Thursday, February 21, 2019

February 21, 1890 -- Lake Street Elevated Line Creates Furor
February 21, 1890 – Property owners along West Lake Street hold a second meeting about the proposed Lake Street elevated line at Robu’s Hall.  It is a contentious gathering as an attorney, S. B. Foster, rises to speak against the plan.  Angry protests begin almost as soon as he begins speaking as “several gentlemen demanded if the speaker owned property on Lake Street.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 22, 1890]  Another attorney, Frank Beard, then rises to a point of order, noting that the meeting is limited to Lake Street property owners.  The men begin to argue … “Beard declared that Foster was representing Mr. Yerkes’ West Side street-car railway, Foster stating the Beard had come to the meeting in the interest of the ‘L’ road.”  Beard twice called Foster a liar, “rising from his chair and threateningly waving his cane.”  Friends separate the two men before they come to blows. Opponents might as well have held their breath ... the line carried its first passengers on November 24, 1893.  The above photo shows the Lake Street line under construction near Washtenaw in the early 1890's.

February 21, 1947 – The Chicago Tribune Building Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Tribune Company, completes purchase of approximately 39,000 square feet of land, running along the north bank of the Chicago River, land formerly owned by the New York Central Railroad Company.  Purchase of the land gives the Tribune Building Corporation 385 feet of frontage along the river, east of the bridge at Michigan Avenue, and west of the large warehouse of Hibbard Spencer Bartlett and Company. Today, the Gleacher Center, the downtown campus for the University of Chicago sits on the site.  The above photos show the property in 1926 and as it appears today.  401 North Michigan Avenue, the 1965 glassy tower designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, stands on property the company purchased four years earlier.

February 21, 2007 – On this day ten years ago Carson, Pirie, Scott closed its State Street store, and 84-year-old Virginia Connor, who has worked in the men’s department for 46 years, the last four of which were in “Men’s Basics,” bids farewell to her fellow clerks. “The mind of men is extremely interesting,” Connor says.  “Men are extremely vain.   Men always say they’re smaller than they really are, in the waist.  They don’t really mean to lie, they just believe it, in their minds.  And so, you have to be very patient with them.”  [Chicago Tribune, February 22, 2007] When Connor began her career at Carsons she was required to wear white gloves, a suit or a skirt and blouse and a jacket.  As of this day she will be dressing up to look for another job.  One of her last interactions with a customer is with a man who comes up to her, asking to exchange an item.  “Exchange what,” she asks him.  “There’s nothing in the department to exchange.  It’s gone.” 

February 21, 1912 -- The worst February storm in 18 years brings business in Chicago to a standstill. Service on the Illinois Central suburban line is shut down at 1:30 p.m. after a northbound train crashes into the rear of a milk train, leaving stations crowded with passengers. The downtown hotels do a brisk business, taking in workers who are unable to find a train home. For the first time in the city's history the street cleaning bureau gives up the fight in the face of 52-m.p.h. winds that leave workers lost in white-out conditions and horses wandering around in Grant Park. Policemen at crossings in the Loop are kept busy picking up people who have fallen or been blown into drifts. Members of a funeral party for 12-year-old Rose Myrtle Drautzburg, with her schoolmates acting as pallbearers, start for the Grand Trunk station at Forty-Seventh Street at 9:30 in the morning and wait for a train until 4:30 p.n. when they are informed that the train is cancelled. The estimate is that over 30,000 men are temporarily thrown out of work because of the weather.

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