Saturday, July 4, 2020

July 4, 1974 -- Marquette Building in Jeopardy

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July 4, 1974 – The Chicago Tribune reports that an attorney for the owner of the Marquette Building on the northwest corner of Adams and Dearborn Streets has labeled a city proposal for saving the building as “premature and not pertinent.” [Chicago Tribune, July 4, 1974]  The city’s proposal had been put forth on June 10 when the city Commissioner of Development and Planning, Lewis H. Hill, suggested that the building could be saved if the owner, Romanek-Golub and Co., was given “lucrative zoning bonuses” that would allow it to raze the buildings in the block bounded by Adams, Dearborn, Clark and Monroe Streets while allowing the Marquette to remain.  The position of Romanek-Golub is that it cannot “earn a fair income on operation of the Marquette under any circumstances” and that landmark status for the building “stigmatizes any building in the eyes of lending agencies and others.”  A position paper in which the Department of Architecture at the University of Illinois Chicago Circle assesses the worth of the building states, “The preservation of the great works of architecture, which are this city’s unique, valuable, and ongoing contribution to the culture and civilization of the twentieth century, must be seen as a positive force that will enhance the quality and thus the life of the city.”



July 4, 1902 – 10,000 people gather in Independence Square at Douglas Park and Garfield Boulevard as Illinois Governor Richard Yates unveils a great fountain as a band plays, Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean and 700 school children sing along.  In his speech the governor says, “You may go around the world, and into every port, and you will find no flag so dear to the seekers for freedom as the stars and stripes that wave over there.  It represents an unequaled, a sublime, and unprecedented citizenship.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, July 5, 1902]  The sculpture by Charles J. Mulligan stands on top of a 15-foot base in the shape of the Liberty Bell.  The children in the sculpture hold Roman candles that once served as fountainheads.  They also carry a flag, bugle and drum in the celebration of an old-fashioned Fourth of July.  Today the fountain basin is dry, surrounded by a ten-foot high fence as the above photo shows.


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July 4, 1891 – The flag at Fort Sheridan is raised for the first time on its new flagstaff at 9:30 a.m. The Fifteenth Infantry is called out in full dress parade at 9:00 a.m., forming up on the road between the main entrance to the fort and the guardhouse, opposite to and facing the flagstaff.  Edith Crofton, the youngest daughter of the post’s commandant, Colonel R. E. A. Crofton, is given the honor of raising the flag.  The Chicago Daily Tribune reports, “It was no light task for a young woman to hoist a large flag to the top of a staff 210 feet high.  Nevertheless she bravely tugged at the rope and the flag slowly but surely ascended.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, July 5, 1891]. As the flag reached the top, the assembled soldiers presented arms, and as spectators applauded, the post’s musicians played “The Star Spangled Banner.”


July 4, 1883 – A reporter for the Chicago Daily Tribune sets out for a stroll through the Lake-Front park, today’s Grant Park, as “a deliciously cool breeze fanned his perspiring brow.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, July 4, 1883] He discovers that nearly every bench had one or two occupants, concluding that “as a tramps’ paradise the park was an eminent success.  Deep, raspy snores, indicative of a tranquil slumber, floated up from various quarters of the park, and here and there could be dimly seen a recumbent figure, flat on its back, its arms and legs ungracefully distributed about it, a coat serving as a pillow and darkness as a cove.” Encountering a police officer on his way out of the park, the reporter asks if the situation is normal and if anything is being done about it. “Yes, sometimes we pull ‘em in,” responds the officer. “but not often. It’s only when they’re drunk and come down here disturbing the quiet sleepers.  They’re not all bums that sleeps here.  Some of ‘em are pretty well-to-do, but put on their old clothes, leave their valuables at home, and come down here to sleep.  It’s cooler, you know, than sleeping in a close room.  Come down and try it some night, and I’ll see that you ain’t arrested.” The above photo shows the park as the decade comes to an end.




Friday, July 3, 2020

July 3, 1933 -- Century of Progress Highlights

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July 3, 1933 – It is a B-I-G day at the Century of Progress World’s Fair on the eve of the Fourth of July.  The Firestone exhibit is dedicated with 300 employees from Akron, Ohio rolling into town to take part in the festivities.  A cat’s eye, “known as one of the rarest gems,” [Chicago Daily Tribune, July 4, 1933]. Is added to the collection of precious and semi-precious stones on the second floor of the General Exhibits Group.  The cat’s eye is used as the centerpiece of the jewel of head dresses for the maharajahs in India.  And a bit of bad news … Dr. Frank Baylor, head of the emergency hospital at the fair, is called to give first aid treatment to Louis, one of the elephants in the show at the 101 Ranch.  Apparently, poor Louis developed blisters on his feet from too much parading.  Louis is equipped with a leather boot and told to take some weight off his feet.  


