Friday, August 2, 2019

August 2, 1967 -- Second City Opens New Playhouse
August 2, 1967 – The Second City opens its new playhouse on at 1616 North Wells Street with a revue of past successes, entitled “From the Second City.” It was December of 1959 when The Second City opened its doors for the first time just up the street at 1942 North Wells.  Bernie Sahlins, a genius in the field of improvisational theater, tells the story of the terra cotta portrait heads and arches that grace the front entrance of the theater in his book, Days and Nights at the Second City.  He wrote, “We were building a new theater and they were tearing down the Garrick.  I happened to wander over and saw the building being demolished.  I saw the heads over the second floor balcony of the building and was interested in them.  I spoke to the foreman and told him, ‘I wanted four heads and I didn’t care which four.’  He referred me to his boss and I negotiated the deal.”  It cost Sahlins $1,500 for the front entrance to a theater that would become legendary.  To read a really, really exhaustive piece on a quest to identify the individuals that are depicted in the four terra cotta pieces at the entryway, you can check this out. It’s fascinating.

August 2, 1978 –The American Society of Civil Engineers unveils a plaque at the Michigan Avenue bridge that celebrates the reversal of the Chicago River as a national engineering landmark. David Novick, the president of the society, says, “This monumental engineering feat contributed to the health and growth of Chicago, enabling it to develop into the great metropolitan area it is today.” [Chicago Tribune, August 3, 1978] Both Novick and Nicholas J. Melas, the president of the Metropolitan Sanitary District, accept the plaque on behalf of the district and the city. The ceremony takes place on the Ninety-Third anniversary of a rain storm that forced the sewage borne by the river far out into the lake, threatening the city’s fresh water intake cribs. 

August 2, 1891 – The Chicago Daily Tribune provides an update on the improvements that are ongoing at the new United States Army base at Fort Sheridan. The new barracks east of the water tower are being constructed in order to house two companies of the Fifteenth Regiment of infantry along with two companies of cavalry and two of artillery.  The cost of the new quarters will be $200,000, about $5,170,000 in today’s dollars.  Two “magnificent stables” are being built at a cost of $22,000 apiece or $569,000 in 2017 dollars.  Each stable will house 80 horses.  A main dining hall is also being built with room for 1,000 soldiers.  The cost of the building will be $48,000 or $1,242,000 in today’s dollars.  Four captains’ homes will be built near the lake at a cost of $9,000 or $235,000 for each in today’s dollars.  Finally, a 300-yard long Officers’ Club will be erected with separate quarters for a dozen officers.  This will cost $70,000 or $1,812,250 in 2017 dollars.  The land for the new garrison was purchased in 1887, and the Chicago architectural firm of Holabird and Roche selected to design the buildings.  One of the stables at the fort is shown in the above photo, these days a re-purposed residential building.

August 2, 1934:  Led by Chief Investigator John O’Donnell, a police squad raids six villages at the Century of Progress World’s Fair and closes down two performances judged to be risqué.  Gambling wheels are confiscated at the exhibitions of Paris, Tunis, Ireland, Mexico and Spain and in a section called the Bowery.  At the last site an exhibition called “The Red Light Girls” is closed and a fan dancer, Faith Bacon, is forced to put on pants for her final appearance.   The general manager of the fair, Major Lenox R. Lohr, unleashes the police on the concessions after giving them a warning to clean up their act.  After allowing the sale of liquor at lunch counters within the grounds, agreeing to more signage within the grounds promoting attractions, and reducing the charges for electricity and garbage removal at venues, Lohr warns the venders, “We’ll give you all the help within reason and more money will be spent by A Century of Progress during the month of August than has been spent in any month in 1934 or 1933 . . . but the lid is not off.”

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