Friday, April 10, 2020

April 10, 1865 -- Lee Surrenders; Chicago Celebrates
April 10, 1865 – As a new day begins, the Dearborn Light Artillery fires a hundred guns … “their echoes waking up the sleepers who had not left their beds at the stroke of the bell.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 11, 1865]  The bell is sounded to wake citizens to the news that General Robert E. Lee has surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia, and war is all but over.  The Tribune reports, “The halcyon of peace – victorious peace – hovered o’er the head and the angel of prosperity was seen approaching with a balm for the healing of the nation.”  As the sun begins to rise, the streets of the city are full with bonfires burning, gunfire echoing, and flags flying in all quarters.  Business is suspended for the day, and schools are dismissed at noon.  A meeting of the committees of the Board of Trade is held at the Tremont House, ending in a resolution that a salute of 200 guns be made at 4:00 p.m. and the court house bell would be rung.  A hastily assembled parade is formed before the appointed hour, and thousands march up Lake Street to Franklin, down Franklin to Washington, east on Washington to Clark, down Clark to Van Buren, east on Van Buren to Michigan Avenue, and up Michigan to the starting point on Lake Street.  At one point the procession stretches nearly four miles.  In the evening “fireworks by the thousand and candles by the million” are set off with “scarcely a dark window … seen in the central part of the city.”  Bonfires blaze on every corner of Clark Street from Lake Street to Van Buren in the central part of the city.  The Tribune ends its coverage of the day with these words of hope for the future, “May the sun of peace now rising never know setting more.”

April 10, 2017 – The Chicago Cubs open Wrigley Field Plaza for the first time as Crane Kenney, the club’s president of business operations, says, “Our vision was to create a neighborhood center where families, fans, and visitors can find entertainment, unique and local food options and daily attractions in an urban park setting.” [Chicago Tribune, April 10, 2017] As part of the festivities the team hoists its World Series Champion banner at 6:15 p.m. prior to a 7:00 p.m. start of the first home game of the season against the Los Angeles Dodgers.  The Park at Wrigley fills a triangular spot just to the west of the ballpark between Clark Street and Waveland Avenue.  It features a two-story flagship Cubs Store that sells team gear and memorabilia.  It also includes a fountain and an artificial turf mini-field on which kids can run around and adults can soak up the Wrigley Field ambiance.  Plans are to use the area as an ice skating rink during the winter months.

April 10, 1992 – The U. S. Steel Group’s South Works closes its doors, ending a run at this location that goes all the way back to 1882 when the company began as the Chicago Railway Mill Company, and the mill that once produced steel beams for most of Chicago’s skyscrapers and jobs for thousands of area residents” ends its run [], leaving an uncertain future.  A U. S. Steel spokesman, Thomas R. Farrall, says, “We want to get value from the facilities.  The mill is one direction real estate and development is another direction.”  [Chicago Tribune, April 10, 1992] About 730 workers will lose their jobs with the closing.  Only 30 of those are eligible for pensions. Various development schemes have been hatched over the intervening years.  The latest one for the 420-acre site, released early in 2017 envisions a build-out in four phases, each phase contributing 3,000 low- and mid-rise buildings, built around a harbor and spread over 30 city blocks along the lake shore.  The area that the South Works covered is shown in the photo above.