July 3, 1976 – The Chicago Tribune reports that artist Marc Chagall has donated a set of windows, entitled “The American Windows,” to the Art Institute of Chicago as a Bicentennial gift.  The windows will measure eight by thirty feet and will be installed in an area overlooking McKinlock Court, a space illuminated by natural light.  Chagall holds the city in warm regard as a result of the experiences he had in 1973 and 1974 in the creation and dedication of his mosaic The Four Seasons, installed on the east side of the plaza of the First National Bank of Chicago, now Exelon Plaza.



July 3, 1946 –The International Harvester Company opens an exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry, providing “a complete Midwestern agricultural exhibit with mooing cows, cawing crows, and the latest in farm equipment.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, July 2, 1946] The exhibit includes a modern farm home, “lifelike” barnyard animals and natural sound effects.  Part of the exhibit is a historical timeline of the development of farm machinery since the invention of the reaper by Cyrus McCormick in 1831.  Mr. John L. McCaffrey, the International Harvester president, speaks at the dedication, saying that the model farm will illustrate “the close mechanical tie between urban and rural life.”  Dr. George D. Sotddard, the new president of the University of Illinois, also speaks.  The photo above shows workers readying the exhibit for the public in 1946.


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July 3, 1933 – All available police reserves are called out as 125,000 members of the city’s Jewish population attend “The Romance of a People,” sponsored by the Jewish Agency for Palestine, a pageant portraying the history of the Jewish race at Soldier Field.  Five years has been spent in the planning of the spectacle.  Writing for the Chicago Daily Tribune, James O’Donnell Bennett observes, “As I followed bright threads of fortitude, of tenacity, of abiding faith, and of stalwart racial consciousness and racial fidelity from which this fabric of drama was woven, I marveled that any Jew should ever be other than inordinately proud of his ethical and cultural inheritance, so rich and so ancient.  ‘Tis the rest of us who are parvenus by compare.”  At 9:00 p.m. twelve rabbis bear a gigantic scroll that is over twelve feet high to an altar in the center of the floor of the immense stadium. For two hours amplified voices read the story carried in the Torah as the drama unfolds.  At various times there are 750 dancing girls spreading flowers around the altar of the Pentateuch, Roman legionaries and chariots, and 3,500 actors acting out parts of the drama as 2,500 choir members sing, “their voices being led out to the audience by the most nearly perfect system of amplification that has ever been set up on this continent.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, July 4, 1933].  Most of those attending the pageant had spent the Jewish Day at the grounds of the Century of Progress World’s Fair, and their movement from the grounds to Soldier Field, starting around 7:30 p.m., overwhelmed the 400 policemen originally posted to maintain an orderly flow into the pageant.  Another 400 officers are called in, and 46 ticket windows, each with two cashiers are opened up.  Michigan Avenue is closed between Monroe Street and Twenty-Third Street in order for the crowd to reach elevated and bus lines when the show ends with the prophecies of Isaiah, “’Neither shall they learn war any more’ … as a single voice, high and clear, wafts into the starry sky, ‘How beautiful are thy tabernacles, O Lord!’”  The pageant is repeated on the next evening after the Tribune offers to sponsor the reprise performance so that “rich and poor of all creeds might witness the gigantic spectacle.”


July 3, 1912 – The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that a new record for inheritance taxes in Illinois has been set with a tax of $329,131 assessed on the estimated $17,000,000 estate of the late R. T. Crane.  Payment of the tax by July 8, 1912 will save the heirs of the estate more than $16,000 because of a five per cent allowance for prompt payment.  The estate of Marshall Field had set the previous record, with a tax on his estate of $125,000.  The Field estate, however, sheltered nearly a half-million dollars in tax liability by insuring that property in the estate did not pass on to heirs at the time of Field’s death.  Richard T. Crane had the singular fortune of being born the nephew of Chicago lumber baron Martin Ryerson.  At the age of 23, the young man moved to Chicago and began a partnership with his brother.  Crane’s timing could not have been better.  He had established himself as an astute businessman in the city years before the 1871 fire.  After the fire his mill met the appetite of the city, supplying it with pipe, steam engines and even elevators as architecture moved from four- or five-story buildings to soaring towers.  The company’s manufacture of enameled cast iron bathroom fixtures also synced up nicely with the demand for luxurious indoor sanitary facilities.  In 1910 the Crane company factories in Chicago employed over 5,000 men.  For more information on the Crane company and the son of its founder you can turn to this section of Connecting the Windy City.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

July 2, 1992-- Nike Town Chicago Opens On Michigan Avenue

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July 2, 1992 – A thousand invitees join Mayor Richard M. Daley and a host of celebrity athletes as they open Nike Town, “the new high-tech shop created for those who aspire to perspire.”  [Chicago Tribune, July 3, 1992].   A half-hundred television screens show action shots of Michael Jordan wearing his Nike shoes as Jerry Seinfeld has fun with the grandness of the store.  The air conditioning system is overburdened as Seinfeld jokes that the Nike folks knew how to throw a “hot party.”  Guests enjoy shrimp, chicken, beef and peeled tomatoes sautéed with vodka for two hours before they are led into the store itself where, to the beat of house music, they encounter a life-size sculpture of Scottie Pippen floating 30 feet off the main floor.  The 68,000 square-foot store features more than shoes and sportswear … there are museum exhibits, aquariums, video theaters, and half of a basketball court.  Pneumatic tubes connect selling areas to the stock area on the fourth floor where “burly men sprint between shelves of orange and black boxes, pluck out the required shoes and feed them into the system.”  [The New York Times, July 19, 1992]. The price tag for the fitness emporium is estimated at $34 million.  The Chicago store comes just two years after Nike’s first Nike Town in-line store was opened in Portland, Oregon. 


July 2, 1974 – For the first time in 25 years mounted policemen go on patrol, making the rounds of Grant Park, Lincoln Park and Washington Park as bystanders greet the new patrols with positive reviews.  “The idea,” reports the Chicago Tribune, “is to have highly mobile and highly visible policemen on duty in the parks.”   According to the official website of the Chicago Police Department, the Mounted Patrol Unit currently maintains 32 geldings, chosen “for uniformity in appearance, size and temperament.”  All mounted officers must undergo a 14-week training program with only half of the officers who begin the program making the cut.  Mounted personnel include one lieutenant, four sergeants and 27 mounted patrol officers with the unit’s stables and training facility located within the South Shore Cultural Center grounds at 7059 south Shore Drive. According to the C.P.D. website, benefits of the horseback patrol include, “visibility for an officer to see over crowds of situations as well as for increased perception of police presence when a person can see an officer in a crowd.  They provide mobility, many times allowing an officer to get to a scene faster and more efficiently than on foot or in a vehicle.  They are Ambassadors of Good Will and encourage approachability by members of the public, since many people love animals or are curious about horses.”   Mounted officers are particularly effective in crowd management with one officer on horseback equaling the presence of ten officers on foot.  The above photo presents the first graduating class of mounted officers in 1974.



July 2, 1952 – The final section of the $22,000,000 Edens expressway is opened to traffic.  The last section of the highway connects the highway north of Lake-Cook Road to Skokie Road in Highland Park.  The completed expressway is named after William G. Edens, a Chicago banker who was the sponsor of the state’s first highway bond issue 34 years earlier.  The above photo, taken in 1952, shows the beginning of the new highway passing over Cicero Avenue.



July 2, 1894 –A United States Marshal reads an injunction to 2,000 strikers in Blue Island, an order restraining them from interfering with the operation of the Rock Island and 20 other railroads after which the assembled men “howled defiance at the Marshal and his deputies and promptly violated the injunction by throwing a box car across the tracks and stopping all traffic for the night.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, July 2, 1894] The injunction comes over a month after 3,000 workers go on strike at the Pullman Palace Car Company on Chicago’s South Side.  By the end of June, the strike had spread to 27 states, forcing the United States Attorney General to issue the order, which is read in Blue Island on this night. The local and state police forces are outmanned, and a call to the federal government for help is made as stranded railroad passengers are refused food and water by local merchants.  President Grover Cleveland is forced to order federal troops from Fort Sheridan to restore order and clear the way for mail, passengers and inter-state freight..



July 2, 1890:  Charles L. Hutchinson returns fro Europe, bringing with him a treasure trove of paintings destined ultimately to find their way to the Art Institute.  A year earlier Hutchinson, while in Florence, saw the collection of Prince Anatoly Nikolaievich Demidoff, a Russian industrialist and diplomat who had died shortly before.  It was Hutchinson’s original intention to make arrangements to have the prince’s collection displayed in Chicago and then returned to Florence, but upon arriving he discovered that Demidoff’s widow was looking to sell the paintings.  Hutchinson quickly arranged to meet Martin Ryerson, a wealthy Chicago steel tycoon, in Paris, and the two men get to work contacting money men back home, including Marshall Field and Phllip Armour.  For $200,000 the Chicago syndicate got thirteen paintings that Hutchinson describes in this way, “The collection is indeed superb.  It would be a worthy addition to the Louvre itself.  The names of the artists include Rembrandt, Hobbema, Van Ostade, Van Dyke, Johann Steen, Terburg, Teniers, Adrian Van der Velde, William Van der Velde, and Rubens.  With the exception of the Rembrandt there is nowhere in America anything to compare with these examples of the old Dutch artists.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, July 3, 1890]  Jan Steen’s groovy “The Family Concert” of 1666 was part of the collection, given to the museum by Hutchinson in 1891.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

July 1, 1963 -- Jackson Park Coast Guard Station Shuts Down

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July 1, 1963 – The United States Coast Guard station in Jackson Park closes with responsibility for the station reverting to the Chicago Park District, from which the Coast Guard has been leasing the property.  The station had been manned by only 11 men and handled only 75 to 80 calls in an average year.  The Coast Guard stations at Calumet Harbor and the lake, along with the station at the foot of Randolph Street, will pick up the slack.   The Jackson Park station was established in 1890, and, according to Chief Warrant Officer Robert Ashton, the commander of Group Chicago, “Back in the early days, there was a real need for the station … In 1902, you had to walk the beaches to spot an accident.  Now, accidents on the lake often are spotted by planes.”  [Chicago Tribune, June 30, 1963].  The old station is still there on the western edge of the Jackson Park Outer Harbor.  If you are biking or walking on the lakefront trail, you will move right past it around Sixty-Fourth Street.  The top photo shows the station early in the twentieth century.  The second photo shows the park district property in the left center of the photo with the Jackson Park Yacht Club across the basin and La Rabida Children's Hospital beyond that.

J. Bartholomew Photo
July 1, 1940 – The 440-foot nautical-themed beach house at North Avenue Beach opens.  The facility has 14 showers and 1,440 baskets that allow men and women to check personal effects while heading for the beach.  In order to give the “ship” a credible lake-worthy appearance the art deco structure is equipped with a crow’s nest, booms, yard arms, lanterns, portholes and flags.  The North Avenue Beach was completed as part of a $1,250,000 Works Progress Administration project, that wound up in 1939, an undertaking that added 875,000 square feet of new parkland extending north to Fullerton Avenue with a new overpass at that juncture.  The beach house is a design by architect Emanuel V. Buchsbaum.  It was replaced in 2000 by a new facility with 22,000 square feet of space. The above photo shows the beach house as it appears today.



July 1, 1933 – The Museum of Science and Industry opens its doors for the first time at 10:00 a.m.  No formal ceremony is held.  Only the great Central Hall will open as many of the exhibits that will eventually be displayed are being shown at the Century of Progress World’s Fair on the lakefront a few miles to the north.  All of the exhibits at the museum will be free with the exception of the Coal Mine, for which there will be a twenty-five cent charge.  A feature of the museum will be its interactive displays, exhibits “capable of being operated by switches or levers, to demonstrate scores of processes or inventions.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, July 2, 1933]  The museum, originally the Palace of Fine Arts at the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 housed the Field Museum of Natural History for a time, but then fell into decay.  In fact, the South Park Board voted to raze it in 1921.  Fortunately, that didn't happen.  The photo above shows the condition of the building before the effort to restore it began.

