Wednesday, September 23, 2020

September 23, 1931 -- Post Office Celebrates 20 Years of Air Mail Service

September 23, 1931 –
The city celebrates twenty years of air mail service, a period in which Chicago has taken a lead in moving the mail by airplane.  A quarter of the 9,000,000 pounds of air mail carried each year either originates or passes through Chicago.  Eighty planes depart from the city each day, carrying mail, passengers and freight, and air mail service is available to 140 cities in 44 states.   Twenty-six of the Chicago-based planes are operated by United Air Lines, one of the largest carriers in the country.   Air mail flights in the United States began in September of 1911 when eight pilots made daily flights from Garden City Estates in New York to Mineola, dropping mailbags from their planes to the ground.  Five years later the United States Congress approved $50,000 for air mail experimentation, and on May 15, 1918 regular air mail service between New York City and Washington, D. C. began.   On February 22, 1921 the first night flight from San Francisco to New York was staged, and in 1923 the Post Office Department began building a national network of beacons to guide flyers making their way across the country at night.  The first section of the route, from Cheyenne, Wyoming to Chicago, was built with emergency landing fields every 25 miles and five regular landing fields, each of which was marked by 50-foot towers with rotating beacons.  Between landing fields 289 beacons, visible for up to nine miles, were installed every three miles.  By 1925 this network had made it all the way to New York City.  As a separate class of service, domestic air mail ended in October 1975 when the Postal Service announced that First-Class postage, three cents cheaper than the air mail rate, would buy the same level of service.  []
September 23, 1933 – Sally Rand is found guilty of “willfully performing an obscene and indecent dance in a public place” [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 24, 1933] by a jury of twelve men.  This is the second time she has been tried on a charge that began with warrants sworn out on August 4 after Rand’s performances at the Chicago Theater.  Before the jury adjourns the Assistant State’s Attorney proclaims, “Are you gentlemen, whether married or single, to permit the stamp of approval to be put on such a nude and indecent performance?  I warn you that if you do you will revive the animalism of Greece, approve the lust of Rome, set the stamp of approval on the free love of the middle ages and condone the loves of the Borgias.  You will return us to paganism.”  Previously, the jurors watched the dancer, dressed in a skirt and a high-necked satin blouse go through her moves in the courtroom before they adjourned to the jury room, where they needed just one hour and fifteen minutes to render a verdict. The judge waits until Rand returns from a performance at the theater before he pronounces the maximum sentence under the law – one year in jail and a fine of $200.  The judge denies a request from Rand’s attorney for a new trial although he does agree to a stay of 60 days to allow the attorney to file a motion and releases Rand on a bond of $2,000.  Rand says, “If the jury is right, and the dance I do actually is indecent, and the court is right in sentencing me to a year in jail, all I can say is that every one who is engaged in sculpture, painting, music or dancing ought to quit.”  Rand’s attorney reacts as well, saying, “It’s asinine for the law to permit us to view the life-size statue of a nude man in the Art Institute – and experts agree that a man is more ugly in the nude than a woman – and yet bring a criminal charge against a woman for dancing with her body covered with thick white cream.” 

September 23, 1933 – Another mile of Lake Shore Drive is opened to traffic from Montrose to Foster Avenue.  The road will only be open during the day as streetlights still need to be installed.  This will be the first major thoroughfare to be opened as a result of $20,840,000 in gasoline and license taxes that the Illinois legislature had approved earlier.  It is expected that 35,000 cars a day will be using the new road each day although there are still obstacles to be overcome.  The junction with Sheridan Road at Foster Avenue will be a significant bottleneck.  George Barton, an engineer for the Chicago Motor Club, says, “Unless every assistance is given to traffic at Sheridan road and Foster avenue the utility of the new mile of outer drive is seriously curtailed.  This intersection will be the new bottleneck in the north side boulevard system, replacing the present bottlenecks at Montrose and Clarendon avenues and at Lawrence avenue and Sheridan road.”  The junction of Sheridan and Foster is shown above several years after the Lake Shore Drive extension is opened.  The second photo shows the same area today.

September 23, 1933 – Work begins on the final section of the Field building being erected between Clark and La Salle Streets on the east and west and Adams and Monroe Streets on the south and north.  Steel workers begin erecting the first beams for the tower, which it is estimated will contain 4,000 tons of steel.  Three of the four corner units of the Art Deco tower, designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, are complete with placement of steel for each section taking between 35 and 57 days.  

September 23, 1929 – Construction of the Wabash Avenue bridge begins, an event that, it is hoped, will usher in “the beginning of a new era of prosperity and business activity in the community …” [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 23, 1929] Projected completion date for the new span is anticipated to be December 1, 1930 as the contractor in charge of the construction of the bridge’s sub-structure has been given 11 months to complete the work.  The bridge will connect the north end of Wabash Avenue at Wacker Drive with the south end of Cass Avenue on the north side of the river.  A viaduct will also be constructed across the tracks of the Chicago and North Western Railroad at Kinzie Street with a gradual grade bringing the road down to grade level at Illinois Street.  The $3,700,000 span will be a two-leaf, single deck bascule bridge, 232 feet long and 60 feet wide with sidewalks on each side of the bridge spanning 13 feet.  Completing the project entailed coming to terms with the C and NW concerning the placing of piers, columns and easements.  Before construction even begins, businessmen on Cass Street are planning improvements that they hope will bring shoppers, new businesses and residents to the area.

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