Thursday, August 22, 2019

August 22, 1961 -- Long Distance Swimming Record Set by Chicagoan Ted Erikson

Chicago Tribune photo
August 22, 1961 – Ted Erikson, a rocket fuels research engineer at the Illinois Institute of Technology, sets a world’s record for open water long distance swimming by becoming the first person to swim the nearly 37 miles between Chicago and Michigan City, Indiana.  The waves are over six-feet high when Erickson and five other swimmers set out from Burnham Harbor at 8:00 a.m. on a Monday morning.  Winds continue to build until they are cresting at 16 feet by 9:00 p.m.  At that point there are just two swimmers remaining – Erikson and Elmer Korbai, a Hungarian refugee.  Shortly before midnight, Korbai, too, drops out.  When officials accompanying him in a boat ask if he wants to call it quits, Korbai shouts, “Put the boat in front of me, and I’ll follow it.”  [Chicago Tribune, August 23, 1961]. By that time he is far off course, a fact he learns later when it is disclosed that he actually swam 43 miles, close to seven more miles than he had originally planned on negotiating.  As he draws closer to Michigan City, a squadron of small boats comes out to meet him, and someone in the flotilla informs him that he has just two miles to go, and “he took 54 strokes a minute for more than an hour before it was discovered that the beach was really six miles away.”  As if that was not enough, a squall line moves into the area and between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Erickson only manages to progress a half-block.  Finally, at about 3:00 p.m. he sights a crowd of people gathered on Washignton Park Beach, and he tells the sponsor of the effort, auto dealer Jim Moran, that he is going to finish with the butterfly stroke.  (If you have ever tried doing the butterfly for 50 or 100 yards, imagine doing it after 37 hours of continuous swimming!).  That’s what he does.  An estimated 10,000 people are on the beach to greet him, and he is pulled from the lake as waves pound him against the pier just short of the beach. He is placed on a stretcher and given oxygen as he protests, “I don’t want to go to the hospital.  I want to go home.”  In the above photo Erikson is seen shaking the hand of Jim "the Courtesy Man" Moran at the completion of the marathon swim.

August 22, 1982 –Police raid the Candy Store at 874 North Wabash Avenue at about 1:30 a.m., arresting 13 people on prostitution charges. A 63-year-old woman is charged with being a keeper of a house of prostitution, and 11 other women are charged with being inmates of a house of prostitution.  Things change, right?  Today the Sofitel Chicago Magnificent Mile stands on the site.  The hotel, which opened in 2002 with a design by French architect Jean-Paul Viguier, is on the American Institute of Architects America’s Favorite Architecture list.

August 22, 1942 – At 3:00 p.m. the United States Navy formally commissions the aircraft carrier Wolverine off Madison Street.  The ship is the country’s only paddlewheel aircraft carrier and will be used to train pilots operating out of the Naval air station in Glenview as they practice carrier landings and take-offs.  Captain E. A. Lofquist, Chief of Staff of the Ninth Naval District, makes the dedication address, after which the Navy’s commission pennant, displaying one red stripe, one white stripe, and seven stars set in a field of blue, is raised from the Wolverine’s masthead.  Two fighter planes, one of which is piloted by Commander Edward J. O’Neill, a pilot who flew in the Battle of Midway and the officer in charge of operational training once the ship is commissioned, circle overhead during the ceremony.  The city fireboat Fred Busse and two tugs carry several hundred young men who have signed up to take the naval aviation course. For more on the Wolverine and her sister carrier, the Sable, you may turn to entires in Connecting the Windy City here and here.  Information about Navy Pier and its service during World War II can be found here

August 22, 1969 – The City Council Buildings and Zoning Committee unanimously approves the guidelines for the development of the Illinois Central land and air rights south of the Chicago River and east of Michigan Avenue, asking for a change so that advertising signs will be banned in the area.  Louis, Hill, the Commissioner of Development and Planning, says that developers will provide streets, utilities, a fire station, a dock wall along the river, a six-acre park, a school, and a subway and station to serve the area.  The approval follows four days after the Chicago Plan Commission approves the same plan.   The area approved for the new development is shown in the photo above.

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