Monday, March 30, 2020

March 30, 1971 -- Chicago Stock Exchange Gets a Stay of Execution


chicagology.com
March 30, 1971 – Mayor Richard J. Daley orders the Chicago Building Commission to deny a permit that would allow the demolition of the old Chicago Stock Exchange building at 30 North La Salle Street.  Daley also appoints a committee to look into ways to preserve and restore a building that architects Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler designed, a magnificent 13-story structure that has stood since 1894.  The announcement appears to be a reversal of the administration’s position concerning the structure, which had previously seen the City Council deny a request to preserve the building as an historical landmark, a designation that would have meant that it could not be significantly altered without the express consent of the Chicago Historical and Architectural Landmarks Commission and the City Council.  Daley's reversal did not last, and the building was torn down in 1972 after an aggressive campaign to save it, an effort that many would assert led to the preservation movement that has since saved so many notable buildings in the city.  Thanks to the efforts of architect John Vinci and the Art Institute of Chicago, the trading room of the Stock Exchange is on display at the museum while its arched entryway is on display outside the Art Institute on the southwest corner of Monroe Street and Columbus Drive.


March 30, 1945 -- Frank Lloyd Wright addresses the Chicago Chapter of the American Institute of Architects at the Casino Club. He talks at length about "the philosophy of organic architecture" [Chicago Daily Tribune, March 31, 1945] and makes this observation when asked about the future of cities, "Cities are just as dated as static and the radio. Americans just want to live. Cities are not important. The reality of buildings consists of space within -- to live in. The old period of putting the outside in -- is gone." The photo above was taken in 1945, the year of the Casino Club address.



March 30, 1902 – The Chicago Daily Tribune runs a feature on two men, Charles Erickson and John Axelson, who are responsible for switching 3,222 streetcars each day, “the hundreds of cable trains that crawl out of the La Salle street tunnel every day and follow one another in rapid succession into different sections of the North Side traversed by the cable system.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, March 1902] Each man works nine hours on a job that “must be done no matter what the condition of the weather may be, and it must be done without the protection of shelter of any sort.  In winter and summer, when it is cold and when it is hot, when it rains and when the sun shines ….” The job entails making certain that cars running in Wells Street and Clark Street get around the curve at LaSalle Street and Illinois Street.  The key to the operation is the mouth of the LaSalle Street tunnel where as soon as the switchman “sees the sign on the top he knows how to set his switches.”  There is virtually no time during the nine-hour shift when a train is not rounding the curve.  Erickson says, “It’s not such hard work, but you have to keep your eyes open and your hands busy.  In winter it is harder than in summer, because the switches freeze and cannot be handled so easily as in warm weather … The first car from the barns in the morning reaches the curve at 5:45 o’clock, and the last one at night passes here at 12:50.  Between those hours there is scarcely a minute that the man on duty is not busy with the switch.”  The first cable car in the city ran at 2:30 p.m. on January 28, 1882, and the last one arrived at the Twenty-First Street powerhouse on October 21, 1906.  At the turn of the century Chicago had the second largest cable car system of any city in the nation, which would morph into the largest streetcar system in the world in the ensuing decades.  Note that the building behind the switchman in the 1902 Tribune feature still stands today at 500 North La Salle Street.  It is the old powerhouse for the La Salle Street cable cars.

Chicago Historical Society
March 30, 1890 – With the news that the U. S. House of Representatives has granted Chicago the rights to build a World’s Fair with the proviso that the city must provide $10,000,000 to see the project through, the Chicago Daily Tribune solicits comments from readers about what they would do for the city if they had that sum to spend. The answers, according to the Tribune, offer a few pointers to Mayor DeWitt Clinton Cregier.  Here are a scattering of the responses culled from dozens of items, some signed, some unsigned:   

I would at least pay my honest taxes, and that’s more than nine-tenths of our $10,000,000 men of today do. – G. F. Blesch

Offer [Mayor] Cregier a bonus over his salary for the rest of his term to give up the job and let some 11-year-old schoolboy run the Mayor’s office.  The Mayor needs a rest; the boy would do better.

Give half of it to the City of Chicago if the city would do just two things before 1893 – viz.: clear the Lake Front from that intolerable nuisance, the railroad tracks, and make the Lake-Front Park into a beautiful public garden, something after the style of the Boston public garden.  – Franklin Rogers

I would use my best endeavors to abate some of the nuisances, especially the outrageous stenches and the black clouds of soot and smoke that constantly hang like a pall over the city, enveloping and disfiguring everybody and everything.  By such expenditure of my money I would feel sure that I had benefited the entire population and millions of visitors, as well as the City of Chicago.  – H. N. Blood, Rockford, Ill.

I would try and make an honest government in Chicago and start with the root of all evils – first the Aldermen.  I would engage the best of detectives to watch and set traps for them and then pay a lawyer to assist the State’s Attorney to send the boodlers over the road. I would not let up on them till thieves gave up running for office and only honest men could be induced to represent the people.  – Paul Mann

Every year I would pay whatever I was honestly and proportionally entitled to pay in the way of State, county, city, and personal taxes, which is something men rarely do when they become worth the above-named sum, preferring rather to represent themselves as being worth about $687.60 and paying taxes in proportion to that amount, thereby cheating the city out of thousands of dollars every year.  In this way I would be doing for the city a rare and unusual thing, and one which would be appreciated by all decent citizens, though amounting to nothing more than paying my honest bill.  – E. J. W.

I would buy at least 1,000 acres of land and then provide a home and school for Chicago’s most unfortunate children, the poor, feeble-minded, of which Chicago has at least 1,000, among whom at least two-thirds could in some way or another be taught something so they would not be such a burden to their parents and themselves.  – Anna Thonagel

I would put every cent into building an endowment for a Chicago university for manual training that should become the pride, glory and blessing of what is yet designed to be the grandest city on the whole earth.  – Andrew S. Cutler

I would buy St. Louis, annex it to Chicago as one of our suburbs, and make the residents acquainted with the new “slow time” service.  That would be the only suburb that would not kick against slow rides – as they are used to anything slow.  – S. G. Morris

I would quit Chicago before the 1st of April not to be compelled to breathe the same air with the nominated boodle candidates for city representatives.  – C. H.

I think the best service to which $10,000,000 could be put in Chicago would be for the benefit of the physical condition of the people, removing unhealthy and unsightly structures, building conveniently arranged tenement flats with gardens on the roofs, doing away with the smoke nuisance, inaugurating elevated roads and rapid transit, making parks, and widening streets with fountains and free air space. The body is the soil out of which the soul springs.  – C. S. Austin


March 30, 1853 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports on a court case that will continue to have an impact on the city for well over a century.  The case involves a suit which James H. Collins files against the Illinois Central Railroad Company, in which Collins attempts to enjoin the railroad from running its tracks “in the lake at some distance from the shore.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, March 30, 1853] The nut of the case is that the railroad, by constructing tracks off shore, will impact the value of privately held property along the lake.  The attorney for Collins, John M. Wilson, argues that “the State has the right to use the waters of the Lake for all public purposes,” but that “the State cannot give the company this power.”  The attorney for the railroad argues that “the Legislature of the State of Illinois has passed a law giving to the Illinois Central Railroad Company so much of the lands belonging to the State as they may pass through and as may be necessary for the laying of the track and the construction of depots.”  As the day drags on, a lawyer for Collins says, “It is a conceded point, that if the complainants are the owners of property where the Company proposes to locate their road, that property cannot be taken, except by legal measures, and not then unless due compensation is made … This Company seeks with the strong arm of power to take this property and these advantages, without compensating the owners … There is no authority to sustain the position that one owning land upon a body of water can be cut off from the water and its attendant advantages, without compensation.” In a January, 1951 article the Chicago Tribune made an interesting point about the transaction that came following the Collins vs. I.C. case, “The Illinois Central did not ask for its lake front tracksite.  That was assigned to it by the city.  The lake at that time came right up to Michigan av.  I. C. historians assert the city decided it would be a nice thing to have a railroad between itself and the open lake, and stuck the Illinois Central out there for protection.”  In any event, the railroad got the land, built a trestle, and occupied prime lakefront real estate for a century or more, sparring with the city over its position on lakefront land for most of that time.  The above photo shows the train that carried the body of Abraham Lincoln to the city as it moves along the lakefront trestle in 1865.

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