Monday, November 11, 2019

November 11, 1897 -- Studebaker Reveals Plans for Extensive Remodeling of Chicago Office Building
November 11, 1897 – From South Bend, Indiana comes the announcement that the Studebaker buildings on Michigan Avenue “are to be immediately remodeled and transformed into a music hall and studio building of modern description, which will be ready for occupancy before May 1 next.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, November 12, 1897]  The interior of the building is to be completely rebuilt at a cost of between $300,000 and $400,000 in order to create two ground floor music halls, the largest of which will seat 1,500 people.  The upper part of the building will be converted into 250 offices and studios for “musicians, artists, publishers, architects, association rooms, etc.”.  A representative of the company states, “We will begin work remodeling the structure early next week … We have implicit confidence in the enterprise and think that it will make the location the musical center of the city.  There are now on Michigan avenue, not far distant form the place, the Public Library and the Art Institute, and the Auditorium is at our very door.  These have indicated the tendency, and it is but natural that artists and musicians should desire a neighborhood that is so quiet and beautiful and at the same time near the business center.  The advance of the elevated railway along Wabash avenue has aided in this, and now we feel that there can be no doubt of the success of such a structure as is contemplated here.”  Designed by architect Solon S. Beman, the Studebaker building, today's Fine Arts Building, opened in 1885 as a carriage sales building with manufacturing on the upper floors.  Beman took down the building's top floor in the 1898 remodeling and added three new floors.  It was designated as a Chicago Landmark on June 7, 1978.
November 11, 1962 –The public information officer of the Chicago District of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Thomas Hicks, says that signs have been posted in 13 Loop buildings that have been designated as fallout shelters.  The buildings include:

• The Chicago Public Library 
• 177 West Lake Street 
• 236 West Lake Street 
• 13 West Wacker Drive 
• 174 Randolph Street 
• 316 West Randolph Street 
• 314 West Washington Street 
• 310 North Michigan Avenue 
• 162 North Franklin Street 
• 160 North Franklin Street 
• 30 North Wells Street 
• 190 North Wells Street 
• 417 South Dearborn Street. 

The buildings will provide enough space for 6,200 people with “basement and upper floor shelter space to reduce radiation effects within the shelter to one-one hundredth of that outside,” according to Hicks. [Chicago Daily Tribune, November 12, 1971] These buildings are the first of 495 Loop buildings and 2,500 buildings in the city that have been selected as fallout shelters. Loop shelters will provide space for 2.3 million people while 4.7 million people could be handled in shelters in the rest of the city.  It is expected that the posting of signs on the shelters will be completed within four months.

November 11, 2005 – Wabash Plaza, the site of one of the nation’s largest Vietnam Veterans memorials outside Washington, D. C., is dedicated.  Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamen writes that the plaza, designed by Chicago architects Carol Ross Barney and John Fried of Ross Barney + Jankowski and assembled using $4.3 million in state and federal funds, “is not only more visible than its predecessor.  It is more stirring, infusing what might have been a mindlessly cheery waterfront park with the potent themes of tragedy and reconciliation.” [Chicago Tribune, November 6, 2005] Kamen sees the memorial as a beginning of a changing future for the river.  “The plaza forms the first link in a chain of waterfront parks and public spaces that may someday stretch along the south bank of the Chicago River,” he writes.  “Mayor Richard M. Daley’s big idea is to turn the riverfront, now a concrete no-man’s-land, into a kind of second lakefront.  He envisions an entire Riverwalk from Michigan Avenue to Lake Street … while hardly faultless, Wabash Plaza makes the right strides toward reaching that heroic end.”  The new memorial replaces a former Vietnam memorial located on Wacker Drive that was dedicated on November 11, 1982.

November 11, 1973 – Chicago Tribune architecture critic Paul Gapp reports on five projects contained in the proposed $15 billion Chicago 21 plan.  The first priority is to alter the Cabrini-Green public housing project and its surrounding area radically enough so that it will “serve as a pilot program for public housing thruout [sic] the city.”   [Chicago Tribune, November 11, 1973]  The second major project involves the construction of a Franklin Street “connector,” running just east of the Chicago River, connecting the Dan Ryan Expressway with the central business district.  Another major focus is the construction of a central area subway, something that would allow the destruction of the Loop elevated system.  Also in the plan is a proposal to create a vast new residential area for 120,000 people just south of the Loop on an unused railroad yard.  Finally, the plan urges the creation of new residential developments in other areas of the city with a special consideration given to residential conversions of downtown office buildings.  The above photo shows Cabrini Green as it existed at the time.  Drive north or south on Halsted or east and west on Division today, and you will see a far different scene.

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