Thursday, September 5, 2019

September 5, 1990 -- Crate & Barrel Opens Michigan Avenue Store

Crains Chicago Business
curbedchicago.com
September 5, 1990 – Gordon Segal opens the new North Michigan Avenue Crate and Barrel store, a three-level housewares emporium, as 1,100 guests, including Mayor Richard M. Daley, ogle the goods, “sliding garlic shrimp off toothpicks, or swirling red pepper steak in an ominous sauce … rubbing palms over Shaker tables, bouncing fists on mattresses and turning over price tags.”  [Chicago Tribune, September 6, 1990]. Soon after graduating from Northwestern University, Segal and his wife, Carole, open the first Crate and Barrel in 1962 in an old warehouse on North Wells Street in Old Town with merchandise displayed on packing crates and barrels.  In 1968 the Segals opened their second store in the Plaza del Lago shopping center in Wilmette.  The first store outside Illinois opened in Massachusetts in 1977, and in 2008 Crate and Barrel opened its first store outside the United States in Toronto.  There are over a hundred stores today.  Unquestionably, though, the great success of the brand began with the decision to purchase an old terra cotta-clad medical building at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Erie Street and use the site for a new store.  In a break with the design of most stores at the time, the Segals commissioned architect John Buenz of Solomon, Cordwell and Buenz to create a store that “with its sweeping white lines, glass fa├žade and open escalators … broke with the street’s [Michigan Avenue] traditions.”  [Chicago Tribune, January 21, 2018]. The plants and flowers that were placed outside the store served as inspiration for the planters that now line the street.  In 2018 the Segals, who had sold a majority interest in the company to the Otto Group in 1998, said good-bye to the Michigan Avenue store.  It is set to become a 43,000 square-foot Starbucks Reserve Roastery, the third Roastery to open in the United States. 


September 5, 1982 -- The Chicago Tribune reports that Chicago transit officials have selected the Forty-Ninth Street corridor as the route that a 9.1-mile rapid transit line will use to move people from the Loop to Midway Airport.  According to the plan, the route could be in operation by the end of the 1980’s with costs kept to a minimum through the use of railroad rights-of-way for much of the distance.  It is expected that the federal government will provide 80 percent of the funding for the $453 million project.  The hope is that 18,000 to 35,000 residents of the Southwest Side will use the line, relieving the area’s population of the burden of depending on bus service in the only section of the city without rapid transit service.  Nine stations will be built along the new line, including a stop at Midway along Cicero Avenue, at Pulaski Road and Fifty-First Street, Kedzie Avenue and Forty-Ninth Street, California avenue at Forty-Ninth, Western at Archer, Ashland Avenue just north of the Stevenson and Halsted Street at Archer.  The line will connect with the Loop elevated with a proposed link between the Ryan line (today’s Red Line) and the State Street subway to get Ryan line trains off the Loop elevated structure.  Before any of this can happen, though, the Urban Mass Transportation Administration must approve an environmental impact statement.  This is another one of the projects that took decades to bring to completion.  A high-speed subway line between the Loop and Sixty-Third Street was first proposed in the 1940’s.  In 1987 the project finally kicked off, and the new line was opened on October 31, 1993.


September 5, 1880 – A Chicago Daily Tribune editorial issues praise for an expanding lakefront “as a beautiful breathing-spot for the people” [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 5, 1880] after which it issues a warning.  The paper first observes, “The debris from the great fires of ’71-‘74 furnished the material to fill up the basin between the Illinois Central Railway and the old breakwater, and, after various vicissitudes, the space has been leveled off, with walks and grass plots it affords an inviting retreat on sultry evenings for all classes, the working people especially finding there much needed rest and recreation.  It is hoped in the not distant future that stately maples and elms will replace the starveling poles that now disgrace it, and make it one of the most beautiful, as it is the most inviting, resort that can be found in any city in the country.”  Disrupting the process of beautification, though, is a proposal to make the area a parade ground for the military. “No one will accuse THE TRIBUNE of opposing anything that can contribute to the comfort and efficiency of our military organizations,” the editorial ends, “but the use of the park for this purposes is entirely unnecessary … by common consent base-ball has usurped a part of this north end of the park (the organization that eventually would become the Chicago Cubs began its life, playing in an area that is now occupied by the peristyle on the southeast corner of Randolph Street and Michigan Avenue) … A strong remonstrance has been prepared, and it is hoped the Council will adopt it.  Let the park be kept forever for the people.  They need it, and it is their right that they should have it.”  The photo above shows the park, looking south, about ten years after the editorial appeared.


September 5, 1931 – The general manager of the Union Station Company, O. H. Frick, announces that work will soon begin on a $2,000,000 powerhouse that will supply heat to the new post office building, Union Station, and other railroad property along the river.   The new structure will sit midway between Taylor Street and Roosevelt Road on the west bank of the river.  The new building is necessary because the present Union Station heating plant sits on the site of the new post office, currently under construction.  Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, the same architectural firm that designed Union Station and the new post office, will also design the power house.  The specifications for the new structure are impressive, according to Frick.  He says, “The first unit will have four 1,600 horse power boilers, normal rating, with a maximum rating of 4,000 horse power each.  Its capacity will be 16,000 horse power.  The maximum length of the distributing system will be about one mile and will use both overhead and underground pipe systems, thoroughly insulated to reduce condensation losses.”  The Union Station Company, jointly owned by the Pennsylvania, Burlington, and Milwaukee railroads, projects the cost of the powerhouse at $2,000,000.

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