April 10, 1955 -- The Chicago Daily Tribune editorializes about a $5,000,000 appropriation 
bill sponsored by State Representative William E. Pollack, a Republican from Chicago, to locate a four-year campus for the University of Illinois on the North branch of the Chicago River around California Avenue. "The university's budget requests have been cut drastically." states the editorial. "For the university to expand its operations and expenditures in Chicago when it can't get enough funds for the proper operation of the facilities that it now has would be the height of folly." [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 10, 1955] Ten days later Mayor Richard J. Daley would begin his first term as the Mayor of Chicago, and he would say toward the end of his career that helping to arrange for a branch of the University of Illinois in Chicago was his greatest achievement. The university's library is named for him. The photo below shows His Honor officially opening the new university on February 22, 1965, ten years after and over six miles south of Representative Pollack's proposal.
April 10, 1937 – Fire breaks out at 4:00 a.m. at the South Shore depot that sits alongside the Illinois Central Railroad station just east of Randolph Street.  It doesn’t take long before “flames burst through the roof of the structure, lighting up Michigan avenue in the vicinity of the public library, and attracting hundreds of motorists and loopgoers to the scene.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 11, 1937]  The fire brings a large response from the Chicago Fire Department as fire fighters keep their distance battling the 2-11 fire while crowds on the Randolph Street viaduct watch the heroics.  The twelve-year-old structure was first used by the Illinois Central but was turned over to the South Shore in 1931.  This is the second time a fire has gutted the depot.  In a May, 1934 fire, five fire fighters were injured.  In the above photo the station stands just to the right of the peristyle, which was torn down in February, 1953.  Today this is the northwest corner of Millennium Park.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

April 9, 1873 -- White Star Line Disaster ... Survivors Arrive in Chicago

April 9, 1873 – The Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad brings 35 survivors of the Atlantic disaster to Chicago, and representatives of the White Star Line convey the weary travelers, most of them Swedish, to the Hotel Denmark on Milwaukee Avenue and the Svea Hotel on Chicago Avenue “and other taverns of lesser note among the Scandinavian nationalities.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 10, 1873]  The S/S Atlantic was a 420-foot passenger ship that was launched in 1870, the second ship to be built for the new White Star Line.  She had a single propeller, along with four masts that could be rigged for sail.  She cast off from Queenstown, bound for New York, on March 21 with upward of 950 passengers aboard.  On March 31, with a storm threatening and the supply of coal running low, the captain headed for Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Sometime early in the morning of April 1 the Atlantic struck a rock and began to sink.  Although the masts of the ship and the rigging were still above water, chaos ensued in heavy seas on a pitch-black night as nearly a thousand people were, without warning, woken from their sleep.  545 people lost their lives. Of the 156 women and 189 children on board, only one 12-year-old boy survived the ordeal.  The Canadian government’s inquiry into the disaster concluded that the captain “in the management of his ship during the twelve or fourteen hours preceding the disaster, was gravely at variance with what ought to have been the conduct of a man placed in his responsible position.”  []  In Chicago a collection was taken up for the survivors of the shipwreck, and the sum of $2,000 (about $43,000 in today’s dollars) was collected.  With more survivors expected within the following week, each of the 35 men arriving on April 9 was given $20.  One survivor, an English crewman, tells his story of being “one of the last persons taken from the rigging … almost frozen when rescued.”  After the ship foundered he felt that the captain “could not be accused of anything after the accident happened; he acted with great bravery, and gave his orders with as much coolness and deliberation as if he stood on the deck of a sound steamer.”  He did, however, fault the captain for acting “rash and over-confident” before the disaster, believing that staying off the coast of Halifax until daylight would have allowed the Atlantic to make the harbor “without difficulty or danger.”

April 9, 1975 – O’Neil Ford, a Texas architect working on plans for a transformation of the river that flows through San Antonio into a natural people-friendly attraction, speaks at the second of the Bright New City lecture series in the First Chicago auditorium.  Ford outlines the project from its slow beginnings when “a few people started doing good things to the river banks,” [Chicago Tribune, April 9, 1975] to a place where “walks, terraces, and plantings line the banks, where 60,000 people show up on a weekend for an art show with really terrible paintings and where barges and paddle boats ply the waters.”  The architect concludes his lecture by saying, “If people can make the San Antonio River that way, they can make the Chicago River work, too … If something like that isn’t done within 10 years, it will be a disgrace.”  Well, it took a little longer than ten years, but the Chicago River is looking pretty good these days and is getting better with each passing year.

April 9, 1967 – Shortly after Mayor Richard J. Daley wins reelection to office by a lopsided margin of over a half-million votes, the Chicago Tribune sits down with him in a wide-ranging interview, an interview that remains timely.  Here are some particularly cogent excerpts from that interview …

Q.  Will Chicago’s growth and redevelopment in the next four years match that of your previous four years in office …

A.  You will see, in the central city where the Loop elevated will be gone and the subway completed.  There will be expansion to the east, such as new buildings over the Illinois Central property, and to the west along Madison street, where only the other day ground was broken for a 27-story building for the Illinois Bell Telephone company … Completion of the rapid transit in the Kennedy and Ryan expressways will bring a resurgence of people to park and ride on public transportation into the central city.  We are going to build the most attractive and best convention hall in the nation on the lake front as a new McCormick Place.  There will be more development like Carl Sandburg Village on the north, the many projects between Twenty-Sixth and Thirty-First streets on the south, and rebuilding taking place on south Michigan avenue.  You will see a modern airport in the lake and islands in the lake for recreation … The Auditorium theater is nearly completed and will be another important cultural asset to our city.

Q.  You are predicting the end of slums in the near future.  How can you be certain when there seem to be so much substandard housing in the city?

A.  We will have the buildings unsuitable to live in removed by December, 1967.

Q.  The comprehensive plan of Chicago deals primarily with the period until 1980.  Are you looking far enough ahead?

A.  Each generation should make a contribution to the improvement of the city.  Our greatest challenge in urban living is to provide those living in the high rises recreation off the lake front.

Q.  When will the Loop elevated be razed and the subway completed?

A.  The subway in Wells street must be completed first.  Then we can tear down the elevated.  We are seeing evidence of what this will do for the downtown with the number of land purchases taking place along Wabash avenue and Wells street … We will see the subway completed and the elevated down by the year 1971.

Q.  Will we have a third airport in your next term?

A.  We need a third airport and we must make a study to see if it is feasible to build one in the lake … If the report is favorable, I would expect we would have an airport in the lake within ten years.

Q.  Let’s discuss sports.  Where do we stand on the proposal for a new sports stadium for Chicago?

A.  There is no question that Chicago must have a sports stadium and it is a matter I will push … It must be a stadium that is built without any expense to the taxpayer.  We are going to have championship football teams in Chicago.  When the University of Illinois expands at Circle campus, it is going to win the Big Ten championship.

Q.  If you feel confident about your predictions today, where will the Cubs and White Sox finish this year?

A.  They will both finish in first place, of course.  We are going to have a subway series in Chicago.  This is a city of champions.

* * * * * * * *

Of course, it didn’t turn out exactly the way the Mayor outlined it so neatly. For the record, the Chicago White Sox finished fourth in the American League, only four games off the lead with a record of 89-73. The Chicago Cubs finished third, 14 games back, with a season record of 87-74.)

And … the Loop elevated line is still standing.

April 9, 1903 -- 800 members of the newly formed janitresses union celebrate a victory in
arbitration "waving gingham aprons and mop rags, and beating a tattoo on scrub pails." [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 10, 1903] The women had previously worked for 11 cents an hour until Mrs. Susan Horton, a worker in the Ashland Block at Clark and Randolph (where the Chicago Title and Trust building stands today) organizes the union, leads a process that formalizes demands, and presents them to building managers. After two weeks spent in arbitration, the women are granted an increase of seven cents to 18 cents an hour with straight time for overtime. They are to work for eight hours in the day and six hours if work is done at night. Work on Sundays and holidays will count as double overtime. The photo below shows Burnham and Root's Ashland Block, where the whole thing started.

April 9, 1901 – A. Montgomery Ward consents to the construction of the Crerar Library in the lakefront park – with conditions. George P. Merrick, Ward’s attorney, states that the conditions are “that the site be south of Jackson boulevard, that the lake front north of Lake Park place be incorporated into the South Park system and improved and maintained by the commissioners, and that the consent of the abutting property-owners be obtained.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 10, 1901]  The South Park commissioners response is that Ward is asking “what he knows cannot be granted.”  The president of the Board of Trustees of the Crerar Library is confident that Ward will come around to the library’s chosen site on the east side of Michigan Avenue between Madison Street and the Art Institute.  President Grosscup says, “The site we desire is the only one suitable and will be the only one considered … The land south of Jackson boulevard should be kept free of buildings … What we want is to place our building on a line with the Art Institute and so close to it as to be in harmony.”  The fight would drag on for over a decade before the Crerar Board of Trustees finally gives up, choosing a site on the northwest corner of Randolph and Michigan to construct its gift to the city.  For more information on the library you can turn to this entry in Connecting the Windy City.  The library, which today is located in Hyde Park at the University of Chicago, is shown above where 150 North Michigan Avenue currently stands.  Note that the old Chicago Public Library, today's Cultural Center, is seen at the left of the photo.  The St. Jane Hotel, as it is known today, originally the Carbide and Carbon building is up Michigan Avenue, the tall building at the right of the photo.  The second photo shows the site as it appears today.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

April 8, 1916 -- Lakeview to See Large Luxury Apartments Built on Surf

Britton I. Budd
April 8, 1916 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reveals that a major real estate deal has been finalized in which property on the northwest corner of Surf Street and Pine Grove Avenue has been sold to Joseph H. Buttas of the B. W. Construction Company for a reported $40,000.  It is anticipated that the two brick homes on the property will be torn down and that “an extra high grade twenty-four unit apartment building, to cost in the neighborhood of $175,000” [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 8, 1916] will be constructed on the site.  The apartments will contain four, five, six and seven rooms, each with two or three bathrooms.  At $400 a front foot, the price is a record for this area of Lakeview.  Today that building, which was finished in 1920, is the Britton Budd apartment building, a Chicago Housing Authority subsidized-housing complex “for active adults age 62 and older”.  []  The renovation of the original building has provided 173 studio and one-bedroom apartments on one of the prettiest streets in Lakeview.  The building’s namesake, Britton Budd, is an interesting figure.   Back in the day when Samuel Insull controlled nearly every mile of Chicago’s electric rail system, it was Budd who oversaw the system’s daily operations.  Apparently, Budd viewed his job in the same no-nonsense vein that he conducted his personal life.  One particular incident conveys the sense of the man’s approach.  When the Northwestern Elevated Railroad notified Wilmette officials that the line intended to extend its operations into the village, the city resisted, laying down strict conditions which Budd refused.  On April 1, 1912 he ordered a construction crew into the village at night, closed off Laurel Avenue and built an elevated platform on a spur track just south of Linden Avenue.  Later, when the Northwestern sought to build a permanent facility with a car storage yard, the city again refused.  Budd ordered the station and yard built, anyway.  []  When the Chicago Rapid Transit Company went into receivership on June 28, 1932, Budd, along with Chicago Public Works Commissioner Albert A. Sprague, were named receivers, and they oversaw the company’s rise from its Depression low-point.  Budd died in 1965 at the age of 93.  The Britton Budd Apartments are shown above.

April 8, 1990 – The Chicago Tribune reports that the 65-year-old architectural firm of Loebl Schlossman and Hackl has five major projects in various stages of construction in the city.  Donald Hackl, a partner who came to the firm in 1962, says, “No two Loebl Schlossman and Hackl buildings are alike.  They literally evolve as signature buildings, but the signature is that of the developer …  Each of these projects is done for vastly different clients.  We begin with an exploratory design procedure; we design from micro to macro. And we analyze all of the options, no matter how ridiculous they may seem.”  The five towers that the firm has in various stages of construction are: (1) Prudential Plaza II, a 64-story office tower with a retail base that lends a post-modern flair to the 1955 Prudential building and plaza just to the south; (2) City Place, a 40-story building at Michigan Avenue and Huron Street, with a distinctive red granite retail base, a Hyatt Suite Hotel committed to 347 suites on 21 floors and 13 floors of office space at the top of the building; (3) 350 North LaSalle, a 17-story tower north of the river across from the Reid-Murdoch building, designed to fit in with the First Chicago School of Architecture buildings in the area; (4) 633 St. Clair Place with a three-story base of green granite and a glassy tower of 25 stories rising above it; and (5) Fairbanks Center at Ohio Street, Fairbanks Court and Grand Avenue, a 32-story granite and glass office building with six levels of parking above and below ground.

