Friday, February 28, 2020

February 28, 1909 -- Chicago and North Western Railroad Terminal Begins Its Rise

February 28, 1909 – The Chicago Daily Tribune prints a feature article on the construction of the new terminal for the Chicago and North Western Railroad on the west bank of the river at Madison Street, a project about which the paper crows, “No other single building operation in Chicago has approached the magnitude of this new station …”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 28, 1909]  A total of 172 caissons, four to eight feet in diameter, will support the building that will stretch a block wide and a quarter-mile long, covering 13 acres.  All but 72 of those caissons will go down to bedrock, 115 feet below the surface.  The superintendent of construction for the Fuller Construction Company says, “Things went all right for a hundred feet down.  Then without warning we ran into sand … Ordinarily we strike sand ‘pockets’ under the Chicago downtown district, but they are small pockets and never at such a depth as we’ve found over here.  This sand deposit … is unusually large and at unheard of depth.”  Every caisson is dug by hand with one man in a caisson working for eight hours with a 15-minute lunch break.  The work goes on around the clock.  Each caisson digger begins with a pick, spade and hoe, mucking out a hole until it reaches a depth of five or six feet at which point carpenters drop into it to install lumber “after the manner of barrel staves” after which an iron ring is placed to secure the wall.  Then the digger starts again, digging another five or six feet at which point the carpenters repeat the process of securing the caisson.  The work continues down to about 100 feet at which point an air lock must be installed to protect the digger as he digs toward bedrock. The average wage for workers is around $2.40 a day. It will take 10,000 wagon loads to carry away the mud, clay and sand from the caissons.  At the foot of Fulton Street, four blocks to the north, the debris is loaded on ships that carry it out into the lake where it will be dumped.  The new terminal, finished in 1911, is shown above.

February 28, 1970 – Ten thousand demonstrators line both sides of State Street opposite the Palmer House, jeering French President Georges Pompidou, as he arrives to address a group at a dinner sponsored by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and the Alliance Francaise. The protestors voice loud objections to France’s recent announcement that it will sell 100 Mirage jets to Libya.  Among the protestors is U. S. Representative Roman Pucinski who says he considers the sale of the jets “a unilateral escalation of the Mideast conflict.” [Chicago Tribune, March 1, 1970] Chants of  “Poo, Poo, Pompidou,” “France Oui, Pompidou No” reverberate over bullhorns as protest marshals work hard to keep crowds from spilling into the street.  Mayor Daley’s special events director, Colonel Jack Reilly, praises the orderly protest, saying, “If the city had it this easy in all demonstrations it would be easy.”  As the French delegation leaves from O’Hare on the following day, an official says that the Chicago police “’either thru incompetence or design,’ relaxed security to the point where it was impossible for Pompidou to avoid embarrassment.”  [Chicago Tribune, March 2, 1970] At the airport Pompidou himself, speaking in French, says that the protestors “placed a stain on the face of America” and that “the immense majority of the Chicago population … is ashamed of it all.” The French President is especially upset about an incident that occurred inside the lobby of the Palmer House in which six individuals jumped in front of him and his wife and shouted, “Shame, shame on you!”  An official says, “The police assured us this would not happen. They said the lobby would be clear.  Yet there were these people, accosting the president of France on an official visit.  The French delegation cannot understand how this was permitted to happen.  Tempers are running very high.”

February 28, 1955 – The Chicago Housing Authority awards a $7,998,700 contract to Corbeita Construction Company for the first stage of an addition to the Frances Cabrini public housing project just north of Chicago Avenue and east of Larabee.  The contract calls for eight high-rise buildings with 859 apartments along with a heating and service building.  The chairman of the C.H.A., John R. Fugard, states that a contract will be let later in the year for seven more buildings with 1,066 apartments.   The work at Cabrini will be just one part of the biggest program of public housing construction in the city’s history.  It is anticipated in 1955 the C.H.A. will break ground at six different sites for 4,500 apartments.  All of the projects, which were approved in 1949, will be subsidized by the federal government and will be rented to low income families.

February 28, 1939 -- The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that owner P. K. Wrigley has taken matters into his own hands "in moving the spring flair of Diz (Dizzy Dean) as problem child." When Wrigley's personal representative comes upon the Cub pitcher "pitching full blast at the full pitching distance [he] broke up the display in the name of the Cub owner, following full instructions from the Chicago throne room." [Chicago Daily Tribune, March 1, 1939] Dean, a pitching phenom for the St. Louis Cardinals between 1933 and 1937, was injured by a line drive in the 1937 All-Star game. In 1938 Wrigley paid $185,000 to put the compromised pitcher on the Cubs roster. In September of that year, in what he called the greatest game of his career, Dean pitched the second game of a series with the Pittsburgh Pirates, winning 2-1, pulling the Cubs within a half-game of the league leading Pirates, a team from which the Cubs would wrest the National League championship the next day. Dean pitched Game Two of the World Series, pitching admirably until he gave up a two-run homer to Joe DiMaggio in the top of the ninth, ultimately losing 6-3. He struggled along with the Cubs until 1941 when he retired. Wrigley's interest in protecting his investment was certainly understandable, but ultimately it would not matter.

February 28, 1903 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that a new bridge across the river at State street has been opened to decidedly negative reviews.  H. D. Dean, a construction engineer from Benton Harbor, Michigan, in town to provide his expertise to a subway subcommittee, says that the new bridge “is not wide enough by fifty feet.  It was a mistake to build so narrow a bridge there on account of the awkward bend in the river at that point.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, March 1, 1903] Present at the dedication of the new bridge a day earlier are members of the South Water and State Street Business Men’s association “who have seen their business dwindle much more rapidly than the bridge grew during the last year.” Mrs. Adelaide Smedberg of 184 North State Street breaks a bottle of wine on the bridge. The Tribune explains how Smedberg ended up with the bottle in her hand, noting that association president J. T. Keane “corked his eloquence, chased the woman, explained to her that she was the first to cross the river, and took her back to break the bottle of wine. “I christen thee State street,’ said Mrs. Smedberg, and the dedicators hurried away to a banquet at which there was more oratory and spilling of wine."  On May 29, 1949 a new bridge was dedicated at State Street in a far more dignified ceremony, one that honored the men from the Chicago area who fought and died in the battle of Bataan and Corregidor and who suffered through the “death march” that followed that battle.  The bridge closest to the bottom of the photo is the 1903 bridge.  

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