Wednesday, April 8, 2020

April 8, 1916 -- Lakeview to See Large Luxury Apartments Built on Surf

Britton I. Budd
April 8, 1916 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reveals that a major real estate deal has been finalized in which property on the northwest corner of Surf Street and Pine Grove Avenue has been sold to Joseph H. Buttas of the B. W. Construction Company for a reported $40,000.  It is anticipated that the two brick homes on the property will be torn down and that “an extra high grade twenty-four unit apartment building, to cost in the neighborhood of $175,000” [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 8, 1916] will be constructed on the site.  The apartments will contain four, five, six and seven rooms, each with two or three bathrooms.  At $400 a front foot, the price is a record for this area of Lakeview.  Today that building, which was finished in 1920, is the Britton Budd apartment building, a Chicago Housing Authority subsidized-housing complex “for active adults age 62 and older”.  []  The renovation of the original building has provided 173 studio and one-bedroom apartments on one of the prettiest streets in Lakeview.  The building’s namesake, Britton Budd, is an interesting figure.   Back in the day when Samuel Insull controlled nearly every mile of Chicago’s electric rail system, it was Budd who oversaw the system’s daily operations.  Apparently, Budd viewed his job in the same no-nonsense vein that he conducted his personal life.  One particular incident conveys the sense of the man’s approach.  When the Northwestern Elevated Railroad notified Wilmette officials that the line intended to extend its operations into the village, the city resisted, laying down strict conditions which Budd refused.  On April 1, 1912 he ordered a construction crew into the village at night, closed off Laurel Avenue and built an elevated platform on a spur track just south of Linden Avenue.  Later, when the Northwestern sought to build a permanent facility with a car storage yard, the city again refused.  Budd ordered the station and yard built, anyway.  []  When the Chicago Rapid Transit Company went into receivership on June 28, 1932, Budd, along with Chicago Public Works Commissioner Albert A. Sprague, were named receivers, and they oversaw the company’s rise from its Depression low-point.  Budd died in 1965 at the age of 93.  The Britton Budd Apartments are shown above.

April 8, 1990 – The Chicago Tribune reports that the 65-year-old architectural firm of Loebl Schlossman and Hackl has five major projects in various stages of construction in the city.  Donald Hackl, a partner who came to the firm in 1962, says, “No two Loebl Schlossman and Hackl buildings are alike.  They literally evolve as signature buildings, but the signature is that of the developer …  Each of these projects is done for vastly different clients.  We begin with an exploratory design procedure; we design from micro to macro. And we analyze all of the options, no matter how ridiculous they may seem.”  The five towers that the firm has in various stages of construction are: (1) Prudential Plaza II, a 64-story office tower with a retail base that lends a post-modern flair to the 1955 Prudential building and plaza just to the south; (2) City Place, a 40-story building at Michigan Avenue and Huron Street, with a distinctive red granite retail base, a Hyatt Suite Hotel committed to 347 suites on 21 floors and 13 floors of office space at the top of the building; (3) 350 North LaSalle, a 17-story tower north of the river across from the Reid-Murdoch building, designed to fit in with the First Chicago School of Architecture buildings in the area; (4) 633 St. Clair Place with a three-story base of green granite and a glassy tower of 25 stories rising above it; and (5) Fairbanks Center at Ohio Street, Fairbanks Court and Grand Avenue, a 32-story granite and glass office building with six levels of parking above and below ground.

April 8, 1947 -- Chicago park district board members approve the revision of a1931 agreement with the Saddle and Cycle Club at Sheridan and Foster, allowing the extension of Lake Shore Drive to the north. In 1931 the club agreed to give up its rights to the Lake Michigan shore. In exchange the park district agreed to build a lagoon for the club. In the 1947 agreement the club gives up the lagoon, which was never constructed. In return, the park district gives the Saddle and Cycle Club 235 feet of land extending toward Foster Avenue and 325 feet on Berwyn Avenue to the north. The club also will be permitted to extend its building lines 185 feet farther east on Foster and 275 feet east on Berwyn. The Saddle and Cycle Club began in 1895 and was literally a "country club". A Jarvis Hunt designed clubhouse was built in 1898, on a five-acre property that sat right on the lake at the southern border of Edgewater. Landfill and the extension of Lake Shore Drive barricaded the club from its lakeshore frontage, but it's still there on Foster Avenue today with about 500 families in its membership. The photo below shows the club in 1915, sitting as pretty as you please right on the edge of the lake.

April 8, 1935 – With pilot Victor Haganson in the cockpit, a Stinson monoplane takes off from the Chicago Airport, today’s Midway International Airport, and inaugurates overnight passenger and mail service between Chicago and New Orleans.  The plane lifts off at 8:00 p.m. and lands the following morning at 8:45 a.m.  The carrier, Chicago and Southern Airlines, has been flying the route during daylight hours for ten months.  The overnight flight, which allows passengers to arrive in time for the opening of the business day, becomes possible when the installation of light beacons along the airway south of St. Louis is complete.   Five passengers make the trip, among them two Chicagoans – R. J. Thain, president of the Federated Advertising Clubs of America and P. W. Kunning, trade promotion director of the Chicago Association of Commerce.  The two men bring a greeting from Mayor Edward Kelly to New Orleans Mayor T. Semmes Walmsley, along with merchandise that is placed on display in New Orleans store windows after they land.

April 8, 1890 – The Chicago River goes “downright crazy … its insane antics continuing until 11 o-clock in the forenoon. There were tidal waves every ten minutes over six hours.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, April 9, 1890]   At least a dozen ships are awaiting a departure to Buffalo, and as the first big wave hits at about 5:00 a.m. “… there was one of the liveliest movements in grain ever seen in Chicago.  Over a million bushels that the fleet contained bobbed up and down furiously.”  Three ships, lying alongside one another are carried a quarter-mile as lines snap or the timbers that moored them are pulled from the pier.  Each ship finds itself “solidly grounded” in front of the life-saving station. Most of the rest of the vessels are carried out into the lake “at a ten-mile pace” and were “knocked about like so many corks” until crews manage to let go the anchors and get enough steam up to maneuver them.  The first ship of the season to leave for Buffalo, the Harlem, is in tow of the tug T. T. Morford when a wave strikes her just as she passes the life saving station. The line to the tug parts “instantly” and she is carried “like a shot from a gun toward the north pier.”  The steel bow of the Morford cuts 17 feet out of the pier, but a return wave carries her free with little damage.  An agent of the New York Central Line, watching the tidal waves for two hours at the foot of Pine Street (today’s North Michigan Avenue) says, “I timed the current each way.  It was about five minutes from the beginning of each tidal wave until it ceased.  Then the current ran toward the lake for five minutes before the next wave came.  There is a good seventeen feet of water at our dock. When the waves were running in our boats, drawing fifteen and a half feet, would be lifted two feet.  Then when the current turned they would be aground. This would make a change every ten minutes of some five feet in the level of the river.”  All of the activity stirs up the river to such an extent that “all the accumulation of the winter [is] carried into the lake,” bringing the city’s water supply into jeopardy as the dirty water extends far beyond the breakwater toward the fresh water intake crib.  The above photo shows the heavy collection of ships in the river and harbor four years earlier.

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