Saturday, November 30, 2019

November 30, 1976 -- Art Institute dedicates Noguchi Sculpture

November 30, 1976 – Isamu Noguchi dedicates his outdoor sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago, a monumental piece standing on the east side of museum, facing Grant Park.  The fountain, commissioned to celebrate the bicentennial of the United States, is made up of two 40-foot pieces of granite and stainless steel, one horizontal and the other vertical and V-shaped.  The forms are set in a reflecting pool that will allow year-round operation.  The $250,000 piece is another sculpture that comes from the Ferguson Memorial Monument Fund.  Naguchi says, “I am always astonished that things work so well in Chicago when they don’t seem to elsewhere.  Chicago has always been a great place for me.  This is a very happy day in my life.” [Chicago Tribune, December 1, 1975] At the dedication it is also announced that the Chicago Park District has passed a resolution to place a monumental outdoor sculpture at the northeast corner of Fullerton Avenue and Cannon Drive.  Eventually Ellsworth Kelly would be chosen for that work.  In 1981 his Curve XII, known as his “I Will” sculpture was installed at the location named five years earlier.  

November 30, 1951 – At a meeting of the Irish Fellowship Club of Chicago at the Morrison Hotel proposals are put forth to bring the only Nazi submarine ever captured at sea to Chicago.  The plans have the United States Navy towing the U-505 from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where it is anchored, to Chicago, where it will be placed on a foundation near Buckingham Fountain.  Jack Foster, a naval reserve officer, tells the crowd that a Chicagoan, Admiral Dan Gallery, commanded the anti-submarine task force that captured the German U-boat and its top-secret codes and that makes Chicago the appropriate final resting place for the captured sub.  The head of the Irish Fellowship Club, Dunne Corboy, appoints an engineering consultant to head a committee that will study the proposal.  The new effort comes after the Science Museum in Hyde Park gives up its efforts, citing the prohibitive costs involved in the operation.  The U-505 finally comes to Chicago in September of 1954, as a result of a renewed effort on the part of the museum.  The photo above shows the U-boat just east of Michigan Avenue as it arrived it the city in 1954.

November 30, 1929 –Ground is broken for the new home of the Chicago Yacht Club at Monroe Street and the lakefront as 200 members witness the ceremony.  George F. Getz, the building chairman, says, “Here will stand the finest yacht club in the world.  Chicago will be proud of the structure.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, December 1, 1929] A telegram from the head of naval aviation, William A. Moffett, is read in which he “lauded the organization and congratulated the club on its activity.”  Judge C. C. Kremer, who holds membership number one in the club, is also introduced to the gathered crowd.  Actual construction is expected to start on March 1, and it is hoped that the club can be in the $2,500,000 building by January of 1931.  The new eight-story clubhouse is to replace an older building, built in 1902, that had sat at the foot of Randolph Street until it was moved to Monroe Street to facilitate the construction of the outer drive. Optimism quickly faded as 1929 turned into 1930, however – the timing couldn’t have been worse as the stock market crash in 1929 ended the plans for the new building.  In 1935 a display home at the Century of Progress World’s Fair, “The House of Tomorrow,” is moved to the site as a temporary clubhouse.  It isn’t until 1955 that construction is finally begun on the first section of the clubhouse on its present site at the foot of Monroe Street. 

Friday, November 29, 2019

November 29, 1895 -- Lake-Front Park Expansion Kicks Off

November 29, 1895 – A gang of 80 Italian laborers begins work at 7:30 a.m., digging the foundations of the western retaining wall that will screen the depressed railroad tracks of the Illinois Central Railroad along the lakefront.  This is the first work that will be done on the new Lake-Front Park, today’s Grant Park.  In addition, the Brownell Improvement Company has 20 teams at work hauling blue clay into the park while carpenters erect a shed for the storage of tools and cement.  One of the supervising foremen states, “We began work today in spite of the weather, and are working so as to show results.  Two hundred Italians will be at work here within ten days.  The Brownell company will double its teams.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, November 30, 1895]  This initial phase of development involves extending the park into the lake to the east of the railroad tracks, using street sweepings and dirt and clay taken from the excavation of basements of buildings being constructed in the rapidly growing city as well as fill taken from the digging of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.  The plan was to create a new lakefront park out of an area that the Chicago Daily Tribune called “a sandy waste in which only weeds grown and which only tramps inhabit.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, May 27, 1895]  After years of wrangling with the city, the Illinois Central agreed on August 28, 1895 to depress its tracks between Park Row, today’s Congress Street, and Monroe Street.  Clearly, the work began soon after.  The above photo shows the future park as it appeared around 1895.  The new Art Institute of Chicago, completed in 1893, can be see in the middle background.

