September 14, 1950 – Mayor Martin Kennelly observes that the old Wabash Avenue elevated tracks may be torn down sooner than people think, adding that the new Dearborn-Milwaukee subway will siphon off substantial amounts of traffic from the line. Chicago Transit Authority officials concur, estimating that the eastern half of the Loop elevated structure, running form Van Buren Street to Wabash Avenue and from there to Wells Street, may be removed within four years. The executive secretary of the Wabash Avenue Association, George W. Swanson, says, “The sooner the better. Then we can put up new street lights and outshine State Street.” [Chicago Daily tribune, September 15, 1950]. Not so fast … not only is the Loop elevated still very much in use, on August 31, 2017 a brand-new Washington/Wabash station replaced century-old stations at Randolph and Madison Street with new elevators, a street to mezzanine escalator, wider platforms, real-time train tracker displays, 100% LED lighting, security cameras, and a gleaming modern canopy. [transitchicago.com]. With that expenditure of $75 million it appears that the elevated will be around for a long time to come. The new station is pictured above.
September 14, 1939 – The Chicago Housing Authority is notified that its application for $7,719,000 of Public Works administration funding for the construction of a public housing complex has been approved. This will be the fifth federal housing project in the city, following the Jane Addams houses, Julia Lathrop homes, Trumbull Park apartments, and the Ida B. Wells project that is under construction at Vincennes Avenue and Pershing Road. Although the location is not disclosed so as to forestall real estate speculation, it is most likely that the new project will be near the Jane Addams homes and will comprise the Robert Brooks Homes with 835 row houses. Elizabeth Wood, executive secretary of the Chicago Housing authority, says, “We will definitely be in competition with the lowest slum area houses. We particularly want to afford accommodations for those families who now live in $15 a month flats.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 15, 1939]
September 14, 1934 – United States marshals seize the excursion boat Florida at its dock east of Michigan Avenue, pending a court hearing and settlement of the claims of 21 crew members for $2,000 in back pay. The Florida has a fascinating history, as it turns out. As far as I have been able to determine the boat is still taking up space at the bottom of the river just east of Goose Island, opposite the north end of 600 West Chicago, the old Montgomery Ward's warehouse building. What eventually became the S. S. Florida was originally the City of Mackinac, built in 1882 as a side-wheeled cruise boat on Lake Michigan. The latter part of its service was spent providing lakefront excursions to the 1933 Century of Progress. In the mid-1930's it was sold to a scrapper at which time its upper decks were removed, its engines stripped, part of a conversion into a barge. The Columbia Yacht Club bought the vessel in 1937 to serve as its club house. On Friday, May 13, 1955 a galley fire caused the ship to sink at its dock. Members raised the funds and raised the ship, which was used until 1982 when the club acquired the former Canadian ferry, the Abegweit, as its new base of operations. A trucking magnate, Joe Salon, bought the ship in 1985, renaming it the Showboat Sari-S II, using his daughter's name in its new appellation, and moved it to the river a few blocks north of Ontario Street, before selling it. The Showboat Sari-S II might be confused with another paddle-wheel steamboat that Salon ran as a restaurant, beginning in 1962. They are two different vessels. The last reference to the boat that I can find is in the "Metropolitan" section of the Chicago Tribune on August 28, 1992. This brief item reports, "The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers has ordered the owner of a 215-foot boat that sank last month in a little-used part of the North Branch of the Chicago River to remove the vessel or face legal action . . . The owner of the vessel was ordered to install markers around the boat until it is removed. The vessel sank in 16 feet of water on the east side of Goose Island just north of Chicago Avenue, said Lt. Col. David Reed, commander of the Corps District . . . Only the cabin portion is now above water, and the sunken craft obstructs about half of the navigational channel, Reed said." Kind of a sad story of a once proud vessel that was very much a part of the city's history. The photo above shows the boat when she was the clubhouse for the Columbia Yacht Club.