Tuesday, May 5, 2020

May 5, 1958 -- Kennedy Expressway (Northwest Expressway) Progress Monitored

May 5, 1958 --  A reporter for the Chicago Daily Tribune rides with officials of the Illinois and Cook County highway departments as they take a ride on the Chicago and North Western railroad from the city to Jefferson Park.  “With maps and office memoranda on their knees” [Chicago Daily Tribune, May 5, 1958]  they monitor the progress of the construction on the Northwest expressway, today’s Kennedy Expressway.  One of the engineers, Roger Nusbaum, observes, “If we are lucky and the program is based on this hope, we’ll have this thing open by midsummer 1960.”  This conclusion contradicts Mayor Richard J. Daley’s optimistic view that the expressway will be finished by 1959.  The engineers on the train see four obstacles to an early completion of the project.  The most daunting of these obstacles is the construction of a subway for the expressway under railroad tracks between Hubbard and Kinzie Streets, a project for which contracts have only been recently award.  You understand the complexity of this project when you realize that this would become the Hubbard Tunnel, known popularly today as “Hubbard’s Cave.”  The second obstacle involves moving the Chicago and North Western railroad embankment about 150 feet southwest between North Avenue and Division Street so that the expressway can run west of the railroad.  As part of this project Saint Stanislaus Kostka Roman Catholic Church will need to be moved, “moved” being a polite way of saying “torn down”.  (The church was saved when the expressway was rerouted.)  The third obstacle involves building a subway for the expressway under the C and NW near Addison Street, a project for which contracts have still not been awarded.  This is the point where the railroad and the expressway will change places with the expressway moving from the west side of the railroad to the east side.  Finally, $7 million will have to be spent in demolishing the Jefferson Park railroad station near Montrose Avenue and construction of a new one.  Some may remember that a gigantic pair of flashing Magikist lips graced this area for years.  Chicago kissed them good-bye in 2004. Contracts on this part of the project will not be awarded for another month.  It turns out that Mayor Daley did not get his wish ... the 18-mile-long expressway opened on November 5, 1960.  The Chicago City Council unanimously voted on November 29, 1963 to name the highway after John F. Kennedy, who had been assassinated a week earlier.

Chicago Tribune Photo
May 5, 1954 – Twenty-three men and three women, the crew of the Norwegian ship Oris, unload 200 tons of granite on the banks of the Chicago River.  The stone will be used in facing the first floor of the new Prudential building.  Ultimately, 525 tons of Stern silver-white granite will be cut into 3.5-inch slabs for facing the building.  Louis Olson a partner in the Bevel Granite Company at 11849 South Kedzie Avenue says that the granite, quarried at Larvik, 100 miles west of Oslo, “is the whitest granite in the world.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, May 6, 1954]  The black and white Tribune photo above shows the Oris docked at what today is the embarkation point for First Lady Tour's Chicago Architecture Center River Tours.  One can barely make out the Prudential building rising in the center of the background.  Below that is a photo of the quarry at Larvik, Norway.

May 5, 1930 – The Marshall Field and Co. wholesale house moves into its new headquarters at the Merchandise Mart at Wells and Kinzie Streets.  The move is completed over a weekend in order to avoid any interruption in the firm’s schedule.  The company’s new home will be located in a south portion of the new building, the largest building of its kind in the world.  Each display room, three to a floor, will cover over a block of space.  The silk section will even have a stage, making it possible to host fashion shows.  Consider how amazing this is ... the first shovel of dirt for this massive project was dug on August 12, 1928.

May 5, 1914 –The Chicago Daily Tribune profiles South Water Street, a place that is “busy before most of inhabitants have left their beds.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, May 5, 1914] At 5:00 a.m. the city is quiet … “the air is cool and fresh, free from the midday fragrance of burned gasoline, soot, and coal smoke.  The water running into the lake under the State street bridge is clear and blue, not yet tainted with the burden of sewage and waste.”  This is not the case on South Water Street, though.  There are “at least 20 roosters, crowing their loudest on each of the street’s four blocks to greet the belated city sun.”  There are 400 Italians and three times as many Greeks, “Black eyes flashing hands waving, singing classic odes to the returning springtime and hurling defiance at the robbers who hold the morning’s strawberries.” Loaded trucks and wagons are “lined up solidly on either side of the four blocks and other teamsters trying to ease between the lines, addressing people who got in their way with that altogether friendly and fearful profanity which is elsewhere current only in the far west.”  The sidewalks are lined with crates, barrels and boxes as tall as a man.  There is an endless procession of pushcarts and hundreds of salesmen in long white coats vying with grocers and market men buying the day’s supplies.  In building basements bananas ripen.  The second and third floors of the businesses are given over to “South Water Street’s hospitals, where first aid to injured vegetables is applied.”  By 7:00 a.m. the day’s run of fresh strawberries – 18 carloads from Louisiana – arrives and “lids are pried off, samples tasted, the freshness tested, prices asked.” Peddlers leave with thousands of cases of produce with most of the Greeks selling from wagons; the Italians, most of them, “still cling to their baskets.”  By 8:00 a.m. the residential streets of the city are “vocal with their cries.”

May 5, 1912 – Chief of Police John McWeeney gets down to business and tells his lieutenants to apply “drastic measures” to striking pressmen in the newspaper strike that began with workers striking against Hearst publications in Chicago on April 30, an action that has now spread to all of the other newspapers in the city. “The tactics of the strikers have been a disgrace to civilization,” says the Chief. His feeling is that 528 patrolmen are “none too many . . . in view of the unexpected brutality resorted to by the strikers.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, May 6, 1912] A female news vender was attacked at the Fifty-First Street station of the “Alley ‘L’”. A newsboy at Thirty-Ninth Street was also beaten with a blackjack. Another newsboy was attacked at Clark and North Avenue, and a reporter for the Chicago Examiner was roughed up at Madison and Halsted. It will be a long time before the violence dies down; the strike finally ends in November. Above the Chicago police make a show of force as the strike continues.

No comments: