130,000,000 bushels of grain were handled in the city, along with 1,200,000,000 feet of lumber and 6,200,000 hogs. Despite its impressive growth and commerce, the Telegraph points out two fatal flaws at the end of the article.  First, is the city’s financial position. “We read without surprise,” the paper reports, “that the ‘City Fathers’ have piled up so big a municipal debt that, in a community as sanguine and progressive as any in the world, no more money can be borrowed on any terms.”  Also mentioned is the crime that plagues the city.  The Telegraph observes, “…  the question asked again and again by our Chicago contemporaries, ‘Have we a police force?’ derives additional significance from the street robberies, which seem to be of constant occurrence.”  Given those two negatives, the London paper concludes that the city “…cannot yet be regarded as an attractive home for civilized Europeans.”


February 16, 1944 – Gordon L. Pirie, vice-president and general manager of Carson Pirie Scott and Company, dies of heart disease in the Presbyterian Hospital.  Pirie’s condition has been dire for several days, and as he lingers near death his sister ALSO dies at her winter home in Plymouth, Florida.  Pirie graduated from Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute and worked in various retail stores before he came to Chicago to join his father, the founder of the store in which his name played a prominent part.  Pirie was a member of the executive committee of the American Retail Federation, treasurer of the North Shore Property Owners association, chairman of the committee on transportation and traffic of the State Street Council, and former director of the Association of Commerce.  He was also a trustee of the Winnetka Congregational Church.  [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 17, 1944]

F
ebruary 16, 1954 -- Ralph Budd, chairman of the Chicago Transit Authority, proposes a plan for extending the city's rapid transit system. The greatest share of the plan involves adding to the city's rapid transit system by constructing rights of way for rail operation as part of the network of proposed super-highways. Mayor Kennelly calls the proposal "remarkable." Arthur T. Leonard, president of the Chicago Association of Commerce, calls the plan "both challenging and constructive." Observe the Red Line as you drive on the Dan Ryan or the Green Line along the Kennedy or the Blue Line running parallel to the Eisenhower, and you will see Budd's proposal at work today, the first time, at least in this country, when rapid transit was planned as an integral part of an urban highway system.

Friday, February 15, 2019

February 15, 2011 -- Sullivan Center Gets a Target

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February 15, 2011 –Target Corp. announces plans to open a store in the Sullivan Center at 1 South State Street, a space that has stood empty since Carson Pirie Scott closed its State Street store four years earlier.  The retailer will lease 124,000 square feet of the building, part os which will be composed of 54,000 feet of selling space on two floors.  Mayor Daley says of the decision, “I applaud Target for bringing this urban store concept to Chicago, as well as the new jobs and economic opportunity this store will create.  Target will be an important addition to State Street, one of Chicago’s most important retail centers, and will be located in one of the city’s most architecturally significant buildings.” [Chicago Tribune, February 16, 2011]  The city has spent $24.4 million in tax-increment-financing to help restore the building, an architectural masterpiece designed by Louis Sullivan.  Chicago developer Joseph Freed and Associates, the owner of the building, has spent another $190 million on the structure over the preceding decade.


February 15, 1880 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that the triangular block lying between North Avenue, La Salle Street, North Clark Street, and Eugenie Street has been sold to H. A. Hurlbut for $100,000.  Close to the horse cars and adjacent to Lincoln Park, the property “has had no charms for the speculator or investor” [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 15, 1880], but plans are now in place to build a private residence between Clark and La Salle south of Eugenie Street and a dozen residences, six on each side of the triangular tract, just south of that home.  The houses “will have marble fronts, and will be three stories high, besides basement, with a frontage of 20 and 22 feet.”  The area in question has not seen development, despite its excellent location, because no single buyer was willing to risk such an investment without knowledge of what would be built on the adjoining lots.  “Now that the whole property has passed into a single hand,” the Tribune reports, “… this quarter will certainly take its place as one of the most eligible residence spots in the city.  People who live there will have a marine view of the lake, over the trees of the park, not to be rivaled by anything else in Chicago.  They will be in the continuation of the most fashionable thoroughfare of the North Division, and within easy distance of the heart of the city.”  The “Old Town Triangle,” purchased for a hundred-grand back In 1880 is within the red boundary shown above.  Today the Moody Church, a couple of gas stations and a bank occupy the property.