November 29, 1910 – As President R. R. McCormick of the Board of Trustees of the Chicago Sanitary District removes the last shovelful of clay, a crowd of 1,000 residents of the North Shore cheer, and the waters Lake Michigan enter the North Shore Channel of the drainage canal at Wilmette.  There are no speeches; the day is raw with a cold wind out of the north, not great weather for the workmen standing knee-deep in the water, digging away at the dam that separates the lake from the channel.  By 10:40 McCormick, joining the workmen with a shovel, is able to admire the completed project as “the water licked over the disappearing clay obstruction and in another moment began sweeping through the flume.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, November 20, 1910]  On November 8, 1903 the Board of Trustees of the Sanitary District authorized an ordinance that provided for a channel through Wilmette and Evanston, intersecting with the Chicago River at Lawrence Avenue, a distance of a little over eight miles. The channel, costing close to $4 million and taking three years to dig, had two basic purposes.  One was to take reasonably clean Lake Michigan water and divert it through the channel, forming enough of a stream so that, when it reached the North Branch of the Chicago River, which had for a half-century been notorious for its stagnation and offensiveness, it would move the whole mess south toward the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.  A secondary purpose was to divert the sewage of Evanston, Wilmette and Winnetka toward the channel so that it would no longer flow directly into Lake Michigan.  With the completion of Chicago’s Deep Tunnel project, the North Shore Channel is a much more attractive place as the storm waters of the city, except in extreme situations, is diverted away from the channel.  Because there was a difference of over four feet between the North Shore Channel and the North Branch of the Chicago River, a man-made dam was created at what is now River Park at 5100 North Francisco Avenue.  In 2018 that dam, the last one in Chicago, was removed by the Army Corps of Engineers.  It is hoped that this will make the North Shore Channel an even richer environment with increased biodiversity.  The Chicago Park District’s manager for the project, Lauren Umek, says, “So the fish are coming, swimming upstream – they hit that concrete wall and they’ve got nowhere to go.  They can’t go up the North Branch of the Chicago River.” []  The $14 million removal of the dam is part of a much larger project known as the River Riparian Connectivity and Habitat Improvement plan which has the goal of making “Chicago’s rivers and canals cleaner, more inviting and functional.” []  The above photo shows the channel nearing completion in June of 1910.

November 29, 1935 – Robert Dunham, the president of the Chicago Park District, announces that a new highway will be built to serve as a north side connection with the bridge across the Chicago River, currently under construction.  Dunham says that plans are to begin the new highway in December with the section from Ohio Street to North Avenue completed by the time the Lake Shore Drive bridge across the river is finished.  

November 29, 1902 – Explosions shatter the Swift and Company’s refrigerating plant at Forty-First Street as a boiler explodes, killing 13 and injuring 26. The huge refrigeration building’s boiler room contained 11 boilers, and one of the five boilers on the north side of the room apparently boiled dry and exploded, lifting the majority of the boilers off their bases.  The explosion occurs at 10:00 a.m.  According to the Chicago Daily Tribune, “One boiler was lifted thirty feet in air and carried over the two story storage room just west of the boiler room.  As it dropped to the earth it carried away the west wall of the building, leaving an opening through which fifty frightened employees of the storage room rushed to safety . . . Another boiler was blown fifty feet to the north, where it collided with a freight car.  A third ended its flight thirty-five feet eastward, after it had penetrated a brick wall and brought death to two workmen who were excavating for a sewer along the boiler room wall.”

Thursday, November 28, 2019

November 28, 2017 -- Johnson Publishing Company Headquarters Sold

November 28, 2017 – The Chicago Tribune reports that the former Johnson Publishing headquarters at 820 South Michigan Avenue has been sold with developer 3L Real Estate paying more than $10 million for the 11-story building, which was designated a Chicago Landmark three weeks earlier.  Columbia College intended to use the structure as a library and student center when it purchased it in 2010, but plans never moved forward on the project.  The building will be converted into studio and one-bedroom apartments with a few two-bedroom units in the mix.  Rents are expected to range from $1,200 to $2,700 a month.  Completed in 1971, the International Style building was designed by John Warren Moutoussamy, an architect who became the first African American partner in a large architectural firm, Dubin, Dubin, Black and Moutoussamy.  []  Moutoussamy had studied at the Illinois Institute of Technology with Mies van der Rohe.  3L Chief Executive Officer Joseph Slezak says of the development opportunity, “We love being able to preserve the story of a building as much as the building itself, and this building, with the Johnson legacy, is as unique an opportunity as we’ve had to step in and create another chapter.”  []
November 28, 1886 – At a time when good watches were expensive and poorly made watches could not be relied upon to deliver the time accurately, the Chicago Daily Tribune runs a feature on the six great clock towers in the city, each of which allowed the average citizen access to the correct time of day.  The first of these is found at LaSalle Street and Jackson Boulevard where the Board of Trade stands.  The clock is “the largest and strongest clock in the United States and probably any in the world.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, November 28, 1886] Each of the four dials is eleven feet in diameter.  “During the first few months,” the Tribune reports, “the Board of Trade clock got off time by one-third of a second and nearly broke its maker’s heart, though none of the Board of Trade people ever discovered the dreadful discrepancy.” There are two clock towers on the North Side, one at Clark and Division Street, above the offices of the North Chicago City Railroad, and the other at the Chicago and North Western Railroad depot.  The paper says that the C & NW clock, “ … is useful to let one know when he is too late for his train, so that he need not break his neck down the stairs in the vain endeavor to be in time.  Of course it is also useful to let him know if he has time to warm himself in an adjacent groggery before the train starts.”  Four dials, nine feet in diameter, make up the clock at the Polk Street depot, a clock that “is said not to have altered a second since it was put up.”   The Rock Island Railroad terminal has a clock tower “but at present it is so crowded by new sky-scraping buildings and overshadowed by the big Board of Trade clock that it is almost ashamed to show its face.”  But this is the only clock to use American-made glass on its face.  All the other tower clocks use glass manufactured in France. The clock at Seipp’s Brewery, located at Twenty-Seventh Street and the lake, is the only one located near a residential community, which might pose a problem for “the husband who gets home at 4 a.m. and wants to make his wife believe it is not yet midnight has no show, for she is sure to pull back the window-curtains and look what time it is by ‘Seipp’s Tower.’  Many wise husbands have moved the bedroom to the other side of the house for that very reason.”  The above illustration shows the C & NW depot just to the north of the river on Wells Street and its imposing clock tower.

November 28, 2008 – Deutsche Bank Trust Co. Americas files suit against developer Donald Trump in the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, claiming that Trump owes the bank $40 million after defaulting on a $640 million construction loan for Chicago’s Trump International Hotel and Tower.  This will be the second suit filed within a month concerning the 92-story tower on the river.  In October Trump had filed his own suit against Deutsche Bank, “seeking to excuse a repayment of more than $330 million due on Nov. 7 and extend the construction loan for an unknown period of time because the global economic crisis was a ‘once-in-a-lifetime credit tsunami.’” [Chicago Tribune, December 1, 2008] The developer also asked for $3 billion in damages.  The bank’s suit “calls for Trump to make good on the personal payment guarantee he signed in February 2005 for the building if he didn’t make the loan payments on time.” Deutsche Bank alleges that Trump missed a $330 million payment on November 7, a date that had already been extended previously.  By March of 2009 the bank and the developer decided to make nice with one another and suspend the lawsuits with just a couple of months left before the expected completion of the tower.  “I think it’s going to sell nicely,” says Trump.  “we’re doing better than anybody else in Chicago.” [Chicago Tribune, March 4, 2009]

November 28, 1914 -- The completion of Sheridan Road is celebrated as members of the Sheridan Road Improvement Association start from the Congress Hotel and drive the new road to Highland Park, where they join with the Highland Park Business Men’s Club.  The end of the road is at Forest Avenue in Highland Park, and from a raised platform at that point Highland Park Mayor F. P. Hawkins officially opens the road to the public.  W. G. Edens, the chairman of the Illinois Good Roads Committee, then accepts the new road.  The dignitaries then proceed to the Moraine Hotel where they enjoy a luncheon.  Plans are to extend the road to the Wisconsin border in the coming years.  The statue of General Phillip Sheridan, pictured above, stands at the intersection of Belmont and Sheridan, about a half-mile north of the point where Sheridan Road begins.