Sunday, October 11, 2020

October 11, 1969 -- S.D.S. March through Loop, 105 Arrested

October 11, 1969 – A march through the Loop by 300 members of the Students for a Democratic Society breaks bad as police face off against “demonstrators, using tire chains, clubs, railroad flares, and their fists smashed windows and fought a running battle … in the three-block area from La Salle street to State street.” [Chicago Tribune, October 12, 1969] When things finally wind down 105 demonstrators are under arrest, 27 police officers have been injured and two corporation counsels are hurt with one of them, Richard Elrod, suffering permanent paralysis when he attempts to tackle a demonstrator fleeing police. The march is supposed to proceed down La Salle Street to Jackson Boulevard, but it breaks apart a half-mile north at Madison Street and marchers head east, smashing windows in 15 buildings as they run.  After the Loop is cleared, Governor Richard Ogilvie calls 300 Illinois national guardsmen into the area, but by 7:00 p.m., concluding that the trouble is at an end, he releases all 2,600 guardsmen on alert in the city since they had been summoned earlier in the week.
October 11, 1954 – The rain finally stops.  On October 9, 1954 rain begins to move into the Chicagoland area, and from that Saturday afternoon until Monday morning, the storms continue, bringing 6.21 inches of rain, surpassing a record that has stood for nearly 70 years.  The Chicago Sanitary District orders the locks at the mouth of the river opened at 6:25 p.m. on October 10 and “A gigantic swell of water roared into the lake as the river for a time returned to the original direction of its flow before it had been reversed by canals to the Illinois waterway." [Chicago Daily Tribune, October 12, 1954] Water flows into the counterweight pits of most of the downtown bridges, immobilizing them, and traffic on the river is halted.  The new Edens Highway is closed, and the Racine Avenue pumping station is put out of commission with four feet of water on its main floor.  Before the locks are opened, the Chicago River rises five feet, overflowing in several locations, including the area around Union Station where stormwater pours into the basement of the main post office, where it short-circuits pumps that could have helped keep the water level lower.  Flowing through drains, the floods enter two sub-basements of the Chicago Daily News building, today’s Two Riverside Plaza, where 42 feet of water eventually collects, destroying paper stock valued at a quarter million dollars and shorting out electrical circuits to the paper’s pressroom.  The Chicago Tribune prints seven editions of the Chicago Daily News while fire boats and several fire engines pump the water out of the basements.  the above photo shows the railroad yard near Van Buren Street under water that has also flooded the counterweight pits of the bridge.

October 11, 1926 – Machine guns spread a wave of death across the street from Holy Name Cathedral as two mobsters are killed and three others are wounded.  The sniper targets his victims from the front room of a second-floor apartment at 740 North State Street, a building next door to William F. Schofield’s florist shop, about which you can find more information in this entry at Connecting the Windy City.  One of the men killed is Earl “Hymie” Weiss, a member of the North Side Gang that controlled bootlegging and other illegal activity on the north side of the city, a rival to a gang controlled by Al Capone.  Also killed is Patrick Murray, a known bootlegger.  Weiss holds in his pocket a list of all the men called for jury duty in the trial of Joe Sallis, a south side gang leader who is charged with the murder of another mob captain.  Weiss also has $5,300 in walking-around money on his person.  This is the fifth in a series of gang-related murders in the space of two years, beginning with the murder of mob boss Dean O’Banion in the florist shop on Sate Street.  Police search the rented room from which the shots were fired and find 35 empty .45 caliber shells near the window and “a hundred or more” cigarette butts, “indicating a long period of watchful waiting.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, October 13, 1926] The Chicago Chief of Police says, “We knew it was coming sooner or later.  And it isn’t over.  I fully expect that there will be a reprisal, then a counter reprisal and so on. These beer feuds go in an eternal vicious cycle. I don’t want to encourage the business, but if somebody has to be killed, it’s a good thing the gangsters are murdering themselves off.  It saves trouble for the police.”

October 11, 1918 – A city commission passes a resolution that all public dancing must be stopped in order to check the influenza-pneumonia epidemic.  Dr. C. St. Clair Drake, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, says, “The order will take effect at once.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, October 12, 1913]  The commission also adopts a resolution that “attendance at all funerals, contagious disease or otherwise, shall be restricted to the immediate relatives, close friends and necessary attendants.”  In the 24 hours before the commission adopts its resolutions 124 people in the city have died of influenza and 89 from pneumonia.   The commission orders the cancelling of all dances as a necessary step “because of the close contact of the dancers, the exercise of the dance and the frequent chilling of the body that is apt to follow.”  The 1918 pandemic, believed to have begun in a French hospital processing soldiers wounded in the war, led to the deaths of between 50 and 100 million worldwide.  According to the digital encyclopedia at  “Between the start of Chicago’s epidemic on September 21 and the removal of restrictions on November 16, the Windy City experienced a staggering 38,000 cases of influenza and 13,000 cases of pneumonia . . . Yet, despite these numbers, Chicago actually did fairly well for a city of its size.  In fact, with a population of 2.7 million, Chicago’s epidemic death rate for the period was only 373 out of 100,000, not much worse than its long-time rival St. Louis.”

Saturday, October 10, 2020

October 10, 1977 -- Walter Mondale Cheered in Columbus Day Parade

October 10, 1977 – Thousands of Chicagoans stand in the sunshine along a ten-block parade route as Vice-President Walter Mondale marches down State Street with Mayor Michael Bilandic and other officials in the city’s annual Columbus Day parade.  Clearly, the Vice-President has an eye toward moving one office higher as “Three times during the parade he distressed his Secret Service contingent by plunging into crowds to shake hands, trade pleasantries, and pat children on the head.”  [Chicago Tribune, October 11, 1977]  Before the parade Mondale attends a mass celebrated by John Cardinal Cody in Our Lady of Pompeii at 1224 West Lexington Avenue.  After a reception at the church, Mondale and other officials walk two blocks west on Lexington to place a wreath at the statue of Christopher Columbus.  Most importantly, Mondale announces on his arrival in the city that a bill signed earlier in the week by President Jimmy Carter will increase federal money for community development in the city from $69 million to $134 million. 

Chicago Tribune photo
October 10, 1975 – The Chicago Tribune editorializes favorably about a proposal, unveiled four days earlier, for a “Lakefront Gardens for the Arts” to be established where Millennium Park stands today.  On October 6, 1975 four civic organizations – the Metropolitan Housing and Planning Council, Friends of the Parks, the Open Lands Project, and the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects – propose a 20-acre park that would replace a surface parking lot just east of Michigan Avenue between Randolph and Monroe Streets.  A portion of the park would be built over the Illinois Central Railroad’s commuter line while another section would bridge the extension of Columbus Drive, which was still under construction at the time.  Included in the project would be a 10,000-seat outdoor music bowl that would be surrounded by a grassy area that could seat an additional 20,000 people.  The plan is an alternative to a much more modest Chicago Park District plan that involves rehabilitating the dilapidated band shell in Butler Field east of the Art Institute.  The Tribune editorial clearly states the choice:  “A comparatively small but safe investment in the Butler Field band shell, which would put the Grant Park concerts on a stronger footing; or a bold attempt to make this orchestra a key to greater things, energizing Chicago’s cultural life, giving new life to the downtown area, turning an eyesore into a park, and giving the city the most sophisticated outdoor music facility of any urban area in the nation.”  [Chicago Tribune, October 10, 1975]  Despite the scale of the project the Tribune concludes, “… the dazzling opportunities offered by the Lakefront Gardens plan should be examined and exploited to the full.”  The plan clearly did not get a full examination.  Three days after the editorial is published the Chicago Plan Commission votes, 5-1, to approve the Butler Field band shell with bids to be submitted by November 15.  It would be 25 years before talk once again turned to the site proposed for the Gardens, but it was probably worth the wait as Millennium Park, when it opened in 2004, is as fine a plot of civic green space as one will find anywhere in the world.  The two photos show the way the area looked at the time of the 1975 proposal and the way it looks today.

October 10, 1975 –The federal office building at 230 North Dearborn Street is formally dedicated in a ceremony held in the Federal Center plaza at Dearborn and Adams Streets.  The building is named after John C. Kluczinski, who represented the Fifth District in the United States House of Representatives from 1951 until his death from a heart attack in 1975.  Four premier architecture firms in the city joined forces in the Federal Center design – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as chief designer; Schmidt, Garden and Erikson; C. F. Murphy Associates; and A. Epstein and Sons.  The 42-story office building is part of a complex of three buildings which are exquisitely unified.  According to the General Services Administration description of the plan, “The entire complex is organized on a 28-foot grid pattern subdivided into six 4-foot, 8-inch modules.  This pattern extends from the granite-paved plaza into the ground floor lobbies of the two towers, where the floors and elevator lobby walls are also granite.  The lines of the grid continue vertically up the buildings, integrating each component of the complex” []

