Wednesday, September 2, 2020

September 2, 1973 -- Marquette and Joliet Tricentennial Voyageurs Visit Chicago

September 2, 1973 – Eight explorers in birchbark canoes paddle down the Chicago River, beaching their canoes at the mouth of the river where they are greeted by a lone Native American, White Beaver, of the Winnebago tribe.  The eight Illinoisans set out in the spring from St. Ignace, Michigan to commemorate the tricentennial of the voyage of Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet, who embarked in 1673 on a 3,000-mile trip in search of a route to the Pacific Ocean.  The Reverend Charles J. McEnery plays the part of Father Marquette, leading the other seven from St. Ignace, across Lake Michigan to Green Bay, Wisconsin, following the Fox and Wisconsin River system to the Mississippi River.  The group paddled down the Mississippi to the Arkansas River, at which point they began their return, entering Illinois through the Illinois River and from there following the Des Plaines River, which led to the Chicago River.  At this point in the trek the group still has 500 miles left before the end of its journey.  All along the way the group has been welcomed into people’s homes, according to McEnery, where they have been housed and fed.  He says, “After this trip we really realize what courage it took for these men, who were terribly superstitious anyway, to make a 3,000-mile trip into an unknown land.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 3, 1973].  The group of voyagers is kept busy on this day.  Along with the greeting ceremony Cardinal Cody conducts a special outdoor mass in Pioneer Plaza close to where the seventeenth century voyageurs would have beached their canoes.  He urges a crowd of 300 people, including Mayor Richard J. Daley, to “admire the deeds of brave men while seeking to do equally brave and good deeds in the time that is ours.”  While all of the hoopla is taking place, four canoeists who had joined the eight voyagers for the day are kept busy with two river rescues.  A nine-year-old girl is pulled from the river, apparently after falling in while watching the ceremonies.  She is given artificial respiration and taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital where she is reported to be in good condition.  Minutes later screams are heard from the Michigan Avenue bridge as a 54-year-old woman hurtles into the river.  The canoeists pull her out, and she is taken to Henrotin Hospital where she is treated before being returned to Chicago State Hospital. 

September 2, 1981– Mayor Jane Byrne unveils a $3.3 billion, five-year public works plan that, if implemented, will bring major changes to the city.  In the plan’s 142 pages a half-billion dollars are allocated for projects in the Loop and at O‘Hare International Airport with $2 billion allocated to the rest of the city.  Byrne says, “This capital improvements program is indeed ambitious, but in that respect it is typical of Chicago.  It embodies not only the best hopes of Chicago citizens and my administration, but also our shared commitment to a better city in the years ahead.” [Chicago Tribune, September 3, 1981] Perhaps the most ambitious aspect of the plan is the $64.8 million proposal to eliminate the S-curve on Lake Shore Drive.  The plan also includes: the construction of the Columbus Drive bridge; the reconstruction of Lake Shore Drive from the Chicago River north to Huron Street; construction of a central public library in the block bounded by State and  Van Buren Streets, Plymouth Court and Congress Parkway;  and redevelopment of the six-square block area bounded by Washington, LaSalle, and State Streets and Wacker Drive.  Close to a half-billion dollars is allocated for improvements at O-Hare, including renovating and expanding terminals, upgrading parking facilities and the possible construction of a monorail system.  Midway is scheduled to see $50 million in improvements as well.  Elimination of the S-curve where Lake Shore Drive crossed the river, shown above, was one of the major projects outlined in the $3.3 billion plan.  

