Friday, November 22, 2019

November 22, 1960 -- Marina City Begins

November 22, 1960 – Between 600 and 700 people gather in a circus tent on a three-acre site between Dearborn and State Streets on the north side of the Chicago River to celebrate the beginning of construction on Marina City.  A highlight of the event comes when William L. McFetridge, president of the Marina City Building Corporation, speaks by telephone with President-Elect John F. Kennedy in Palm Beach.  Before the assembled crowd can listen to the conversation, broadcast over loudspeakers, a woman who answers the phone says she will have to go outside and fetch Kennedy from the beach.  Filling time, McFetridge “reminisced about the times he used to swim in the Chicago river long before he ever contemplated building 60 story apartment towers on its banks.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, November 23, 1960]  Kennedy and other speakers praise the Building Service Employees’ Union, backer of the project, for its effort “to bring city living to the downtown area and halt the flight to the outskirts.”  John L. Waner, the director of the Federal Housing Administartion, which has insured $17,819,000 of the $24 million project, tells the crowd it is seeing the results “of the hard and tough fighting that has taken Charles Swibel more than a year to put the financing together on this project through F.H.A.”  The project came perilously close to ending before the F.H.A. decided that it would permit insurance on apartment buildings in commercial areas.  The top photo shows the area along the river in the early 1950's.  Marina City will fit in the exposed railroad yard between the lowest two bridges in the photo.  The second photo shows the area as it appears today.

November 22, 1930 – The new bridge that carries Roosevelt Road across the Chicago River’s South Branch is dedicated with Mayor William Hale Thompson, leaving Passavant Hospital where he is recovering from surgery, to take part in dedicating the $3,000,000 span. A parade to the bridge begins at Clark Street and Wacker Drive and heads south to the site of the dedication where a few hundred people are gathered.  Thompson remains in his car as he makes a speech in which he “reviewed the public projects of his administration, called attention to his plans for a new conference here in January on flood control and waterways development, assailed The Tribune as the city’s worst enemy, blamed the federal government and the railroads because it required 12 years to complete the Roosevelt bridge project, and informed the group that he was on his way back to health to work for them in the future as he had in the past.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, November 23, 1930]  The top photo shows the bridge nearing completion with the old swing bridge that it replaced still standing to the left.  The photo below that shows the bridge and the surrounding area as it appears today.
\November 22, 1905 – Marshall Field, Jr. is discovered, shot through his left side just below the ribs at 5:30 p.m. in the dressing room of his residence at 1919 Prairie Avenue.  He is rushed to Mercy Hospital where Dr. Arthur Dean Bevan attempts to save his life.  Field lingers for five days before succumbing to his wound on November 27, “… conscious until the last few minutes … his last act before he closed his eyes was to smile encouragingly at his wife.” [Tebbel, John. The Marshall Fields: A Study in Wealth.  E. P. Dutton and Co., 1947] The circumstances of his death are cloaked in shadow.  Some say that he was preparing for an upcoming hunting trip and accidentally discharges a weapon while cleaning it, but accounts at the time indicate that the weapon was almost impossible to discharge accidentally. A report given by the doctor who responded to the shooting at the Field mansion says that Field told him he had no idea how he came to have been shot and called the wound an accident.  Yet, reports suggest that, given the nature of the wound, it would have been unlikely for the shooting to have been an accident.  Rumors also circulate that Field had been shot in an altercation at a club run by the Everleigh sisters on Dearborn Street and carried to his home, just blocks away.  On December 1, a coroner’s jury returned its verdict, the official conclusion to the investigation.  The decision reads, “We find that Marshall Field Jr. came to his death from paralysis of the bowels following a bullet wound in the seventh intercostal space, about four inches to the left of the medial line, and from the testimony presented find that the said paralysis resulted from a bullet wound accidentally inflicted by a revolver in the hand of the deceased at his home, 1919 Prairie avenue.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, December 2, 1906] The Field home, where the only son of the great merchant suffered his fatal wound, still exists today, divided into a number of upscale residential units.  It is pictured above.

November 22, 1936 – Ernest Robert Graham dies at his home at 25 Banks Street at the age of 68, his death attributed to overwork.  At the age of 16 Graham went to work for his father in Lowell, Michigan, as a carpenter and mason.  Of this early labor he later said, “Honest toil never hurt anyone regardless of age.  My work with the trowel stood up with the best of them.  These were the days when a bricklayer laid three thousand bricks a day.”  [Architecture and Planning of Graham, Anderson, Probst and White – 1912-1936. Chappell, Sally A. Kitt]  By the age of 20 he had earned degrees from Coe College and the University of Notre Dame.  At that point he came to Chicago and entered the employ of Daniel Burnham, drawing plans for the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893.  When Daniel Burnham died in 1912, Graham and three other architects took over the firm, going on to design some of the great second-generation buildings in the city.  They include the Wrigley Building, the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium, the Merchandise Mart, 135 South La Salle, Union Station, the Pittsfield Building, and the main post office.  Services for the architect take place at the Fourth Presbyterian Church on November 24, after which he is interred in Graceland Cemetery.

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