Monday, December 23, 2019

December 23, 1902 -- Child Labor Law Violations Uncovered by City Inspectors

December 23, 1902 – A city inspector drops by the factory of the American Can Company on Superior Street and finds 41 children under the age of 16 working the machinery at the plant with “few of the machines operated by the children … properly protected to prevent injury.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, December 24, 1902]  Inspection of another plant operated by the same firm at Thirty-Ninth and Stewart Avenue turns up 30 children under the age of 16 working for periods “longer than ten hours a day.”  Eight of these children are under the age of 14.  Although Illinois had passed legislation by 1900 that made it illegal for children under the age of 14 to work for wages, it wasn’t until 1916 that the United States Congress passed the country’s first federal child labor law.  However it only covered an estimated 150,000 children “working in mines, quarries, canneries, mills and factories as well as in other businesses engaged in interstate commerce.”  The law ignored the estimated 1,850,000 children working in “home-based businesses, the streets, and the fields.”  In any event the United States Supreme Court declared the law unconstitutional in 1918.  It would not be until 1938 that Congress would pass a child labor law that would be upheld by the Court.
December 23, 1894 -- The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that “There has just been erected in Graceland Cemetery a monument that is probably the most unique as well as one of the most notable in the country.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, December 23, 1894]  The monument to which the paper refers is the stone marking the grave of architect John Root.  Pointing out that the funeral service for the great architect, three years earlier, was of “the utmost simplicity,” the paper observes that “… it seemed fitting that the stone that should mark his earthly resting-place should express to the utmost the simplicity of art and its traditions.”  A Celtic cross, designed by Daniel Burnham, Charles Atwood and Jules Wegman, marks Root’s grave site.  The plans “called for red Scotch granite of even color and material, without a flaw, and the carving to have the true archaic weather-beaten appearance as seen on the old Celtic crosses in Scotland and Ireland.”  The design is executed in Scotland as “It was deemed improbable that the peculiar character and feeling sought for in the design could be brought out by any stonecutter in the United States.”  In the center of the cross, surrounded by “the motif by which the Druids symbolized immortality” are the outlines of the entrance to the proposed art institute, “the drawings of which were probably the last which Mr. Root executed.”  It is a monument to a man “who builded his monuments in brick and stone in life, and who, now gone, has his place in the history of American architecture and the arts for all time, his grave marked by a simple cross, yet covered in time-defying granite.”

December 23, 1907 – The permit for a new La Salle Hotel that will stand at the northwest corner of LaSalle and Madison Streets, is taken out.  Estimated to cost $2,800,000, the permit for the hotel is the largest issued in 1907.  The permit itself cost $2,400.50.  Construction of the hotel is expected to begin sometime between March 1 and May 1 with an estimated 15 months required to complete the 22-story structure.  When finished, the new La Salle Hotel will be the largest hotel building in the world.  The hotel stood until 1976 when it was demolished to make room for the Two North LaSalle office building.

Governor William Stratton
December 23, 1954 – Illinois Governor William Stratton gives formal approval to the engineering report that will impact over 320 miles of high speed highways in northern Illinois, new “super highways” that may end up costing as much as $458,085,000.  Upon the governor’s approval preparations begin for the sale of $390,000,000 worth of revenue bonds covering the cost of two of the new highways and part of a third.  The proposed highways include:  (1) a “Tri-State” route, extending from near the Indiana border to a point just south of the Wisconsin state line; (2) a route heading from the Edens expressway, completed in 1951, as it begins in Chicago and continues northwesterly to an area near Rockford; and (3) the first section of an east-west route beginning at the proposed Tri-State route and continuing to Aurora.  It is hoped that the road-building projects will be finished by 1957.

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