Friday, June 26, 2020

June 26, 1961 -- Ogden Slip Real Estate to Be Developed ... Sometime


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June 26, 1961 – Officials of the Chicago Dock and Canal Company announce that the firm will be conducting a study to assess the potential of a 45-acre plot along the north bank of the Chicago River, surrounding the Ogden Slip and the adjoining area east of Lake Shore Drive.  The firm, founded by the first mayor of Chicago, William B. Ogden, has owned the property since 1857.  All good things take time.  It will be 25 years before the company seals a joint agreement with the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States to pool the 45-acre site of Chicago Dock and Canal with 50 acres to the west that is owned by Equitable.  In June of 1986 it is viewed as a $3-billion development deal, involving 20 to 25 million feet of space running along the north of the Chicago River in close proximity to Lake Michigan.  The three pictures above show the change over time.  The first one, taken in the 1950’s shows the shaded area controlled by Chicago Dock and Canal with the Ogden Slip shown in blue.  The second photo shows Lake Point Tower as it nears completion on the east side of Lake Shore Drive.  The final photo shows the area as it exists today. 


June 26, 1919 – The steamer Lake Granby with Captain John Klang in command casts off her lines in the Chicago River and starts her run to Liverpool with a cargo of meat products.  This will be the first shipment of goods from Chicago directly to a foreign port. The Lake Granby carries a Chicago crew and was built in the Chicago area.  Before departure, lunch is served on the steamship for a group of businessmen and a bottle of champagne is broken over the ship’s bow.  The Vice-President of meat-packing company Morris and Co., Charles M. MacFarlane, explains the purpose of the trip, saying, “The advantages of this mode of sending shipments to Europe are great, as it eliminates rail shipment to New York.  It relieves the congestion at the seaboard and does away with all the reloading, demurrage, and other charges usually incident to shipment to the seaboard.  Shippers from points west of Chicago, on the Missouri river and the other points in that direction are all interested in the development of this branch of the service because it means their own commodities can be handled to much greater advantage through Chicago than by having them shipped to New York.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 27, 1919] The through-freight rate from Chicago to Liverpool by the all-water route is $1.25 per 100 pounds for the meat products the Lake Granby is carrying.  The rate would be $1.45 per 100 pounds for the same cargo, using the railroads to New York and a ship to Liverpool.  Notice how high the Lake Granby rides in the water in the above photo.  Because the maximum depth in the Welland Canal locks permits only 14 feet of draft and the Lake Granby draws 25 feet when loaded to the water line, the ship will stop in Montreal to take on additional cargo.



June 26, 1893 –On the occasion of its sixtieth anniversary, the Chicago Daily Tribune provides a history of the First Presbyterian Church of Chicago.  The church, located in 1893 at Indiana and Twenty-First Street, was formed on June 26,1838 inside the walls of Fort Dearborn.  Twenty-six members made up the first congregation, 16 of whom were soldiers stationed at the garrison. The first real meeting place for the new congregation was situated “on a lonely spot at the southwest corner of Lake and Clark Streets.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 26, 1893] People approached that first church “across a large slough, bridged with benches from the meeting-house.”  It was here that “North-Siders came, not as you come to church now in carriages, but braving the angry flood in a canoe and climbing along the fences to escape the unknown depths of prairie mud.”  Classes in the first public school in Chicago were also held in the 40- x 25-foot building. The church has moved several times over the years.  For a number of years services were held in a substantial stone building at Twenty-First Street and Indiana Avenue.  The present Gothic-Revival building at 6400 South Kimbark Avenue was dedicated on October 24, 1928 and came about as a result of a merger of the First Presbyterian congregation and the Woodlawn Park Presbyterian Church which was formed in January of 1885.  Today the congregation is known as the Woodlawn Collaborative First Presbyterian Church. The congregation's church building at Twenty-First and Indiana Avenues is shown in the above photo.


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June 26, 1886 – An accident at Dearborn Street on the Main Stem of the Chicago River sets the river on fire.  While a ship is being unloaded at the Chicago and North Western Railroad dock at Dearborn Street, a barrel of kerosene is accidentally dropped, the contents of which spread across the surface of the river.  After the ship departs, a dock worker throws a lighted match into the river “just to see if the stuff would burn.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 26, 1886]. It did.  A sheet of flame shoots across the river toward the Clark and State Street bridges and surrounds the excursion boat Albert J. Wright.  An alarm is sent in from the corner of Clark and South Water Streets, but before the engines can arrive, the fire burns itself out, leaving only a blackened set of pilings along the edge of the river., The State Street bridge and the Dearborn Street bridge beyond are shown in this photo taken a few years earlier.


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June 26, 1862 – The Chicago Tribune begins yet another editorial about the Chicago River in this way, “It is conceded by all men that something must be done immediately to improve the sanitary condition of the Chicago River.  The good name of our city, the lives of thousands of our citizens, and, its commerce, growth and prosperity imperatively demand immediate and energetic action . . . In its present condition, a week of hot weather will render a block or two on each side of the river uninhabitable.  And, besides what is to become of our vast shipping interest—the men who navigate our tugs and attend to the bridges, and virtually are forced to live during the season amid the intolerable pestilence-breeding stench of the river, and the crews of our propellers, canal boats, and vessels that are obliged to live upon the river from one to three days at a time?  A week of hot weather will drive them from the river, and no man is so stupid as not to know that Chicago is nothing without her commerce.”  The paper has solutions.  Pumps at Bridgeport “can clear it out and, aired by the process and mingled with the water of the Des Plaines it will pass South without inconvenience or offence to any body.”  But the North Branch, with virtually no current, is a different story, and the Tribune has a solution for that as well:  “Place one or half a dozen pumps, if necessary, driven by wind mills on the Lake shore, at or near the north end of the old cemetery, and let the water be discharged in a ditch running due west into the North Branch.  Let the pumps be of the largest size, and such are now used upon our railroads.”   How different North Avenue would be today if instead of its popular beach and nautical-themed boathouse it was the site of a half-dozen windmills, churning away in the Windy City, pumping lake water west to the river.



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