Wednesday, January 22, 2020

January 22, 1935 -- Illinois Governor Turns Thumbs Down on St. Lawrence Seaway

January 22, 1935 – Illinois Governor Henry Horner reiterates his strong opposition to Congressional ratification of the St. Lawrence Seaway treaty, saying, “The pending treaty would give Great Britain equal control with the United States over Lake Michigan.  Lake Michigan never has been considered part of national boundary waters – it touches the Canadian boundary at no point – and to permit it to become internationalized now would be surrender of principle long recognized by authorities on international law and by the early statesmen of the nation.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 23, 1935]  The governor voices a number of specific objections to the treaty, the strongest of which concerns a clause shutting down the diversion of Lake Michigan water at Chicago that would, in the words of the governor, “threaten the navigation and endanger, by pollution, the lives of the people along the Illinois river, and also in Chicago.”  Although a proposal for a waterway that would connect the Atlantic Ocean with the Great Lakes was first put forth in the 1890’s, it wasn’t until 1932 that Great Britain and the United States signed a letter of intent regarding the project.  Governor Horner did not need to worry himself particularly.  It would be 1957 before the Connecting channels Project was begun, a project that opened in 1959, costing more than $336 million and employing 22,000 workers along its 2,300-mile route.  Queen Elizabeth II and President Dwight D. Eisenhower formally opened the seaway by taking a short cruise on the royal yacht HMY Britannia.  In the above photo President Dwight Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth II attend the opening ceremony for the Seaway on June 26, 1959.

January 22, 1903 – Chalk one up to “the amazing projects that never got built” department.  The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that the South Park Board and the Lincoln Park Board will submit a bill to the legislature authorizing a $2,000,000 bond issue to construct a half-mile subway beneath the river between Michigan Avenue and Pine Street.  The south portal will be at Washington Boulevard, and the north end will be situated at Ohio Street.  Daniel H. Burnham has already drawn plans for the subway which “is to be elaborately constructed with a view to securing the highest ornamental beauty.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 22, 1903] The length of the project will allow the grade to be slight and “in every detail it is proposed to make it free from the ordinary objections to tunnel communication.” Lincoln Park Board President W. W. Tracy says, ‘We believe that the subway project will appeal to the north side people as the only true solution of the communication problem.  A viaduct would not offer a satisfactory solution.  The proposed subway will be an elaborate and ornamental tunnel, which will not contain any of the objectionable features of ordinary subways.” The subway, of course, was never built, and it would be another 17 years before the bridge spanning the river at Michigan Avenue would be opened.
January 22, 1946 – Announcement is made that the entire block bounded by Adams Street on the north, Market Street (which disappeared when Wacker Drive was completed)  on the east, Quincy Street on the south, and the Chicago River on the west has been purchased for $525,000 in cash.  There are two buildings on the site, one of six stories on Market Street and a ten-story building overlooking the river with an entrance on Adams Street. An interesting combination of sellers signs off on the deal, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the University of Chicago, and the Chicago Natural History museum.  The property was formerly owned by steel magnate Martin A. Ryerson, who bequeathed it to the three institutions in his will.  The land includes approximately 38,000 square feet and the two buildings have a total floor area of 250,000 square feet. Arthur Rubloff and Company will manage the property.  What stands on $525,000 worth of land today?  Architect Harry Weese 200 South Wacker Drive, which opened in 1981.

January 22, 1953 – The president of the Federal Reserve Bank, Clifford S. Young, announces that the summer will see the addition of four stories to the 15-story building.  The bank at 230 South La Salle Street holds nine billion dollars in its own assets and 18 billion for the treasury and banks belonging to the federal reserve system.  The architects will be Naess and Murphy, the same firm that will design the Prudential building, still two years away, and the Sun-Times building on the river that will be started the year that Prudential finishes.  The four floors of the bank on La Salle Street will add 88,000 square feet of space to the building that first opened in 1923.  The building will not need any additional foundation work to support the weight of the addition, and that addition will relate aesthetically to the classical design of the building as well as to the Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company of Chicago directly across La Salle Street to the east.

January 22, 1954 -- The Chicago City Council Finance Committee votes to allocate $950,000 from motor fuel tax funds for construction of a steel viaduct extending Lake Street eastward across Michigan Avenue to Beaubien Court. At that point the viaduct will turn south to Randolph Street, passing along the west side of the Prudential building, which is under construction. A new viaduct might not sound like a big deal, but that piece of infrastructure, along with Prudential, were the first steps in converting the massive railroad yards, extending from the river south to Randolph and from Michigan Avenue to the lake, into what is today's Illinois Center. The grainy photo above, taken over ten years later, shows a portion of the viaduct, the "L" shaped roadway in the lower left corner of the photo. Randolph Street is the long horizontal roadway at the bottom of the picture with the river winding through the photo's middle. Just below the river, where the second long train shed from the left stands, is the location of today's Hyatt Regency Chicago on Wacker Drive.

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