Monday, October 7, 2019

October 7, 1891 -- Ulysses S. Grant Statue Unveiled

jbartholomew photo
October 7, 1891 – The equestrian statue of General Ulysses S. Grant is unveiled in Lincoln Park as a quarter of a million people come together for the ceremony to honor the commander of the Union Army who brought the Civil War to a close.  A late morning rain falls throughout the first part of the day, but, just as 20,000 veterans of the Civil War begin their parade to Lincoln Park, “the sun burst forth and the clouds rolled toward the horizon.  Then the gray and the blue blended in the skies even as at the close of the war they blended forever in the heaven of Grant’s heart.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, October 8, 1891]  Soon after Grant died on July 23, 1885 the decision was made to erect a fitting memorial to him.  People from all over the nation, 100,000 strong, responded to the call, contributing “dimes, quarters, and dollars to commission a monument in his honor.”  []  Chicago architect William Le Baron Jenney recommended that the statue be placed atop an impressive Romanesque arched base, a structure on which the 18-foot equestrian sculpture of Louis T. Rebisso stood, wrapped in a shroud of two large American flags on Dedication Day.  The day of the dedication is chosen to coincide with the annual reunion of the veterans of the Army of the Tennessee, the troops that made up Grant’s first major command in late 1861, and on this day “Wherever there was any public place there were gatherings of men whose names are part of history.”  Mrs. Julia Grant, staying at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Potter Palmer, comes down to the Palmer House before the ceremony to meet the survivors of her husband’s first regiment, the Twenty-First Illinois Infantry.  The veterans gather around her “and she took each one by the hand, and each one gave his name.  It was not a meeting for any sort of effect.  It was more of a communion.”  Somewhere near 4:00 p.m. the parade of 20,000 men that had started near the Auditorium Theater reaches the southern boundary of the park.  Offshore, boats of all descriptions – lake steamers of the Goodrich and Lehigh Valley lines, private yachts, and government cutters – toss on an unsettled lake.  The ceremony is brief, consisting of an opening prayer and the presentation of the monument to the Lincoln Park Commissioners, followed by the unveiling.  Chicago Mayor Hempstead Washburne accepts the statue on behalf of the people of the city, and Judge W. Q. Gresham, former United States Postmaster General and Secretary of the Treasury, delivers an oration before calling Rebisso, the sculptor, to the dais.  Mrs. Grant is also called to the speaker’s platform, but she is overcome with emotion and “She wept before the old soldiers who had called her out and they bowed their heads, while not a few were visibly affected.”  Long before the last contingents of the long parade reach the park, the ceremony ends and 200,000 people or more head home.

October 7, 2012 –The Chicago Tribune reports that funds left over from the city’s hosting of the NATO summit will “drive a $7 million city investment in parks, building boathouses along the Chicago River and other recreational projects.” [Chicago Tribune, October 7, 2012]  The cost of sponsoring the NATO summit on May 20 and 21 came in under budget and close to six million dollars of private and federal funds remain.  The Chicago Park District will use capital funds to fill out the last million in the improvement projects.  Mayor Rahm Emanuel says that Riis Park in the Belmont Central neighborhood will be renovated, along with the Jackie Robinson, Cornell Square, Pleasant Point and Bronzeville-Buckthorn Parks.  Two million dollars will go toward construction of four boathouses along the banks of the Chicago River – at River and Clark Parks on the North Side, at the South Side’s Ping Tom Park and near the 2800 block of South Eleanor Street.  A proposed 2.65-mile elevated trail through the Northwest Side, today’s “606,” will get $2 million, and a half-million dollars will go to expanding the Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks program.  The WMS Boathouse at Clark Park, designed by Studio Gang, is pictured above.

October 7, 1984 – “Paradise Lost,” screams the headline of the Chicago Tribune the day after the Chicago Cubs lose 6-3 to the San Diego Padres in the fifth game of the National League Championship series.  “I’ve never been a good loser,” says General Manager Dallas Green. “I really feel bad for our guys and all the Chicago fans.  We had them by the throat but we just didn’t go for the jugular.  It all came down to one ballgame and we just didn’t get the job done.  We played good until the last three games of the season.” [Chicago Tribune, October 8, 1984] The Cubs are ahead by a run until the disastrous seventh inning.  Carmelo Martinez leads off with a walk, and Garry Templeton sacrifices him to second.  Tim Flannery, a pinch-hitter, then hits a ground ball to first for a sure out, but first baseman Leon Durham cannot field the nine-hopper and Martinez scores to tie the game.  Three more runs cross the plate before the Cubs retire the side, and the damage is done.  The loss is particularly painful because in the first two games of the series, played in Chicago, the Cubs outscored the Padres 17-2.  Then the trip out west saw the Padres come back to win three games in a row and clinch the championship.  It was nearly dark in a Chicago suburb when I wordlessly turned off the television and left my wife and two daughters, aged 7 and 5.  A mist was falling outside as I left the house at dusk and walked in the cold rain, one more walk to shake off the bitter disappointment that being a Cubs fan had brought through the years and would continue to bring until 2016.  If you can bear to look, the Game Five boot can be found here.

October 7, 1947 -- The Chicago Tribune uses its editorial page to support a movement afoot in the city to change the name of Balbo Avenue, the former Seventh Street.  “It is disgraceful,” the paper observes, “to have a Chicago street named for a man who represented and helped found a system of government that Americans despise.”  The city council fails to take action on a petition requesting a name change for the street because that petition did not have a sufficient number of signatures from actual property owners on the street, many of whom were members of trusts and estates scattered throughout the country.  The paper ignores this technicality, telling the city’s aldermen to “change the name of Balbo Drive immediately,” also suggesting that the street might be renamed after Lieutenant Commander John Waldron who died at the command of Torpedo Squadron 8 in the battle of Midway.  Seventh Street had been renamed in honor of Italo Balbo, the commander of a squadron of 24 seaplanes that flew from Rome to Chicago in 1933 to appear at the Century of Progress World’s Fair that summer.  More information about the Balbo mission can be found here.  The renamed Seventh Street is not the only reminder of the Italian fascist aviator.  The Balbo Column, pictured above, was a gift from Balbo in 1934.  It stands not far from Soldier Field.

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