Monday, December 16, 2019

December 16, 1954 -- Fort Sheridan Announces Million Dollar Housing Project


December 16, 1954 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that a 100-unit housing project for enlisted men and officers has been started at Fort Sheridan.  The $1 million project will be composed of seven buildings, each housing between 14 and 18 families.  The development is expected to be completed in July.  The two-story row houses will feature a brick veneer on the first floor and asbestos siding on the second.  They will be built on both side of Nicholson Road, a street named after Colonel William Jones Nicholson, who, in 1915 and 1916, presided over an initiative to instruct military-minded civilians in the Citizens’ Military Training Camp at Fort Sheridan.  The camps were a reaction to the acknowledgement that the United States Army was undermanned and could have little effect in turning the tide of World War I.  In the camps “enlistees,” primarily college educated members of the upper class, were put through a fitness regimen and trained to march and shoot.  As an aside, between the ages of 10 and 11 I lived in one of the homes in the Nicholson Road development in the early 1960’s when my father was stationed at Fort Sheridan.  I spent a good deal of time with my mates exploring the ravines that criss-crossed the base.  When the government deactivated most of the fort in the 1990’s and the process of historic preservation began for nearly a hundred buildings, these hastily erected quarters were the first to be bulldozed.  The area now is part of the Lake County Forest Preserve.  The quarters on Nicholson Road are shown above at just about the time I lived there.
December 16, 1980 – Mayor Jane Byrne defends a proposed city ordinance that she submitted to the City Council in the preceding week that would take control of the city’s Cultural Center from the Chicago Public Library Board, transferring it to a “small arts agency run by one of her appointees.” [Chicago Tribune, December 16, 1980]  Under the proposal the “supervision, care, and custody” of the Cultural Center, which has attracted 1.2 million annual visitors since its restoration in 1977, will be transferred to the Council on Fine Arts. Upon hearing of the proposal, Library Board member Stanley Balzekas says, “I’m in a state of shock over this … Where is this going to stop?  Are they going to take the branch libraries away from us next?  The board has never been contacted about any of this.  We learn about it in the papers.”  This brouhaha comes on the heels of the mayor’s attempt to fire and then deny a pay raise to the deputy library commissioner, a cousin of State’s Attorney Richard M. Daley.  Today the former central library for the city is overseen by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.  It presents “hundreds of free international, national, regional and local artists, musicians and performers, providing a showcase where the public can enjoy and learn about the arts.”  []

Ernest A. Grunsfeld, Jr.
December 16, 1941 – Just nine days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Palmer House hosts a meeting of 550 architects at which 339 members of the American Institute of Architects agree to do full time work in support of the war effort with 241 members saying that they would be willing to go wherever they are assigned.  Ernest A. Grunsfeld, Jr., a member of the Institute’s executive committee, says, “The idea had its beginning at a meeting called to discuss air raid shelters.  We recalled that in the last war technical men rushed about in an effort to aid, and many ended by accepting any job to get in the swim rather than fitting in a position where they would do the most good.  So we set out to find what jobs the government needed done and what men were available to do them.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, December 17, 1941] Participants at the meeting also decide to open an office in the city to place architects where they can do the most good. 

December 16, 1942 – It is interesting to note how many things that we take for granted today begin as strange, curious, or contested, often taking years before they find acceptance.  One such item went to court on this date in 1942 as the City of Chicago, upon failing to get a permanent injunction against milk sold in paper cartons from Circuit Court Judge Benjamin P. Epstein, went immediately to the Illinois Supreme Court with its suit.  The case hinged on an interpretation of a 1935 city ordinance requiring that milk be sold in “standard” containers.  The United States Supreme Court had already sent the case back to Illinois, saying that it was a matter for the state courts to decide.  The case involved milk sold in single-serving containers, and in a 19-page opinion Judge Epstein ruled that the state legislature’s milk pasteurization law, passed on July 24, 1939, took precedence over the city’s law and permitted milk to be sold in the cartons.  “While the state legislature desired to preserve in the city the right to regulation,” Epstein wrote, “it did not intend to give to the city the right to prohibit that which the state permitted.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, December 11, 1942]  Interesting case . . . a mystery today why city officials would initiate a case, follow it through the local court, the Illinois Supreme Court, the U. S. Supreme Court, back to the local court and again to the state’s Supreme Court over a milk carton, all of this in the middle of wartime.

No comments: