Thursday, March 5, 2020

March 5, 1972 -- Amtrak Ends Intercity Runs into Roosevelt Road Station
March 5, 1972 – The end of the line is reached for intercity passenger trains using Central Station at Roosevelt Road and Michigan Avenue.   Switching to Union Station will be the overnight Panama Limited to and from New Orleans; the Shawnee, serving mostly the universities at Champaign-Urbana and Carbondale; and the George Washington-James Whitcomb Riley, serving Cincinnati and Washington, D. C.  Central Station opened on April 17, 1893, just in time for the May 1 opening of the World’s Columbian Exposition.  It was designed by New York architect Bradford Gilbert in a Romanesque style, using red brick and sandstone.  It was, perhaps, the grandest of the great train stations that served the city in the heyday of passenger trains.  When it opened, the terminal’s train shed was the world’s largest, measuring 610 feet long by 140 feet wide.  Passengers waited for their trains in a waiting room that was three stories high.  There was a balcony that allowed them to look out over Lake Michigan and a 225-foot clock tower that along “with its arched windows, rounded support columns, red-tile pitched roof, and spiral peaks” made the building resemble “a Medieval Europe castle one might see in ancient France, Spain, or England.”  []  The Illinois Central Railroad continued to use the building until 1974 when it completed its new headquarters at 233 North Michigan Avenue.  By the end of that year the entire complex was razed.

J. Bartholomew Photo
March 5, 1970 – U. S. Representative Melvin Price, the chairman of a House Armed Services Committee sub-committee, announces that the defense department has notified him of the closing or transfer of military installations in the state, including the transfer of Fifth Army Headquarters from Ft. Sheridan to Fort Sam Houston, Texas where it will be combined with the Fourth Army.  U. S. Defense Secretary Melvin Laird says that 371 different cost-cutting actions will be taken in the near future, leading to a saving of $914 million.  Laird estimates that 35,300 military personnel and 58,000 civilians will be affected.  Plans call for the movement of Fifth Army headquarters to be completed within a year although few details are available for what the status of tFort Sheridan will be in the future.  The fort, which the U. S. government established in 1887, would continue on for almost a quarter-century, celebrating its last birthday On July 24, 1992. Today its 230-acre historic district is composed of 94 preserved buildings, most of them dating from 1890 to 1905, that have been transformed into private residences.  With abundant green space, it is a hidden gem on the North Shore lakefront.

March 5, 1962 – The largest public housing project in the country opens with Mayor Richard J. Daley presenting the keys to the first tenant.  The Robert R. Taylor homes will provide 4,415 apartments as subsidized units on a 35-acre site between State Street and the Rock Island Railroad tracks, extending from Thirty-Ninth to Fifty-Fourth Street.  The development is named after Robert R. Taylor, a civic leader and former chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority.  Designed by Shaw, Metz and Associates, the development consists of 28 16-story buildings, most of them clustered in groups of three. The Robert Taylor homes will add to the 26,739 apartments that the C.H.A. already operates.  The housing authority also has 1,860 more apartments under construction at 32 different sites with another 2,767 apartments in the land acquisition or planning stage.  The best of intentions cannot salvage a bad idea, and the Robert Taylor homes, marooned in a two-mile stretch of commercial and retail desert, became a cautionary tale in how not to provide subsidized housing.  Originally intended to shelter 11,000 residents, the development at its peak held 27,000 people, 95 percent of whom were unemployed.  The decision was made in 1993 to replace the entire project with a mixed-income community of low-rise buildings, and the last building of the Robert Taylor homes was demolished almost exactly 45 years after the project opened.

March 5, 1901 – In 1889 John Chippewa Crerar, a wealthy Chicago industrialist died and left approximately 2.6 million dollars to fund a library in the city. In 1894 that library was legally incorporated and by 1901 the board of directors had hatched a plan to erect a building for the library in Grant Park at the foot of Washington Street.  On this date in 1901 the Chicago Daily Tribune endorsed the plan in an editorial, stating, “If built as planned the structure will be one of which the city will be proud.  It will be an ornament to the lake front, against which the property-owners cannot make a reasonable objection.”  The only possible drawback to the plan, according to the paper, was “the smoke nuisance form the adjacent railroad tracks.”  The editorial concluded, though, that “if the smoke nuisance were always to be considered there would be no building at all in Chicago.”  There followed a long dispute over erecting the building in Grant Park, followed by a lengthy delay caused by the First World War.  Groundbreaking did not take place for the Holabird and Roche designed building until 1919 when it was begun on the northwest corner of Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street.  It was torn down in the early 1980’s and the collection moved to the University of Chicago.    

March 5, 1862 -- The Chicago Daily Tribune editorializes about the nearly intolerable condition of the Chicago River, observing that "A walk across Rush street, Madison street or Polk street bridges will work conviction of the trouble upon the happy possessor of the obtusest of noses." The paper finds that between Fullerton and Chicago Avenues over 4,000 head of cattle are being "stall-fattened," and that "The entire drainage of these sheds . . . pours directly into the river." In the three miles from Bridgeport to Madison Street the paper found "no less than seventeen packing houses . . . the aggregate number of animals slaughtered on or near the river's banks whose blood swells the crimson tide, is not less than five thousand per day." In conclusion, the editorial states, "There have been, since October last, poured into the river the blood and entrails of more than eighty thousand head of fat cattle and of four hundred thousand hogs, besides the sewage and the winter's refuse of a hundred and twenty thousand well fed people. Let us not wonder, when this conduit of corruption is leaking out its contents into the lake, that when the wind is right, the water is abominable. Rather let us account it a mercy that it is no worse."

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