Thursday, October 10, 2019

October 10, 1975 -- Grant Park Proposal for "Lakefront Gardens for the Arts"

Chicago Tribune photo
October 10, 1975 – The Chicago Tribune editorializes favorably about a proposal, unveiled four days earlier, for a “Lakefront Gardens for the Arts” to be established where Millennium Park stands today.  On October 6, 1975 four civic organizations – the Metropolitan Housing and Planning Council, Friends of the Parks, the Open Lands Project, and the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects – proposed a 20-acre park that would replace a surface parking lot just east of Michigan Avenue between Randolph and Monroe Streets.  A portion of the park would be built over the Illinois Central Railroad’s commuter line while another section would bridge the extension of Columbus Drive, which was still under construction at the time.  Included in the project would be a 10,000-seat outdoor music bowl that would be surrounded by a grassy area that could seat an additional 20,000 people.  The plan is an alternative to a much more modest Chicago Park District plan that involves rehabilitating the dilapidated band shell in Butler Field east of the Art Institute.  The Tribune editorial clearly states the choice:  “A comparatively small but safe investment in the Butler Field band shell, which would put the Grant Park concerts on a stronger footing; or a bold attempt to make this orchestra a key to greater things, energizing Chicago’s cultural life, giving new life to the downtown area, turning an eyesore into a park, and giving the city the most sophisticated outdoor music facility of any urban area in the nation.”  [Chicago Tribune, October 10, 1975]  Despite the scale of the project the Tribune concludes, “… the dazzling opportunities offered by the Lakefront Gardens plan should be examined and exploited to the full.”  The plan clearly did not get a full examination.  Three days after the editorial is published the Chicago Plan Commission votes, 5-1, to approve a new band shell with bids to be submitted by November 15.  It would be 25 years before talk once again turned to the site proposed for the Gardens, but it was probably worth the wait as Millennium Park, when it opened in 2004, is as fine a plot of civic green space as one will find anywhere in the world.  The two photos show the way the area looked at the time of the 1975 proposal and the way it looks today.

October 10, 1975 –The federal office building at 230 North Dearborn Street is formally dedicated in a ceremony held in the Federal Center plaza at Dearborn and Adams Streets.  The building is named after John C. Kluczinski, who represented the Fifth District in the United States House of Representatives from 1951 until his death from a heart attack in 1975.  Four premier architecture firms in the city joined forces in the Federal Center design – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as chief designer; Schmidt, Garden and Erikson; C. F. Murphy Associates; and A. Epstein and Sons.  The 42-story office building is part of a complex of three buildings which are exquisitely unified.  According to the General Services Administration description of the plan, “The entire complex is organized on a 28-foot grid pattern subdivided into six 4-foot, 8-inch modules.  This pattern extends from the granite-paved plaza into the ground floor lobbies of the two towers, where the floors and elevator lobby walls are also granite.  The lines of the grid continue vertically up the buildings, integrating each component of the complex” []

October 10, 1909 – Former United States Assistant Secretary of State John Callan O’Laughlin, a Chicago Daily Tribune reporter, writes of the vice he finds in the heart of the city.  “I have been through the red light districts of Chicago,” O’Laughlin begins, “and I am filled with a great loathing.  I have seen your dance halls, where temptation to sin is offered in the form of lights, and music, and drink.  I have seen saloons which are but the ante-rooms to iniquity.  I have visited your vice quarters, and have been astounded at the open traffic that exists therein.  I have learned of how ‘white slavery’ is conducted in Chicago.  I have been told of women imprisoned behind bars and forced to do the will of their keepers.  I have learned of police service to prevent the escape of unfortunates.  The condition that exists is at once heart-rending and disgusting.  It is a blot upon the fair name of Chicago.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, October 10, 1909] O’Laughlin urges the new police chief to get to work, saying, “It is about time for action.”  He rails at the courts for the dollar or five-dollar fines they dole out, calling the fines “a small commission received by the city from the earnings of vice.”  He suggests that the city take a lesson from Japan, saying, “It can forbid dance halls to sell liquor and to be a rendezvous at all hours for young men and girls.  It can forbid the sale of liquor in any house where women are allowed.  It can forbid the sale of liquor in houses of ill repute.  It can punish as a vagrant or otherwise every man who runs such a house or who has any connection with it or with inducing women to become inmates.  It can stop the youth of the city, including messenger boys, from entering the districts.”

October 10, 1977 – Thousands of Chicagoans stand in the sunshine along a ten-block parade route as Vice-President Walter Mondale marches down State Street with Mayor Michael Bilandic and other officials in the city’s annual Columbus Day parade.  Clearly, the Vice-President has an eye toward moving one office higher as “Three times during the parade he distressed his Secret Service contingent by plunging into crowds to shake hands, trade pleasantries, and pat children on the head.”  [Chicago Tribune, October 11, 1977]  Before the parade Mondale attends a mass celebrated by John Cardinal Cody in Our Lady of Pompeii at 1224 West Lexington Avenue.  After a reception at the church, Mondale and other officials walk two blocks west on Lexington to place a wreath at the statue of Christopher Columbus.  Most importantly, Mondale announces on his arrival in the city that a bill signed earlier in the week by President Jimmy Carter will increase federal money for community development in the city from $69 million to $134 million. 

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