September 2, 1954 – Ten thousand people watch as the captured German submarine U-505 is hauled across Lake Shore Drive at Fifty-Seventh Street on its way to a permanent place at the Science Museum. The drive is closed to traffic at 7:00 p.m. and opened again at 7:00 a.m. the following day as the submarine is moved on rails for a distance of 300 feet across the highway  Directing the move is Rear Admiral Daniel V. Gallery who commanded the task force that captured the vessel off the coast of West French Africa in 1944, taking control of the first submarine ever commandeered in naval combat.  Workmen of the La Plant-Adair Company, a house moving company from Indianapolis, are in charge of jacking up the submarine and transporting it safely to its final resting place at the museum.  The above photo shows the U-505 sitting on the beach at Jackson Park after being rolled off the floating dry dock preparatory to being hauled across Lake Shore Drive to the Science Museum, today's Museum of Science and Industry.
September 2, 1945 – Over 20,000 people visit the LST-412, a 328-foot tank landing ship tied up in the Chicago River west of the Michigan Avenue bridge on the first day that the ship is open to the public.  In the afternoon a unit of U. S. Marines stage a demonstration of invasion tactics at the Foster Avenue Beach with 40 Navy planes leading the “invasion” in a mock 20-minute bombardment of the beach.  The LST, or “Landing Ship, Tank” was developed after the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk in the early stages of World War II.  One of the lessons learned in the evacuation was that there was no vessel capable of loading or unloading artillery or vehicles from a beachhead.  By November of 1942 the United States had developed the LST, a vessel capable of reasonable stability in the open sea with a bottom flat enough to make a beach landing practical. By the end of World War II more than 1,000 of these vessels would be built.  The LST-142 was one of 113 ships delivered to the Royal Navy under the Lend-Lease Act.  She was laid down in September 1942 at the Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyard in Baltimore, Maryland and launched just seven weeks later.  Sailing with a British crew, In September 1943 she saw her first action, supporting the Allied landings at Salerno and Anzio.  In June 1944 LST-142 supported the Allied invasion at Normandy, making seven trips to the beach, carrying tanks, trucks and artillery in one direction and evacuating wounded troops in the other.  At the end of the war the United States reclaimed the ship, and she barely made it to the Azores “with her welds cracking and the whole ship threatening to break up.”  []   Not one of the LST-412’s 10 officers and 60 crewmen were lost in some of the heaviest fighting of the war.  After a tour of the Great Lakes, LST-412 was struck from the Navy list of ships on March 20, 1946, and on December 19, 1946 she was sold to the Northern Metals Company and scrapped.  LST-412 is pictured above offloading material in Sierra Leone in 1943.

September 2, 1914 – Federal officials begin an investigation to determine the cause of a fire that rips through the passenger ship City of Chicago, which lies beached at the life saving station at the entrance to the Chicago River.  The one big question about the wreck is how a fire could have gained such force if all members of the crew were on duty.  The boat sits with its hull resting on the bottom of the lake in about twelve feet of water with a load of Michigan grapes, cantaloupes and peaches still aboard.  The official report of the Coast Guard describes the event, “When within 5 miles of the end of her run in the early morning of September 1, 1914, the 1,439-ton passenger steamer City of Chicago, bound from St. Joseph, Mich., to Chicago, with 94 passengers, a crew of 56, and a full cargo of fruit, was discovered by her master to be on fire amidships.  To avoid panic no alarm was sounded, and the presence of the fire was kept secret on board until the master was able to lay his vessel, head-on, upon the breakwater protecting Chicago Harbor.  As the steamer rested upon the barrier referred to she lay within a few feet of the old Chicago Coast Guard Station.  The station lookout had observed smoke rising from her before she struck, and keeper and crew lost no time in beginning the work of extinguishing the fire.  The women and children on board were carried down ladders set against the steamer’s side.  With everybody safely landed, the Coast Guard crew devoted their entire attention to subduing the fire, and succeeded, with the help of a fire tug, in putting it out after three hours’ effort.”  The captain of the City of Chicago, Oscar Bjork, says, “There isn’t much to say about it.  You can see where the boat is, and you can bet I didn’t put her there for nothing.  I don’t think it would have been possible to save her anyhow – but I wasn’t figuring on saving her.  It was the passengers I was worried about.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 2, 1914]

No comments: