Wednesday, July 3, 2019

July 3, 1933 -- Jewish Pageant "The Romance of a People" Packs Soldier Field
July 3, 1933 – All available police reserves are called out as 125,000 members of the city’s Jewish population attend “The Romance of a People,” sponsored by the Jewish Agency for Palestine, a pageant portraying the history of the Jewish race at Soldier Field.  Five years had been spent in the planning of the spectacle.  Writing for the Chicago Daily Tribune, James O’Donnell Bennett observes, “As I followed bright threads of fortitude, of tenacity, of abiding faith, and of stalwart racial consciousness and racial fidelity from which this fabric of drama was woven, I marveled that any Jew should ever be other than inordinately proud of his ethical and cultural inheritance, so rich and so ancient.  ‘Tis the rest of us who are parvenus by compare.”  At 9:00 p.m. twelve rabbis bear a gigantic scroll that is over twelve feet high to an altar in the center of the floor of the immense stadium. For two hours amplified voices read the story carried in the Torah as the drama unfolds.  At various times there are 750 dancing girls spreading flowers around the altar of the Pentateuch, Roman legionaries and chariots, and 3,500 actors acting out parts of the drama as 2,500 choir members sing, “their voices being led out to the audience by the most nearly perfect system of amplification that has ever been set up on this continent.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, July 4, 1933].  Most of those attending the pageant had spent the Jewish Day at the grounds of the Century of Progress World’s Fair, and their movement from the grounds to Soldier Field, starting around 7:30 p.m., overwhelmed the 400 policemen originally posted to maintain an orderly flow into the pageant.  Another 400 officers are called in, and 46 ticket windows, each with two cashiers are opened up.  Michigan Avenue is closed between Monroe Street and Twenty-Third Street in order for the crowd to reach elevated and bus lines when the show ends with the prophecies of Isaiah, “’Neither shall they learn war any more’ … as a single voice, high and clear, wafts into the starry sky, ‘How beautiful are thy tabernacles, O Lord!’”  The pageant is repeated on the next evening after the Tribune offers to sponsor the reprise performance so that “rich and poor of all creeds might witness the gigantic spectacle.”

July 3, 1946 –The International Harvester Company opens an exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry, providing “a complete Midwestern agricultural exhibit with mooing cows, cawing crows, and the latest in farm equipment.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, July 2, 1946] The exhibit includes a modern farm home, “lifelike” barnyard animals and natural sound effects.  Part of the exhibit is a historical timeline of the development of farm machinery since the invention of the reaper by Cyrus McCormick in 1831.  Mr. John L. McCaffrey, the International Harvester president, speaks at the dedication, saying that the model farm will illustrate “the close mechanical tie between urban and rural life.”  Dr. George D. Sotddard, the new president of the University of Illinois, also speaks.  The photo above shows workers readying the exhibit for the public in 1946.

July 3, 1912 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that a new record for inheritance taxes in Illinois has been set with a tax of $329,131 assessed on the estimated $17,000,000 estate of the late R. T. Crane.  Payment of the tax by July 8, 1912 will save the heirs of the estate more than $16,000 because of a five per cent allowance for prompt payment.  The estate of Marshall Field had set the previous record, with a tax on his estate of $125,000.  The Field estate, however, sheltered nearly a half-million dollars in tax liability by insuring that property in the estate did not pass on to heirs at the time of Field’s death.  Richard T. Crane had the singular fortune of being born the nephew of Chicago lumber baron Martin Ryerson.  At the age of 23, the young man moved to Chicago and began a partnership with his brother.  Crane’s timing could not have been better.  He had established himself as an astute businessman in the city for a years before the 1871 fire.  After the fire his mill met the appetite of the city, supplying it with pipe, steam engines and even elevators as architecture moved from four- or five-story buildings to soaring towers.  The company’s manufacture of enameled cast iron bathroom fixtures also synced up nicely with the demand for luxurious indoor sanitary facilities.  In 1910 the Crane company factories in Chicago employed over 5,000 men.  For more information on the Crane company and the son of its founder you can turn to this section of Connecting the Windy City.

July 3, 1976 – The Chicago Tribune reports that artist Marc Chagall has donated a set of windows, entitled “The American Windows,” to the Art Institute of Chicago as a Bicentennial gift.  The windows will measure eight by thirty feet and will be installed in an area overlooking McKinlock Court, a space illuminated by natural light.  Chagall holds the city in warm regard as a result of the experiences he had in 1973 and 1974 in the creation and dedication of his mosaic The Four Seasons, installed on the east side of the plaza of the First National Bank of Chicago, now Exelon Plaza.

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