September 19, 2006 – Mario Wallenda, a 65-year-old paralyzed high wire artist, crosses the Chicago River 100 feet in the air near the Merchandise Mart. “I’m doing this because I need the money, and I’m tired of sitting around the house. I tried lapidary, woodcarving, even needlepoint,” Wallenda says. [Chicago Tribune, September 20, 2006] The performer was paralyzed in 1962 when a seven-person high-wire pyramid collapsed, and two Wallenda family members were killed. Wallenda is paid between $50,000 and $100,000 for the stunt, according to the event sponsor, WLUP-FM. At 9:09 a.m. a crane drops Wallenda and his specially-designed electric bicycle above the river. Two minutes later he is on the other side of the river. He pauses for a few moments, and by 9:14 he re-crosses the river where the crane waits to lift him back to ground level. “Things are tough,” Wallenda says. “I have enough money to live comfortably for the rest of my life, as long as I don’t live past next week.”
September 19, 1927: Wreckers begin tearing down a four-story building at Randolph and LaSalle Streets as bands play and city chieftains make speeches, and the long-awaited widening of LaSalle Street from Washington Boulevard to Ohio Street begins. The project, which has its beginnings in the Chicago Plan of 1909, is expected to cost $7,455,000, an expenditure that will provide another through street to the near north side and relieve congestion on Michigan Avenue. The president of the Board of Local Improvement, Michael J. Flaherty, wields a pickax and chips away briefly at an old building south of the river on LaSalle even as one tenant, the Hub Raincoat Company, refuses to vacate the structure, saying that the firm has a right to remain until September 23. The $3,500,000 bridge across the river at LaSalle Street is projected to be completed sometime in late 1928. The widening of LaSalle Street had the city acquiring 20 feet from each property facing the street, which resulted in the complete loss of many buildings and significant alterations to buildings such as the Reid-Murdoch building on the north side of the river, which lost one whole tier on its west side to make way for the expanded roadway. A picture of the building before and after the truncation can be seen above.
September 19, 1911 – A wild night on the river as a newly-hired wheelman on the Manistee locks himself in the pilot house and “with whistles tooting and engine bell chiming . . . steamed his Dreadnought up and down the river, charging every craft in sight.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 20, 1911] The seaman, Martin Daley, is hired that day and almost immediately “took on a cargo of rum.” He locks himself in the pilot house, signals the engine room for “full speed ahead,” and gets someone to cast off from the wharf at Michigan Avenue. He brings the Manistee so close to the Rush Street Bridge that “most of the fresh coat of paint on her side adhered to the bridge.” Steaming back toward the lake, Daley then “directed his energies toward running down smaller craft – launches, ‘party boats,’ and dingies [sic]” as members of the crew break the windows of the pilot house in order to stop the rampage. Finally, a Chicago policeman manages to clamber aboard at the life saving station at the river’s mouth and arrests the drunken sailor. Daley tells the officer that he is going back to the Atlantic Ocean “because they can’t take a joke on the lakes.” The above photo, taken in 1905, looks east from the Rush Street Bridge to just about the location where the Manistee was berthed. The Kirk Soap Works stands where 401 North Michigan and the new Apple Store, currently under construction, can be found today.