April 8, 1947 -- Chicago park district board members approve the revision of a1931 agreement with the Saddle and Cycle Club at Sheridan and Foster, allowing the extension of Lake Shore Drive to the north. In 1931 the club agreed to give up its rights to the Lake Michigan shore. In exchange the park district agreed to build a lagoon for the club. In the 1947 agreement the club gives up the lagoon, which was never constructed. In return, the park district gives the Saddle and Cycle Club 235 feet of land extending toward Foster Avenue and 325 feet on Berwyn Avenue to the north. The club also will be permitted to extend its building lines 185 feet farther east on Foster and 275 feet east on Berwyn. The Saddle and Cycle Club began in 1895 and was literally a "country club". A Jarvis Hunt designed clubhouse was built in 1898, on a five-acre property that sat right on the lake at the southern border of Edgewater. Landfill and the extension of Lake Shore Drive barricaded the club from its lakeshore frontage, but it's still there on Foster Avenue today with about 500 families in its membership. The photo below shows the club in 1915, sitting as pretty as you please right on the edge of the lake.

April 8, 1935 – With pilot Victor Haganson in the cockpit, a Stinson monoplane takes off from the Chicago Airport, today’s Midway International Airport, and inaugurates overnight passenger and mail service between Chicago and New Orleans.  The plane lifts off at 8:00 p.m. and lands the following morning at 8:45 a.m.  The carrier, Chicago and Southern Airlines, has been flying the route during daylight hours for ten months.  The overnight flight, which allows passengers to arrive in time for the opening of the business day, becomes possible when the installation of light beacons along the airway south of St. Louis is complete.   Five passengers make the trip, among them two Chicagoans – R. J. Thain, president of the Federated Advertising Clubs of America and P. W. Kunning, trade promotion director of the Chicago Association of Commerce.  The two men bring a greeting from Mayor Edward Kelly to New Orleans Mayor T. Semmes Walmsley, along with merchandise that is placed on display in New Orleans store windows after they land.

April 8, 1890 – The Chicago River goes “downright crazy … its insane antics continuing until 11 o-clock in the forenoon. There were tidal waves every ten minutes over six hours.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 9, 1890]   At least a dozen ships are awaiting a departure to Buffalo, and as the first big wave hits at about 5:00 a.m. “… there was one of the liveliest movements in grain ever seen in Chicago.  Over a million bushels that the fleet contained bobbed up and down furiously.”  Three ships, lying alongside one another are carried a quarter-mile as lines snap or the timbers that moored them are pulled from the pier.  Each ship finds itself “solidly grounded” in front of the life-saving station. Most of the rest of the vessels are carried out into the lake “at a ten-mile pace” and were “knocked about like so many corks” until crews manage to let go the anchors and get enough steam up to maneuver them.  The first ship of the season to leave for Buffalo, the Harlem, is in tow of the tug T. T. Morford when a wave strikes her just as she passes the life saving station. The line to the tug parts “instantly” and she is carried “like a shot from a gun toward the north pier.”  The steel bow of the Morford cuts 17 feet out of the pier, but a return wave carries her free with little damage.  An agent of the New York Central Line, watching the tidal waves for two hours at the foot of Pine Street (today’s North Michigan Avenue) says, “I timed the current each way.  It was about five minutes from the beginning of each tidal wave until it ceased.  Then the current ran toward the lake for five minutes before the next wave came.  There is a good seventeen feet of water at our dock. When the waves were running in our boats, drawing fifteen and a half feet, would be lifted two feet.  Then when the current turned they would be aground. This would make a change every ten minutes of some five feet in the level of the river.”  All of the activity stirs up the river to such an extent that “all the accumulation of the winter [is] carried into the lake,” bringing the city’s water supply into jeopardy as the dirty water extends far beyond the breakwater toward the fresh water intake crib.  The above photo shows the heavy collection of ships in the river and harbor four years earlier.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

April 7, 1933 -- Prohibition Leads to a Chicago Full of Suds

Chicago Tribune Photo
April 7, 1933 – At 12:01 a.m. brewers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers begin distributing 3.2 percent beer to a very thirsty public.  The Chicago Daily Tribune reports, “… the beer flood was carrying on the crest the greatest single day’s outpouring of cash that Chicago business had experienced since the collapse of the stock market at the end of 1929.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 8, 1933]  City breweries have gone to triple shifts, and stores, groceries and restaurants are so busy that bookkeepers do not have time to calculate the day’s sales.  The Dutch Room in the Bismarck Hotel schedules ad extra 40 employees just to handle the noontime lunch crowd.  In Mandel’s department store detectives are called to preserve order.  A and P, National Tea, and Kroger grocery stores are out of suds by noon.  Hillman’s independent grocery goes through 2,300 cases.  The editor of Brewery Age, Joseph Dubin, warns that the brewing industry soon will be threatened with a shortage of barley malt.  He says, “Although brewers are protected to some extent by contracts, it is obvious that if the demand for beer approximates the pre-prohibition use there will not be enough domestic barley available.”  Barley production will need to be tripled to meet demand, Dubin says.  Oak Park and Highland Park are the only two suburbs that remain dry.

April 7, 1955 -- Walsh Brothers, Inc. is the low bidder at $334,995 on a contract to construct an arcade along the south side of the Auditorium building to clear the way for the Congress Street expressway's route to Grant Park. The 1889 building, designed by Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan, is the last of six buildings along East Congress Street to be arcaded. A part of the building that will be lost is a bar on the southeast corner believed to have been designed by Frank Lloyd Wright at the beginning of his career. The photo above shows the Auditorium as it existed in 1900. 

April 7, 1919 --  The Chicago Daily Tribune details the progress that is being made on the new Michigan Avenue bridge, noting that “The roof is off one-third of the big Kirk soap factory that for thirty years has been one of the premier hideosities and unseemly barriers of this town.  The walls are falling down from the fifth story downward.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 7, 1919]  Within a few days, the paper reports, “… it will be possible to look northward form the south bank of the Chicago river and the site of Fort Dearborn and catch a glimpse of the trees of Lincoln parkway beyond the water tower.”  Each day “hundreds of people” stop to watch the progress of the bridge, the long-awaited connection between the south and north districts of the city, “a colossal work that means the attainment of light, air, space, beauty, and convenience in a district which for a generation has been so squalid, so ugly and so inutile that it would have disgraced an Asiatic capital with 3,000 years of makeshift and short-sightedness and stupidity behind it.”  The article looks breathlessly toward the changes in Michigan Avenue that the new bridge will bring … “Not since the London county council, at a cost of millions of pounds, opened up Kingway, has any capital offered builders of vision such an opportunity to convert visions into superb realities.” Even before the bridge is finished nearly 70 percent of the property owners on Michigan Avenue north of the river have signed an agreement to exclude from the street “all business establishments incompatible with the status of a show street … which – so real estate experts agree – will fix the destiny of the street and save it from the long period of transition from an outworn residence street to a high class business street …”  The article concludes, “If you take that walk amid the derricks and the debris you will realize … how every dollar of the $13,000,000 you voted for North Michigan avenue development is going to come back tenfold to the community in convenience, beauty, and increased values … So take that walk.”  The above photo shows the Michigan Avenue bridge, today's DuSable bridge, nearing completion in 1919. 

