Thursday, February 20, 2020

February 20, 1967 -- Illinois Center Free to Rise, Says U. S. Supreme Court

February 20, 1967 – Illinois Center begins as the United States Supreme Court refuses to review previous rulings by Illinois courts regarding the development of air rights above the Illinois Central Railroad tracks east of Michigan Avenue and south of the river.  The four lawyers who brought the case to the Supreme Court contended that an 1888 United States Supreme Court decree “held that certain portions of the I. C. right-of-way, originally submerged in Lake Michigan, were granted to the state by Congress when Illinois incorporated in 1818 and that the land owned by the state is in trust for the people.”  [Chicago Tribune, February 21, 1967]  A spokesman for the railroad says that the decision “now clears this question once and for all.”  The end of the legal action, which has dragged on since 1958 when the same four lawyers began the legal action, opens the way for the development of 186 acres of Illinois Central air rights, including 46 acres between Randolph Street and the river and 140 acres from Eleventh Place to Twenty-Ninth Street.  111 East Wacker Drive, the home of the Chicago Architecture Center, was completed just two years after the decision of this date.  It is the dark building just west of the building under construction on the south bank of the river.  The building under construction is today the west tower of the Hyatt Hotel.

February 20, 1970 – The City Council finance committee approves the sale of $52 million of revenue bonds to finance improvements at O’Hare International Airport, including a new parking garage and runway.  The garage will rise six levels and hold 9,350 cars.  The new runway will be the airport’s sixth and will run northeast to southwest.  The committee also approves a resolution asking the Public Building Commission to sell $65 million of revenue bonds to finance 28 public improvements projects, including a new underground parking facility for McCormick Place, 11 new fire stations, two police area headquarters buildings, a new police academy, two health care centers and ten sanitation facilities, one of them a new incinerator.   Things worked pretty quickly back in those days.  The above photo shows the first cars entering the new parking garage on December 16, 1972.

February 20, 1958 -- Marc Chagall arrives in Chicago to deliver three lectures at the University of Chicago under the auspices of the Committee on Social Thought.  Dr. John U. Nef, the chairman of the committee, a man who has worked for over a year to get Chagall’s visit approved, introduces the artist to the assembled group.  Speaking in French, Chagall speaks of “mankind’s need to reform to first principles:  love thy neighbor as thyself, forgive thine enemies.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 21, 1958] The artist says, “For me life divides itself into two parts – Life and Death – and for me whatever is not an inner truth is death.  But maybe – to be a little more concrete – or, if you prefer, more truthful, one must use the word ‘love,’ because there is the true color, not only in art, but in life.”  During his stay, Art Institute officials will photograph him with his works, and for the first time in forty years he will see “Birth,” one of his early paintings that the late Maurice Culberg donated to the museum.  It would be another decade before Chagall would return to a dramatically changed city to supervise the installation of his “Four Seasons” mosaic at the corner of Randolph and Dearborn Streets.

February 20, 1947 -- The Illinois Department of Aeronautics approves Chicago's plan for the construction of the Northerly Island downtown air terminal. There are a couple of caveats -- no instruction flights would be permitted and the airport must be closed under unfavorable wind conditions. Additionally, a power boat must be kept available at all times for emergency use and pleasure boats would need to be prevented from becoming obstructions in landing approach zones. The island, originally created for the 1933 and 1934 Century of Progress World's Fair, is in the process of being converted to a multi-use recreational area. The new incarnation of the park began at about 1:30 in the morning on March 31, 2003 when Mayor Daley ordered the bulldozing of the runway at Meigs with no advance warning, not even to the FAA.

Dwight Heald Perkins
February 20, 1910 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that the Chicago Federation of Labor has stepped up in defense of suspended Chicago Board of Education architect Dwight H. Perkins, adopting a resolution “denouncing ‘star chamber trials’ and demanding that Architect Perkins and ‘all civil service employ√©s’ be given public trials when charges are preferred against them.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 20, 1910] Oscar F. Greifenhagen, a member of the trial committee of the Board of Education’s school management committee, says that the demand that Perkins be given a trial by his peers is “absurd.”  For five years Perkins had served as the Chief Architect of the Chicago School Board, designing close to 50 schools, and as a noted engineering journal at the time wrote, “It is greatly to be regretted that for purely personal and political reasons Chicago is to lose a man who has so efficiently served the city, and who has rendered so great a service to modern school architecture in the United States.” [The Technology Review, Volume 12, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1910]  For more on Perkins, turn to these entries in Connecting the Windy City here and here and here and here and here.

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