Monday, April 13, 2020

April 13, 1882 -- Wells Street Bridge Tied Up All Day As Ship Runs Aground

April 13, 1882 – Trouble comes again to the Wells Street bridge as “the monster propeller”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 14, 1882]  City of Rome hits bottom and comes to a dead stop.  After an ineffective attempt to free herself, two tugs, W. H. Wolf and Hackley are called, and they pull at the stuck ship for over an hour to no effect.  Two more tugs, the A G. Van Schnick and Constitution, are summoned, but even with four tugs yanking on the grounded ship, the City of Rome refuses to budge.  During this time the Wells Street bridge, the main point of entry to the Chicago and North Western train station north of the river on Wells Street, remains in the open position.  At 7:15 p.m. two more tugs are called and the six tugs manage to work the ship free from the bottom of the river.  Unfortunately, during this final exertion the fireman on the Van Schnick is severely burned when he is drenched in a discharge of boiling water from the City of Rome’s steam condenser.  He is taken to the County Hospital.  The City of Rome is carrying 75,000 bushels of corn, and as she heads toward the lake she draws 14 feet, nine inches aft and 14 feet forward, giving very little margin for error in the shallow channel.  Two Anchor Line steamers lie abreast of one another just west of the Wells Street bridge, making it very difficult for ships the size of the City of Rome to enter the draw of the bridge.  It’s another day on the crowded Chicago River.  The above photo shows the Wells Street bridge, looking north toward the Chicago and North Western terminal.  Notice the clearance on the north side of the draw ... once the bridge was rotated parallel to the banks of the river, it took a pretty nice piece of navigation to squeeze through.

April 13, 1955 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that a proposal to link Midway and O’Hare Airports to the Loop by way of a monorail system able to move trains at 75 to 150 miles per hour will be proposed to the city council at its next meeting on April 21.  The plan calls for the system “To run west form the Loop to Cicero av. In the Congress st. super-highway, where it would not interfere with surface railway operation, and then branch north and south, one branch going to Midway, the other to O’Hare.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 13, 1955] The system would be double-tracked with trains “supported on the arms of ‘T’ shaped supporting structures 26 feel high,” giving the trains 16 feet of clearance above the ground.  Estimated time from the Loop to O’Hare is 14 minutes with a little less time required for a trip to Midway.  Officials estimate the cost of the project to be close to $12,000,000 with $2,000,000 required for the construction of terminals.  Another great idea that goes nowhere.  On June 7, 1956 the City Club of Chicago recommends that the city study the idea.  The next time the concept comes up is in September of 1959 when the city’s transportation department introduces the idea of a monorail system between the Loop and the proposed exposition center on the lakefront.  Of course, that didn’t happen either.  It would take considerably more than $12,000,000 to make the idea happen today, and the conversation is still  going on over sixty years later about how to move people quickly from downtown to the outlying airports.

April 13, 1953 – Dr. Konrad Adenauer, the Chancellor of the West German Republic, stops in the city while on a goodwill tour of the United States to make a major address in which he asserts that he would never agree to “a neutralized, disarmed Germany, barred from an equal treaty making status with other nations.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 14, 1953]  On this day the Chancellor’s T.W.A. plane arrives at 5:20 p.m. after circling to show Adenauer a good view of the city.  His daughter and a party of 21 people accompany him, and the German consul general meets the group as does Otto K. Eitel, owner of the Bismarck Hotel where the German leader will spend the night.  On the following day Adenauer attends a luncheon at the Chicago Club for which Robert E. Wood, the board chairman of Sears, Roebuck and Co., serves as the host.  Next on the docket is a reception in his honor at the University of Chicago at which Adenauer presents the university chancellor, Lawrence A. Kimpton, with several scholarships for study in Germany.  The day concludes at a Germania Club dinner where Adenauer makes his policy address in German.  In the photo above Dr. Adenauer is shown second from the left at the University of Chicago reception.  Dr. Kimpton is at the far right of the photo.

April 13, 1948 -- The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that Chicago Transit Authority workmen have begun salvaging rails and signal equipment form the Market Street elevated stub, which will be torn down during the summer. Once the elevated structure is out of the way, the section of South Wacker Drive on which it is located will become the north approach of the Congress Street expressway, which is in a preliminary phase of construction. The photo above shows the Market Street stub where it ended on the east side of the Civic Opera Building.

April 13, 1902 – Speaking at the annual banquet of the Chicago Architectural Club at the Victoria Hotel, landscape architect Olaf Benson predicts that by the middle of the century Chicago will be known as the “City Beautiful.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 14, 1902]  benson makes it clear that such an achievement will not come easily.  He says, “We must reconstruct and remodel our city, on entirely new ‘beauty lines.’ From a state of chaos and incongruous mixture of all kinds of buildings, standing side by side, without regard to character, we must bring order and introduce a system adapted for use, comfort, beauty, and happy and contented human living.” Benson, who served as superintendent of the Lincoln Park board from 1875 to 1889, continued, “Chicago of the future will have parks and boulevards the grandest the world has ever seen … A beautiful vegetation of graceful trees and shrubs and delicate flowers will receive more consideration, and scenic landscape effects will be among the chief attractions in our parks.”  Earlier in the day Daniel Burnham returns to the city from Washington, D. C. where he has convened the first planning session of the commission appointed to beautify the nation’s capital.  Burnham says, “A general plan of procedure was outlined, but nothing definite was done by the commission, which is composed of Charles McKim, Frederick Law Olmstead, and myself.  We will not complete our task for many months.  The results of our work will be submitted to Congress next winter.”  

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