Saturday, March 7, 2020

March 7, 1972 -- Chicago Stock Exchange Won't Go without a Fight

March 7, 1972 -- Eleven persons are hurt when a 150-foot metal scaffold falls from the top of the Old Stock Exchange Building at 30 North La Salle Street, carrying bricks and pieces of wood with it. Two cars are buried as debris are scattered over a 200-foot stretch of La Salle Street between Madison and Washington. Fire Commissioner Robert Quinn blames the falling debris on strong wind gusts that caught part of the tarpaulin at the top of the building and blew the scaffolding and bricks off the east wall, which had been demolished to the ninth floor. "It was a miracle that the whole wall didn't go down," Quinn said. "That tarpaulin acted just like a sail in the wind." The building's demolition, which comes after a protracted battle to make it a city landmark, removes what was arguably the greatest achievement of architect Louis Sullivan. Its death cry on this day in March of 1972 was heard, and a new attitude toward preservation was born and is alive and well today. The photo above shows the building not long after the accident occurred.
March 7, 1929 – Cook County’s new $7,500,000 courthouse and jail at Twenty-Sixth Street and California Avenue is opened for public inspection as more than 600 business people and members of civic organizations sit down to lunch in the building’s dining room, an event sponsored by the Association of Commerce and the Chicago Advertising Council.  The jail, intended primarily for the use of prisoners awaiting trial, is a state-of-the art facility.  Each of the 1,302 jail cells will have running water and mattresses that are three inches thick.  It is estimated that 2,000 people inspect the cells and the new courthouse, which contains 14 courtrooms, a grand jury room, a jury summons and waiting room, an arraignment court, a law library, and officers for sheriffs, clerks, the state’s attorney, and a social service department.  The facility is scheduled to open on April 1.  Today, with an occupancy of over 10,000 inmates, the jail is the largest single-site prison in the United States. It stands on the site of the former John Worthy Reform School.  The former reform school and today's courthouse are pictured above.

March 7, 1919 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that the Grand Pacific Hotel, at the corner of Jackson Boulevard and Clark Street, will be demolished and “that a modern office building will replace the present building is the ‘best guess’ of men versed in loop real estate.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, March 7, 1919] The Grand Pacific Hotel was completed in 1873, just two years after the Chicago Fire, according to a design by architect W. W. Boyington.  It became one of the two most prominent hotels in the city, rivalling the Palmer House in its luxury.  It was a massive and ornate edifice.  It was composed of 7,00,000 bricks and 52,000 cubic feet of limestone and sandstone. The hotel had 1,070 doors. Nearly an acre of glass was used in its 930 windows. There were 420 chandeliers with 1,518 gas burners and another 880 sconces with 1,280 burners. 38 miles of wire went into the building's electrical systems. [Chicago Daily Tribune, May 16, 1873] The west half of the building was demolished in 1895 to provide a space for the Illinois Trust and Savings Bank, and the east side of the structure was remodeled according to a design by architectural firm Jenney and Mundie.  It was in the Grand Pacific that the Standard Time system was adopted on October 11, 1883.  The remaining structure was demolished in 1921 to make way for the Continental Illinois Bank.  The above photos show the original Grand Pacific Hotel, the truncated version, and the bank, designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst and White, that occupies the corner today. 

March 7, 1903 – A Chicago Daily Tribune editorial condemns the practice of dumping dredgings from the river at Bridgeport into the lake a short distance from the shore between Fourteenth Street and Hyde Park.  The editorial urges South Park Board President D. F. Crilly “now in Florida, where, presumably, he is breathing pure air, drinking pure water, and rejoicing at his immunity from mud, soot, smoke and garbage,” [Chicago Daily Tribune, March 7, 1903] to do something.  Singled out for particular criticism are the commissioners of the district who “would not pay the contractors an exorbitant extra price to dump it [the dredgings from the river] in Grant Park.”  The editorial puts a question in the absent Mr. Crilly’s mouth, “What is the use of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on intercepting sewers if we allow the sewage to be taken back and intermingled with our water supply?”  The question is followed up with this lament, “With an ample supply of the best water in the world at our door, why should we not have water that is fit for use?  Why should a few contractors year after year be allowed to poison that water?”

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