Thursday, April 18, 2019

April 18, 1923 -- Fixed Bridges, an Editorial
April 18, 1923 – Citing the words of the United States War Department’s district engineer, Major Rufus W. Putnam, the Chicago Daily Tribune editorializes in favor of moving from moveable bridges to fixed bridges on the Chicago River.  Putnam had previously reported that Chicago River and harbor traffic had decreased from 10,500,000 tons in 1889 to 1,500,000 tons in 1922 noting that the decrease occurred largely because of “the obstructive bridges.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 19, 1923] Although the Tribune expresses skepticism about that hypothesis, the editorial nevertheless agrees on the need for fixed bridges. “There is no question,” the editorial states, “that they would relieve land traffic of many irritating and costly delays.  Incidentally they could be an architectural beautification of the city, and would relieve us of an annual cost of some $1,000,000 now consumed by maintenance and operation.  The movement to fixed bridges should maintain a minimum of 16.5 feet of clearance, the Tribune notes, so that there will be no interference with the proposed lakes to gulf waterway.  Most of the bridges on the North Branch of the Chicago River today are fixed bridges. Moveable bridges still dominate the river on the main stem and South Branch, but they are raised on a strictly enforced schedule, principally lifting sequentially in the spring and the fall two days of the week to allow sailboat owners movement to and from the lake.  The above photo, taken in 1928, shows 333 North Michigan Avenue as it nears the end of construction and the bridge that carries Michigan Avenue over the river.

April 18, 1991 – United States Defense Secretary Dick Cheney is in town for a luncheon speech before the Mid-America Committee at the Chicago Hilton and Towers, and after the event he holds a news conference at which he says that his goal to develop a smaller but more effective military stands firm.  “I don’t foresee Ft. Sheridan would be kept open as a fort,” Cheney says.  “If we go into the period immediately ahead and we allow parochial interests to dictate the kinds of cuts made in the defense budget, we’re in big trouble … if we let those kinds of considerations drive our decisions on the size of the force, by 1995 we’ll have … a force that’s not ready to go to war.” [Chicago Tribune, April 19, 1991]  The decision to close the base on prime North Shore real estate is a controversial decision that will drag on for another half-dozen years until in 1997 Highland Park and Highwood agree to pay $5.75 million – or $41,000 an acre -- to the U. S. Army for 140 acres that make up the historic district and parade ground of the base.  The new Town of Ft. Sheridan is a must-see for anyone interested in history, architecture and nature.

April 18, 1962 – University of Illinois trustees approve the purchase of a “near west side slum clearance site” [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 19, 1962] for a new Chicago campus.  The approximate cost will be about $4,650,000 or $1.008 per square foot.  Although the new campus will ultimately cover 105.8 acres, the first land transfer will be made up of 50 to 60 cleared acres near Halsted and Harrison Streets along with a small tract in the middle of Blue Island Avenue, Morgan Street, and Roosevelt Road.  The first phase of construction is scheduled to start on June 30 with this initial $60 million section scheduled to open in 1964 with an enrollment of 9,000 students.  This section will include a 28-story administrative building, a large one-story lecture center, a four-story library, a four-story engineering science laboratory building, seven classroom buildings, and a student center, along with a heating and air conditioning facility.  The buildings involved in this first phase of construction are shown in the construction photo above.

April 18, 1867 -- Under "City Improvements" the Chicago Daily Tribune makes these observations . . .
"Why Madison Street from the lake to the river -- one of the great thoroughfares of travel -- should be permitted to remain in its present condition another year, cannot be explained by any rational process . . . As it is, the street is a nuisance, unsafe for travel, and offensive to the eye and nostrils of all who have to use it."
"The condition of [La Salle, Franklin, Monroe, Adams, Jackson, Harrison and Polk, from the lake to the river] is of that deplorable state which nothing short of their curbing, grading and paving can remedy. Public health, the general welfare and appearance of the city, as well as the public convenience, demand that these streets be permanently improved, and be no longer abandoned as mud holes and receptacles of filth of all kinds."

"These portions of Canal, Clinton, Jefferson, Union, Deplanes and South Halsted streets, lying between Lake and Madison streets, are almost impassable to vehicles, and are very little more convenient to pedestrians. The mud is so deep that no accident insurance company, managed with ordinary prudence, would take a risk from travellers on either of them. Drovers would attempt to swim their beeves, sheep and hogs across the river than attempt to pass over either of these streets from one of the three thoroughfares to the other with their stock."

"Halsted street, from Randolph to Madison, is a disgrace to the city. We think if the Board of Public Works would make the voyage of that street on horseback or in canoes, they would, while being fished out by the friendly neighbors living on the banks, appreciate the necessity for finishing the work only commenced by the paving of Lake, Randolph and Madison streets."

Somehow, a winter of potholes doesn't seem all that bad. The photo above shows State Street and the bridge across the river on November 2, 1867.

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