Wednesday, September 4, 2019

September 4, 1968 -- Italian Court Demolition Begins
September 4, 1968 – Wreckers begin to raze a collection of shops and apartments on the southeast corner of Michigan Avenue and Ontario Street known as the Italian Court, a development that was built in the 1920's when two brothers, Chester and Raymond Cook, hired architect Robert S. DeGolyer, to come up with a plan to unite several small existing buildings. The apartments in Italian Court appealed to artists and writers.  Marianne Monroe, the editor of Poetry Magazine, orchestrated poetry readings that saw the likes of Amy Lowell, Carl Sandburg, Robert Frost, Edgar Lee Masters  and Marion Strobel holding forth at Le Petit Gourmet, the restaurant which the apartments surrounded on three sides.  [Chicago Tribune, September 23, 1990].  Today the 625 North Michigan Avenue building stands on the site, a 28-floor building constructed in 1970 according to a design by architectural firm Meister and Volpe.  The restaurant of the original building is shown in the top photo.  625 North Michigan, the building that replaced Italian Court, is shown in the second photo.

September 4, 1918 – Four people are killed and more than 30 are injured when a bomb explodes in the Adams Street entrance of the Federal building at 3:11 p.m.  The Chicago police and the United States Secret Service theorize that the explosion was the work of sympathizers with the International Workers of the World in an attempt to avenge the conviction of 93 of the group’s members in the courthouse. Hundreds of people are in the long corridor that leads away from Adams Street and toward the great rotunda beneath the dome eight floors above it. Dozens are thrown to the ground when the explosions occur.  Afterward they walk around dazed and blackened, covered with dust and debris. Officials find evidence that the bomb was actually planned to explode two days earlier as the Labor Day parade passed the reviewing stand on the Jackson Boulevard side of the building.  Nearly every window in the lower five stories of the Edison and Marquette buildings across Adams Street is blown in.  Buildings as far away as State Street also report damage.  Hundreds of customers rush from the Fair Store in a panic only to enter a torrent of broken glass falling from windows above them.  A horse hitched to a delivery wagon on Adams Street dies in the street as a result of the shower of glass shards.  William D. Haywood, the head of the I.W.W. is in the Federal Building at the time of the blast and denies that the group had anything to do with the explosion.  Police take him to the county jail, fearing that the crowd might attack him.  Members of the American Protective League, 2,500 strong, fan out to scour the city for suspects.  Fifty sailors from the Municipal Pier surround the Federal Building with fixed bayonets, and former Chicago alderman John Scully says, “It was evidently close against the back wall and spent its force backward and downward.  Had it been against one of the main walls it would have torn it out. The terrific power in the bomb is shown by the windows in the office buildings opposite.  They were not merely broken but were shattered into fine bits, right down to the sashes.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 4, 1918] Subsequently, the police round up almost 100 members of the I.W.W. with all but a few released within a few days.  No convictions are ever secured, and no final determination is ever made as to the perpetrator of or the motive for the crime.  As a footnote one of the many postal workers in the building at the time of the explosion was a substitute letter carrier by the name of Walt Disney. [] 

September 4, 1973 – The City Council subcommittee on finance approves an ordinance calling for the construction of the Columbus Drive bridge over the Chicago River.  It is expected that the ordinance will move on to the full finance committee within the week and from there move to the City Council for final approval.  It passes despite the objections of the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association which predicts that a bridge at Columbus Drive will cause gridlock north of the river.  The ordinance includes a proposal for the city to spend $180,000 to complete plans for the bridge, along with $580,000 for engineering and property acquisition costs.  Four blocks of land approximately 110 feet wide along Fairbanks Court between the river and Ohio Street must be purchased in order to connect Colunbus Drive south of the river to Ohio Street to the north.  The State of Illinois is expected to underwrite the cost of the bridge, expected to cost about $10 million. The executive director of the North Michigan Avenue Association says that the organization will demand a state and federal environmental impact statement concerning the bridge before it is built.

September 4, 1967 – It is a day that ends another season at Riverview Park, a final Labor Day fling at a park that has delighted visitors for 64 seasons, ever since auto dealer George Schmidt started the amusement park in order to attract visitors to his dealership on the east side of Western Avenue.  There is the Star Time Frolics Parade with its floats, elephants, marching bands, and dancers to ring down the curtain on another year at the gritty carnival that sits on the Chicago River just south of Belmont Avenue.  This weekend is a time for end-of-summer fun, but this will be it for Riverview.  Less than a month later, the property will be gone for good, sold to the La Salle Street Investment Group for an estimated 6.5 million dollars.

No comments: