Friday, August 28, 2020

August 28, 1929 -- Graf Zeppelin Gives Chicago a Show

August 28, 1929 – Millions of Chicagoans take to the streets as the Graf Zeppelin cruises over the city “to the accompaniment of the most tremendous roar of welcome that ever went up to the skies from this mid-continent metropolis.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 30, 1929]. The great airship is first sighted in the Loop about 5:20 p.m., and it floats over the downtown area for about 18 minutes before it disappears “in the hazy eastern sky within three minutes after leaving the lake shore.”  All of the buildings in the Loop as well as the streets are jammed with spectators, some of whom come from towns and cities a hundred miles away.  Although rain threatens for much of the afternoon, the clouds part as the zeppelin appears, and “As the big ship soared majestically across the loop, circled Tribune Tower, swung south to Soldiers’ Field and then north again to Lincoln Park and away across the lake, the clouds opened and for a brief time the sky cleared.”  As the airship heads east over the lake, the clouds part and, for the first time that day, sunshine peeks through, casting a golden light on the zeppelin as though it “seemed to be disappearing in a halo.”  People begin gathering early in the morning, and they are not disappointed.  As the throng catches its first glimpse of the zeppelin, automobile horns begin to drown out the shouts of the onlookers as the locomotives of the railroads join in the roar with their steam whistles.  Tug boats and larger vessels on the lake and river also sound their horns.  The zeppelin makes a gigantic “figure-eight” over the city, swinging north and circling Tribune Tower before heading south for a pass over Soldier Field where thousands in the arena cheer.  Turning north again it heads over the Loop a second time before cruising along the lakefront to Lincoln Park where it speeds up and heads east over the lake.  During the fly-over drivers simply stop their cars wherever they are, climb on the running boards and hoods, straining for a view and shouting as policemen “threatened and … bullied, but no one paid them the slightest attention, and soon they threw up their hands, shrugged their shoulders and turned their own eyes skyward.”  The Chicago flyover comes toward the end of the Graf Zeppelin’s “round-the-world” flight in August of 1929.  Beginning in Lakehurst, New Jersey the flight was made in five stages:  from Lakehurst to Friedrichshafen between August 7 and August 10; from Friedrichshafen to Tokyo from August 15 to August 19; from Tokyo to Los Angeles between August 23 and August 26; from Los Angeles to Lakehurst from August 27 to August 29; and from Lakehurst back home to Friedrichshafen from September 1 to September 4. 

August 28, 1986 – The Chicago City Council approves a plan to build two 25-story office towers on top of Union Station at Adams and Canal Streets.  Alderman Gerald McLaughlin of the Forty-Fifth Ward, the chairman of the landmarks committee, says that the train station does not hold landmark status and that the developers of the property have promised to retain much of its historical design.  In an editorial, the Chicago Tribune says of the plan, “… we continue to believe that these plans will contribute importantly to the revitalization of the west Loop. New rail facilities, new and renovated shops, restaurants—retail space that the area needs so desperately—and office space will draw people to the building’s dramatic waiting room and create an exciting destination point without destroying either the station’s main waiting room or its walls.” [Chicago Tribune, September 4, 1986] All of the meetings, plans, and protests came to naught, however, and the plan died. About ten years ago the American Medical Association proposed the construction of an 18-story office building and hotel above the station, but that plan fell apart as well.  In the spring of 2017 Riverside Investment and Development was named to head up a three-phase $1 billion (or more) project that is expected to include up to two million square feet of office space, 780 apartments and 350 hotel rooms that will be constructed in three phases, starting sometime in 2018.  Riverside CEO John O’Donnell says of the project, “This is probably one of the best physical locations in the city.  It just needs to be dressed up, and I think it needs to have a number of amenities that don’t exist right now.  We can bring an abundance of those to this location.” [Chicago Tribune, May 25, 2017] The two photos above show the station as it was originally constructed and the Riverside Investment and Development rendering of what it may look like in the future.  

August 28, 2015 – As part of its “Madison and Wabash Bash,” the Rebuilding Exchange auctions pieces of the 119-year-old CTA station that formerly stood at the corner of Madison Street and Wabash Avenue.  The Rebuilding Exchange, a non-profit market for building materials from another era, joins the Illinois Railway Museum and Preservation Chicago to auction off the materials at 1740 West Webster Street.  The station at Madison and Wabash opened in 1896 and was one of the last original station houses in the Loop before it was closed on March 16, 2015 to create room for a new station at Washington and Wabash. The station houses themselves will be held for two years while Preservation Chicago seeks an institution or individual willing to take them in.  The station house as it looked while in operation is shown in the top photo. Below that are the sad remains at the Madison and Wabash Bash.

Chicago Tribune Photo
August 28, 1952 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that the U. S. Air Force will press its case for the retention of O’Hare International Airport as a major military tactical and training base.  The military’s decision is based on a two-pronged argument.  First, that an emergency exists with no time for the development of another military air base in the area.  Secondly, that the Air Force has spent $43 million on O’Hare, twice as much as Chicago has. It was the military that first spent $36 million in 1943 to condemn the property and create four runways between 4,850 and 5,400 feet in length to accommodate C-54 transport planes that were being built at the adjacent Douglas Aircraft Company.  In 1947 the city acquired 1,080 acres of the 1,289-acre site from the government although the Air Force maintained “recapture rights.”  A year later the city began the acquisition of another 5,000 acres of land with a ten-year plan that would bring six runways of between 8,000 and 10,000 feet.  Although as of 1952 none of the runways have been started, the first part of the passenger terminal and much of the ramp and loading area are nearing completion.  If the Air Force insists on taking over the field, it will seek Congressional approval to repay the city.  Chicago Mayor Martin Kennelly has stated that the government’s take-over of the field will put the city seven years behind in its airport plans.  The above photo shows the field on September 18, 1949 when it was officially re-named O'Hare Field, a change from Orchard Field, the name by which it had previously been known.

August 28, 1900 – For five hours “in ranks twelve deep, the white-haired veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic passed in their last grand parade . . . Never again can they meet in such numbers.  They are growing gray haired and aged, and gradually death is mustering them out.  But yesterday they marched 23,000 strong through the down-town streets of Chicago . . .”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 29, 1900]  Beginning at 10:00 a.m. the veterans of the Union Army march down Michigan Avenue until 3:45 p.m.  Commanding General of the Army Nelson A. Miles, upon reviewing the ranks, says, “It was a parade which all Europe, with all its armies combined, could not duplicate.  It was a spectacle which perhaps no American shall witness again.”  Although the 23,000 attendees make up only a small portion of the 2,880,000 men who fought, the encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic taxes the city’s resources.  Trains bring 195,000 people to six different railroad stations.  Elevated and surface line trains handle 725,000 passengers on the night of August 28, and 140,000 people arrive in the city on the day before the parade, putting a huge strain on hotels.

1 comment:

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