Thursday, September 10, 2020

September 10, 1925 -- Chicago Plan Commission Urges "Immediate" Start to Outer Drive

September 10, 1925 – Engineers for  the Chicago Plan Commission make a presentation to the executive committee, urging that an immediate start be made on the outer drive from the Field Museum through Grant Park, over the Illinois Central tracks and through the warehouse section north of the river, all the way to Chicago Avenue.   It is expected that the project will cost in excess of $9,500,000  (over $140,000,000 in today’s dollars).  Present at the meeting is a “Who’s Who” of Chicago citizens, including James Simpson of Marshall Field and Company, Julius Rosenwald, Joy Morton, Charles H. Wacker, Frank I. Bennett, Harry A Wheeler, Colonel William Nelson Pelouze, John V. Farwell, Edward B. Butler, and Michael Zimmer.  Simpson reads from the report, including one passage that states, “If the improvement is made in the near future, it can be done at the least possible expense.  If it is delayed every year that passes will add greatly to the cost.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 11, 1925]  The report also underscores the importance of the huge project, stating, “The development of this large territory is inevitable in the future.  We advise the improvement to hasten this development – a territory whose progress now is retarded, because of its inaccessibility.”  Change takes time, and the plan did not approach its completion until the bridge that carried the Outer Drive, today’s Lake Shore Drive, across the Chicago River was opened in 1937.  The above photo shows the bridge under construction in 1936.

September 10, 1954 – The state civil defense director, Robert M. Woodward, graces Chicago with some upbeat news when he announces that a hydrogen bomb dropped at Madison Street and Kedzie Avenues between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. would cause 3,030,096 deaths and 1,382,421 injuries.  With an evacuation window of 15 minutes there would still be 1,876,227 deaths and 844,013 injuries.  For those wondering why we folks in our sixties and seventies sometimes act so strangely, it might be good to remember that we grew up with regular updates like this instead of the latest updates on Pok√©mon Go.

September 10, 1953 – The Greater North Michigan Avenue Association presents a general plan for redeveloping and preserving the Near North Side, from the Chicago River on the south and west to North Avenue on the north and the lake on the east.  The ambitious plan has a number of long-range objectives.  First up is the rehabilitation and conservation of three industrial districts, the first of which is roughly bounded by Chicago Avenue, Wells Street and the North Branch of the river.  The second area is located at the river, North Avenue and Halsted Street while a third, smaller location, is at the southwest corner of Division Street and Larrabee Street.  The second major recommendation of the plan is the rehabilitation and conservation of an area east of Wells Street and south of Chicago Avenue, through which Ohio and Ontario Streets run.  Another component of the proposal is the conservation of the neighborhoods west of La Salle Street and north of Division Street through the adoption of a minimum standard of housing and zoning laws.  The proposal recommends the widening of State Street from the river north to Chicago Avenue, a project that has been in the city’s plans for two decades, along with the widening of Clark Street from the river north to North Avenue. Also recommended is the development of Orleans Street and Clybourn Avenue as a “semi-superhighway.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 11, 1953]  Also recommended is work on Ohio and Ontario Streets to make them ready to accommodate traffic flowing to and from the proposed highway to be built west of the north branch of the river.  Commuter service by the Chicago and North Western Railroad to a new terminal near Michigan Avenue and the river is recommended as well.   The chairman of the association, Newton C. Farr, says that the program as outlined would take at least a decade to carry out.

September 10, 1948 – Mayor Martin H. Kennelly gives approval to a proposal submitted to the city council, requiring that city officials and employees be required to sign non-Communist affidavits or face dismissal.  The proposal, sponsored by Forty-Fourth Ward alderman John C. Burmeister, also mandates a “loyalty committee” of three to five aldermen appointed by the mayor.  The mayor says, “I think it’s all right. We don’t know who we have working for us.”  The mayor is pictured in the above photo.

September 10, 1924 – A magic evening takes place on the lakefront as 3,000 children carrying lanterns march into the Grant Park stadium, today’s Soldier Field, in a “preliminary dedication”. [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 11, 1924] Despite a light rain the Pageant of Music and Light has spectators cheering “as the army of girls and boys marched into the arena and scattered about to form [a] sparkling wheel.”  A mixed mass chorus under the direction of William Boeppler rolls thorugh “The Heavens Declare,” following the song with a rendition of “Beautiful Savior” and the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah. A children’s choir of a thousand voices than takes over, led by Hans Biedermann.  The program concludes with the Civic Band of Chicago leading the crowd in “America.”  The official opening day for the massive stadium will occur a month later, on October 9, the Fifty-Third anniversary of the Chicago Fire. The first event held in the new sports arena will be a police track meet that features a thousand athletes from the police department, drawing 90,000 spectators.  At the urging of the city’s Gold Star Mothers the Municipal Grant Park Stadium is officially renamed Soldier Field on November 11, 1925.

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