Saturday, May 16, 2020

May 16, 2009 -- Nichols Bridgeway Opens Between Millennium Park and Art Institute

May 16, 2009 –The Nichols Bridgeway, a 625-foot pedestrian bridge connecting Millennium Park to the new Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago, opens.  Designed by the Pritzker prize-winning architect of the Modern Wing of the museum, Renzo Piano, it gradually rises from the Great Lawn southwest of the Pritzker Pavilion to a height of 60 feet as it meets up with the Bluhm Family Terrace on the third level of the Modern Wing.  As walkers move along the 450 tons of steel that make up the bridge, they are treated to spectacular views, west down Monroe Street toward the South Branch of the river, east to the open space of Grant Park and Lake Michigan, south to the spectacular new addition to the museum (and the railroad tracks that once occupied the entire area), and, north to Millennium Park and its lush Lurie Garden.  The bridge, built by Industrial Steel, Construction, Inc., is named after its benefactors, John D. and Alexandra Nichols.  

May 16, 2000 – The Chicago Tribune editorializes about cost overruns at Millennium Park. “Private-sector corporations generally prefer the design-build method of contracting for new facilities,” the editorial observes. “They hire a unified team of architects and builders that can deliver an agreed-to building for an agreed-to price. Then there’s the method Mayor Richard Daley is using on the Millennium Project . . . you might call it the design-as-you-build method.” At issue is a Frank Gehry-design that, as originally proposed, was supposed to cost 150 million dollars and which had by this time risen to $270 million. “And crews are still building the support structure,” the editorial sniped. “What happens when they start adding the fancy stuff?” In a stinging conclusion, the editorial asks, “And one last question for the planners: After you’ve made your last change and gotten your elegant little culture park just the way you like, where are the hoi polloi going to go for the Blues, Jazz, Gospel and Taste concerts that are too big for Millennium Park? Or is that just another small, hanging detail?” A space of over 17 years is probably time enough to judge whether the “little culture park” was worth the investment. Judging from the crowds at what is now the most popular tourist destination in the midwest, it feels as if the “small, hanging details” worked out. The photo above shows the park as it started to take shape in 2001.
May 16, 1930 – Charles B. Pike, the president of the Chicago Historical Society, presides over a ceremony at which a monument is unveiled on the bank of Portage Creek near Stickney, the site at which Father Marquette and Louis Joliet came into the vicinity of the Des Plaines River. In the 1670's Portage Creek would have been to the west of Mud Lake, through which the two French explorers had to carry their canoes and provisions after leaving the Chicago River   In his remarks Pike credits two Chicagoans, Dr. Lucius Zeuch and Robert Knight, whose research led to the establishment of the historical site. The Reverend Joseph Reiner, the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Loyola University, provides a narrative of the development of Chicago, a process that begins with Marquette’s and Joliet’s discovery of the possibility that a route might exist between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River by way of the modest Chicago River and the interior waters of Illinois.  Bertha Lerman, secretary of the Junior Citizens’ Club, pulls a canvas covering from a granite boulder that was set by the Chicago Historical Society on the old trail.  Today there is a much more elaborate work of art at the site. Located in the Chicago Portage National Historic Site in Lyons, it is on the west side of Harlem Avenue on a line with Forty-Eighth Street.  The sculpture at the site, shown above, is by Guido Rebechini.

May 16, 1910 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that James A. Pugh, the largest stockholder in the Chicago Canal and Dock Company, has confirmed that the company will build piers into the lake at the mouth of the river without permission of the city – if the United States War Department renews the permit that it granted the company 18 months earlier.  A member of the City Council’s committee on harbors, wharves, and bridges says, “If Pugh gets his permit and goes ahead without a city franchise to build his piers he will get into a fight.  We’ll tie the thing up in the courts, if necessary, until we can get a bill through the legislature.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, May 16, 1910] Good luck, Mr. City Council Guy.  The terminal got built – it’s the long light-colored structure to the left of Ogden Slip, extending toward the brand new Lake Point Tower, nearing completion in 1968.  

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