Friday, March 8, 2019

March 8, 1945 -- Fort Dearborn Cemetery Unearthed
March 8, 1945 – In excavating a new 600-foot dock for the Chicago and North Western Railroad on the west bank of the river about a block north of Grand Avenue, the Great Lake Dredge and Dock Company unearths a white marble slab with the words, “To the memory of Mrs. Maria Stevens, wife of …” with the words “wife of” almost completely worn away.  [Chicago Daily Tribune, March 9, 1945]  The company’s superintendent stops work at the site and jumps into the excavation, where he finds “about six feet down in heavy clay … rotted planks and human ribs, skull and thigh bones …”  The Chicago Historical Society sites a reference in A. T. Andreas’ History of Chicago, published in 1886, of “a ‘common acre; on the west side of the north branch of the river which in early times was used as a burying ground by the settlers around Fort Dearborn.  Since the city set aside common areas as burial sites in 1835, researchers at the society speculate that the burial ground was used before that date.  The area labelled "A" to the left top of the above aerial view, now a part of property owned by Tribune Media Company, is the site of the discovered remains.  In February of 2019 the company put this huge parcel of prime riverfront land up for sale.  Development will almost certainly follow.  The letter "B" at the bottom left of the view is the approximate location of Fort Dearborn.  

March 8, 1990 – The Chicago Plan Commission approves a plan by Chicago real estate developer Harvey Walken to construct an 83-story office building on the northeast corner of Wacker Drive and Madison Street.  If the project is completed, the building will be the fourth tallest office structure in the world, behind Sears Tower and the World Trade Center towers in New York City.  Walken says, “What we’re proposing to build is what we believe will be the address of choice for large office tenants in search of a prime location for the twenty-first century.”  [Chicago Tribune, March 9, 1990] The building, to be known as One North Wacker, will be designed by New York architect Kevin Roche, who has also designed the headquarters for the Leo Burnett Advertising agency on West Wacker Drive.  One North Wacker will have about half the rentable office space that exists in Sears Tower with floors measuring 25,000 to 30,000 square feet.  “Because most of the other office buildings being built downtown today are being designed for the small-to-midsize tenants, we felt that we could achieve a niche for ourselves in the market by appealing to large office users like corporations and large law and accounting firms,” says Walken.  It was another great plan that never made it past an architectural model.  In 2001 One North Wacker opened with 33 fewer floors than the 1990 proposal.  Developer John Buck brought the project to completion with Lohan Associates serving as the architectural firm responsible for the building’s design.  Walken and the model of his 83-story proposal is shown in the top photo. Below that is the Lohan-designed One North Wacker, which opened in 2001.

March 8, 1971 – Fans who show up at the Chicago Coliseum and the International Amphitheater to watch the Muhammad Ali – Joe Frazier fight on closed circuit television end up staging their own boxing matches as police are mobilized to combat near riots at both venues.  Trouble breaks out at the Coliseum at 1513 South Wabash Avenue when projection equipment breaks down, and the audience of 7,000 people is asked to leave the building minutes before the fight is due to begin.  Some angry patrons begin to throw ticket counters through the front windows; others toss folding chairs and bottles from the balcony onto the main floor of the building.  Close to 80 police officers are summoned to restore order.  At the Amphitheater at Forty-Third Street and Halsted a thousand people are turned away when the building reaches its 13,000-person capacity.  Bottles and rocks are thrown, and 40 windows are broken on the Halsted Street side of the building.  Police and maintenance staff members turn fire houses on the crowd, and the riot is ultimately brought under control.  Police are kept busy all night long, even rushing to the Civic Opera House when fans who have been turned away at the Coliseum show up there, hoping to gain entrance at the last minute.  All of this occurs exactly a dozen years to the day that Ali won the Golden Gloves Championship at the Chicago Stadium, a young boxer from Louisville using his birth name, Cassius Clay.

March 8, 1952 -- Students of the Navy Pier branch of the University of Illinois start a mile-long petition for a state-operated four-year college in Chicago at a dance and rally at the pier. M. L. Berenbaum, president of the parents' organization, signs the petition after Representative Paul Randolph, who promises legislation to establish a four-year branch of the state university. Berenbaum says that nine out of ten students at the pier live at home and work part time in Chicago and that many of those cannot afford to leave the city to continue their educations after they complete the two-year courses of study at the pier.

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