Tuesday, March 24, 2020

March 24, 1968 -- Metropolitan Structures Ups the Ante

March 24, 1968 – The Chicago Tribune runs a feature on Metropolitan Structures, Inc. as it embarks on creating a $300 million “new town” for 50,000 people on a 1,000-acres island near Montreal.  The firm is a descendant of a development entity that was overseen by Herbert S. Greenwald before he died in a plane crash in 1959.  Greenwald’s company was responsible for such Chicago gems as 860 and 880 Lake Shore Drive, Commonwealth Plaza, and the Promontory apartments, all designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.  Greenwald’s attorney, Bernard Weissbourd, originally a chemist who worked on the Manhattan Project, set up Metropolitan Structures after the developer’s death, and the new firm turned to large-scale developments such as the 2400 Lake View apartments and the Essex Inn in Chicago and the Baltimore Hilton and One Charles Office Center in Baltimore.  The next major project to which the firm has committed is the development of Illinois Central Railroad air rights east of Michigan Avenue and south of the Chicago River.  It has attained the distinction of being the first firm to gain approval for erecting a building in the area, the anticipated 30-story tower that is today 111 East Wacker Drive, the home of the Chicago Architecture Center.  According to the Tribune, “Weissbourd has conceived an exciting city within a city.  His plan is to group office and residential buildings together, and to link all with underground commercial development.  This in turn would flow south to the lower level of the Prudential building at Randolph street, thence to the Illinois Central railroad station, and into the State street subway station.  Access would be provided to State street department stores and further on to the Civic center, Brunswick building, and a developing underground tunnel network on Dearborn street.”  [Chicago Tribune, March 24, 1968]  Here began what would become a large part of Chicago’s extensive and ever expanding pedway system.  The dark tower in the center of the above photo is 111 East Wacker Drive.

March 24, 2014 – A C.T.A. train operator falls asleep at the controls as her train approaches the end of the line at O’Hare International Airport just before 3:00 a.m., and the train crashes through a barrier designed to stop trains at the end of the line and continues to travel up an escalator.  More than 30 people are hurt, and Blue Line service to the airport is halted for over a day as authorities try to determine the cause of the accident.  C.T.A. President Forrest Clayppol says, “We run a half a million train trips a year. So when something like this happens, we want to work closely with our engineers and theirs (the National Transportation and Safety Board) to get to the very bottom of this as fast as we can.”

March 24, 1949 -- Satchel Paige, at the age of 43, starts his first game of the 1949 season as the Cleveland Indians, with Lou Boudreau as a player-manager, meet the Chicago Cubs in a spring training game in Los Angeles. After a 1948 season that saw the oldest man ever to play major league baseball in contention for post-season honors, the 1949 season would be a disappointment as Paige would go 4-7 even though he managed a 3.04 earned run average. Bill Veeck would give Paige an unconditional release at the conclusion of the season, but he would play four more years and be named to the American League All-Star team in 1952 and 1953.

March 24, 1923 – The Vice-President of the Illinois Central Railroad, C. N. Kittle, says that the road is considering improving railroad property between Randolph Street and the Chicago River, east of Michigan Avenue with hotels and skyscrapers.   Kittle says, “… it is our plan to improve it with office buildings, hotels and other structures, similar to the development over the New York Central tracks in New York, where the Biltmore and Ambassador hotels have been built over the tracks.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, March 25, 1923] Attorney Walter L. Fisher, counsel for the City Railway Terminal Commission, says, “This territory will serve as a commercial outlet to the loop for years to come.  With the transportation which will be afforded by the Illinois Central railroad it should prove amazingly popular following electrification of the road.”  Change takes time.  It would be another half-century or more before this “amazingly popular” area that is today known as Illinois Center would see its first high rise building.  The black and white photo shows the area as it looked in the 1920's.  The photo below that shows Illinois Center (almost impossible to believe it's the same place) today.

March 24, 1914 --  The organizers of the federal reserve banking system decide that Chicago will be the center of one of the largest of the twelve districts that will be created in the new system.  Minneapolis will share the midwestern territory with Chicago. The Chicago district is tentatively organized to include Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Nebraska, a territory in which banks have a total capital of more than $300,000,000.  Congress passed the Federal Reserve Act on December 23, 1913 primarily to put an end to the bank runs and panics that had plagued the country as a result of its decentralized banking system.  By the middle of November, 1914 the 12 cities chosen as the sites for regional banks in the system were open and ready for business.  The photo shows the Federal Reserve Bank under construction in Chicago in 1915.

No comments: