Saturday, February 1, 2020

February 1, 1900 -- Graceland Cemetery Receives Philip D. Armour, Jr.

February 1, 1900 – Phillip D. Armour, Jr. is buried in Graceland Cemetery following a funeral held in the family residence at 3700 South Michigan Avenue where the casket is placed in the library and the public is allowed to enter and pay its respects.  The Chicago Daily Tribune reports, “Hundreds of persons filed past the casket, among them many employ√©s of Armour and Co.  The entire faculty and students of Armour Institute attended the funeral in a body.”  Reverend Frank W. Gunsaulus conducts the services and a quartet from the Second Presbyterian Church sings, “Nearer, My God to Thee.”  The funeral corteg√© passes down Michigan Avenue to Fortieth Street where a special train waits to take the funeral party to Graceland.  The youngest son of Philip Danforth Armour began his career at Armour and Company at the bottom, working in the stockyards.  At the age of 25 he became a partner in the company his father, who was to outlive him, started.  He was 31-years-old at the time of his death.

February 1, 1911 – The United States engineer stationed in Chicago, George A. Zinn, speaking at an Association of Commerce luncheon at the La Salle Hotel, condemns center pier bridges “as a serious obstacle to the advance of Chicago commerce.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 2, 1911] Zinn says, “Until the center pier bridge is removed over both the Chicago and Calumet rivers, the manufacturers whose plants line the river banks will be unable to receive the full advantage these rivers offer in a commercial way.  They will be unable to ship by water to any great advantage.”  He added that it was his intention to make certain that every bridge on the river maintained a height of at least 16 feet over the water.  On the same day the attorney for the Pennsylvania Railroad, speaking at a meeting of the Chicago Real Estate Board, offers his opinion that the river should be closed to navigation except for small vessels, carrying light cargo from an outer harbor, assuming that such a harbor could one day be built.  According to the Tribune’s coverage of the meeting, the attorney, Frank J. Loesch, “contended that fixed bridges with an adequate lighterage system would solve the problem which would place Chicago in a line with other cities that have been confronted with river conditions similar to those in Chicago.”  The above photo shows the Madison Street center pier bridge in the process of giving way to its trunnion bascule replacement in 1922.
February 1, 1928 – Moving vans line up on Wells Street as all the furniture is removed from the Briggs house and taken to an auctioneer’s warehouse.  It is, the Chicago Tribune reports, “… like carrying out the history of Chicago.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 2, 1928]  As the furniture is being moved from the building, someone apparently drops a cigar butt into the air shaft above the kitchen, setting off a grease fire.  The Tribune observes, “With the smoke that poured out into the surrounding streets came the savory odors of roasts cooked in Briggs house ovens for more than two generations.  It was probably the odors of the buffalo steaks, venison chops, bear steak, and mallard ducks for which the old grill was famous.”  The Briggs House hotel was completed at the corner of Randolph and Wells Street in 1856.  It was in Parlor A that Abraham Lincoln received word of his nomination for the presidency of the United States.  Although it was not as luxurious as its chief competitors, the Palmer House and the Sherman House, the hotel was one of the top tier of hotels in the city and, being close to the courthouse and the business sections of the city, it became a gathering place for businessmen and politicians.  Designed by John Mills van Osdel, the five-story hotel was razed to make way for a skyscraper that would house the Steuben Club.  The tower that replaced the Briggs House is today the 45-story Randolph Tower at 188 West Randolph Street, finished in 1929 and designed by Karl M. Vitzhum in a Gothic Revival style.  It was added to the Register of National Historic Places on May 22, 2007 and today serves as an apartment building with 312 apartments.  The black and white photo shows the original Briggs House. The second photo is today's Randolph Tower.

February 1, 1955 -- Daniel Ryan (there is a name that sounds familiar), president of the Cook County board and William J. Mortimer, county highway superintendent, report that the first completed portion of the Congress Street "super-highway" is taking as many as 11,596 motorists a day from other highways. The 2.5 mile stretch from 1st Street in Maywood to Mannheim Road, is dubbed "the road to nowhere," but Ryan observes, "What we are finding is that motorists definitely will go out of their way to enjoy safe, continuous travel afforded on an expressway."

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