June 29, 1965 – Twelve civil rights demonstrators are arrested after they lay down in Michigan Avenue near Madison Street during a march from Buckingham Fountain to City Hall. The remaining 60 or 70 marchers continue their walk, using the sidewalks, to City Hall where they form a single file and march around the building. The march begins in late afternoon after civil rights leaders emerge from a meeting with the members of the Board of Education. The march follows a demonstration two days earlier in which 75 people were arrested after they sat down at La Salle and Randolph Streets near City Hall. The protests are a continuation of dissatisfaction with the tenure of Chicago School Superintendent Benjamin C. Willis, who has held his position for a dozen years. For three years, beginning in 1963, civil rights leaders and Black students have angrily demonstrated, accusing Willis of actively fostering segregation in the city’s schools. The most visible symbol of that was the collection of 625 mobile classrooms Willis placed on the city’s South Side to alleviate overcrowding at mostly Black schools. In the heated opposition to Willis, they came to be known as “Willis Wagons”. Willis continued in his position into 1966 when he retired four months before his contract was up. The above photo shows a protest that was held against Willis on June 10, 1965. At that time a boycott of schools was ongoing with some schools reporting as much as fifty percent of the student body absent from class. This was nearly a half-century ago ... not hard to figure out why people are just a little bit impatient.
June 29, 1954 -- Field Enterprises, Inc., the publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times, completes the purchase of a six-story building on the southwest corner of Rush Street and East North Water Street for $300,000, adding the property to a site already owned by the company. The building will be razed as soon as practical, and the 15,000 square foot lot added to the 45,000 square feet that the company already owns, a site that extends westward to Wabash Avenue on the north side of the river. The Chicago firm of Naess and Murphy is already drawing architectural plans for a multi-level building that will cover the entire site and provide offices and printing facilities for the Sun-Times. The building got built, stood for forty years and then gave way to today’s Trump International Hotel and Tower. Additional information about the Sun Times building can be found in this entry in Connecting the WindyCity. The new home for the Sun Times is shown under construction in the photo above.
June 29, 1926 –The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that William J. Lynch, the city’s Harbor Master, has reported the statistics for the opening and closing of bridges in 1925. “The bridge operating section functioned without interruption during the year,” the report observes. “Forty-eight bridges were operated twenty-four hours daily … Three hundred and thirty-nine bridge tenders were employed, which includes forty men used during the three summer months on vacation related work.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 29, 1926] The total number of openings for 1925 was 94,684 with the average time for each opening estimated at 3.5 minutes. All told, bridges were closed to street traffic for 5,689 hours during the year. The report finds the movement of most excursion boats to the Municipal Pier helpful in the bridge opening problem, but the Tribune reports, “… the opening of bridges for sand scows, tug boats, dredges, and commercial craft of all kinds … will continue until the city adopts a permanent bridge policy.”
June 29, 1891 – Chicago’s Health Department files six suits against the establishment of Benzo and Pieper, a livestock fattening concern located at the intersection of Addison Street and the north branch of the river. Benzo and Pieper, situated on nine acres, is typical of many such enterprises located all along the river. The Chicago Daily Tribune describes the grounds, “In a long, low shambling shed there are now kept eighty head of steers, though as many as 250 are at times fattened in this one building . . . rows of fattening bullocks, standing ankle deep in filth, bloated through overeating until they can hardly stand, and chained to one spot for five months without being able to take exercise.” One thing that made this particular company noteworthy was that it held a contract for removing the garbage from “all the principal hotels” in the city with six teamed wagons collecting refuse from the alleys of those establishments. In front of the cattle shed described earlier stood a building with nine tanks, each holding 45 barrels. Again from the Tribune’s copy, “The garbage wagons drive alongside these tanks and empty their contents into them. Water from the river is pumped into the tanks until the mass reaches the required consistency when fires are started underneath and the swill is kept boiling for some ten hours . . . And this is the stuff which goes to put flesh on the lean bones of scraggy steers . . “ The article points out the incredible fattening qualities of this concoction by describing one of those scraggy steers, “ . . . so fat, in fact, that its legs could not support its body for any length of time, and in consequence it lay down nearly the whole time, this proving no interference to its eating, as the troughs are so low that they can be reached by the cattle without getting up.” Such a bull would gain 100 pounds a month during the time it was confined. August Benzo, one of the owners, “a good-natured German who owns a saloon at Clybourn place and Elston avenue” says that he will fight the cases in court. The photo above shows the same area as it appears today.