Wednesday, November 13, 2019

November 13, 1949 -- Chicago River Bridges Tie Up Traffic as Navy Flotilla Passes Below

Chicago Tribune

November 13, 1949 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports, “If all the Chicagoans who were angry with the navy yesterday had been put in one group, the gobs would have had the best shore battle they’ve had since a marine called a sailor a sissy in San Diego.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, November 14, 1949]  The occasion for fit of Windy City pique occurs a day earlier, a Sunday, when the U. S. Navy begins to move 14 reserve training ships from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.  The Chicago River is the first leg of the long journey, and, since the federal government has priority over the navigable waterway, Chicagoans are left to sit and wait as the ships, seven at a time pass through the channel.  To speed the operation all 16 bridges from Lake Shore Drive to Harrison Street are opened at the same time, staying open until the last ship sails through.  The movement of the first group of ships goes well with the Lake Shore Drive bridge, opening at 9:05 a.m. and closing 22 minutes later.  However, when the second group of ships sail beneath the Lake Shore Drive bridge at 12:05, the street traffic is much heavier and the delays much longer.  With the bridges open at Lake Street and Wells Street, Chicago Transit Authority trains run in endless circles around the Loop since there is no northern or western route that will take the trains away from downtown.  The ships tie up for the night at Western Avenue, continuing a journey that will take them to “mothball fleets” at Orange, Texas and Philadelphia.  The last ship sails beneath the upraised Clark Street bridge in the above photo.


November 13, 1913 – Unlucky thirteen, maybe … John T. Burke, an undertaker, leads four associates of the late George E. Mendun to the high bridge in Lincoln Park.  Mendun, a bartender when he was still breathing, leaves instructions that he be cremated and “his ashes be dropped from the high bridge in Lincoln park on a moonlit night.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, November 14, 1913] Thomas Creighton, to whom Mendun left his worldly goods, leads the party to the bridge, but as the five men are about to throw the ashes from the bridge, the police pull up.  The party is taken to the Halsted Street station where the police “hunt the law books to see what charge they would prosecute the men on.”  It turns out that there is nothing in the municipal code that would prohibit the act, so the bar tender’s friends return to the bridge for a final fling.  The High Bridge in Lincoln Park, also known as Suicide Bridge, is shown above.  The bridge was taken down in 1919.


November 13, 1998 – Members of the North Halsted Area Street Merchants Association, gay community leaders and city dignitaries come together to celebrate the completion of a project to create an identity for the street through a series of rainbow motif street pylons.  Mayor Richard M. Daley tells a crowd of about 200 people, “This has been a labor of love. I knew from the beginning it was about fairness – fairness to the community.  I am thanking you for what you (the lesbian and gay community) have done for North Halsted Street for many, many years.” [Chicago Tribune, November 15, 1998] After he speaks, the mayor plants a small bush in a concrete planter decorated with shrubs, flowers and a 25-foot-high iron trellis that carries the Roscoe Street name, one of 20 such installations that provide signage for the area.


November 13, 1948 – Nine trucks leave the South Chicago works of the Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company, carrying “monsters of steel and copper” [Chicago Tribune, November 14, 1948] to the University of Chicago, where the components of the school’s synchro-cyclotorn will be assembled at Fifty-Sixth Street and Ellis Avenue.  The shipment tips the scales at 300 tons with each of the 14 magnet coils, wound at the New York naval shipyard, measuring 20 feet in diameter.  The stainless steel vacuum chamber is 18 by 17.5 feet with a depth of 26 inches.  The atom smasher came together amazingly fast . . . it was only January 13 that the university placed an order with the Bethlehem Steel Company for the 4,140,000-pound magnet that would form the heart of the machine.  Above, the cyclotron structure awaits its component parts as 1948 comes to a close.

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