Friday, August 9, 2019

August 9, 1945 -- Studebaker Engine Plant Up for Sale

August 9, 1945 – The federal government’s Reconstruction Finance Corporation announces that the huge aircraft engine plant operated by the Studebaker Corporation at 5555 Archer Avenue has been put up for sale.  The main building contains 782,988 square feet and sits on a 50-acre site just west of Midway Airport.  Every B-17 Flying Fortress produced after January, 1944 came equipped with Studebaker-built R-1820 engines.  Engine components were fabricated and manufactured in the Chicago area plant and shipped to South Bend, Indiana for final assembly at a 1,500,000 square foot plant that sat on 318 acres.  During World War II Studebaker built 63,789 engines, each composed of nearly 8,000 finished parts.  The above photo shows another engine coming off the assembly line at the Studebaker plant.

August 9, 1964 –Naval reservists participate in the second day of training in Lake Michigan aboard the 312-foot USS. Rauner.  Six ships of the “Corn Belt Fleet” and aircraft from the Glenview Naval Air Station join in the exercises as reservists practice anti-submarine maneuvers off Chicago.  After the exercises are concluded, the submarine is tied up east of the Michigan Avenue bridge for public viewing.  The USS Rauner, Hull Number SS-476, was a diesel-powered attack submarine launched on October 14, 1944. Her first war patrol was off Honshu, Japan where she sank an enemy minesweeper.  By the time the Rauner made it to her second patrol, Japan had declared defeat.  The Rauner entered Tokyo Bay, and with ten other United States submarines, represented the submarine service at the signing of the peace treaty. The summer of 1964 was the only time she worked in coordination with the Great Lakes Naval Training Center although after service in the Atlantic and Mediterranean she was towed to Great Lakes after decommissioning at the Boston Naval Shipyard on January 15, 1969. There she served as a Naval Reserve Training vessel until she was stricken from the Navy list on December 15, 1971.

August 9, 1937 – The rarest of real estate deals occurs when two of the city’s skyscrapers are swapped with no brokers involved in the transaction and with no commission fees paid.  The Marshall Field estate trades the 19-story Times building at 211 West Wacker Drive for the sixteen-story Central Life Insurance Company building at the southwest corner of North Michigan Avenue and East Superior Street.  A representative of the Field estate says that through the acquisition of the Central Life building it now owns the entire block bounded by Michigan, Huron, Rush and Superior.  Through the swap the insurance company will be able to consolidate all of its operations, scattered in various leased spaces in the area, in the Wacker Drive building.  The property on Wacker Drive, shown above, a Holabird and Root design, is still making money.  Saks Fifth Avenue now occupies the corner of Superior and Michigan where the Central Life building used to stand.

August 9, 1972:  A traffic study is released that concludes “Traffic conditions in the Near North Michigan Avenue area will be ‘nearly intolerable’ if the city constructs a bridge over the Chicago River at Columbus Drive.”  The report, prepared for the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association by R. W. Booker and Associates, partially validates a report issued earlier in the week by the Chicago Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.  The report observes that the city has not planned well in proposing a bridge that will connect Fairbanks Court north of the river with Columbus Drive and the developing Illinois Center property to the south.  Taking a special hit is the massive traffic jam that is anticipated during the lengthy reconstruction of the dogleg on Lake Shore Drive north of Randolph Street.  The report makes six recommendations to relieve problems in the River North area if the bridge is built.  They include:  (1) employing rapid transit or people mover systems in the area; (2) widening Fairbanks Court and making it one way south, in the area north of Ontario Street; (3) better enforcement of peak traffic rules and parking regulations in the area; (4) eliminating on-street parking in the area and creating new off-street parking areas; (5) making Ontario and Ohio Streets one way between Fairbanks and Lake Shore Drive and developing grade separation of these two streets with Lake Shore Drive; and (6) making thoro (sic) studies of alternate methods of handling traffic during the reconstruction of Lake Shore Drive, including staged construction to permit continued, limited use of the Drive.  [Chicago Tribune, August 10, 1972]  The bridge was finished in 1982 for a cost of $33,000,000, bringing almost instantaneous development of the area north of the river and east of Columbus Drive.

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