Wednesday, September 30, 2020

September 30, 1947 -- Chicago Transit Authority Begins Operations

September 30, 1947 –
Chicago’s surface and elevated lines are absorbed into the Chicago Metropolitan Transit Authority, a corporation created by the Illinois legislature with the intention of allowing the city to purchase the lines and operate them as a publicly owned transportation system.  Hoping for a smooth transition, the new system’s management has directed that all senior staff members of the old system should continue in their current positions until the change-over is completed.  The biggest difference for riders will be an increase in fares – from 9 to 10 cents on surface lines.  Rides on elevated trains will continue at 13 cents.  The last hurdle in the process was cleared in August when $105 million in revenue bonds was sold to finance the new corporation.  Of that sum $75 million will go to the present owners of the surface lines, and $12 million will be paid out to the owners of the elevated lines.  The necessity for the move came just before the end of World War II when a federal district court judge ordered the two transit companies into bankruptcy, making it clear that providing public transportation in Chicago could only occur through public ownership of the system.  Philip Harrington, the chairman of the new transportation authority and an engineer, says, “For decades our local transportation has been partly frozen.  It is not to be wondered at that there is a tremendous job in taking over.  We are going to move as rapidly as we can, but not until we are sure where we are going.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, September 30, 1947].  In 1952 the new authority would purchase the assets of the Chicago Motor Coach Company, the bus line under the control of Yellow Cab Company founder John D. Hertz.  At that time surface transportation was handled primarily by electric trolley coaches – in the 1950’s the city’s fleet of 700 trolley buses was the largest such fleet in the United States.  []  That era ended with a natural disaster … the blizzard of January 26-27, 1967 demonstrated that the trolleys were unable to maneuver around abandoned vehicles without disconnecting from trolley wires, and the whole city shut down.  The last trolley coach ran on March 25, 1973.

September 30, 2016 – The Chicago Department of Transportation announces that construction on Phase 1 of the Wells-Wentworth Connector improvement project has begun.  The three-phase project is designed to create a new roadway between the Loop and Chinatown, a plan that was originally proposed in the Chicago Plan of 1909.  CDOT commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld says, “This project exemplifies Chicago’s strong commitment to the economic growth of the Chinatown community.  By creating direct road transit and bicycle access to Chinatown’s thriving commercial center, we hope to strengthen the community’s identity and economy.”  []  The first phase of the project will widen the existing right-of-way on Wentworth Avenue between West Seventeenth and West Nineteenth Streets, laying new sidewalks on both sides of the street and providing a buffered bike lane, additions that will improve pedestrian and bicycle access to Ping Tom Park and its field house.  This three-phase project is the first of several major infrastructure improvements planned for The 78, a 62-acre tract that is bordered by Clark Street, Roosevelt Road, Sixteenth Street and the Chicago River.  This, the newest of Chicago’s neighborhoods, according to the developer, Related Midwest, will be “showcased in a half-mile riverfront experience connecting to the existing Chicago Riverwalk and on par with the greatest urban waterfronts of the world – all while featuring undeniable ‘Chicago Soul.’”  []

September 30, 1990 – The Chicago White Sox defeat the Seattle Mariners, 2-1, in the last game the team will play in Comiskey Park, the oldest baseball park in the major leagues.  The last pitch is thrown by Bobby Thigpen who gets Seattle’s Harold Reynolds to hit a grounder to Sox second baseman Scott Fletcher who throws to Steve Lyons at first for the out.  Tickets for the final game sell out in two hours when they go on sale on June 9, and a crowd of 42,849 is on hand to bid farewell to the old ball yard.  These are the last of the 72,801,381 fans who have watched the Sox compile a record of 3,024 wins and 2,926 losses in Comiskey since it opened on July 1, 1910.  Said Sox pitcher Wilbur Wood, “It’s a shame they’re closing it down . . . It’s like with all of the older parks, not for the players but for the fans.  The new parks are so symmetrical that you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all.  And the fans are so far away.  I hope the fans are close at the new park like they were at Comiskey.”  [Chicago Tribune, October 1, 1990] 

September 30, 1983 – The Wild West comes to Wacker Drive as three men waylay the 121 Wacker Express bus and hold up the 27 passengers aboard, relieving them of “about $500 in cash, miscellaneous jewelry and wallets and purses.” [Chicago Tribune, October 1, 1983]. The bandits board the bus at State Street and announce a hold-up after stuffing a few dollar bills in the fare box. Police say that the bills will be dusted for fingerprints. This is the third bus robbery of the year. On October 28 a 23-year-old South Side man is indicted on charges of armed robbery in the commission of the crimes.

September 30, 1982 –The United States Naval Reserve ends its 89-year presence on Chicago’s lakefront as it leaves its three-story Art Deco building at the foot of Randolph Street.  The 50-year-old building will be torn down to make way for the widening of Lake Shore Drive and the straightening of the “S” curve where the drive crosses the Chicago River.  Reserve units have been transferred to Park Forest, the Great Lakes Naval Station, Glenview and Gary.  The Navy Reserve in the city began operation on September 30, 1893 at the World’s Columbian Exposition. [Chicago Tribune, September 30, 1982] The reserve eventually moved to a building at 20 North Michigan Avenue before it moved into an old converted freighter on the Chicago River.  Illinois approved funds for construction of the armory in 1927 and the armory, which cost $465,000, opened in 1932.


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