October 10, 1909 – Former United States Assistant Secretary of State John Callan O’Laughlin, a Chicago Daily Tribune reporter, writes of the vice he finds in the heart of the city.  “I have been through the red light districts of Chicago,” O’Laughlin begins, “and I am filled with a great loathing.  I have seen your dance halls, where temptation to sin is offered in the form of lights, and music, and drink.  I have seen saloons which are but the ante-rooms to iniquity.  I have visited your vice quarters, and have been astounded at the open traffic that exists therein.  I have learned of how ‘white slavery’ is conducted in Chicago.  I have been told of women imprisoned behind bars and forced to do the will of their keepers.  I have learned of police service to prevent the escape of unfortunates.  The condition that exists is at once heart-rending and disgusting.  It is a blot upon the fair name of Chicago.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, October 10, 1909] O’Laughlin urges the new police chief to get to work, saying, “It is about time for action.”  He rails at the courts for the dollar or five-dollar fines they dole out, calling the fines “a small commission received by the city from the earnings of vice.”  He suggests that the city take a lesson from Japan, saying, “It can forbid dance halls to sell liquor and to be a rendezvous at all hours for young men and girls.  It can forbid the sale of liquor in any house where women are allowed.  It can forbid the sale of liquor in houses of ill repute.  It can punish as a vagrant or otherwise every man who runs such a house or who has any connection with it or with inducing women to become inmates.  It can stop the youth of the city, including messenger boys, from entering the districts.”

Friday, October 9, 2020

October 9, 1921 -- Chicago Fire, a 50-Year Recollection

October 9, 1921 – On the fiftieth anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, the Chicago Daily Tribune features the recollection of the only newspaper reporter who covered the 1871 story who is still alive.  Michael Ahern, working for the Chicago Republican, was a night reporter on duty when the fire started on October 8, 1871.  Ahern begins his recollection with a description of what happened on the night before the fire. On Saturday night, October 7, a fire started in a planing mill on Canal Street, and “it wiped out everything from Clinton street to the river and from Adams street to Van Buren street.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, October 8, 1921] That fire brought every piece of fire-fighting equipment in the city to the scene, and “all that kept the entire west side from burning up was the strenuous work of the fire brigade.” Some firefighters did not return to their quarters until Sunday afternoon and “The department was exhausted from the long, hard battle and some engines were disabled.”  That was the state of affairs at 9:30 p.m. on October 8 when Ahern is called “to a red glow in the sky east of Halsted street and north of Twelfth.”  When he reaches the scene, he finds several cottages and sheds burning “in the vicinity of De Koven and Jefferson streets.”  The fire is “only a small one compared with the previous night’s fire,” so small that Ahern does not even take notes.  The fire had apparently burned for 20 minutes to a half-hour before the first unit responded, a problem attributed, for the most part, to the fire that had occurred on the previous day.  Matthias Schaeffer, the watchman in the courthouse tower downtown, spotted the fire, but, due to the haze left by all of the smoke from the previous fire, reported it in a spot nearly a mile away from its actual location.  The attendant in the alarm office also saw a glow in the sky, but he assumed that it was the product of embers still glowing from the October 7 fire.  A druggist near Canalport Avenue and Halsted Streets tried twice to turn in an alarm from a box in the area, but the previous fire had destroyed some of the lines, and neither alarm registered at fire headquarters.  The first unit on the scene was the “Little Giant” company, but it was only half-manned. Other companies were nearer to the fire, but they were sent out of their way to fight the non-existent fire that Schaeffer reported from his perch downtown.  Engine Company No. 5, with the steamer “Chicago,” was the second company to arrive.  Its crew had worked over 15 hours in the Saturday night fire, and the men were exhausted.  The No. 5 men laid lines from a hydrant at Forquer and Jefferson, but the equipment broke down and was out of service for nearly an hour.  The Fire Chief, Bob Williams, arrived early on and called out every company in the city – 17 steamers, 54 hose carts, and 3 or 4 hook and ladder trucks.  Before long three particularly incendiary businesses – the Bateham shingle mill and box factory, the Frank Mayer Furniture company, and the Roelle Furniture company – went up in flames and the fire quickly reached the west bank of the river.  One steamer, the Fred Gund, set up at the west approach of the Van Buren Street bridge. Its crew fought until their clothing caught fire, and the men were forced to run for their lives.  Ahern reports, “The Gund went down in a sea of flame with steam up and fighting the foe.”  Not long before midnight the fire crossed the river between Adams and Van Buren Streets.  In its path were a tar works and the gas company’s reservoir.  All of the fire apparatus was still on the west side of the river, and at this point Chief Williams ordered a few companies to the other side of the river.  But  the battle was lost.  “Blazing bits of timber were carried to the court house from the west side … more than a mile distant … The flames swept east toward Michigan avenue, and there were a dozen fires burning at the same time.”  Several companies stood bravely at Michigan Avenue and Harrison Street, and their efforts kept the fire from spreading south, but “All night long the work of devastation went on ceaselessly, ruthlessly.  Business blocks, public buildings, theaters, churches, hotels, banks, newspaper offices, retail and wholesale emporiums of trade, railroad depots, grain elevators, marble mansions, and breweries – all went down in the blazing mass.”  Only two buildings escaped the flames downtown -- the Lind Block, at Randolph Street and the river, and a three-story building on the northwest corner of La Salle and Monroe Streets, a building under construction.  Just before 2:00 a.m. the courthouse on Washington Boulevard caught fire.  In its basement sat 150 prisoners awaiting trial.  Except for a few who were kept under guard, they were all turned loose. At about 6:00 a.m. the waterworks on the north side caught fire, and with that, with no water, the fire department’s efforts were at an end.  Just about that time the huge Galena elevator on the north side of the main branch of the river caught fire between State and Rush Streets.  The fire continued on, burning all the way north to Fullerton Avenue, consuming “twenty-nine churches, nineteen hotels, nine theaters and halls, five public schools, twenty-seven daily newspaper offices, about seventy-five other publications, seventeen breweries, the post office, the courthouse, the chamber of commerce, one police station and every big store in the city.” The last paragraph of Ahern’s reminiscences contains news that Catherine O’Leary’s cow, Daisy, would appreciate … “I wish to state that the fire was not started by Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicking over a lamp.  Nothing of the kind occurred.  That version of the origin of the fire was a concoction which the writer of these reminiscences confesses to a guilty part.  In justice to the maligned animal and to Mrs. O’Leary, who died many years ago, I make this belated reparation.”

October 9, 1915 – Governor Edward Fitzsimmons Dunne, speechifying at nearly every stop, leads an intrepid band of travelers as they start off on the first day of the 1,500-mile drive on the new Dixie Highway.  Twenty cars leave Chicago “for the land of orange blossoms, over the ceremonially virgin road.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, October 9, 1915] Short ceremonies are held in Grant Park as Juilia Stubblefield, representing Florida, and Lucille Finnegan, representing Illinois, lead a procession of girls representing the states in between, as they place flowers at the Fountain of the Great Lakes, “forming a floral highway, over which Miss Dixie and Miss Chicago crossed the waste of mud and mountains.”  Governor Dunne says, “The main essentials for the future development of Illinois is the development of its highways and waterways.  First in agricultural development, second in the production of wealth, third in population, political and commercial importance, Illinois is nevertheless lamentably behind in the development of its roads – twenty-third of all the states.”   Representing Mayor William H. Thompson, Henry D. Miller, the city prosecutor, then leaves a letter intended for the mayor of Miami with the motorists. The first day’s drive ends in Danville, Illinois with a night’s rest there before the group continues on to Indianapolis.

October 9, 1908 – The informal dedication of the new County Building on Clark Street between Washington and Randolph sees several thousand Chicagoans tour the new government headquarters.  The County Recorder’s office on the first floor has vases of flowers on each desk while “festoons of autumn leaves [are] draped from post and pillar.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, October 10, 1908]  The County Clerk has a store of carnations for those passing through.  County Board President Busse receives callers as they move through his offices on the fifth floor.  Busse says at the end of the day, “First of all I wish to acknowledge the indebtedness of the county board to the people of Cook County for their constant and general support.  No extras, no scandal, not even adverse criticism grew out of the work, and the cost of the building was kept within the contract price.  The cost per cubic foot was from 15 to 25 per cent less than that of some of Chicago’s notable buildings.”  The Holabird and Roche designed building is one-half of the government complex, designed in the Beaux-Arts style, stretching from Clark Street halfway to La Salle.  The Chicago City Hall, also designed by Holabird and Roche, is a near mirror image of the county building and sits west of the 1908 structure and is completed two years later.  The County Building is pictured above with the old City Hall still standing to the west.
October 9, 1881 – On the tenth anniversary of the Chicago Fire, the Chicago Daily Tribune runs an editorial that touts the strides that the city has made since the day that 90,000 of its residents lost everything in a conflagration that consumed over 17,000 structures.  On October 9 of 1871 the smoldering city had 330,000 inhabitants … a decade later that number had jumped to 555,000.  The losses suffered in the fire amounted to $200,000,000 (nearly $4.5 billion in today's dollars) with insurance and salvage payments covering about $55,000,000 (about $1.1 billion today) of that amount.  With that seed money “the people of the city undertook to cover the vacant places, and upon the ruins to build up again that stores, and warehouses, and dwellings and public buildings.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, October 9, 1881]  Borrowing liberally and with city-mandated fire limits established, the city rebuilt with architecture that was “more ornate and the structures more costly, more substantial, more uniform, more durable, and far more numerous.”  Unfortunately, in the fall of 1873 the bottom dropped out of the nation’s economy and the borrowed money, most of it secured at high interest rates, took its toll and the city “overwhelmed with debt, private and public, was subjected to trials under which no other city less blessed with imperishable resources could have been maintained.”  Then in 1874 another huge fire leveled a sizeable portion of the newly rebuilt city.  Those who held mortgages on city property showed confidence in Chicago’s citizens and were rewarded for their patience.  “… at this date, on this tenth anniversary of The Great Fire,” the Tribune editorializes, “there is not practically a mortgage given for money borrowed to rebuild Chicago that has not been paid or discharged with interest and taxes, or on which the money to pay the unmatured mortgage cannot be obtained on demand.”  Concluding the piece, the editorial extends the gratitude of the city to all those who helped it back to prosperity.  “To the people of the United States, to whom this city owes so much of gratitude, Chicago makes report today of the great growth in all the essentials of commercial and manufacturing metropolis which she has made during the ten years which have followed the disaster which has become memorable in the record of public calamities.”  The Chicago and North Western Railroad's station on Wells Street, pictured above, was completed in 1881, just ten years after the destruction of the city.  That same year Union Station on Van Buren Street near the West Bank of the river, was also completed. 

