Wednesday, January 15, 2020

January 15, 1904 -- Grant Park Given to South Park District

January 15, 1904 – The commissioners of the South Park District accept an ordinance that the City Council passed on July 20, 1903, “granting consent to the commissioners to take possession of that part of Grant park lying west of the Illinois Central railroad’s right of way, north of Jackson boulevard and south of Randolph street.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 16, 1904]  With this move the park district controls the entirety of what is today Grant Park and, according to the Tribune, “it is promised that what is now partly a rubbish heap shall be transformed into the finest park contiguous to the business district in any city in the world.”  South Park District president Henry G. Foreman says, "We hope to rush this park to completion within three years, and do within that time what would ordinarily take about thirty years to accomplish.  It will be the finest city park contiguous to a business district in any city in the world.”  The above panoramic photo shows the park, on the lake side of the railroad yard, beginning to take shape as fill is slowly added to expand the park.
January 15, 1964 –Mayor Richard J. Daley announces that he has asked city planners to begin a study that examines the future of Navy Pier after the University of Illinois departs in late 1965. Daley says that thought should be given to using the pier as a recreation center, tying it into a new park that will be built just to the west and adjacent to the filtration plant to the north.  The mayor also says that a 920-foot observation tower that was proposed in October, 1963 as a tourist attraction cannot be built at the pier because its height would interfere with airplanes approaching Meigs Field to the south.  The above photo from the early 1960's with ships from all over the world lined up shows that at this time Navy Pier was still an important port of entry and a significant source of revenue for the city.

January 15, 1882 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that the Archbishop of Chicago has sold the entire lot on Lake Shore Drive between Burton Place and Schiller Street to Potter Palmer for $90,695.  The paper reports, “A concerted effort will now be made by Mr. Palmer and the other property owners to fill up all the depressions between State street and the Lake-Shore drive and lift this property into its rightful place as the choicest kind of residence property, not surpassed by any in the city.”  Palmer’s faith in the area which “is almost virgin ground, and is almost entirely free from objectionable buildings and improvements” is ample evidence that the part of the north side “which lies between the Water-Works and Lincoln Park, and is east of Dearborn street, is rapidly rising in public favor.”  The mansion of Potter and Bertha Palmer, which has been gone now for 70 years, would be built on the corner of Banks Street and Lake Shore Drive.  Designed by Henry Ives Cobb and Charles Frost, it would be the largest private residence in the city when finished in 1885.  Today 1350 and 1360 Lake Shore Drive stand on the lot.  The mansion and the residential buildings are shown above.

January 15, 1916 – The “Foolkiller,” a submarine that has been embedded in the mud at the bottom of the Chicago River at Wells Street yields a grisly find upon its being raised – the skull of a dog and the bones of a man.  The small submersible was originally built in the early 1870’s but had not been seen in a quarter-century. A diver for the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company, William Deneau, discovers the craft somewhat earlier while working in the effort to locate bodies from the ill-fated Eastland, the steamer that had capsized six months earlier.  The identity of the victim found aboard the submarine was never discovered, and there is even some conjecture that the bones might have been planted aboard as part of a scheme to place the whole tableau on public exhibition.  That happened shortly thereafter as customers could pay a dime to see the exhibit at 208 South State Street, a display that was moved at least twice – to Oelwein, Iowa where it was  billed “The Submarine or Fool Killer, the first submarine ever built,” It shared the exhibit space among other top draws, including “The Electric Girl, The Vegetable King, [and] Snooks, the smallest monkey in the world” []  The Fool Killer was last heard of when it appeared at Chicago’s Riverview Park where it sat forlornly while the “Last Days of Pompeii,” a “gorgeous fireworks spectacle” with 600 performers was staged alongside the river at Western and Belmont.

January 15, 1954 -- The Chicago city council authorizes the purchase of the Reid-Murdoch building at 325 N. State Street in order to consolidate traffic courts and the police traffic division. The matter had been pending since November 3 when voters authorized a 4 million dollar bond issue for acquiring the building and remodeling it. More on the history of the Reid-Murdoch building can be found here:…/reid-murdoch-buildi… and here:…/reid-murdoch-buildi…

1 comment:

Jill said...

The park district did a great service to the city and its residents. Even today the parks are grand!