Monday, March 2, 2020

March 2, 1872 -- Chicago Tribune Editorial: Let the Railroads Have the Lakefront

monovisions.com
March 2, 1872 – In an editorial the Chicago Tribune proclaims that a resolution put forth by the Committee of the Judiciary of the Common Council “in favor of letting the three railroads have the three lake-front squares lying east of Michigan avenue and north of Monroe street for depot purposes” is “the unanimous wish of the people of the city.”  [Chicago Tribune, March 2, 1872]  The editorial points out that since Michigan Avenue south of Monroe Street “is to be inevitably devoted to business purposes” the railroad’s acquisition of the three city blocks from Randolph to Monroe “will increase, by a large percentage, the value of all the lake-front property in the vicinity.”  The appropriate disposition of the area has been tied up in federal court in a dispute over the rightful ownership of the property.  The area was originally part of land that the federal government set aside for the purpose of building a canal from Lake Michigan to the interior waters of the state and was designated as an area to be kept open, clear and free of buildings.  In the 1870’s, though, it was a mess, with an Illinois Central Railroad trestle running north and south and a heavily polluted body of water lying between the trestle and Michigan Avenue.  There was no thought of it ever amounting to much of anything … certainly no thought that it would become the world-renowned urban park that it is today.  At the time of the editorial, in fact, the city was seriously entertaining the idea of selling the three blocks to the railroad for $800,000 (about $18,000,000 in 2020 dollars).  Fortunately, that scheme fell through in the mid-1870’s, but the feeling in the city was captured in the final section of the editorial, which stated, “It is exceedingly desirable that the muddle which has existed in regard to the title to these squares should be thus finally disposed of, and that the squares themselves should be applied to a purpose as advantageous to the people of the city, and to the interests of commerce, as to railroads.”  The above photo shows Michigan Avenue in the 1870's from approximately the location of today's Congress Street.  Note the railroad trestle, running diagonally across the top right corner of the photo and the body of water covering what today is the Art Institute, Grant Park and Millennium Park between Michigan Avenue and the trestle.


March 2, 2014 – Joining a crowd of several thousand at the edge of an icy Lake Michigan to raise money for Special Olympics Chicago, Jimmy Fallon, clad in a suit and tie, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, wearing a Chicago Public Library tee-shirt and shorts, take to the water in the annual Polar Plunge.  An hour before the event the temperature stands at ten degrees, and Chicago firefighters in wetsuits head into the lake to clear ice from the area before the event begins.  During the preceding summer the Mayor had promised that if the city’s children read two million books as part of the Chicago Public Library program called “Rahm’s Readers,” he would participate in the plunge.  When he heard that Fallon wanted him to appear on the show that the late-night host had taken over from Jay Leno in February, Emanuel made his appearance part of a deal that required Fallon to head for the lake as well.  “If you hear a scream like a little girl’s … know that Jimmy Fallon is swimming in Lake Michigan,” the comedian tells the crowd before running into the icy water. [talkingpointsmemo.com] The dip doesn’t last long; it was in and out for Fallon who emerges from the 32-degree water to the sound of cheers and music from a group of bagpipers, standing calf-deep in the water in yellow boots and kilts.

originstutoring.com
March 2, 1971 – About 1,500 students at Lane Technical High School walk out of classes and march over seven miles to the Loop to protest the school’s plans to admit girls in the next school year.  At Board of Education headquarters at 228 North La Salle Street the young men ask for a meeting with school board members and, while waiting for an answer, chant “We Don’t Want No Girls at Lane”. [Chicago Tribune, March 2, 1971]  A spokesman for Lane Tech says that the students “… don’t want their physical education program interfered with by girls who will take over one of the school’s three gyms – and the newest one, at that.  New showers will have to be installed, as well as hair dryers, and the boys are having a fit.”  A thousand students walk out of the buildings when the first period of the day concludes at 9:00 a.m.  A fire alarm is pulled two minutes later, and the remainder of the students leave the building.  The majority of the 5,500 students return to class once the fire department determines the alarm to be false, but a significant number begin their trek along Addison Street to Clark on the way downtown.  Nine representatives of the group do manage to meet with the assistant to the deputy superintendent of schools, Robert Zamzow, who says "It was a good meeting.  There will be no difficulties.  These are gentlemen.”


Alderman Archibald Carey
March 2, 1949 – Mayor Martin H. Kennelly reads an eight-page statement to the city council in which he rips a proposed ordinance that would ban racial and religious discrimination in the selection of tenants for proposed public housing projects. The projects are scheduled to be developed by a land clearance commission that would “acquire and clear slum areas and resell the land at a loss to private investors for housing development.”  [Chicago Tribune, March 3, 1949] “Let those people speak who live in the slums,” Kennelly says.  “Those are the people I am trying to benefit and to help, and I feel that they will be helped if we can provide decent, comfortable homes instead of the slums where they are now forced to live.”   The ordinance, introduced by Third Ward Alderman Archibald Carey, proposes that all housing built on land that the Chicago Housing Authority or the Chicago Land Clearance Commission conveyed to private interests will be made available for ownership or occupancy without discrimination or segregation of any kind.  Detractors, including the mayor, decry the ordinance, suggesting that it will dissuade private interests from participating in the project.   After Kennelly finishes his address, the City Council goes on to defeat the Carey ordinance by a vote of 31 to 13.  Alderman Carey is the subject of the above photo.


March 2, 1900 -- Just two months after the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, the massive project that was to solve all of the city's sewage problems is opened, marine insurance men and the managers of the city's tug boat lines make a trip up the river, concluding that unless something radical is done the river will not be navigable if any current is running in it. One participant observed, "With a current I do not see how traffic of big boats can be carried on it at all. The boats will be driven away from Chicago. It is not a discrimination against marine men, for they have plenty to do elsewhere, but it will injure shipping interests." As if to prove the point the schooner Armenia grounds itself on the Washington Street tunnel that afternoon.

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