April 27, 1968 – Approximately 5,000 people gather in Grant Park for a rally against the war in Vietnam, and before the day is over 50 protestors are under arrest and 15 people are injured. The day begins with no sign of trouble as “demonstrators gathered in the park, laughing and joking as they picked dandelions to make necklaces … [they] also snipped lilacs and placed them in their hair.” [Chicago Tribune, April 28, 1968] The march to the Civic Center, today’s Richard J. Daley Center, is peaceful as protestors keep to the sidewalk and obey traffic signals. While some marchers circle the Civic Center, others cut ropes that barricade the plaza on the Washington Street side of the building. The police, under the personal direction of Superintendent James B. Conlisk, Jr., begin moving the marchers out of the plaza and onto Washington and Clark Streets, prompting about 250 people to stage a sit-down protest on the plaza. It is here that the first set of mass arrests takes place. Some officers deploy MACE, and protestors begin to throw picket signs at the officers. The commander of the First Police District, Captain James J. Riordan, is hit by a sign and treated for head wounds at Henrotin Hospital. At the protest’s height a thousand police battle the marchers while 50 counter-protestors shout curses at the anti-war group. Later, at the central district lockup army intelligence officers, F.B.I. agents and members of the police subversive unit, “seeking soldiers absent without leave and known Communists and Communist sympathizers” work their way through the jailed protestors. This is just the beginning as protests escalate until they reach a fever pitch in late August of the year as the Democratic convention rolls into town, and scenes like the one above give way to mayhem.
April 27, 1914 -- Whatever goes up must come down. Usually. That proves true enough in the Fine Arts building on this date as elevator operator Louis Rosenfeld lets in a few more people than wisdom would dictate -- 16 to be exact in a car rated for a dozen. Two women and two men squeeze into the elevator, already crowded with students and teachers from the upper floors. As it begins to descend a cable snaps and roars down the shaft, slamming into the roof of the car. From there it snakes through the front of the car, striking several passengers. No one can move since the elevator is so crowded. Two women faint and the car stops a few feet from the bottom of the shaft as the emergency brakes take hold. The roar of the calamity can be heard on Michigan Avenue, and the entire building shakes. The top of the car stops a few feet above the level of the first floor, and those rushing to help, including the manager of the Studebaker Theater, are able to pry the doors open and lift the passengers to safety. Fortunately, no one is seriously injured, but if I had been in the car, I might have given a considerable amount of thought to taking the stairs from then on.