Thursday, January 16, 2020

January 16, 1978 -- State Of Illinois Building -- Better Off on Dearborn Street?

January 16, 1978 – Paul Gapp, the architecture critic for the Chicago Tribune weighs in on Governor James Thompson’s “sudden outburst of enthusiasm over building a $100-million skyscraper in the Loop to house State of Illinois offices.”  [Chicago Tribune, January 16, 1978]   In the midst of the energy crisis of the late 1970’s, Gapp approaches the subject from an environmental point of view.  Arguing that the Sherman House, which will be torn down under Thompson’s plan to make way for the new state building, “is handsomer than most of the downtown hotels built in Chicago since World War II,” Gapp says, “Huge amounts of non-replaceable energy went into the hotel’s building materials and construction.  More energy would be required to tear it down, and an immense amount needed to put up a new structure in its place.”  (If he only knew the amount of energy it would eventually take to make the workspace habitable …)  Gapp has a better idea … putting the state offices in “a cluster of nineteenth century buildings on South Dearborn Street” – The Fisher Building, the Old Colony and the Manhattan – a move that the Chicago Architecture Foundation had advocated four years earlier.  In 1977 the U. S. Congress appropriated $150,000 for a pilot study on how best to preserve the Manhattan, Old Colony, Monadnock, and Marquette buildings, a study that the architectural firm of Harry Weese and Associates is leading.  Gapp concludes, “Thompson and other state officials should give all of this data their closest attention and forget about a new skyscraper.  Conversion of the landmarks to state use would instantly move Chicago from the rear to the forefront of the preservation and recycling movement.  It would also, quite probably, save taxpayers a great deal of money.”  Gapp did not win the argument.  The Thompson Center, a design by Helmut Jahn for C. F. Murphy, did get built.  Currently, the state is trying to figure out a way to unload the building, groaning under the weight of millions of dollars of deferred maintenance.  The top photo shows the Sherman House and the adjacent Greyhound bus station on Randolph Street.  The photo below that shows the same corner with the Thompson State of Illinois building.  It's anybody's guess as to what the corner will look like in the future ...
January 16, 1976 –The management of Wieboldt Stores announces that distribution of Green Stamps with purchases will end in two weeks.  The chain of department stores has been distributing the stamps since 1957, and all redemption centers for the stamps in the Chicagoland area are in Wieboldt’s stores.  Arthur K. Muenze, the president of the company, says the stamps will be discontinued because “public interest in them has decreased and they are no longer effective in attracting customers to the stores.” [Chicago Tribune, January 17, 1976] A spokesman for Sperry and Hutchinson Co., which distributes the stamps, confirms that redemption centers in nine Wieboldt stores will close by the end of January.  “There is no need for panic or for anyone to rush in and redeem their stamps before they want to.  We’re in good shape as a company.  We’re not going to leave anybody high and dry,” the spokesman says. 

January 16, 1892 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that the Executive Committee of the Interstate Exposition Board of Directors has agreed to sell its massive building on Michigan Avenue to the Art Institute for $2,100.  This guarantees, the paper reports, “ … the doom of the old structure.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 16, 1892] Representatives of the Art Institute say that a check will be issued immediately and within ten days demolition of the Interstate Exposition Building will begin.  The huge building east of Michigan Avenue occupied the site of the present Art Institute of Chicago for 20 years and was designed by Chicago architect W. W. Boyington.  It provided a place for exhibitors to display their products and also served as an Illinois National Guard Armory, as well as the site of political conventions in 1880 and 1884.  It was also the first home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

January 16, 1925 – At the closing session of a two-day conference of the Great Lakes Harbor Association 300 delegates from 80 cities located on the Great Lakes pass a resolution that requests the United States Secretary of War "to require of the sanitary district of Chicago the installation, within a reasonable length of time, of a modern system of sewage disposal and protested against any legislation that may sanction diversions affecting the water levels of the great lakes.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 17, 1925] The resolution reads, “With an astounding disregard for the rights of her neighbors and in defiance of all precepts of law and justice, under the pretext that the sanitary welfare of that city made the dilution system of sewage disposal necessary, Chicago has for twenty years been abstracting the waters of the great lakes in great quantities.  This abstraction of water has on the one hand caused the lowering of the levels of the lakes to the injury of commerce thereon, and on the other the raising of the levels of the Illinois river to the injury of the land owners of that region.  The sewage which Chicago by virtue of its sanitation system is thus carrying into the Illinois river is polluting the waters of that stream to an alarming degree.”  Officials of the sanitary district plan to leave for Washington within two days “to face the interests which would prevent the city from diverting 10,000 cubic feet of water per second from the lake for sanitary purposes.”

January 16, 1945 -- In one of the worst fires to hit Chicago in a quarter-century 14 people are killed and 8 injured in a fire at the General Clark Hotel at 217 North Clark Street. The night manager of the hotel states that 76 people were registered when the fire started just after midnight. It was brought under control three hours later, after three people had jumped into firemen's nets and a dozen others had been rescued by ladders.

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