Tuesday, August 25, 2020

August 25, 1900 -- Coliseum Dedicated


August 25, 1900 – Dedication exercises take place for the Coliseum at 1513 South Wabash Avenue with Charles F. Gunther, chairman of the Chicago Coliseum Company, leading the ceremony before 4,000 members of the Grand Army of the Republic, in town for the organization’s encampment.  The dedication address is made by Colonel Frank O. Lowden, who would go on to serve as the governor of Illinois from 1917 to 1921.  Lowden ends his speech, saying, “It is particularly appropriate that this vast building, which will be one of the sights of Chicago, should be dedicated by ceremonies connected with the encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic.  The building stands on the site lately occupied by the old Libby Prison, in which many of the men who will march through the streets of Chicago on Tuesday and participate in exercises held in this half were kept in dungeons.”   After Lowden’s address, Mayor Carter Harrison accepts the building in the name of the people of Chicago.  The Coliseum’s outer walls actually were built in the 1880’s to surround a Civil War museum constructed by candy manufacturer Charles Gunther.  The centerpiece of the museum, to which Lowden referred in his address, was the Confederate Libby Prison, which was transported from Richmond Virginia and re-assembled on the site.  [owlcation.com].  Gunther dismantled the museum in 1897 after a fire claimed the largest arena in the city, hoping to develop a facility to take its place.  Its construction cost 11 construction workers their lives when a dozen 33-ton steel arches collapsed, one upon the other, on August 28, 1899.  What a remarkable ride the old Coliseum took, though, hosting five consecutive Republican conventions from 1904 through 1920, providing home ice for the Chicago Black Hawks in 1928 and 1929, and drawing crowds in the 60’s to see the likes of Cream (twice), The Jimi Hendrix Experience and The Doors.  The old hall was shut down on March 13, 1971 for fire code violations, and in 1982 it was demolished.  The Soka Gakkai USA Culture Center, run by a Buddhist organization with 12 million practitioners in 192 countries and territories, now stands at this location.

August 25, 1983 – Another great idea that didn’t fly … On this day the developers of the Gateway IV building on the Chicago River ask the Chicago Plan Commission to approve a private rooftop heliport.  Alan Goldboro, the president of Tishman Midwest Management Corporation, the developer of the four Gateway buildings near Union Station, asserts that the other necessary approvals are all in place for what will be the first such rooftop flight deck since the city toughened safety regulations 21 years earlier. Goldboro emphasizes that the heliport will be used only by office tenants and police and fire helicopters with no common-carrier service to O’Hare or Midway Airports. One hurdle that has been cleared is the approval of the Friends of the River, a group that managed to shut down a plan for a commercial heliport at Wolf Point in 1980.  The coordinator of the group says of the Gateway plan, “From street level it shouldn’t make as much noise as a passing bus. From the drawings we’ve seen, the pad won’t even be visible from the street.  It’s completely different from Wolf Point.  

August 25, 1972 – Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackman refuses to block the merger of the Illinois Central Railroad and the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad.  The Missouri Pacific Railroad had claimed that the proposed merger would create a near-monopoly that would cripple it.  The merger, which had occurred on August 10 gives the new Illinois Central Gulf Railroad control of 13,532 miles of track.

August 25, 1955 – John J. Mack, the owner of a five-story building at the southwest corner of State and Monroe Streets, announces that the building will be torn down to make way for a new structure.  The building to be razed was built in 1872 by E. S. Pike and called the Pike Block.  It later assumed the name of the Ayer Block, and over the years it had been remodeled at least six times.  The loss of the building is significant because the Art Institute of Chicago called the building home when the Academy of Fine Arts, as the Art Institute of Chicago was known at the time, when it was established in 1886.  The corner today is seeing yet another transformation as New York-based Tishman and an investment partner paid $35 million for the 60-year-old property in March, 2015 in order to carve 70,000 square feet of retail and office space out of it and an adjoining structure.  The rendering of the new space is shown above.

No comments: