Wednesday, July 15, 2020

July 15, 1940 -- Democratic National Convention Kicks Off in Chicago Stadium
July 15, 1940 – The Democratic National Convention opens in Chicago as the keynote speaker, William B. Bankhead, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, defends the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, ending his speech by asserting that the administration “has turned out 153 fighting ships, tripled the size of the standing army, launched a great air program, and acted to wipe out the fifth column.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, July 16, 1940].   The convention, held at the Chicago Stadium, lasts four days, and it is unclear on this opening night whether Roosevelt intends to run for a third term.  However, Roosevelt’s team orchestrates an elaborate plan that involves the Chicago political machine.  The President sends a message to Kentucky Senator Alben Barkley, which Barkley reads over the public address system at the convention:  “The President has never had, and has not today, any desire or purpose to continue in the office of President, to be a candidate for that office, or to be nominated by the convention for that office.  He wishes in earnestness and sincerity to make it clear that all of the delegates in this convention are free to vote for any candidate.”  [].  Somewhere in the bowels of the great arena on Madison Street the Superintendent of Chicago’s Department of Sanitation, Thomas D. Garry, grabs a live microphone and begins the chant, “We Want Roosevelt!  We want Roosevelt!”  Mayor Ed Kelly had posted.  Hundreds of city workers and precinct captains posted around the arena by Chicago Mayor Ed Kelly take up the cheer.  In a blink of an eye the convention turns from stunned silence at the moment when the President’s message is read to a thunderous, but hardly spontaneous, demonstration of support for Roosevelt, and when the convention is gaveled to a close, he has received close to 90 percent of the votes cast by delegates. 

July 15, 1934 – On a perfect summer day with an Italian-American program as the day’s highlight, 112,000 paid fair-goers attend the Century of Progress World’s Fair on the lakefront.  The highlight of the day is the unveiling of a marble column from the ancient Italian city of Ostia, a gift of Italian Premier Benito Mussolini to commemorate the visit of General Italo Balbo’s flight to Chicago a year earlier.  Balbo makes a speech via short wave radio to 3,000 persons at the Italian Pavilion, the speech being preceded by a parade of 150 Italian societies dressed in national costumes.

July 15, 1925 – A fireworks display in Grant Park caps a celebration that sees thousands of flower-decked automobiles and trucks pass through Grant Park to the Monroe Street viaduct to Michigan Avenue and then south to the new Twenty-Third Street viaduct, where a ribbon is cut and the new Outer Drive is officially opened. Good feelings run high as officials rhapsodize about the future of the city that night at a banquet at the Congress Hotel attended by more than 1,000 people.  South Park Board President Edward J. Kelly is optimistic that the new link bridge over the Chicago River, connecting the south and north drives, will be started in the coming year.  Illinois Central Railroad President Charles H. Markham predicts that the electrification of the railroad along the lakefront should be finished within the year, six months ahead of schedule. Chicago Mayor William Deever touts a new project to straighten the South Branch of the river so that streets may be extended into the southern portion of the Loop east of the river. Illinois Senator Charles S. Deneen continues the optimism, saying, “It is a hopeful sign when we realize that all our problems that we are discussing are problems of construction. We can’t have too many boulevards. They are crowded the moment they are opened. The Lincoln park system, too, is doing a great work in reclaiming land from the lake. Eventually this filling will be carried out to Evanston, perhaps, even to Waukegan.  There must be traffic routes for the travel that will follow.” [Chicago Tribune, July 16, 1925] The above photo shows the Outer Drive looking south from Thirty-Ninth Street in May, 1930.

July 15, 1916 – The $4,000,000 Municipal Pier is dedicated with between 50,000 and 100,000 people in attendance and a thousand automobiles parked between the long freight sheds on the pier.  The Chicago Daily Tribune reports, “In spite of the heat thousands walked to the pier and walked the full length of it, through the freight sheds, to the launch landing.  Launches and steamers took limit loads of passengers on moonlight trips.  The most popular spots with the younger couples proved to be the two towers.  A continual procession climbed up the dozen or more flights of the spiral stairs, as well, to the utmost balcony.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, July 16, 1916]  There were no formal dedication ceremonies.

July 15, 1889 – Lake View is officially annexed to Chicago although the former mayor of the town hands over the reins of the city to Chicago Mayor DeWitt Clinton Cregier under protest “in case there should be a contest of the validity of the vote and that the contest should be decided against the City of Chicago.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, July 17, 1889].   According to the Edgewater Historical Society the City of Lake View included today’s communities of Lakeview, Uptown, Ravenswood and Edgewater with its boundaries fixed at Devon on the north, Diversey on the south, the lake on the east and Western Avenue on the west.  Chicago’s annexation of the area came about as a result of a popular vote in both Chicago and in each of the areas affected by the proposal.  The argument that sold the deal was the promise that being a part of Chicago would improve police and fire protection, the quality of water and education with less of a tax hit than residents would face under home rule. Emotions ran deep … In fact, after the vote came down in favor of annexation in 1887 “Lake View mayor William Boldenweck seized his suburb’s records and funds and barricaded himself in his town hall office until he was forced to back down by the Illinois Supreme Court.”  [Butler, Patrick.  Hidden History of Ravenswood and Lake View].  The photo shows the Lake View Hotel, which opened in the early 1850’s on a cliff along the lakefront between what is today Grace Street and Irving Park Road.  It is from this watering hole that Lake View took its name.

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