Monday, October 5, 2020

October 5, 1929 -- Merchandise Mart Provides First Exhibit of Air Rights Taxation

October 5, 1929 -- The Chicago Board of Assessors agrees on a tax assessment against the Merchandise Mart that rises above the Chicago and North Western Railroad tracks north of the Chicago River and west of Wells Street, the first time in the history of the city that taxes have been assessed against "air rights".  The rule the board applies is "the value of the air rights is the size of the entire fee under the building, less the added cost of constructing a building on air rights over a railroad, and less the loss in value owing to the loss of rentable space."  [Chicago Daily Tribune, October 6, 1929].  In the case of the Merchandise Mart the formula determines that the total area covered by the structure is 267,775 feet, resulting in a taxable value of $2,677,750.  The cost of constructing the building over the railroad tracks, determined by examining the books of the architects, Graham, Anderson, Probst and White, is fixed at $200,000.  That sum is subtracted from the total price.  An additional debit from the building's total cost is estimated for the loss of rentable office space that cannot be used because of the existence of the railroad tracks.  That sum is estimated at $104,164.  Another $67,267 is subtracted because of delays in finalizing the agreement between the building's owners and the railroad.  The final figure is 86.12% of the building, the sum on which the massive building will be taxed.  The photo shows the tracks of the Chicago and North Western Railroad running from west to east beneath the Merchandise Mart just after the Mart was completed.

October 5, 1964 – The tunnel at Oak Street, costing $5 million and designed to move northbound traffic on Michigan Avenue onto a ramp providing access to Lake Shore Drive, opens for its first rush hour.  The tunnel eliminates a bottleneck that has plagued Lake Shore Drive at Oak Street for years. The top photo shows the junction of Michigan Avenue, Oak Street and Lake Shore Drive before the tunnel was constructed.  The lower photo shows the area today with the tunnel peeking out in the lower left corner of the photo.

October 5, 1938 – Red Ruffing, pitching for the New York Yankees, goes up against the Chicago Cubs 22-game winner, Bill Lee, in the first game of the 1938 World Series, played in Chicago.  The Yankees go up, 2-0, in the second inning after Lou Gehrig walks and moves to third on a single by Bill Dickey. An error by Cubs second baseman Billy Herman allows Gehrig to score, and Joe Gordon brings Dickey home with another single.  The Cubs get a run back in the third inning, but the Yankees add another run in the sixth inning to end the scoring in a game in which Ruffing gives up nine hits and beats the home team, 3-1, before 43,642 spectators in a game that takes less than two hours to complete.  The men from the Bronx go on to defeat the Cubs in a four-game sweep.
Chicago Tribune photo

October 5, 1937 – A new day dawns in the city as the long awaited link between the north and south sections of the city, the bridge over the Chicago River at Lake Shore Drive, is dedicated in front of nearly 10,000 spectators.  The highlight of the ceremony is the appearance of the President of the United States, Franklin Roosevelt, who speaks very few words concerning the bridge.  Instead he uses the opportunity to make a major address concerning the responsibility of the United States in joining like-minded nations in opposing countries that would wage war to achieve domination.  “And mark this well,” Roosevelt says, “When an epidemic of physical disease starts to spread, the community approves and joins in a quarantine of the patients in order to protect the health of the community against the spread of the disease.  War is contagion whether it is declared or undeclared.  It can engulf states and people remote from the original scene of hostilities.  Yes, we are determined to keep out of war, yet we cannot insure ourselves against the disastrous effects of war and the dangers of involvement.”  [Chicago Tribune, October 6, 1937] The dedication of the bridge is shown in the photo above.


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