May 17, 1912 – After being caught in a dangerous air pocket, Farnum T. Fish, “the youthful aviator at the Illinois Aero club’s flying field,” [Chicago Daily Tribune, May 18, 1912] is forced to descend from 8,800 feet and land his plane in Grant Park in front of the Auditorium Hotel. He is almost immediately arrested by park police officers. At the South Clark Street police station, the 16-year-old aviator is formally charged with violating Section 1 of Chapter 7 of the 1911 code of the South Park Commissioners, which states, “No person shall make any descent in or from any balloon, aeroplane, or parachute nor shall any person aid or permit any balloon, aeroplane, or parachute to descend in any park or in any boulevard. Any person violating any clause or provision of this section shall be fined not less than $10 nor more than $100 for each offense.” When released on a $400 bond, Fish observes, “Chicago must be ahead of the times. I know of no city in the world with such an ordinance.” Known as the “Boy Aviator,” Fish received FAI Airplane Pilot’s Certificate #85 in Dayton, Ohio in 1911. He flew nearly continuously in various air meets throughout 1912. In 1915 he flew for Pancho Villa in Mexico where he was shot in the leg while flying over enemy troops, still managing to land his plane before collapsing at the air base. He was commissioned as a lieutenant in the United States Army in July,1918 and served as an overseas test pilot for the Army Signal Corps. He was a member of the Air service Officers Reserve Corps form June 1919 to 1934 and returned briefly to active duty in 1942. He died on July 3, 1978.
May 17, 1913 – In a rare display of cross-town (even cross-country) unity, over 35,000 Chicagoans slip through the turnstiles at Comiskey Park to pay tribute to New York Yankee manager Frank Leroy Chance, a former North Sider. As I. E. Sanborn reports for the Chicago Daily Tribune, “It was impossible at anytime to tell Chance fans from Sox fans. For that one day each was both and both each.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, May 18, 1913] The festivities begin at 2:00 p.m. when the White Sox band marches onto the field from the south entrance and settles behind home plate. For an hour afterward the “field looked like anything but a baseball park. The diamond was full of acrobats, tumblers, jugglers, trick dogs, human snakes and Sandows (professional bodybuilders).” Just before 3:00 Chance heads to home plate with the Yankee line-up, accompanied by Governor Edward Dunne and Mayor Carter Harrison. The fans jump up “with a roar which in the aggregate sounded like several hundred Niagaras all working at once.” The crowd is even more enthusiastic when it is learned that Chance will play first base for an inning with the New York team. Before that, though, he is presented with a pair of giant floral pieces eight feet tall, and a horseshoe of red carnations and roses. Chance had led the Cubs to World Series championships in 1907 and 1908, but in 1912 while in the hospital recovering from blood clots that resulted from blows to the head from pitches, the Cubs released him and the Yankees signed him to a three-year contract worth $120,000. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946, 22 years after his death. On this day in 1913, though, the city is his – not so the game, which the last-place Sox win, 6-2. As Sanborn wrote, “It was a wonderful testimony to the warm spot Chicago has in its heart for the young Lochinvar (You won’t see too many baseball writers these days making references to Sir Walter Scott in their copy . . .) who came out of the farthest west more than a dozen years ago, stole a bride among its fairest daughters, and gave the city in return a proud place in the annals of baseball.”
May 17, 2016 – As it nears its first year of operation the Bloomindale Trail, Chicago’s “606,” comes under fire as hundreds of people march in a protest against the trail, saying that its popularity is making the area unaffordable for families who were there before the trail opened. In a press release the Logan Square Neighborhood Association announces the march with this assertion, “Our families are being displaced from the community they love because housing costs are skyrocketing.” The protest aims to get six aldermen from the area to get behind two ordinances. One would institute a property tax rebate that would make it easier for families to stay in the neighborhood. The other would cordon off an area on the west end of the 606 in which demolition fees would be assessed by the number of residential units in a building being demolished with fees as high as $25,000 for a single-family home. Gentrification on the west end of the trail creates particularly strong pressures – the median income in the area is less than $50,000 a year while on the east end of the trail the median income is over twice that amount. A report by the Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University concludes, “Before 2012, the abandoned rail line was a penalty on property values of about 1.4 percent. After the 606 was underway, being near the 606 began to command a premium, but only on the western side of the trail. Although the rail line was no longer a penalty in 606 East, buyers did not pay an additional premium for homes near the trail in this higher value market. The story is different in 606 West. There, buyers were willing to pay a 22.3 percent price premium for properties within one-fifth of a mile of the trail.”