February 15, 1935 – Louis H. Skidmore, the man in charge of the demolition of the buildings at the Century of Progress exposition, announces that work will begin on clearing the site.  The buildings that are to be demolished originally cost over $10,000,000 and include the Sky Ride, the Hall of Science, the Home Planning, Food and Agriculture buildings, the States building, the Dairy building, the Wings of a Century theater, the Electrical building, and the Lagoon Fountain.  Although the wrecking company is based in Springfield, the 500 men working on the razing of the buildings will all be hired in Chicago.  Remaining on the site will be the Administration building, Fort Dearborn, the Lagoon Theater, the DuSable cabin, and the boardwalk around the lagoons.


February 15, 1933 -- Postmaster General Walter F. Brown dedicates the world's largest post office in a ceremony that includes speeches, singing and music by the post office band in the lobby of the building's Van Buren Street entrance. In his remarks Brown says, "A few less than 7,000 workers normally will spend about one-third of their adult lives in this building. Here will be sorted and dispatched 6,500,000 letters and circulars, 300,000 packages and 80,000 sacks of newspaper and parcel post, which originate in Chicago each week, destined for every part of the globe."

Thursday, February 14, 2019

February 14, 1991 -- Lincoln Park Gun Club Takes Its Last Shot


February 14, 1991 –The Chicago Park District orders the Lincoln Park Gun Club to stop operating.  The club at 1901 North Lake Shore Drive has been a home to skeet and trap shooters since 1912, but in the preceding week Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris filed suit against it, charging violations of pollution laws. Chicago Park District Superintendent Robert C. Penn says, “While I appreciate the cooperative spirit and willingness of the club to recognize the problem, their good-faith efforts are simply not enough to save Lake Michigan and protect our beaches from the environmental hazards caused by gun deposits.” [Chicago Tribune, February 15, 1991]  The club’s president, Fred Lappe, says, “I do not believe that we will open again.  Our members may wish to spend monies that we would have spent on a clean-up for litigation.” It is estimated that there are 400 tons of lead at the bottom of the lake near the club.  Two years earlier club members had paid $32,000 for water and soil testing along the lakefront east of the club and had even found a company that would remove the lead.  The park district, however, would not let the workboat involved in the operation dock in nearby Belmont Harbor, requiring it to travel over an hour to reach the site. That ended the operation.  A spokesman for the Lake Michigan Federation says, “There are two issues here.  One is the cleanup, and the second is the ongoing discharge.  We have to object to the continuing discharge of lead shot into the lake.”

Charles Tyson Yerkes
February 14, 1887 – With ordinances before the Chicago City Council that would allow Charles Tyson Yerkes to lay streetcar tracks on Jackson Boulevard from Market to Dearborn, on Market Street, from Jackson to Monroe, on Monroe Street, from Market to Dearborn, on Dearborn, from Polk to Michigan, and on Randolph Street from La Salle to Dearborn, the Chicago Daily Tribune prints an editorial against the proposition.  “If it can be carried out,” the article protests, “every rod of thoroughfare in the business portion of the city, except the two blocks on Monroe street between Wabash avenue and Dearborn street, and the same length on Jackson street, will be tracked and double-tracked, and, in some instances, treble-tracked.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 14, 1887] “Mr. Yerkes talks confidently about the certainty of obtaining the approval of the Council for his ordinances,” the editorial concludes. “And he probably has knowledge whereof he speaks.  There is not a word about giving the city any equivalent for those invaluable franchises.  It is to be hoped, however, that there is yet sufficient honesty in the Council to delay if not altogether to defeat the Philadelphian’s plans.” The scheme would ultimately fall apart, and it would not be until 1897 that the Loop elevated line would be completed.  Two years later Yerkes would liquidate all of his shares in the Chicago transit empire he began in 1886 when he arrived in the city, and say farewell to a city that he had come to hate.


February 14, 1882 – At least 1,000 employees of the Pullman Company go on strike after timekeepers notify them that they will be required immediately to pay their own fare to the company’s works on Illinois Central trains.  Passes had been issued on the trains free-of-charge, but the company says that the passes have cost about $8,000 a month since the company moved its manufacturing to a planned community named after its founder.  To say the least, the whole matter could have been handled more judiciously.  According to the Chicago Daily Tribune, “When the man to whom the distribution of the tickets was intrusted went around among the men he demanded not only that they should buy then and there, but also that each man should lay in a supply for six days in advance, paying cash for the same.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 15, 1882] Since the company had also recently changed the paydays from semi-monthly to monthly, a great number of workers were unprepared for the new expense.  The painters and carpenters struck immediately.  700 workers congregated as Mr. D. A. Grey climbed up on a bench and began to speak . . . “It was the old story,” he said, “of the conflict between capital and labor, and it resulted from the attempt of capital to ignore the value of labor.  The official who drew his princely salary of thousands did not appear to understand the situation of the man who was compelled to get up at 4 o’clock in the morning, snatch a hasty breakfast by candle-light, walk, it may be, a couple of miles to catch the train, ride fourteen miles in a dirty smoking-car, often standing all the way, work steadily and hard for nine hours—for which he received 27½ cents an hour—then ride fourteen miles back; in the dirty car, paying his own fare, and be obliged to wait a month for the wages due him.”  After an appointed committee met with company managers, its members returned to the waiting throng and reported the company was steadfast in its determination to charge the men for their railroad fare.   A worker jumped from the crowd and proclaimed, “The whole thing is just this, boys:  All we want is fair play.  I don’t think it is fair play to charge us for our fare out here, and I put it to a vote.  Shall we stand it?”  Greeted with a loud chorus of dissent, he continued, “Then I’ll tell you what to do.  Let every man pack up his kit, and if when the manager comes he isn’t willing to change the order, why we will all go home and find work somewhere else.  I think this country is big enough and fertile enough to give every man a living who is willing to work.”  Less than two years after Pullman began its bold experimental planned community for workers, a decade of give-and-take between management of the company and its employees begins, ten years of tension that would ultimately lead to the great show-down of 1892.  The Pullman Market Building, shown above, is the site at which the angry workers gathered.


February 14, 1903 -- Addressing the members of the Merchants' Club, Architect Daniel Burnham describes his vision of a Chicago that includes parks and lagoons, gardens, forests, and broad carriage ways.  Burnham urges those present to ensure that the lake be made a beauty spot that would, according to The Chicago Daily Tribune, "keep at home the millions that are spent by Chicagoans at Venice, Paris, and other beauty spots of the old world." The president of the Merchants' Club, Alexander Agnew McCormick, adds, "The Merchants' club is not committed and will not be committed to any fixed plan for converting the lake front into a park, but it does insist that the submerged lands along the lake shore shall be dedicated for a public park, to be used exclusively for a park. No buildings are contemplated in the general plan."

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

February 13, 1954 -- Astor Street Residence Sells

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February 13, 1954 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that Nancy Florsheim Goldberg, the wife of architect Bertram Goldberg and the daughter of Irving S. Florsheim, the head of the Florsheim Shoe Company, has purchased a 19-room residence at 1518 Astor Street, paying $65,000 for the property.  The seller is Walter L. Mead, vice-president of the Consolidated Water and Power and Paper Company, who bought it in 1940 for $50,000.  In 2014 Nicholas Pritzker, the CEO of Hyatt Development, listed the mansion for $9.995 million.  At the time this was the third most expensive home for sale within the city.  Pritzker had owned the home for over 20 years.


February 13, 1901 – Carrie Nation leaves Chicago at 10:00 p.m. on a Santa Fe train bound for Topeka, Kansas.  In the preceding 12 hours she as led a whirlwind tour of the city in her temperance crusade as she “visits saloons, lecturing and threatening, and calls on the Mayor, who is ‘out.’” [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 14, 1901] Despite feeling ill when she awakes at 5:30 a.m., she is in the saloon of Harry McCall at 152 Dearborn Street by mid-morning, where she immediately asks the bartenders to clothe a nude statue in the bar’s window. “I want you to take away that statue or clothe it properly at once,” she commands bartender William Luther.  “Dress it as you would wish to see your mother and sister dressed.  Now, I mean what I say, and if you don’t obey by night I’ll make souvenirs of that statue.”  The offending statue is quickly covered with a red calico wrapper and sunbonnet.   From the bar she hotfoots it over to Willard Hall, located in the Woman’s Temple building on the southwest corner of Monroe and LaSalle Streets.  Six hundred people jam the auditorium so densely that women are fainting and “a crunching sound … warned the crowd that the seats were giving way.”  The crowd is sent from the building, and Nation moves on to City Hall where City Clerk Loeffler tells her that Mayor Carter Harrison is “not in … [as he] leaned on the railing and blew smoke rings in the air.”  The reformer “aired her views of a city government which countenances the liquor traffic, and incidentally reproved the City Clerk for smoking.”  Then it is on to police headquarters where she learns that the Chief of Police is also out.  Twenty minutes later she is at the Cook County Jail where she is turned away.  At 2:30 p.m. she enters a Turkish bath and addresses “attendants coming, going, and during operations.”  What steam can do to one’s hair!  At 4:25 p.m. she enters a salon on State Street and has her hair “arranged.”  After dinner Nation visits Dreifus’ Saloon at 56 State Street, the engine house of Fire Patrol No. 1, and delivers a short speech at Willard Hall in front of 200 people.  Shortly before 9:00 p.m. she makes her way to Riley and Edwards’ Saloon at 200 State Street, “expecting to meet a gathering of saloonmen to whom she had sent an invitation to hear her speak.”  Instead, she finds “a motley assemblage of men and women who formed a typical ‘levee’ crowd.”  Standing on top of a table she addresses the crowd as “The sounds from the piano blended with the laughter of the ribald crowd, which grew larger each moment and packed the room from the door opening on State Street to the alley in the rear.” As she speaks a voice from the crowd calls out, “There’s a beer waiting for you at the bar, grandma.”  Unperturbed, Nation talks from the top of the table. She “talked to the saloon men, she pleaded with the women to lead better lives, and begged everybody to help her in her determination to suppress the liquor business.”  She declares it “the best meeting I’ve ever attended” as she steps down from the table and heads for the railway station.  As she makes her way through the gate at the Polk Street station and her waiting train, she shouts, “Be good!  Be good!  Good-by, until I see you again.”


February 13, 1910 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that the Chicago Board of Education will be meeting in two days as a committee of the whole, ostensibly to discuss the leases the board holds on State Street property.  Speculation is that since even school board members who are out of town have been asked to attend, consideration will be given to the filing of charges against the school district’s architect, Dwight Heald Perkins.  School board president Alfred R. Urion says that he has obtained evidence that will be used against Perkins during inspections of a number of schools during the previous week.  Thus begins another less than stellar chapter in the city’s political history, one in which a talented architect (just venture out to Milwaukee and Addison and take a gander at Carl Schurz High School if you want proof), was railroaded out of his position by school board members who accused him of “incompetence, extravagance and insubordination.”  According to a great blog, “Chicago Historic Schools,” “These corrupt administrators were likely unhappy that Perkins had stopped the practice of giving inflated contracts to well-connected contractors and suppliers.”  It worked out – those school board hacks have long been forgotten, but the spaces that Perkins created, and the spaces with which he surrounded them, still endure.


February 13, 1926 -- Raymond Hood and John Mead Howells are awarded the gold medal for their design of the most beautiful building erected in the north central section of the country in 1925. Architect Elmer C. Jensen, a member of the jury charged with determining the recipient of the gold medal award, says of Hood and Howell's design for Tribune Tower, "The erection of this beautiful structure has been a decided aid to the cause of good architecture. Not only will it have a good effect on architecture in Chicago, but the cause throughout the whole nation gains appreciably. I wish again to emphasize the incalcuable gain which art has made through the Tribune Tower."