May 4, 1853 – The Chicago Daily Tribune publishes the text of an injunction issued against the Illinois Central Railroad Company by the Master in Chancery of Cook County, the decision coming in a case brought against the railroad by the Chicago Hydraulic Company. The injunction restrains the defendants “from entering upon or taking possession of, or otherwise affecting by any act whatever, the lands, structures, pipes and reservoirs of the complainants. And also from molesting or interrupting the complainants in the enjoyment of their riparian rights, proprietary interest, and corporate franchises, by the sinking or erecting any pier, or other obstruction whatever, between the water front of the complainants premises and the navigable waters of Lake Michigan, until the defendants shall have acquired the right so to do, by voluntary transfer from the complainants, or by ascertaining and making compensation to the complainants, for the property to be taken, or injuriously affected by the acts of the defendants, in the manner authorized and required by law, the statute in such case made and provided.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, May 4, 1853] The Chicago Hydraulic Company was incorporated in 1836 and by 1840 had erected a large two-story building with a pier, along with a reservoir, at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Lake Street. It was the first company in the city’s history to attempt the distribution of Lake Michigan water to city residents by means of wooden pipes no greater than six inches in diameter. In 1841 the Chicago Common Council contracted with the company to supply the city with water for use in extinguishing fires. Still, by 1850 it was estimated that less than one-fifth of the city was receiving water from the company’s supply pipes. The great majority of residents got their water from wells or by purchasing barrels of lake water from water carts. The poor, who could not afford those alternatives, got their water from the festering river. In 1853 the company was purchased by the commissioners of the City Hydraulic Company, which completed a building and tower at the foot of Chicago Avenue at which a supply of water to the city began in February, 1854. This water works stood on the lakefront, which is a good indication of how much land the city has added since that time. Today this is the site of the present water tower, completed in 1869. The original waterworks of the City Hydraulic Company are pictured above.
May 4, 1933 – At 1:10 p.m. an American Airways twin-engine Curtiss Condor takes off from what is now Chicago’s Midway Airport, inaugurating direct airline service between Chicago and New York City. The plane lands at the Newark, New Jersey airport at 7:59 p.m. after a flight of five hours and 26 minutes, carrying 15 passengers, a flight attendant, two pilots and 200 pounds of express mail. Stops are made at Detroit and Buffalo. “This is different from the old planes, when if you stood up in the aisle the pilot gave you a dirty look and began winding up his stabilizer to fix the trim of his ship,” says one passenger as he heads to the rear of the plane to watch the sun set over the Catskill Mountains.
May 4, 1945 – John Augur Holabird dies at St. Luke’s Hospital on his Fifty-Ninth birthday. The famed architect’s résumé includes some of the greatest Chicago buildings, including the 333 North Michigan Avenue building, the Board of Trade, the Palmolive building, today’s Chicago Hilton and Towers, formerly the Stevens Hotel, Passavant Hospital, the Chicago Daily News Building, and Patton Gymnasium at Northwestern University. The son of a pioneer in the design of steel-framed tall buildings, William Holabird, John Holabird’s education was completed at West Point. Graduating as a Second Lieutenant, he quickly rose in the ranks to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the field artillery, commanding the Twelfth Field Artillery, Second Division in the St. Mihiel, Blanc Mont and Meuse-Argonne offensives. He was awarded the Distinguished Service medal and the Croix de Guerre. His attention turned to architecture, and he began his study in 1910, graduating in 1913 from the Ecole des Beaux Arts. Holabird was a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, a member of the Chicago Plan Commission and of the Commission of Fine Arts and a member of the Chicago, University, Commercial, Tavern, Union League, Glen View Golf and Saddle and Cycle Clubs. [https://www.westpointaog.org/memorials]
May 4, 1992 – University of Chicago trustees announce that the school has selected a site east of Michigan Avenue and north of the river, as home for its downtown Graduate School of Business. “This project reflects the university’s commitment to maintaining a substantial presence downtown, while also providing a state-of-the-art facility in which to train tomorrow’s business leaders,” says Hanna H. Gray, the U. of C. president. [Chicago Tribune, May 5, 1992] Lohan Associates, a Chicago architectural firm, will design the center, and McHugh Construction Company will be the general contractor. If you are on the river sometime, notice what an understated example the Gleacher Center is of contextual design. The tier of windows on the western third of the building’s south face relate beautifully to the Mid-Century Modern style of the 1965 structure at 401 North Michigan, Gleacher’s next door neighbor to the west. The tier of windows on the eastern two-thirds of the building relate equally well to the SOM’s 1989 Post-Modernist Art-Deco throwback NBC tower just to the east. Anyone not looking for it might well miss it, but this is contextual design that shines.