Sunday, February 3, 2019

February 3, 1945 -- I & M Canal Super Highway Searches for a Route
February 3, 1945 – The vice-president of the Chicago Motor Club, James E. Bulger, offers a suggestion for joining the proposed Illinois and Michigan canal superhighway (today’s Eisenhower Expressway or Interstate 290) to Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive. The suggestion is an alternative to the route prepared by Allied Engineers, Inc. of Detroit which has the proposed expressway extending along Archer Avenue past South Halsted Street and then across the river at which point the road would take traffic northward where it would join proposed northwest and southeast highways west of the Loop.  Bulger’s suggestion has an elevated roadway running along Archer Avenue to Cermak Road with an eastward extension connecting to Lake Shore Drive.  This would save the expense of bridging the river.  A third alternative, prepared by the Chicago Plan Commission, would see Franklin Street extended south to Archer Avenue as an elevated highway over railroad tracks east of the river.  This plan is problematic because of the legal implications of building on air rights over railroad property.  The highway was constructed between 1949 and 1961 at a cost of $183 million, a project that displaced and estimated 13,000 people and boarded up more than 400 businesses in the city. []  The black and white photo was taken near Paulina Street on Congress Street, looking west.  The second photo is from the same location and shows what the area looks like today.

February 3, 1882 – A Chicago Daily Tribune editorial puts forth fears that the “disgusting and shameless practices” of the Levee district [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 2, 1882] are beginning to spill over into the center of the city and “unless attacked now in their incipiency will soon become so firmly rooted that extermination will be next to an impossibility.”  The editorial spends the most time lamenting the movement of prostitutes (“the vilest, lowest and most revolting of the scarlet women, the dregs of the demi-monde”) who have moved westward from south State Street in the Levee, making “La Salle Street nearly as bad as State street at its worst.”  Lodging on the east side of Clark Street between Madison and Monroe and on the west side of Clark between Monroe and Adams the women come into the night “… from their dingy, foul-smelling rooms, and with their hideous features concealed beneath a mask of paint, their shrunken forms rounded by the arts of the costumer and hidden under an outward show of rich clothing, haunt the shadowy side of the street, soliciting the patronage of every man they meet.”  The editorial introduces a reporter who walks twice around the square bordered by La Salle, Madison, Clark and Monroe Streets, most of the way within a hundred yards of City Hall.  On his first pass he is solicited by nine women; the second trip around the block brings offers from another four.  “It is hard to conceive of women becoming so lost to decency as to flaunt their immodesty and immorality in the faces of the public,” the paper cries, “but they make no bones about it and keep it up.”  The editorial concludes, “Something should be done … It is especially bad to have this depravity exhibited in La Salle street, for the reason that it is a street much used by passengers for the suburban trains on the Rock Island Road, and it is not pleasant for a gentleman with a lady companion to have to pass through and listen to all the filth that he will encounter and hear on his way.”

February 3, 1906 – At two o’clock in the afternoon both the Coliseum building and the First Regiment Armory open their doors for “the greatest display of automobiles ever seen in Chicago.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 3, 1906] Ninety-eight automobile companies and 140 dealers in automobiles and accessories are represented in the two buildings.  Says one dealer, “Ten years from now you will see certain streets in the larger cities restricted entirely to motor vehicle service.  You may think this is fanciful language, but the time is coming.  The commercial automobile has grown more in favor during the last year than in the preceding five years.  Good men are coming forward to apply for positions to drive these wagons, and with a supply of serviceable men to draw on, more firms will adopt motor vehicles to do their carrying.  The motor car is a quicker and more economical delivery wagon than the horse drawn wagon.”  As visitors from all over the Midwest crowd into the city’s hotels, attendance at the auto show is projected to be as high as 100,000.  The above photo shows that not even a snowstorm could stop the show from going on as cars line up outside the Coliseum at Fifteenth Street and Wabash Avenue.

February 3, 1902 -- A dispute between Chicago and the Illinois Central Railroad is finally resolved after being dragged through the courts for nearly two decades. The United States Supreme Court found for the city in a case that involved "made land" running from Sixteenth Street to the river, land which did not exist when the city granted the railroad a 200-foot easement in the lake to build a trestle in the mid-1860's. When over the years that section of the lake lying between the trestle and Lake Park -- toady's Grant Park -- to the west was filled in, the Illinois Central assumed ownership of the new land. If the case had gone the other way Chicago would be a much different city today because the railroad would have been given control of one of the great stretches of urban shoreline in the world. BUT the Supreme Court found that the Great Lakes were to be preserved for the COMMON GOOD, and no private encroachment was to be allowed. The photo above gives a good look at what the lakefront looked like in the mid-1890's. The building closest to the railroad tracks with the squared dome and cupola is the Interstate Exposition Building, which was torn down in 1890 to make way for the Art Institute of Chicago.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Based on the routing, wouldn’t the I&M Canal superhighway be today’s Stevenson Expressway / I 55? I know the first few miles were built over the canal.