Thursday, October 8, 2020

October 8, 2003 -- Sting Entertains 40,000 at Grant Park Free Concert

October 8, 2003 – As the Chicago Cubs are in the midst of defeating the Florida Marlins, 12-3, in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field, Sting performs before a crowd of 40,000 at a free concert in Grant Park.  The show takes place on a 140-foot stage that took eight days, 150 laborers, 24 trucks and $2 million to construct.  [Chicago Tribune, October 9, 2003]. With an eight-piece band behind him, Sting makes his way through 19 songs, ranging from his first hits to a couple of songs from his just-released “Sacred Love” album.  The concert was received favorably ... it is best not to reflect upon what happened in the 2003 National League Championship.  Certainly, don't ask Moises Alou about it.  Ever.
October 8, 1949 – The Edens Parkway is dedicated with a bronze plaque honoring William G. Edens placed at the new road’s grade separation over Cicero Avenue just north of Foster Avenue.  In 1912 Edens, a banker, became the first president of the Illinois Highway Association and in that capacity began a campaign to pave the state’s roads, an effort that ultimately saw over $60 million in bond issues raised to fund highway construction.  Although construction continues on the new highway, by the end of 1950 it is anticipated that the new six-lane highway will carry more cars in a 24-hour period than existed in the entire state when Edens began urging a plan for the area’s future transportation needs.  Speaking at the event is Virgil E. Gunlock, the Chicago Commissioner of Subways and Superhighways and Illinois Lieutenant Governor Sherwood Dixon, who praises the cooperation of the state, county and city in the construction of the 15-mile highway as the three governmental bodies shared the $21 million cost of the project.  The highway ultimately opens on a December day in 1951 and is considered to be the city’s first true expressway. [] It was a better day in October than the official opening of the road on December 20, 1951 as the above photo shows.

October 8, 1943 – The Art Institute of Chicago announces that it has acquired Salvador Dali’s “Inventions of the Monsters,” a 20- by 30-inch canvas that will be added to the Winterbotham collection, a group of paintings the acquisition of which was made possible through a trust fund established by Joseph Winterbotham in 1921. According to stipulations of the trust agreement, the fund was to be used solely to purchase modern paintings by foreign artists with the total number of paintings acquired to be capped at 35.  Although the painting has been on display at the museum since July, this is the first indication that the Art Institute will add it to its permanent collection.  According to the Art Institute’s website, Dali, when he learns that the Chicago museum has obtained his work, responds, “Am pleased and honored by your acquisition.  According to Nostradamus the apparition of monsters presages the outbreak of war.  This canvas was painted in the Semmering mountains near Vienna a few months before the Anschluss and has a prophetic character.  Horse women equal maternal river monsters.  Flaming giraffe equals cosmic masculine apocalyptic monster.  Cat angel equals divine heterosexual monster.  Hourglass equals metaphysical monster.  Gala and Dali equal sentimental monster.  The little blue dog alone is not a true monster.  Sincerely, Salvador Dali.”  []   Today “Inventions of the Monsters” can be viewed in Gallery 396 at the Art Institute of Chicago.

October 8, 1937 – Less than 72 hours after the new bridge opens carrying Lake Shore Drive across the Chicago River, the first accident occurs at 3:00 a.m. when a northbound auto hits the wall on the west section of the tricky s-curve leading onto the bridge.  The 21-year-old driver continues driving north in the darkness, rather than making the right angle turn and heading toward the lake where the second right angle carries the bridge across the river.  He ends up traveling over an 18-inch divider, crossing the southbound lanes of traffic, and slamming his car into a retaining wall.  A spokesman for the Illinois Automobile Club had observed earlier that no motorist would be able to make either of the two right-angle turns south of the bridge traveling any faster than 15 miles-per-hour.  Otto Jelinek, the traffic engineer for the Chicago Park District, says, “The new bridge is of benefit to the entire Chicago street transportation system, and if critics will be patient we’ll iron out the wrinkles in a few weeks.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, October 8, 1937] It would be 49 years before the “wrinkle” that choked Lake Shore Drive south of the bridge would be ironed out, but in 1986 a sweeping curve was opened, allowing for a far more efficient movement of traffic.  The above photo shows the dedication of the bridge on October 7 ... the accident occurs 72 hours later at the right angle shown in the bottom left of the photo.

