June 15, 1967 – A day after Chicago Director of Special Events Colonel Jack Reilly makes critical comments about the Picasso statue being erected in the Civic Center Plaza, Mayor Daley attempts to smooth things over, saying, “It was rather hot that day, you know, but he’ll be there the day of the dedication.” [Chicago Tribune, June 16, 1967] Reilly’s principal objection to the 50-foot sculpture is that it takes up too much room in what he calls “my parade ground,” the plaza in which he arranges receptions for visiting dignitaries. “If it is a bird or an animal they ought to put it in the zoo,” Reilly says. “If it is art, they ought to put in in the Art Institute.” The curator of Twentieth Century art at the Art Institute, A. James Speyer, responds, “Someone who does not know art should have enough humility not to expose himself.” The above photo, taken on July 5, 1967, shows the Picasso sculpture under construction. It would be dedicated on August 15.
June 15, 1907 – William Le Baron Jenney dies at 7:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, California at the age of 74. Although still a partner in the firm of Jenney, Mundie and Jensen, he has not been active in design work for two years. Jenney was born in Fairhaven, Massachusetts in 1832 and at the age of 26 entered the Ecole des Arts et Manufactures in Paris after earning a degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Civil War called him back to the United States where after a time in the Union Army he was made the Chief Engineer of the Fifteenth Army Corp, supporting the rapid movements of General Sherman’s and, later, General Logan’s advance, a role that required the design of bridges built strongly and in a hurry. Out of uniform, Jenney came to Chicago in May of 1868. Fifteen years later Jenney made a name for himself that would last as long as a tall building moves from concept to construction when he designed the Home Insurance Building on the northeast corner of Adams and La Salle Streets. The Chicago Daily Tribune in his obituary states, “It was in 1883 that Mr. Jenney was appointed architect for the Home Insurance company of New York, with instructions to prepare designs for a tall-fireproof office building … The order further called for a maximum number of well lighted small offices above the second story which, as Mr. Jenney knew, would necessitate small piers – smaller probably than were admissible if of ordinary masonry construction … Architects had before been obliged to inclose an iron column within a masonry pier, and the greater use of this idea, together with another -- making each story a unit in itself – marked the solution of the problem. Thus the Home Insurance building, designed by Mr. Jenney, was not only the first of the steel construction buildings of the world but it opened the way for a long list of requirements in fine office buildings, such as wind bracing, thorough fire proofing, rapid safe elevators, light and well ventilated rooms, modern plumbing and tile vaults.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 16, 1907] The Home Insurance Building is shown in the above photograph.
June 15, 1891 – The Kenwood Physical Observatory, “one of the best equipped astronomical stations in the country,” [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 16, 1891] is dedicated at 4545 Drexel Boulevard, near Grand Avenue (today’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive) and Forty-Sixth Street. The observatory is the gift of W. E. Hale to his son, George, a recent graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The two-story building costs $20,000 and has a 12-inch refracting telescope that is twenty-two and a-half feet long. The rotating dome at the top of the building is twenty-six and one-half feet in diameter. A number of short speeches are made during the ceremony, expressing a feeling that “Chicago was an intensely commercial city, yet the artistic and scientific spirt was fast becoming aroused, and that eventually the great metropolis would outstrip all its rivals in its art and science as it has done commercially.” When George Hale was hired as a professor of astronomy at the University of Chicago, advanced astronomy students used the observatory until the Yerkes observatory was established in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, an observatory that was founded in 1897 by Hale and financed by Charles Tyson Yerkes.