September 18, 1982 – The Chicago Tribune prints its last letterpress newspaper at its plant off Michigan Avenue. After more than 60 years of newspaper production just to the west of Tribune Tower, the newspaper will be printed and distributed from Freedom Center, the new printing facility between Ohio Street and Chicago Avenue on the North Branch of the Chicago River. In the new 700,000-square-foot facility ten Goss Metroliner presses will “utilize a Muirhead Ltd. Laser film system in conjunction with Western platemaking equipment to insure quality plates for the offset presses.” [Chicago Tribune, September 18, 1982] Today it appears that the future of the state-of-the-art printing facility on the North Branch of the Chicago River is also looking at the end of its life as Tribune Real Estate Holdings is looking to transform the area on the west shore of the river from Ohio Street to Chicago Avenue into the River District, where office towers for a projected 19,500 workers will rise in the coming years. The top photo shows the area as it appears today. The second photo is a rendering of what may be found there within the next decade ... if all the pieces fall into place.
September 18, 1934 –Mayor Edward Kelly is on hand to dedicate the $2,500,000 Steinmetz High School. In his address he calls upon the state legislature to find a way to increase funding for the school system in the upcoming year. “The need of more school revenue has been repeatedly demonstrated,” he says. “At present real estate carries too much of the load, and it is impossible to suppose that additional burdens can be placed on such property. The schools need added revenues and the legislature should provide a plan to secure them.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 19, 1934] Thousands of parents watch 2,800 Steinmetz students pass a reviewing stand to enter the building as the school opens. The new school is one of five new schools commissioned by the Board of Education that will open in 1934. Lane Technical High School opens on this day as well. An addition to Senn High School will open in the next week, and two other schools, Wells and Phillips will be completed by December 15. The school is named for German-American mathematician and electrical engineer Charles Proteus Steinmetz.
September 18, 1924 – The president of the Illinois Society of Architects, Charles E. Fox, proposes in the monthly bulletin of the society “a half-mile long, permanent stone bridge, 160 feet high, over the mouth of the Chicago river”. [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 19, 1924] The massive bridge would take the place of a lift bridge or tunnel, plans that are under consideration as ways to connect Grant Park and the south side of the city with the north side of the river and Lake Shore Drive. Says Fox, “It’s a reasonably safe bet that if the proposed tunnel is ever constructed, it’ll stand for a generation or two as a monument to bad judgment and then’ll be filled up … The war department already has shown its hand by refusing to have a lift bridge east of Michigan avenue … On the north a design of approach could be incorporated into the architectural treatment of the Municipal pier. The bridge itself would be the monumental hub of the city. A view from the crown of the arch would give to the passing stranger, as well as to the citizen of Chicago a magnificent birdseye view of Grant park and the lake shore both north and south.” Imagine today what a difference it would make to have a massive stone bridge straight out of New York City plunked down at the entrance to the river … things would look a lot different.
September 18, 1925 – Alonzo C. Mather pays $500,000 or $7,692 a square foot for 65 feet of frontage on Wacker Drive, adding this property, owned by the Chicago Title & Trust Company, to Michigan Avenue property he already owns east of the Wacker Drive lot. Born in Fairfield, New York in 1848, Mather came to Chicago in 1875, where he started a wholesale business. At some point he found a way to wealth – by developing a new kind of railroad stock car that reduced the loss of livestock while in transit through the provision of feed and water. The Herbert Hugh Riddle design for Mather Tower at 75 East Wacker Drive provided the headquarters for the Mather Stock Car Company when it opened in 1929. The existing piece of property that Mather owned on Michigan Avenue was meant for another similar tower that would be connected its partner on Wacker Drive by a ground floor arcade. The economic catastrophe of the Great Depression ended the plan for the second tower.