October 8, 1934 – The Chicago Daily Tribune presents information gained from an interview with the three remaining survivors of the 225 fire fighters who lost the battle to save the city 63 years earlier.  Hoseman George Leady, 89-years-old, starts the reminiscing as the Retired Fireman’s Association of Chicago honors the few remaining surviving firemen who fought the inferno.  On the anniversary of the fire that destroyed 17,500 buildings and left between 90,000 and 100,000 people homeless, it is interesting to think about what Leady had to say.  It wasn’t until the third alarm came that the city’s largest fire wagon was dispatched, Engine No. 9 with a pumping capacity of 500 gallons per minute.  “It got hotter and hotter,” Leady says.  “We took doors off their hinges and held them in front of the pipemen to keep their coats from igniting.  The hose in the street, full of water as it was, began to smoke and char.”  The fire drove the men to Polk Street and finally all the way to Michigan Avenue and South Water Street where hoses were dropped directly into the river because the hydrants no longer worked.  “I was the last man on the south side of the river,” Leady says.  “. . . all our men were gone, gassed or knocked out by the smoke, except the driver and me . . . we abandoned the hose in the street and got four scared horses harnessed up.”  The driver, Johnny Reese, provides a crucial piece of information about the cause of the fire, snorting at the idea that a cow burned the city to the ground.  “Why I saw the whole bunch of loafers who started that fire,” Reese says.  “Those fellows had been drinking all afternoon in O’Leary’s barn, and smoking their pipes.  Some sparks of burning tobacco – they didn’t have cigarets (sic) in those days -- got into the hay and set the barn.  The whole bunch was standing round the hydrant at Forquer and DeKoven streets and I know, because I heard them talking among themselves.” \

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

October 7, 2007 -- Chicago Marathon Cut Short Amid Record Temperatures

October 7, 2007 – The La Salle Bank Chicago Marathon, for the first time in its history, is cut short as hundreds of runners melt in the unseasonably warm weather, requiring treatment for heat-related illnesses.  It isn’t until three-and-a-half hours after the start of the race that the marathon is ended, a decision that comes after numerous complaints from runners that there is not enough water on the course, and a 35-year-old Michigan police officer dies around the 19-mile mark.  A fire department spokesman says that about 315 runners out of the 35,000 who started the race were transported by paramedics to hospitals with five people still in serious or critical condition in the evening.  Of the 35,867 runners who begin the race, 24,933 make it to the finish line.  With temperatures approaching 90 degrees the decision to cut the race short comes about 11: 30 a.m.  Runners who had not reached the halfway point at that time are diverted toward Grant Park. Police and firefighters tell those farther ahead in the pack that they should begin walking. Although each of the 15 aid stations along the route is stocked with 50,000 to 70,000 servings of water and 37,000 servings of Gatorade, it just isn’t enough to make up for the extreme heat as volunteers can not keep up with the demand.

October 7, 2012 – The Chicago Tribune reports that funds left over from the city’s hosting of the NATO summit will “drive a $7 million city investment in parks, building boathouses along the Chicago River and other recreational projects.” [Chicago Tribune, October 7, 2012]  The cost of sponsoring the NATO summit on May 20 and 21 came in under budget and close to six million dollars of private and federal funds remain.  The Chicago Park District will use capital funds to fill out the last million in the improvement projects.  Mayor Rahm Emanuel says that Riis Park in the Belmont Central neighborhood will be renovated, along with the Jackie Robinson, Cornell Square, Pleasant Point and Bronzeville-Buckthorn Parks.  Two million dollars will go toward construction of four boathouses along the banks of the Chicago River – at River and Clark Parks on the North Side, at the South Side’s Ping Tom Park and near the 2800 block of South Eleanor Street.  A proposed 2.65-mile elevated trail through the Northwest Side, today’s “606,” will get $2 million, and a half-million dollars will go to expanding the Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks program.  The WMS Boathouse at Clark Park, designed by Studio Gang, is pictured above.

October 7, 1984 – “Paradise Lost,” screams the headline of the Chicago Tribune the day after the Chicago Cubs lose 6-3 to the San Diego Padres in the fifth game of the National League Championship series.  “I’ve never been a good loser,” says General Manager Dallas Green. “I really feel bad for our guys and all the Chicago fans.  We had them by the throat but we just didn’t go for the jugular.  It all came down to one ballgame and we just didn’t get the job done.  We played good until the last three games of the season.” [Chicago Tribune, October 8, 1984] The Cubs are ahead by a run until the disastrous seventh inning.  Carmelo Martinez leads off with a walk, and Garry Templeton sacrifices him to second.  Tim Flannery, a pinch-hitter, then hits a ground ball to first for a sure out, but first baseman Leon Durham cannot field the nine-hopper and Martinez scores to tie the game.  Three more runs cross the plate before the Cubs retire the side, and the damage is done.  The loss is particularly painful because in the first two games of the series, played in Chicago, the Cubs outscored the Padres 17-2.  Then the trip out west saw the Padres come back to win three games in a row and clinch the championship.  It was nearly dark in a Chicago suburb when I wordlessly turned off the television and left my wife and two daughters, aged 7 and 5.  A mist was falling outside as I left the house at dusk and walked in the cold rain, one more walk to shake off the bitter disappointment that being a Cubs fan had brought through the years and would continue to bring until 2016.  If you can bear to look, the Game Five boot can be found here.

October 7, 1947 -- The Chicago Tribune uses its editorial page to support a movement afoot in the city to change the name of Balbo Avenue, the former Seventh Street.  “It is disgraceful,” the paper observes, “to have a Chicago street named for a man who represented and helped found a system of government that Americans despise.”  The city council fails to take action on a petition requesting a name change for the street because that petition did not have a sufficient number of signatures from actual property owners on the street, many of whom were members of trusts and estates scattered throughout the country.  The paper ignores this technicality, telling the city’s aldermen to “change the name of Balbo Drive immediately,” also suggesting that the street might be renamed after Lieutenant Commander John Waldron who died at the command of Torpedo Squadron 8 in the battle of Midway.  Seventh Street had been renamed in honor of Italo Balbo, the commander of a squadron of 24 seaplanes that flew from Rome to Chicago in 1933 to appear at the Century of Progress World’s Fair that summer.  More information about the Balbo mission can be found here.  The renamed Seventh Street is not the only reminder of the Italian fascist aviator.  The Balbo Column, pictured above, was a gift from Balbo in 1934.  It stands not far from Soldier Field.
jbartholomew photo
October 7, 1891 – The equestrian statue of General Ulysses S. Grant is unveiled in Lincoln Park as a quarter of a million people come together for the ceremony to honor the commander of the Union Army who brought the Civil War to a close.  A late morning rain falls throughout the first part of the day, but, just as 20,000 veterans of the Civil War begin their parade to Lincoln Park, “the sun burst forth and the clouds rolled toward the horizon.  Then the gray and the blue blended in the skies even as at the close of the war they blended forever in the heaven of Grant’s heart.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, October 8, 1891]  Soon after Grant died on July 23, 1885 the decision was made to erect a fitting memorial to him.  People from all over the nation, 100,000 strong, responded to the call, contributing “dimes, quarters, and dollars to commission a monument in his honor.”  []  Chicago architect William Le Baron Jenney recommended that the statue be placed atop an impressive Romanesque arched base, a structure on which the 18-foot equestrian sculpture of Louis T. Rebisso stands, wrapped in a shroud of two large American flags on Dedication Day.  The day of the dedication is chosen to coincide with the annual reunion of the veterans of the Army of the Tennessee, the troops that made up Grant’s first major command in late 1861, and on this day “Wherever there was any public place there were gatherings of men whose names are part of history.”  Mrs. Julia Grant, staying at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Potter Palmer, comes down to the Palmer House before the ceremony to meet the survivors of her husband’s first regiment, the Twenty-First Illinois Infantry.  The veterans gather around her “and she took each one by the hand, and each one gave his name.  It was not a meeting for any sort of effect.  It was more of a communion.”  Somewhere near 4:00 p.m. the parade of 20,000 men that had started near the Auditorium Theater reaches the southern boundary of the park.  Offshore, boats of all descriptions – lake steamers of the Goodrich and Lehigh Valley lines, private yachts, and government cutters – toss on an unsettled lake.  The ceremony is brief, consisting of an opening prayer and the presentation of the monument to the Lincoln Park Commissioners, followed by the unveiling.  Chicago Mayor Hempstead Washburne accepts the statue on behalf of the people of the city, and Judge W. Q. Gresham, former United States Postmaster General and Secretary of the Treasury, delivers an oration before calling Rebisso, the sculptor, to the dais.  Mrs. Grant is also called to the speaker’s platform, but she is overcome with emotion and “She wept before the old soldiers who had called her out and they bowed their heads, while not a few were visibly affected.”  Long before the last contingents of the long parade reach the park, the ceremony ends and 200,000 or more people head home.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

October 6, 1939 -- Cardinal Mundelein Laid to Rest

Chicago Tribune photo

October 6, 1939 – Chicagoans turn out to say their final good-byes to the Most Reverend George Mundelein, who had served as the third Archbishop of Chicago from 1915 until his death on October 2, 1939 at the age of 67.  The funeral service is celebrated at Holy Name Cathedral by the papal delegate to the United States, the Most Reverend Archbishop Amleto Giovanni Cicognani of Washington, D. C. A public address system delivers the liturgy and music of the service to those who are outside Holy Name, with nearby rooftops crowded with mourners and the top of Holy Name School at the corner of Wabash and Chicago Avenues, “thronged with black-robed sisters in the warm October sunshine.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, October 7, 1939]  Cardinal Mundelein lies, dressed in purple vestments with a white mitre on his head and purple shoes and stockings on his feet.  Red gloves cover his hands which hold a crucifix.  The Most Reverend John J. Cantwell, the Archbishop of Los Angeles is the eulogist, and in his remarks he names the accomplishments of Mundelein … the dedication of 205 new churches, the erection of the $20,000,000 St. Mary of the Lake seminary and the Quigley seminary, the founding of the Lewis Holy Name Technical School in Lockport, the construction of Lewis Memorial Hospital, and the doubling of the enrollment of the parochial school system in the city.  After the service, the funeral cort├ęge leaves the cathedral and heads east to Michigan Avenue “lined by thousands who realized that a notable builder had become a tradition deeply graven in a city’s life.”  The American Federation of Musicians’ band plays Chopin’s “Marche Funebre” and the death march from Beethoven’s “Saul,” and the 750,000 onlookers are so quiet that only the footsteps of the procession rise above the solemn music.  After the procession Mundelein’s bronze coffin is taken to the seminary in Mundelein where he is interred in the Immaculate Conception chapel.  His crypt will rest six steps beneath the high altar of the chapel under a half-ton slab of black Belgian marble, chosen by the Cardinal himself, inscribed with words, translated from the Latin, “George William Cardinal Mundelein.  Third archbishop of Chicago.  Born July 2, 1872.  Died October 2, 1939.  I shall await God my Savior.”  The photo shows the funeral procession turning onto Monroe Street from Michigan Avenue.  From there it would head up the Outer Drive and onto St. Mary of the Lake.

October 6, 1981 –The fireboat Fred A. Busse makes its way down the Chicago River for the last time, headed for a south side dry dock where it will be retired. When the boat came to Chicago in 1937 from Bay City, Michigan where it was built, it was hailed as the largest fireboat in existence.  The boat, 92-feet long and weighing 157 tons, continually proved itself over the years. Just two years after the Fred A. Busse came to the city, its crew pumped 32.5 million gallons of river water for over 50 hours as it fought the four-million-dollar fire at the Rosenbaum-Norris grain elevator on the South Branch. The Fred A. Busse still exists. In fact, you can actually ride the boat. After a stint in Door County, Wisconsin the Fred A. Busse returned to Chicago this summer, where you can book yourself a nice cocktail cruise on an authentic part of Chicago history.  The top photo shows the fireboat at the Rosenbaum-Norris fire.  Below that is the Fred A. Busse in its latest incarnation.

October 6, 1977 – Four city groups – the Metropolitan Housing and Planning Council, Friends of the Parks, the Open Lands Project, and the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects – come together to propose a large park, featuring a 10,000-seat outdoor music venue, to be located in a new 20-acre lot east of Michigan Avenue between Randolph and Monroe Streets.  Part of the park, it is anticipated, will be built over the Illinois Central commuter tracks with another section over the extension of Columbus Drive under construction at the time.  The proposal for this “Lakefront Gardens for the Performing Arts” contradicts a proposal that the Chicago Park District has made for a new performance space in Butler Field to replace the existing Petrillo band shell.  The photo above shows Grant Park in 1979 close to where Jaume Plenza's Crown Fountain stands today.

October 6, 1906 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that W. A. Gardner, the Vice-President of the Chicago and North Western Railroad, has announced the company will build a new railroad station between Madison, Lake, Canal and Clinton Streets.  The paper says that the new station “will take its place among the great transportation centers of the world.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, October 6, 1906] With two-thirds of the property for the new station already in hand and the remainder in negotiation, it is anticipated that construction will begin in spring of 1907.  The railroad has spent $2,000,000 (close to $58,000,000 in today's dollars) on the property, in one of the oldest sections in the city with many structures dating from just after the Chicago fire in 1871.  Another $2,000,000 to $3,000,000 will still be spent on the remainder of the property with between $12,000,000 and $15,000,000 (between $350,000,000 and $430,000,000 today) needed to build the great station itself.  The plans, drawn up by the architectural office of Frost and Granger, will “bring to the patrons of the railroad the conveniences and the facilities which they have been without and always would be without on the present Wells Street site.”  The station on Wells Street north of the river was built in 1882 when the railroad had only four dozen or so trains arriving in or leaving the city, carrying about 4,000 people a day.  In 1906 the road carried 45,000 passengers a day or 24,000,000 people a year.  A singular advantage of the new station will be its location on the west side of the river, which means that trains will no longer be delayed by the raising of bridges and passengers will be able to access the station from five different streets, rather than having Wells Street and the bridge across the river as the only path to the trains.