Saturday, June 27, 2020

June 27, 2001 -- Soldier Field Renovation Approved

June 27, 2001 –A Chicago Park District committee gives preliminary approval to a measure that will lead to a $582 million renovation of Soldier Field.  Testimony at the meeting is split between opponents and backers of the plan with the biggest outcry coming from veterans demanding assurances that the Chicago Bears will not sell the name of the field to a corporate sponsor. Korean and Vietnam War veteran Norvel West says, “If anybody is crazy enough to put their name on Soldier Field, we will stop buying their product.” [Chicago Tribune, June 28, 2001] Ultimately, Park District Superintendent David Doig receives authority to enter into four agreements to renovate Solider Field, tear down the old park district headquarters, add 17 acres of parkland to Burnham Park, and give the Chicago Bears a 30-year lease at the renovated stadium.  The above photos give a pretty good idea of the results of the measures approved that day.

June 27, 1965 – Ira Bach, the Chicago Plan Commissioner, predicts that the Chicago River in the downtown area will be transformed into “one of the world’s most beautiful waterways in the next 10 years.”  [Chicago Tribune, June 28, 1965]  He only missed the mark by forty years.  “The new Pioneer Court dedicated . . . by the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States and the Tribune company, is the latest exquisite example of how the river bank can be beautified by an unusual development,” Bach said.  “With other major riverbank construction programs on the planning boards, other plazas and landscaped open spaces can be expected to be created along the river in the next decade.”  Three years ago in June Bach’s prediction proved, for the most part, to have come true as the 100 million dollar Riverwalk opened the entire south side of the river from Lake Michigan to Lake Street.

June 27, 1899 – The Lincoln Park Commissioners sign an agreement with the N. P. Glann Construction Company to complete the paving of Diversey Boulevard form Clark Street to the North Branch of the Chicago River.  This will be the last link in the chain of boulevards that connect Lincoln Park with the West Side park system.  It has taken three years to get final approval for the project with the work twice being put out to bid with all of the bids subsequently rejected because, according to a park commissioner, “the lowest was too high.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 28, 1899] The board will follow the wishes of the property owners on Diversey in determining whether crushed cobblestone or crushed granite will be used as the roadbed.  The above photo shows the intersection of Diversey Parkway, Broadway and Clark Street just about this time.

June 27, 1888 – A day before the big picnic for “waifs,” 600 boys are given baths at the Emeline Baths at 63 West Madison Street, which would be in the 500 block of West Madison Street today, just west of the Ogilvie Transportation Center.  Some of the lads “met their fate with heroic fortitude, and some of them quailed when the awful moment arrived,” according the Chicago Daily Tribune.  The paper follows a bath first-timer by the name of Billie who has his doubts about the adventure.  “I’ll bet yer I gets drownded,” he confides to a comrade as they queue up to enter the baths. When he sees the tub of water upon being escorted to a room, he “struggled, he kicked and he yelled,” but an attendant grabs him and “a loosening of one suspender, a yank at the shirt, and Billie was clad only in a coating of dirt.”  Into the tub he went, screaming, “I’m drownded.”  The ordeal is over in minutes, and standing upon solid ground once again, Billie observes, “I never knowed I was so white afore.”  When the last boy is scrubbed and shampooed, “Every bath-room was covered with water from floor to ceiling, and the bottom of every bath-tub was covered with soot and dirt … about two bushels of hair was swept off of the floor of the barber shop.”  The manager of the bathhouse, A. L. Lehmann, observes, “A great many of those who came for the first time on this occasion last year have come every week since and paid their five cents for a bath.  I suppose some more will do it after today.  The annual free bath shows them what it is.”

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