Monday, March 18, 2019

March 18, 1938 -- Central Trust Company Building Is Razed
March 18, 1938 – Wreckers begin the razing of the Central Trust Company building at Monroe and La Salle Streets with the cleared site to be used as a parking lot.  The Central Trust Company, completed in 1900, housed a number of different financial institutions.  The Home Savings Bank and offices occupied the first floor.  On the second and third floors the Equitable Trust Company was located.  Offices of the Chicago National Bank, the Home Savings bank, the Equitable Trust Company and the Chicago Safe Deposit Company were scattered throughout the building.  There was a cafĂ© for the use of employees and bank officers on the fourth floor.  The basement was “fitted with the largest, most complete, and most luxurious safe deposit vaults in the world.”  []   It must have been a magnificent building with walls “made of the rarest and most beautiful marble that man has yet wrested from the bosom of the earth,” much of it Pavanazzo marble, imported from Carrara. The banking room on the first floor was also adorned with sixteen murals painted by Lawrence C. Earle, depicting scenes in the growth of the city from the winter quarters of Father Marquette in 1674 to the Chicago River at Lake Street in 1900.  A Skidmore, Owings and Merrill office tower rising 37 stories was completed on this site in 1974.  The former building and the new tower are shown in the photos above.

March 18, 2014 – Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Senator Dick Durbin announce that work will begin on an elevated lakefront path, stretching for 1,750 feet, near Navy Pier.  The $60 million, multi-year project will be called the Navy Pier Flyover, and it has been on the drawing board for over ten years.  The construction process will consist of three tricky phases in one of the most congested areas of the city.  In fact, part of the structure will run just nine inches to the west of Lake Point Tower, and engineers will have to remove part of the shoulder of Lake Shore Drive to  wedge the path into place. Phase one will begin on the lakefront trail just north of the Ohio Street Beach and move to the north bank of Ogden Slip with a spur for bicyclers and pedestrians leading toward Navy Pier.  Phase two will carry the flyover across Ogden Slip.  Phase three will bridge the Chicago River, alongside Lake Shore Drive before sloping down to DuSable Park.  The last phase is expected to finish up in the spring of 2018 (although that has now been changed to sometime beyond mid-2019).  In most places the new trail will be 16 feet wide, a superior trek for bikers and walkers who have been forced to vie with one another on a dark, narrow sidewalk across the lower level of the Lake Shore Drive bridge.

March 18, 1903 – The Chicago Daily Tribune editorializes favorably about a bill that will be discussed in Springfield allowing “the commissioners in charge of parks and boulevards bordering on public waters to extend them over and upon the bed of such public waters.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, March 8, 1903] One result of the bill, if approved, will be the ability of the south park commissioners to gain title to the submerged land several hundred yards off shore from Jackson Park north to the Lake-Front Park.  “There is no room for differences of opinion as to the wisdom of an enabling act of this kind,” the editorial writers state.  “It will save for public use and enjoyment what may otherwise be lost to the city.  Chicago has what few other great cities have, a frontage upon a large body of water.  That natural advantage has been utilized thus far for esthetic purposes in Lincoln and Jackson parks … There is no reason why there should not be in the future a lake front open to the people between Grant and Jackson parks.”   The editorial admits that the ability to take advantage of the city’s riparian rights will be hindered by a lack of financing to fund a project of this size.  Despite this the editorial concludes, “The bill to give the park commissioners title to the submerged lands should pass without opposition.  Then the lands will be preserved for the city to be utilized by it when it shall be in a position to do so.”  The above photo, taken in 1907, shows the ongoing project of creating made land in the area that is today Grant Park.

March 18, 1895 -- Twenty paintings by Claude Monet are placed on display at the Art Institute of Chicago. They are described by the Chicago Daily Tribune as "much more rational than those of his followers and imitators. They form an interesting showing of the rapid noting of illusive appearances in nature upon which the fame of the painter rests." Monet had been painting since 1856 and had completed his "Grain Stacks" series, a kind of visual manifesto for Impressionism in 1890. He had painted his series of Rouen Cathedral in 1892 through 1894. It would be interesting to know what 20 paintings went on display in the new building that the Art Institute had occupied for only two years when Monet's works went on display.

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