April 7, 1910 – Chicago Police Chief LaRoy T. Steward tells managers of the city’s beaches that “Bizarre bathing costumes, whether for women or men, will be censored by the police” [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 8, 1910] at the city’s beaches in the coming summer.  Uniformed police officers will be stationed at the doors of every beach dressing room and will inspect the bathing attire of patrons as they come out to the sand.  “If they escape the initial inspection,” the Chicago Daily Tribune reports, “there will be other bluecoats along the shore to correct the oversight.  The chief says that special attention will be given to the men’s costumes, but women will also be closely monitored “lest there be a too marked inclination to follow objectionable styles permitted at some ocean beaches near eastern cities.”  Regarding the fashions of women bathers, the rules place “an official ban on the sheathe and directoire styles in feminine bathing costumes.  Bloomers cut to hang loosely must be worn under the skirt and must reach to the knees.  Sleeveless garments will not be allowed, although quarter length will be considered sufficient covering for the arms.”  Men must follow these directives … “The vanity of men of athletic mold is to be restrained when they display chests or shoulders by a too low cut of their bathing suits.  Also, the back must be well covered.  Trunks alone or the one piece bathing suits for men are not to be considered and the trunks of the two piece suit must not be unduly abbreviated.”  Chief Steward observes that his hope is that the city’s beaches will have the “reputation of being the best conducted in the country.”  The above photo shows the Diversey Parkway beach five years later in 1915 with everyone playing by the rules.

April 7, 1893 – Huge waves crash into the mouth of the river from the lake, tearing ships from their moorings “as if the heavy hawsers with which they were fastened had been merely bits of twine.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 8, 1893] At 2:30 a.m. the first wave sweeps into the harbor, and four vessels are ripped from their moorings, damaged heavily, and swept toward the lake.  A second wave follows the first, and The City of Venice is grounded at the life-saving station while the Mabel Wilson becomes stuck in the mud, broadside to the channel.  The A. P. Wright strikes the pier and then becomes stuck fast in the middle of the channel, stopping just 20 feet from the grounded Mable Wilson.  One lake captain says, “These sudden squalls in the lake cause a great movement of water in one direction.  They soon spend themselves and a reaction takes place.  Then a squall will come from an opposite direction to the first and make the swell larger.   Such a swell striking the shore at the mouth of a river will force the water into a huge wave which will carry everything before it.”  Boat owners from Lincoln Park to Racine, Wisconsin report their boats and boathouses are missing as the waves do damage all along the shore north of Chicago.

Monday, April 6, 2020

April 6, 2009 -- Olympic Evaluation Team Honored at Art Institute Gala

April 6, 2009 – As 40 protestors chant on the east side of Columbus Drive, proclaiming their opposition to Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympic Games, Oprah Winfrey enters the Art Institute for a reception, held in honor of the International Olympic Committee’s evaluation commission.  The evaluation team will be in the city for one more day before moving on to evaluate Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro and Madrid, the competitors in the effort to host the 2016 games.  Commission members are greeted by Mayor Richard M. Daley and a West Side dance troupe.  People on the guest list include Valerie Jarrett, United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Governor Pat Quinn, former U. S. House of Representatives speaker Dennis Hastert, Nadia Comaneci, Bart Conner and Jackie Joyner-Kersee.  A number of diplomats also are among the 120 guests, along with members of some of Chicago’s wealthiest families, including J. B. Pritzker.  It is a rip-roaring evening at the museum as guests were given a tour of the brand-new Modern Wing and entertained by Buddy Guy and Koko Taylor.  Appetites are sated with a menu created by Spiaggia executive Tony Mantuano.   On October 2 the winner of the competition is announced.  It doesn’t go well for the city … you can read about that day in this entry in Connecting the Windy City.  

April 6, 1968 – Four thousand national guard troops are on city streets and three more units are on alert as rioting and looting rage on the city’s south side.  Heavy sniper fire pins policemen and firemen working fires near Sixty-Fifth Street and Ingleside, and crowds continue to grow between Cottage Grove and South Park Avenues on Sixty-First, Sixty-Third, and Sixty-Seventh Streets.  Deaths attributed to the rioting stand at nine, and at least 800 have been arrested as hundreds are left homeless and thousands more have no electric power.  One of the worst areas of destruction is the area of Roosevelt Road between Kedzie and Homan Avenues.  Thirty buildings on the south side of the street are set on fire with 16 more on the north side torched.  The fire alarm that signals the beginning of the riots is turned in at 3:49 p.m. on April 5 after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. the previous evening. Eventually, 125 arson fires are reported with 210 buildings burned or heavily damaged.

