Friday, November 8, 2019

November 8, 1881 -- Carson, Pirie and Scott Moves to City Center

November 8, 1881 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company has completed a transaction that will allow the dry goods firm to open a store in the center of the city.  The firm will open a new establishment on the southwest corner of State and Monroe Streets in a five-story structure known as the Pike Block.  The paper observes, “A few years ago it would have been considered absurd to move so far south from the then business centre, but the steady progress of the retail dry-goods trade down State street indicates that Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co.’s new establishment will, before many months, be in the centre of the retail business section.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, November 8, 1881]  The firm plans to take possession of the building on May 1, 1882, paying an annual rental of $37,500.  Some businesses – a jeweler who occupies the ground floor, along with various “artists, physicians and others” have already found new accommodations for their businesses.  Carson’s will have to buy the remainder of the tenants out of their leases.  It would not be until 1904 that the firm would move into a new building a block to the north on the southeast corner of State and Madison Streets, today’s Sullivan Center, a structure opened by the retail firm Schlessinger and Mayer in 1899 and designed by genius architect Louis Sullivan.  The Pike Block is shown in the above photo.  Note the bottom right corner of the photo and the novel method of keeping the dust down in the streets at the city's center.


November 8, 1896 – The Chicago Daily Tribune runs a feature on the men who tend the bridges in the city.  “The life is not lonely,” the article begins, and it is “colored at times by excitement.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, November 8, 1896]  There are “times when a ‘three-master’ rakes all its spars against the bridge and butts down a section of a viaduct … a runaway horse and an open draw makes a combination that is not good for the nerves.”  The bridge tender “… comes to know the river Captains as teachers know their scholars and he knows the tugs and steam barges by their whistles as the hunter knows his dogs … some claim to be able to tell a bridal party from a funeral, and the fire engine and the patrol wagon have their own distinctive sounds.”  At night the bridge tender sits 40 feet above the river and listens: “Tramp roosts are common along the wharfs and warm nights fights take place.  The noise is hushed up in a hurry and the next morning something ghastly floats down under the bridge and is fished out with a boat hook.”  A bridge tender “bases his record on the number of lives he has saved.”  Most troubling are the men and women who attempt suicide.  A bridge tender at the Lake Street bridge, Martin Casey, has saved the lives of 17 people who had “become tired of their own company” in the 34 years he has swung the bridge. It was also Casey who was at work at the Lake Street bridge on the night of October 9, 1871. He “took long odds on burning the city’s bridge to save the … half-dressed crowd that rushed down Lake Street.  In spite of repeated orders to ‘open draw’ he refused to do so until the last human being was across.  Along with 50 volunteers, he broke into a nearby hardware store, appropriated pails, ropes, axes, and crowbars and “drenched the bridge with water, tore up the plank approaches and dug wide trenches at either end,” saving the first pivot bridge in the city.  All in all, “Chicago bridgetender’s experiences are snap-shots of river life.  The tramp, the wharf rat, and the river pirate are his neighbors.  The ‘floater’ and the suicide are frequent visitors.  The longshoreman and the bridge policeman are often his allies against common enemies.”  

November 8, 1858 – Item in the Chicago Press and Tribune for this date: “Ald. Wahl, of a special committee, reported in favor of measures looking to the abandonment of the present cemetery for burial purposes, and the selection of another site at a distance from the city limits.  An order was passed instructing the Mayor to appoint a committee to report upon the subject at an early day.” [Chicago Press and Tribune, November 8, 1858] So this is a start … the wheels of time turn slowly.  Six years after this two-sentence beginning, an ordinance is published that ends burials in Lincoln Park with the exception of burials in plots that have already been purchased.  It isn’t until 1869 that the city council passes jurisdiction over the Lincoln Park cemetery grounds to the Lincoln Park district commissioners.  At that point, although the exact dates are unclear, thousands of bodies are disinterred from the old cemetery and moved to other locations.  As this project begins there are 25,000 bodies interred in the Potter’s graveyard alone.  Not every grave was found … as recently as 1998 when the Chicago History Museum dug up part of the area for a new parking facility, the remains of 81 individuals were discovered.  The map of the old cemetery is superimposed on the modern city in the above photo.

November 8, 1922 – Chicago Cubs President William Veeck announces that the team will completely renovate its north side ballpark in order to increase its size to accommodate 32,000 fans.  The work will make it the largest baseball venue in the country.  Zachary Taylor Davis, the architect who designed the original park as well as Comiskey Park on the south side, has drawn the plans for the upgraded field with work to begin immediately.  At a cost of $300,000 bleacher sections will be added to right and left fields.  According to the Chicago Daily Tribune the plan will be as follows, “The present stand will be cut into three parts . . . the right and left field wings will be separated from the part which circles behind the home plate.  The circular piece will be moved about sixty feet toward the intersection of Clark and Addison streets.  The right field wing will remain in the same spot, while the left field wing will be rolled back and out so that the further end touches Waveland Avenue.  Then the two gaps will be built in.”  The field will be lowered three feet, allowing several rows of boxes to be added in front of the previous set of boxes.  The renovation does not include the addition of an upper tier.  The distance from home plate to the front of the seats in right and left fields will be 354 feet.  It will be six years short of a century before the park welcomes a victorious World Series team.  The grainy photo above shows the process of expansion in the winter of 1922.

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