Tuesday, March 10, 2020

March 10, 1916 -- Aquarium May Get Help from Rosenwald

March 10, 1916 – The president of Sears, Roebuck and Company, Julius Rosenwald, announces that he will help Chicago in its effort to build an aquarium.  After visiting a fish exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago, sponsored by the Chicago Aquarium Society, Rosenwald releases a statement that reads, “Mr. Rosenwald is in sympathy with the movement to provide the people of Chicago an aquarium.  He hopes that the plan now under consideration to put the proposed attraction in the Field Columbian museum may be worked out because he believes that such an arrangement would be advantageous to the aquarium project and to the museum.  If some such arrangement can be made Mr. Rosenwald will be very glad to join others in providing a fund to establish the enterprise.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, Marsh 11, 1916]  Ultimately it was not Rosenwald who would be the benefactor who gave the city its aquarium.  That honor would go to John G. Shedd, the president of Marshall Field and Company, who provided the money to build the aquarium which would open in 1930, four years after Shedd died.  Rosenwald, though, was a continuing benefactor, believing that his money should improve society positively while he was still around to see the results.  Born in Springfield, Illinois, he dropped out of high school after two years and went to work for his uncles who were clothing manufacturers in New York City.  In 1885 he returned to Chicago as the president of a small clothing manufacturing company, which had an account with the rapidly growing catalogue business of Sears, Roebuck and Company.  In 1895 Rosenwald bought a quarter-share in Sears and became its vice-president and treasurer.  His expertise at marketing was a boon to the company from his first day on the job, and between 1897 and 1899 annual sales increased from $1,273,924 to $8,505,577.  [learnigntobive.org/resourcesrosenwald-julius]  Rosenwald and his wife, Augusta, gave generously in support of a host of organizations, ranging from Hull House, to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, to the founding of the Federation of Jewish Charities of Chicago.  A large portion of their wealth, though, was given in support of education for African-Americans.  In 1917 the Julius Rosenwald Fund was established with an initial capitalization of $10,000,000 (about $200,000,000 in 2020 dollars), which, among other projects, was responsible for the construction of 5,357 schools that primarily benefitted African-Americans.  In Chicago Rosenwald co-founded the Municipal Voters League, served on the board of the Chicago Planning Commission and donated $4.5 million to the University of Chicago (over $90,000,000 in 2020 dollars).  Although he did not fund the aquarium project, he did underwrite another museum that still fascinates young and old.  His gift of $3 million (over $60,000,000 in 2020 dollars) made possible the establishment of the Museum of Science and Industry. Rosenwald declined the honor of having his name placed on the building that he made possible.

March 10, 1963 –The Chicago Tribune reports that Holiday Inns of America Inc. is planning a 31-story hotel on Lake Shore Drive between Erie and Ontario Streets.  Estimated to cost $10 million, the tower will have 600 rooms with the first five floors reserved for parking.  This site is chosen over another site that the company was considering at Wolf Point.  The new hotel will stand just south of the American Furniture Mart and will feature a revolving restaurant at the top of the structure.  The Holiday Inn is pictured in the top photo.  The second photo shows that the Holiday Inn is now a W Hotel, a luxury brand owned by Marriott International, one of 52 hotels the brand operates in 25 countries.  It appears the restaurant at the top of the tower is now a meeting space.

March 10, 1948 – A Delta Airlines plane with nine passengers and a crew of four crashes into a field north of the Municipal Airport, today’s Midway, less than a minute after taking off from the airport on its way to Cincinnati and Miami, Florida. There is only one survivor as the plane bursts into flames upon hitting the ground.  The plane arrived at the airport at 9:26 p.m. and after being re-fueled leaves for Cincinnati and Miami at 10.45 p.m. According to the Flight Safety Foundation, “The takeoff roll and the first part of the climb appeared to be normal until it had reached an altitude between 150 and 200 feet.  Then, it assumed a very steep, near vertical, climbing attitude.  At 500-800 feet the airplane appeared to stall, and the nose and right wing dropped.  A partial recovery from the stall was made before the aircraft crashed to the ground and burst into flames.”  No determination was made as to what caused the pilot’s loss of control of the plane.

March 10, 1942 – The Lake Forest summer home of the late Edith Rockefeller McCormick, Villa Turicum, is sold at a tax foreclosure sale in Waukegan for $75,000 -- $4,925,000 less than the estate cost to build in 1912.  There are tax claims of $340,427 against the villa along with interest and penalties that have accrued for eight years between 1931 and 1939.  It is believed that the 253-acre property will be subdivided into two- to ten-acre plots with the city of Lake Forest receiving 58 acres for a park.  One parcel out of the 16 that will be sold, the one that holds the 59-room mansion with 13 bathrooms, is sold for $13,500.  Rockefeller's home once sat on a bluff above the lake just east of Sheridan Road and north of Fort Sheridan.  The great mansion on the estate was finally razed in 1956, and another relic of an earlier era disappeared with its pavilion above the lake designed for taking afternoon tea while musicians played, its polo field, reflecting pools, stables and bridle paths and a service area that included 21 garages.  The house itself had a main dining room that could accommodate 60 guests, 13 master bedrooms, each with a bath and fireplace and 14 rooms for servants.  [http://www.villaturicum.com/Ruin/]

March 10, 1913 -- The South Shore Country Club closes its membership, announcing that new members will only be accepted in the event of a death or resignation. This leaves the club, founded in 1905, with 1,027 members and 200 perpetual members. Club members also vote unanimously to improve the facility, designed by Benjamin Henry Marshall and Charles Eli Fox, recommending a $500,000 bond issue to pay for an updated facility. The expanded facility, designed in a Mediterranean Modern style, was completed in 1916. This is the building that is today the South Shore Cultural Center, the exterior of which served as the site of the Palace Hotel Ballroom in the 1980 Blues Brothers movie.

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