April 6, 1931 – A new regional branch of the Chicago Public Library at 4536 Lincoln Avenue is dedicated at 3:00 p.m. with its opening to the general public anticipated within a week.  It will be the largest regional library branch in the city with more than 60,000 volumes and a capacity of up to 80,000 volumes.  The library will fulfill two functions: (1) to lend books to the area in the surrounding community and (2) to furnish books to other branch libraries in the north and northwest sections of the city.  Ms. Jessie Reed, formerly the librarian at the Sheridan branch, will supervise a staff of 32 assistants.  Books in 20 languages will be on the shelves with a large German collection. The library is named after Frederick Hild, the city’s chief librarian from 1887 to 1909.  Hild was the guy who oversaw the planning and construction of the city’s main library on Michigan Avenue, the city’s cultural center today.  Fifty years later the collection became too large for the original building, and a new library opened just up the street at 4455 North Lincoln Avenue.  The Hild building sat vacant for over ten years before the Old Town School of Folk Music made a deal with the city in the early 1990’s to renovate the structure, turning it into one of the most artistically vibrant spaces in Chicago. The above photos show the original Art Deco Hild Library and today's Old Town School of Folk Music.

April 6, 1889 – The new Germania Club is opened at the northwest corner of Grant and Clark Streets.  The Chicago Daily Tribune describes the building in this way:  “The lower stories are constructed of Bedford sandstone and the upper ones of pressed red brick, with terra cotta decorations.  A balcony 50 x 20 feet projects on the Clark street front, and a small gallery supported by graceful columns surmounts the entrance on Grant street.  At each end of the gallery stands a statue – one of Germania, the other of Columbia.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 7, 1889]  The new clubhouse is designed with a variety of uses in mind.  There are two bowling alleys, a billiard hall, a practice room for the club’s chorus, two “elegantly furnished” dining rooms that can be rented out, a 50 x 30-foot library, and a dining hall and a ballroom, each measuring 110 x 50 feet.  A thousand people attend the dedication with a banquet for 400 following it.  In a toast at the banquet, Germania Club member Harry Rubens says, “… this, the first German club-house in Chicago, would issue a current that would carry the Germans on to the realization of those ideals of citizenship in the United States, combined with a loving remembrance of the old fatherland, which all German societies had so long endeavored to attain.”  Preservation Chicago notes that the “origins of the Germania Club date to 1865, when a group of German Civil War veterans sang at ceremonies held at the Chicago Court House as President Lincoln’s funeral bier passed through Chicago en route to Springfield.  In the same year, this informal chorus of 60 singers performed a second concert to benefit wounded Civil War soldiers, and in 1867 staged a concert to benefit a Jewish orphanage.”  In August of 2018 developer R2 paid $10 million for the 129-year-old building. According to Crain’s Chicago Business, “R2’s purchase is partly designed to take advantage of a fully-leased ground floor retail portion with tenants including Starbucks, CorePower, Yoga and a preschool, among others.  But the potential upside for the three-story, 40,000 square foot building will come from repositioning its upstairs event space.”  [Crain’s Chicago Business, August 23, 2018]

April 6, 1878 -- The Chicago Daily Tribune launches yet another editorial about the conditions found on the South Fork of the South branch of the Chicago River, widely known today as "Bubbly Creek." "Throughout the mile or more of its course there is absolutely nothing to gladden its wretchedness or to hide its beggarly rags of muddy bank and oozing filth," the paper moans. "A dirtier, uglier, more wretched-looking body of water it would be hard to find . . . the Fork is worse than ever before, for the reason that its present state is as bad as could possibly be attained." And it got worse . . .