Friday, February 21, 2020

February 21, 1980 -- River City Get the Go-Ahead

February 21, 1980 – The Chicago Plan Commission approves the River City residential development, projected to rise on the east bank of the Chicago River’s South Branch.  The proposal has been considerably down-sized from the original proposal of 6,000 living units in six 72-story towers, a plan that the commission had rejected four years earlier.  The new proposal calls for approximately 1,500 units in six- to eight-story buildings although as the project moved along only one building would be constructed with about 450 living units.  Project developers predict that condominium prices will range from $55,000 for a studio apartment to $125,000 for a four-bedroom unit.  There is mixed reaction concerning the project from local business and civic groups in the area.  Edward J. Martinez, president of the Eighteenth Street Development Corporation, a community group based in Pilsen, tells the commission, “This is one more reservation for the rich.”  Architect Bertrand Goldberg’s design includes a river walk, a marina, a health clinic, and day care centers. It was expected that approval of the project would be forthcoming after Mayor Jane Byrne endorsed it during the preceding week. For more information on the long unfolding plan of River City you can turn to this entry as well as this one in Connecting the Windy City.  The community made news at the beginning of 2018 when residents voted to convert the building from condominiums to rental apartments, a decision that created more furor when preservationists objected to a renovation plan that saw the concrete interior walls of the ten-story building painted white.  In the re-purposed building, one can expect to pay $2,000 a month for a two-bedroom apartment and a bit under $3,500 for a three-bedroom unit.

February 21, 2007 – On this day 13 years ago Carson, Pirie, Scott closed its State Street store, and 84-year-old Virginia Connor, who has worked in the men’s department for 46 years, the last four of which were in “Men’s Basics,” bids farewell to her fellow clerks. “The mind of men is extremely interesting,” Connor says.  “Men are extremely vain.   Men always say they’re smaller than they really are, in the waist.  They don’t really mean to lie, they just believe it, in their minds.  And so, you have to be very patient with them.”  [Chicago Tribune, February 22, 2007] When Connor began her career at Carsons she was required to wear white gloves, a suit or a skirt and blouse and a jacket.  As of this day she will be dressing up to look for another job.  One of her last interactions with a customer is with a man who comes up to her, asking to exchange an item.  “Exchange what,” she asks him.  “There’s nothing in the department to exchange.  It’s gone."

February 21, 1947 – The Chicago Tribune Building Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Tribune Company, completes purchase of approximately 39,000 square feet of land, running along the north bank of the Chicago River, land formerly owned by the New York Central Railroad Company.  Purchase of the land gives the Tribune Building Corporation 385 feet of frontage along the river, east of the bridge at Michigan Avenue, and west of the large warehouse of Hibbard Spencer Bartlett and Company. Today, the Gleacher Center, the downtown campus for the University of Chicago sits on the site.  The above photos show the property in 1926 and as it appears today.  401 North Michigan Avenue, the 1965 glassy tower designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, stands on property the company purchased four years earlier.

February 21, 1912 -- The worst February storm in 18 years brings business in Chicago to a standstill. Service on the Illinois Central suburban line is shut down at 1:30 p.m. after a northbound train crashes into the rear of a milk train, leaving stations crowded with passengers. The downtown hotels do a brisk business, taking in workers who are unable to find a train home. For the first time in the city's history the street cleaning bureau gives up the fight in the face of 52-m.p.h. winds that leave workers lost in white-out conditions and horses wandering around in Grant Park. Policemen at crossings in the Loop are kept busy picking up people who have fallen or been blown into drifts. Members of a funeral party for 12-year-old Rose Myrtle Drautzburg, with her schoolmates acting as pallbearers, start for the Grand Trunk station at Forty-Seventh Street at 9:30 in the morning and wait for a train until 4:30 p.n. when they are informed that the train is cancelled. The estimate is that over 30,000 men are temporarily thrown out of work because of the weather.
February 21, 1890 – Property owners along West Lake Street hold a second meeting about the proposed Lake Street elevated line at Robu’s Hall.  It is a contentious gathering as an attorney, S. B. Foster, rises to speak against the plan.  Angry protests begin almost as soon as he begins as “several gentlemen demanded if the speaker owned property on Lake Street.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 22, 1890]  Another attorney, Frank Beard, then rises to a point of order, noting that the meeting is limited to Lake Street property owners.  The men begin to argue … “Beard declared that Foster was representing Mr. Yerkes’ West Side street-car railway, Foster stating that Beard had come to the meeting in the interest of the ‘L’ road.”  Beard twice called Foster a liar, “rising from his chair and threateningly waving his cane.”  Friends separate the two men before they come to blows. Opponents might as well have held their breath ... the line carried its first passengers on November 24, 1893.  The above photo shows the Lake Street line under construction near Washtenaw in the early 1890's.

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