Monday, April 6, 2020

April 6, 2009 -- Olympic Evaluation Team Honored at Art Institute Gala

April 6, 2009 – As 40 protestors chant on the east side of Columbus Drive, proclaiming their opposition to Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympic Games, Oprah Winfrey enters the Art Institute for a reception, held in honor of the International Olympic Committee’s evaluation commission.  The evaluation team will be in the city for one more day before moving on to evaluate Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro and Madrid, the competitors in the effort to host the 2016 games.  Commission members are greeted by Mayor Richard M. Daley and a West Side dance troupe.  People on the guest list include Valerie Jarrett, United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Governor Pat Quinn, former U. S. House of Representatives speaker Dennis Hastert, Nadia Comaneci, Bart Conner and Jackie Joyner-Kersee.  A number of diplomats also are among the 120 guests, along with members of some of Chicago’s wealthiest families, including J. B. Pritzker.  It is a rip-roaring evening at the museum as guests were given a tour of the brand-new Modern Wing and entertained by Buddy Guy and Koko Taylor.  Appetites are sated with a menu created by Spiaggia executive Tony Mantuano.   On October 2 the winner of the competition is announced.  It doesn’t go well for the city … you can read about that day in this entry in Connecting the Windy City.  

April 6, 1968 – Four thousand national guard troops are on city streets and three more units are on alert as rioting and looting rage on the city’s south side.  Heavy sniper fire pins policemen and firemen working fires near Sixty-Fifth Street and Ingleside, and crowds continue to grow between Cottage Grove and South Park Avenues on Sixty-First, Sixty-Third, and Sixty-Seventh Streets.  Deaths attributed to the rioting stand at nine, and at least 800 have been arrested as hundreds are left homeless and thousands more have no electric power.  One of the worst areas of destruction is the area of Roosevelt Road between Kedzie and Homan Avenues.  Thirty buildings on the south side of the street are set on fire with 16 more on the north side torched.  The fire alarm that signals the beginning of the riots is turned in at 3:49 p.m. on April 5 after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. the previous evening. Eventually, 125 arson fires are reported with 210 buildings burned or heavily damaged.

April 6, 1931 – A new regional branch of the Chicago Public Library at 4536 Lincoln Avenue is dedicated at 3:00 p.m. with its opening to the general public anticipated within a week.  It will be the largest regional library branch in the city with more than 60,000 volumes and a capacity of up to 80,000 volumes.  The library will fulfill two functions: (1) to lend books to the area in the surrounding community and (2) to furnish books to other branch libraries in the north and northwest sections of the city.  Ms. Jessie Reed, formerly the librarian at the Sheridan branch, will supervise a staff of 32 assistants.  Books in 20 languages will be on the shelves with a large German collection. The library is named after Frederick Hild, the city’s chief librarian from 1887 to 1909.  Hild was the guy who oversaw the planning and construction of the city’s main library on Michigan Avenue, the city’s cultural center today.  Fifty years later the collection became too large for the original building, and a new library opened just up the street at 4455 North Lincoln Avenue.  The Hild building sat vacant for over ten years before the Old Town School of Folk Music made a deal with the city in the early 1990’s to renovate the structure, turning it into one of the most artistically vibrant spaces in Chicago. The above photos show the original Art Deco Hild Library and today's Old Town School of Folk Music.

April 6, 1889 – The new Germania Club is opened at the northwest corner of Grant and Clark Streets.  The Chicago Daily Tribune describes the building in this way:  “The lower stories are constructed of Bedford sandstone and the upper ones of pressed red brick, with terra cotta decorations.  A balcony 50 x 20 feet projects on the Clark street front, and a small gallery supported by graceful columns surmounts the entrance on Grant street.  At each end of the gallery stands a statue – one of Germania, the other of Columbia.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 7, 1889]  The new clubhouse is designed with a variety of uses in mind.  There are two bowling alleys, a billiard hall, a practice room for the club’s chorus, two “elegantly furnished” dining rooms that can be rented out, a 50 x 30-foot library, and a dining hall and a ballroom, each measuring 110 x 50 feet.  A thousand people attend the dedication with a banquet for 400 following it.  In a toast at the banquet, Germania Club member Harry Rubens says, “… this, the first German club-house in Chicago, would issue a current that would carry the Germans on to the realization of those ideals of citizenship in the United States, combined with a loving remembrance of the old fatherland, which all German societies had so long endeavored to attain.”  Preservation Chicago notes that the “origins of the Germania Club date to 1865, when a group of German Civil War veterans sang at ceremonies held at the Chicago Court House as President Lincoln’s funeral bier passed through Chicago en route to Springfield.  In the same year, this informal chorus of 60 singers performed a second concert to benefit wounded Civil War soldiers, and in 1867 staged a concert to benefit a Jewish orphanage.”  In August of 2018 developer R2 paid $10 million for the 129-year-old building. According to Crain’s Chicago Business, “R2’s purchase is partly designed to take advantage of a fully-leased ground floor retail portion with tenants including Starbucks, CorePower, Yoga and a preschool, among others.  But the potential upside for the three-story, 40,000 square foot building will come from repositioning its upstairs event space.”  [Crain’s Chicago Business, August 23, 2018]

April 6, 1878 -- The Chicago Daily Tribune launches yet another editorial about the conditions found on the South Fork of the South branch of the Chicago River, widely known today as "Bubbly Creek." "Throughout the mile or more of its course there is absolutely nothing to gladden its wretchedness or to hide its beggarly rags of muddy bank and oozing filth," the paper moans. "A dirtier, uglier, more wretched-looking body of water it would be hard to find . . . the Fork is worse than ever before, for the reason that its present state is as bad as could possibly be attained." And it got worse . . .

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