Friday, April 24, 2020

April 24, 1965 -- Playboy Enterprises Heads for the Palmolive Building

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April 24, 1965 – Playboy Enterprises reports that it plans to acquire the operating lease on the Palmolive building for $1,900,000 (about $15,500,000 in today’s dollars).  The head of the company, Hugh Hefner, says that he will move his company into six floors of the 37-story building during the early part of 1966.  The building is owned by the Prudential Insurance Company of America with a lease that runs for 75 years.  In 1980 Playboy sold its leasehold on the Palmolive building and signed a 10-year lease which took the firm to 1990. At that point Playboy signed a 15-year lease for 100,000 square feet in two floors of the 680 North Lake Shore Drive building, which changed its address to 680 from 666, supposedly to avoid a perceived demonic reference.  By 2012 Playboy was gone from that address as well, and much of the space in the commercial section of the property is devoted to medical tenants today.  The company currently is headquartered in Beverly Hills, California.


April 24, 1966 -- The Chicago Tribune reports that as the old Federal building, bounded by Dearborn, Clark, Adams and Jackson, is demolished, the building across Jackson Boulevard, the Monadnock, is coming into clearer view. And the Monadnock, constructed between 1891 and 1893, is getting a major interior renovation. Fluorescent lights, carpets, and new office doors are being installed and the interior is being painted with white walls and dark gray ceilings. When it opened the building was the largest office building in the world and its design a pure statement of farewell to one building technique and a welcome to the next. As Professor Thomas Leslie of Iowa State University wrote, "Far from being the world's last and largest 'masonry skyscraper,' the Monadnock was a profoundly transitional structural achievement, making important advances in steel construction while still relying on the well-proven strength and reliability of masonry." However you approach the Monadnock, it is one heck of a building.


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April 24, 1962 – Using sand that was discovered in excavations for the South Expressway, today’s Dan Ryan Expressway, Chicago Park District officials have plans to expand two beaches along the lakefront.  The Thirty-First Street beach will be expanded to four times its size while the beach on the east side of Meigs Field, between the air strip and the planetarium to the north, will be doubled..  It is expected that both beaches will be completed for the 1962 swimming season.  The sand comes from a deposit of glacial sand twelve feet deep that was discovered at Thirty-First Street.  Robert A. Black, the chief engineer for the park district, says, “This sand was part of the Lake Michigan beach thousands of years ago.  It was deposited by glaciers and then covered up.” [Chicago Tribune, April 24, 1962]  The Army Corps of Engineers had previously approved the expansion of the Thirty-First Street beach expansion, and a petition for approval of the Twelfth Street project is pending.  One would barely recognize the Thirty-First Street beach today.  Known as Margaret T. Burroughs Beach, it sits at the foot of Thrifty-First Street and fronts a new harbor that contains 1,000 floating slips for boats of between 35 and 70 feet.  The beach has an ADA-accessible playground, a public fishing dock, harbor store, community room and picnic area.  Born in Louisiana, Burroughs came to Chicago early in her life, earning a teaching certificate from the Chicago Teachers College. In the late 1930's she led a movement that culminated in the creation of the South Side Community Art Center.  In the 1960's Burroughs and her husband, Charles, founded one of the country's first African-American history museums which is now housed in Washington Park.  In 1986 Mayor Harold Washington named her to serve on the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners. 


April 24, 1926 – Albany Park district commissioners complete the purchase of a 14-acre parcel of land that straddles the Chicago River, bounded on the east by Lawndale Avenue, on the west by Ayers Avenue, on the North by Foster Avenue, and on the south by Carmen Avenue.  The river will cut diagonally across the space.  The entire site will cost $90,000 with another $150,000 planned for buildings that will include a fieldhouse, tennis courts, a playground, gardens and a wide lawn.  The park today is named Eugene Field Park in honor of the writer and poet Eugene Field who wrote such popular kids’ poems as “Wynken, Blynken and Nod” and “The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat”. It features a Tudor Revival-style fieldhouse designed by Clarence Hatzfeld. On a main stairway wall inside the clubhouse hangs a W.P.A. mural entitled “Participation of Youth in the Realm of the Arts”. Eugene Field Park is shown in the above photo.



April 24, 1880 – Surveyors begin staking out the site that the Pullman Palace-Car Works and the Allen Paper Car-Wheel Works will occupy and preparations are finalized for opening ceremonies on April 25.  Pullman will be quite a venture as the Chicago Daily Tribune reports, “Before winter comes a new town will be planted between One Hundred and Third and One Hundred and Fifteenth streets.  A population of thousands will be growing where not a young blade grew before.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 25, 1880]  The erecting shops will have stalls for fifty passenger cars and 100 freight cars at a time.  All the buildings will have electric lights and will be heated with steam.  There will be 7,827,026 cubic feet to be warmed, requiring 230,536 feet of steam pipe.  The Tribune describes the expected grounds to be impressive as well, reporting that “The entire area, half a mile deep by a mile long, will be treated with shrubbery, lawns, serpentine walks, and drives in the best style of landscape art.  A drive two miles long will encircle the shops.  A boulevard 150 feet wide, with a lawn in the centre, will be made of One Hundred and Eleventh street.”  Before cold weather comes, close to 2,000 mechanics and laborers will be at work in the new community that would become, almost overnight, the largest suburb of the city.

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