Thursday, February 13, 2020

February 13, 1979 -- Chicago River Editorial ... "Long Time, If Ever"

Chicago Tribune February 13, 1979

February 13, 1979 – The Chicago Tribune runs an editorial that reacts to a study released four days earlier by the Chicago Central Area Committee in which a proposal is made “… to transform the banks of the Chicago River in the central business district into a public playground equal to the lakefront.”  [Chicago Tribune, February 10, 1979]  The plan provides a vision of transforming the river over the next quarter-century by “a pedestrian network of paths, parks, and plazas along the river from North Avenue south to Twenty-Seventh Street and along the main branch of the  river between the lakefront and Canal Street, where the river branches north and south.”  Noting that “… for the Chicago River to become the civic asset that it could be, intelligent and ambitious planning now is necessary,”  [Chicago Tribune, February 13, 1979] the Tribune editorial concludes, “It will be a long time, if ever, before the river’s banks permit long, uninterrupted riparian walks.”  It has been forty years since the C.C.A.C. study was released, but the river today is finally coming into its own.  With the completion of the new Riverwalk along the south bank of the Main Stem in 2017, strollers are finally able to walk from the lakefront to Lake Street, past a variety of caf├ęs, wine bars, gelato stores, and tour boat and water taxi stops.  Plans for future development, on both the North and South branches of the river include river walks with one particularly attractive one already completed in the Southbank development just north of River City.  Compare the above graphic of a dining area along the river, one of several included in the 1979 Tribune article, to the river side plaza that will be part of the new Goettsch-designed Bank of America building on the South Branch between Randolph and Washington Streets.
February 13, 1954 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that Nancy Florsheim Goldberg, the wife of architect Bertram Goldberg and the daughter of Irving S. Florsheim, the head of the Florsheim Shoe Company, has purchased a 19-room residence at 1518 Astor Street, paying $65,000 for the property.  The seller is Walter L. Mead, vice-president of the Consolidated Water and Power and Paper Company, who bought it in 1940 for $50,000.  In 2014 Nicholas Pritzker, the CEO of Hyatt Development, listed the mansion for $9.995 million.  At the time this was the third most expensive home for sale within the city.  Pritzker had owned the home for over 20 years.

February 13, 1926 -- Raymond Hood and John Mead Howells are awarded the gold medal for their design of the most beautiful building erected in the north central section of the country in 1925. Architect Elmer C. Jensen, a member of the jury charged with determining the recipient of the gold medal award, says of Hood and Howell's design for Tribune Tower, "The erection of this beautiful structure has been a decided aid to the cause of good architecture. Not only will it have a good effect on architecture in Chicago, but the cause throughout the whole nation gains appreciably. I wish again to emphasize the incalculable gain which art has made through the Tribune Tower."

February 13, 1910 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that the Chicago Board of Education will be meeting in two days as a committee of the whole, ostensibly to discuss the leases the board holds on State Street property.  Speculation is that since even school board members who are out of town have been asked to attend, consideration will be given to the filing of charges against the school district’s architect, Dwight Heald Perkins.  School board president Alfred R. Urion says that he has obtained evidence that will be used against Perkins during inspections of a number of schools during the previous week.  Thus begins another less than stellar chapter in the city’s political history, one in which a talented architect (just venture out to Milwaukee and Addison and take a gander at Carl Schurz High School if you want proof), was railroaded out of his position by school board members who accused him of “incompetence, extravagance and insubordination.”  According to a great blog, “Chicago Historic Schools,” “These corrupt administrators were likely unhappy that Perkins had stopped the practice of giving inflated contracts to well-connected contractors and suppliers.”  It worked out – those school board hacks have long been forgotten, but the spaces that Perkins created, and the spaces with which he surrounded them, still endure.

February 13, 1901 – Carrie Nation leaves Chicago at 10:00 p.m. on a Santa Fe train bound for Topeka, Kansas.  In the preceding 12 hours she has led a whirlwind tour of the city in her temperance crusade as she “visits saloons, lecturing and threatening, and calls on the Mayor, who is ‘out.’” [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 14, 1901] Despite feeling ill when she awakes at 5:30 a.m., she is in the saloon of Harry McCall at 152 Dearborn Street by mid-morning, where she immediately asks the bartenders to clothe a nude statue in the bar’s window. “I want you to take away that statue or clothe it properly at once,” she commands bartender William Luther.  “Dress it as you would wish to see your mother and sister dressed.  Now, I mean what I say, and if you don’t obey by night I’ll make souvenirs of that statue.”  The offending statue is quickly covered with a red calico wrapper and sunbonnet.  From the bar she hotfoots it over to Willard Hall, located in the Woman’s Temple building on the southwest corner of Monroe and La Salle Streets.  Six hundred people jam the auditorium so densely that women are fainting and “a crunching sound … warned the crowd that the seats were giving way.”  The crowd is sent from the building, and Nation moves on to City Hall where City Clerk Loeffler tells her that Mayor Carter Harrison is “not in … [as he] leaned on the railing and blew smoke rings in the air.”  The reformer “aired her views of a city government which countenances the liquor traffic, and incidentally reproved the City Clerk for smoking.”  Then it is on to police headquarters where she learns that the Chief of Police is also out.  Twenty minutes later she is at the Cook County Jail where she is turned away.  At 2:30 p.m. she enters a Turkish bath and addresses “attendants coming, going, and during operations.”  What steam can do to one’s hair!  At 4:25 p.m. she enters a salon on State Street and has her hair “arranged.”  After dinner Nation visits Dreifus’ Saloon at 56 State Street, the engine house of Fire Patrol No. 1, and delivers a short speech at Willard Hall in front of 200 people.  Shortly before 9:00 p.m. she makes her way to Riley and Edwards’ Saloon at 200 State Street, “expecting to meet a gathering of saloonmen to whom she had sent an invitation to hear her speak.”  Instead, she finds “a motley assemblage of men and women who formed a typical ‘levee’ crowd.”  Standing on top of a table she addresses the crowd as “The sounds from the piano blended with the laughter of the ribald crowd, which grew larger each moment and packed the room from the door opening on State Street to the alley in the rear.” As she speaks a voice from the crowd calls out, “There’s a beer waiting for you at the bar, grandma.”  Unperturbed, Nation talks from the top of the table. She “talked to the saloon men, she pleaded with the women to lead better lives, and begged everybody to help her in her determination to suppress the liquor business.”  She declares it “the best meeting I’ve ever attended” as she steps down from the table and heads for the railway station.  As she makes her way through the gate at the Polk Street station and her waiting train, she shouts, “Be good!  Be good!  Good-by, until I see you again.”

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