October 11, 1969 – A march through the Loop by 300 members of the Students for a Democratic Society breaks bad as police face off against “demonstrators, using tire chains, clubs, railroad flares, and their fists smashed windows and fought a running battle … in the three-block area from La Salle street to State street.” [Chicago Tribune, October 12, 1969] When things finally wind down 105 demonstrators are under arrest, 27 police officers have been injured and two corporation counsels are hurt with one of them, Richard Elrod, suffering permanent paralysis when he attempts to tackle a demonstrator fleeing police. The march is supposed to proceed down La Salle Street to Jackson Boulevard, but it breaks apart a half-mile north at Madison Street and marchers head east, smashing windows in 15 buildings as they run. After the Loop is cleared, Governor Richard Ogilvie calls 300 Illinois national guardsmen into the area, but by 7:00 p.m., concluding that the trouble is at an end, he releases all 2,600 guardsmen on alert in the city since they had been summoned earlier in the week.
October 11, 1954 – The rain finally stops. On October 9, 1954 rain begins to move into the Chicagoland area, and from that Saturday afternoon until Monday morning, the storms continue, bringing 6.21 inches of rain, surpassing a record that has stood for nearly 70 years. The Chicago Sanitary District orders the locks at the mouth of the river opened at 6:25 p.m. on October 10 and “A gigantic swell of water roared into the lake as the river for a time returned to the original direction of its flow before it had been reversed by canals to the Illinois waterway." [Chicago Daily Tribune, October 12, 1954] Water flows into the counterweight pits of most of the downtown bridges, immobilizing them, and traffic on the river is halted. The new Edens Highway is closed, and the Racine Avenue pumping station is put out of commission with four feet of water on its main floor. Before the locks are opened, the Chicago River rises five feet, overflowing in several locations, including the area around Union Station where stormwater pours into the basement of the main post office, where it short-circuits pumps that could have helped keep the water level lower. Flowing through drains, the floods enter two sub-basements of the Chicago Daily News building, today’s Two Riverside Plaza, where 42 feet of water eventually collects, destroying paper stock valued at a quarter million dollars and shorting out electrical circuits to the paper’s pressroom. The Chicago Tribune prints seven editions of the Chicago Daily News while fire boats and several fire engines pump the water out of the basements. the above photo shows the railroad yard near Van Buren Street under water that has also flooded the counterweight pits of the bridge.
October 11, 1926 – Machine guns spread a wave of death across the street from Holy Name Cathedral as two mobsters are killed and three others are wounded. The sniper targets his victims from the front room of a second-floor apartment at 740 North State Street, a building next door to William F. Schofield’s florist shop, about which you can find more information in this entry at Connecting the Windy City. One of the men killed is Earl “Hymie” Weiss, a member of the North Side Gang that controlled bootlegging and other illegal activity on the north side of the city, a rival to a gang controlled by Al Capone. Also killed is Patrick Murray, a known bootlegger. Weiss holds in his pocket a list of all the men called for jury duty in the trial of Joe Sallis, a south side gang leader who is charged with the murder of another mob captain. Weiss also has $5,300 in walking-around money on his person. This is the fifth in a series of gang-related murders in the space of two years, beginning with the murder of mob boss Dean O’Banion in the florist shop on Sate Street. Police search the rented room from which the shots were fired and find 35 empty .45 caliber shells near the window and “a hundred or more” cigarette butts, “indicating a long period of watchful waiting.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, October 13, 1926] The Chicago Chief of Police says, “We knew it was coming sooner or later. And it isn’t over. I fully expect that there will be a reprisal, then a counter reprisal and so on. These beer feuds go in an eternal vicious cycle. I don’t want to encourage the business, but if somebody has to be killed, it’s a good thing the gangsters are murdering themselves off. It saves trouble for the police.”
October 11, 1918 – A city commission passes a resolution that all public dancing must be stopped in order to check the influenza-pneumonia epidemic. Dr. C. St. Clair Drake, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, says, “The order will take effect at once.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, October 12, 1913] The commission also adopts a resolution that “attendance at all funerals, contagious disease or otherwise, shall be restricted to the immediate relatives, close friends and necessary attendants.” In the 24 hours before the commission adopts its resolutions 124 people in the city have died of influenza and 89 from pneumonia. The commission orders the cancelling of all dances as a necessary step “because of the close contact of the dancers, the exercise of the dance and the frequent chilling of the body that is apt to follow.” The 1918 pandemic, believed to have begun in a French hospital processing soldiers wounded in the war, led to the deaths of between 50 and 100 million worldwide. According to the digital encyclopedia at http://www.influenzaarchive.org “Between the start of Chicago’s epidemic on September 21 and the removal of restrictions on November 16, the Windy City experienced a staggering 38,000 cases of influenza and 13,000 cases of pneumonia . . . Yet, despite these numbers, Chicago actually did fairly well for a city of its size. In fact, with a population of 2.7 million, Chicago’s epidemic death rate for the period was only 373 out of 100,000, not much worse than its long-time rival St. Louis.”