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July 1, 1917 – An investigation begins into the origins of a fire that consumes $750,000 worth of valuable film from the vaults of the Pathé Film Company in the Consumers’ Building at 220 South State Street.  The Chicago manager of Pathé, C. W. Bunn, speculates that the fire is the product of labor unions sending a message as they seek to unionize film company employees. He says “Taken in connection with threats that have been sent to me and to other film managers, I am convinced the fire was of incendiary origin.  Four employees were at work in the office.  They heard a noise in the vault, as if something had fallen.  An explosion followed and the vault door was blown out with a blast of smoke and flame.  The falling noise probably was the working of a time mechanism that touched off a bomb.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, July 2, 1917]  After the blast and fire, police officers are stationed at the offices of 16 film companies in the city as Attorney Lewis F. Jacobson, representing the film exchanges, holds a conference with police officials at City Hall.  Jacobson presents a letter that the president of Local No. 157 sent to all film company managers, in which he states, “Get busy and organize. Start at once or we will start our work.”  The deputy police commissioner then orders the arrest of the organizer and former business agent of Local 157.  Two days later a judge grants an injunction against Locals 110, 134 and 157 of the Moving Picture Machine Operators’ union, restraining the unions “From picketing, spying, assaulting, or intimidating, congregating about, at, or near the places of business of the complainants; from attempting to deal with employees toward unionization, and from boycotting or otherwise molesting exhibitors using the films of its complainants.”   [Chicago Daily Tribune, July 4, 1917].  Through quick work firemen were able to confine the Pathé fire to the sixth floor of the Consumers’ building, a building in which three other film distribution companies are located – the Universal, Mutual and the Feature.  This catches the eye of the city’s corporation counsel, who notes “flagrant violations of city ordinances in regard to the handling of moving pictures.”  Fire officials announce that they will prepare an ordinance that excludes all companies handling motion pictures from the central business district because of the danger of explosions.  The above photo shows a detail of the Consumers' Building, one of the last of the Chicago School designs, a 1913 building designed by the firm of William Le Baron Jenney, William Bryce Mundie and Elmer C. Jensen.  


July 1, 1910 – Comiskey Park opens for its first game as 24,900 fans watch the Chicago White Sox lose to the St. Louis Browns, 2-0.  Despite the loss, the opening of the new park is a success that “crowned the tremendous efforts which have been put forth in the last few weeks to get the mammoth plant ready for its christening and it passed through its baptism as if to the manor born, while tens of thousands of the Old Roman’s friends cheered at every possible opportunity to show their appreciation of the gift he had prepared for them.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, July 2, 1910] A thousand people wait in line to purchase tickets when the gates at the new park open at 1:00.  A brass band greets entering fans, who cheer the Chicago team when it “emerged from its dressing rooms, clad in new coming out gowns of dazzling white, nattily trimmed with blue and designed by G. Harris White, dentist, pitcher, and outfielder as well.”  Cheers rise again as Charles Comiskey is presented a big banner at home plate as a band on the field plays “Hail to the Chief.” In January of 1909 Charles Comiskey, who had owned the club for ten years, bought a plot of land used by the city as landfill and commissions Zachary Taylor Davis, a graduate of the Armour Institute, to design a new ballpark for the White Sox.  On March 17,1910 the cornerstone for the new park is laid.  Less than four months later the park opens. The same architect designed Weeghman Field, today’s Wrigley Field, on the north side which opened four years later.





Tuesday, June 30, 2020

June 30, 1929 -- Grant Park, A Parking Lot?

Chicago Tribune Photo
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June 30, 1929 – The Chicago Daily Tribune prints a photo essay, showing the amount of space in Grant Park given over to the parking of automobiles.  There was at the time a pay station for those who wanted to park in what is now primarily Maggie Daley Park, an area where between 5,000 and 7,500 cars were parked each day.  In the grainy Tribune photo above one can see the long lines of cars with the Illinois Central Railroad freight yard in the lower left corner of the photo.  The second photo shows another view of the parking lot.  The third photo shows what the area looks like today. 

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June 30, 1961 – The land on which the 100 North La Salle Street building stands is sold to the building’s owners for $1,750,000 or $200 a square foot.  The sum is believed to be the highest price paid for land in the downtown real estate market since 1929.  Vincent Curtis Baldwin, president of the consortium that owns the building, says that the price paid eclipses the previous high for a lot on the southwest corner of Michigan Avenue and Adams Street which sold for $115 a square foot. The corporation that owns the building was reorganized in 1942 under federal bankruptcy law after having fallen behind in rent, taxes and bond interest during the 1930’s Depression. Acquiring the land will allow the building’s owners to free themselves of the annual lease on the property, which, on an annual basis, amounts to seven percent of the purchase price.  Several years ago an Atlanta-based firm, the Bridge Investment Group, purchased the 47-story tower for $113 million.



June 30, 1950 – The formal dedication of Merrill C. Meigs Field takes place on the lakefront.  Although the airport has been open since December 10, 1948, it carried no name.  Speaking from prepared notes, Meigs, who had served as the head of the city’s Aero Commission, said, “When my name was brought up last year before the city council, there were objections that no airport should be named for a living person.  I was honored at the original suggestion but felt that the sacrifice involved—in order to qualify—was too great a price, even for that glory.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, July 1, 1950]   Special guests were drawn from 30 states—the Flying Farmers of Prairieland and the National Flying Farmers.  It is estimated that 890 of their planes, carrying 2,047 persons, landed at Chicago area airports.   



June 30, 1941 – Superior Court Judge Ulysses S. Schwartz awards $1,275 to A. F. Cuneo, the owner of two three-story buildings at 933 and 939 North State Street, an amount that covers the cost “of protecting the buildings against possible collapse as the result of subway excavation” [Chicago Daily Tribune, July 31, 1943] related to the 8.75 mile subway we know today as the Red Line.  The case is seen as a precedent, impacting “millions of dollars” that are involved in the dispute between the city and property owners over damages incurred during the construction of the subway.  City officials plan on appealing the ruling to the Supreme Court, but a clause in the Illinois Constitution does not appear to support their case.  It reads, “Private property shall not be taken or damaged for public use without compensation.”  Already 50 suits have stacked up, amounting to a million-and-a-half dollars, mostly costs associated with underpinning buildings to protect them from collapse as the subway tunnel is bored beneath them.  Construction of the State Street subway is shown in the photo above. 



June 30,1863 – The setting of the cornerstone of the Theological Seminary at the corner of Halsted Street and Fullerton Avenue takes place in a ceremony which opens with the assembled guests singing “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord.” Reverend Dr. Matthews of Monmouth, Illinois then presents the past history of the Seminary, after which he lays the cornerstone. Today’s McCormick Theological Seminary is the descendant of this seminary which, according to the McCormick website, “was born in a log cabin” in Hanover, Indiana with a faculty of two and a “handful of students.”  Seeking a Presbyterian seminary in Chicago, Cyrus McCormick provided a $100,000 donation to endow four professorships, allowing the Seminary to move to 25 acres in today’s Lincoln Park.  In 1975 the seminary moved to Hyde Park, a move that allowed the school to share resources with the Jesuit School of Theology and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.  The above photo shows the Halsted Street entrances of McCormick Hall, built in 1883; Ewing Hall, built in 1863, and the seminary chapel, built in 1875.  

Monday, June 29, 2020

June 29, 1965 -- Civil Rights Protests Continue over School Superintendent Willis

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June 29, 1965 – Twelve civil rights demonstrators are arrested after they lay down in Michigan Avenue near Madison Street during a march from Buckingham Fountain to City Hall.  The remaining 60 or 70 marchers continue their walk, using the sidewalks, to City Hall where they form a single file and march around the building.  The march begins in late afternoon after civil rights leaders emerge from a meeting with the members of the Board of Education.  The march follows a demonstration two days earlier in which 75 people were arrested after they sat down at La Salle and Randolph Streets near City Hall.  The protests are a continuation of dissatisfaction with the tenure of Chicago School Superintendent Benjamin C. Willis, who has held his position for a dozen years.  For three years, beginning in 1963, civil rights leaders and Black students have angrily demonstrated, accusing Willis of actively fostering segregation in the city’s schools.  The most visible symbol of that was the collection of 625 mobile classrooms Willis placed on the city’s South Side to alleviate overcrowding at mostly Black schools.  In the heated opposition to Willis, they came to be known as “Willis Wagons”.  Willis continued in his position into 1966 when he retired four months before his contract was up.  The above photo shows a protest that was held against Willis on June 10, 1965.  At that time a boycott of schools was ongoing with some schools reporting as much as fifty percent of the student body absent from class.  This was nearly a half-century ago ... not hard to figure out why people are just a little bit impatient.

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June 29, 1981 -- Marshall Field and Company announces the sale of its annex building on the southwest corner of Washington Street and Wabash Avenue to Bond Industries of New York. The Store for Men housed in the annex as well as corporate offices will move into the company’s flagship store on State street.  A month earlier the company’s president, Angelo R. Arena, said that the firm was looking toward “strategies for using our real estate to potentially reduce our short-term debt and interest levels.”  [Chicago Tribune, June 30, 1981]. It is estimated that the sale of the annex building will yield $10 million which will be used to reduce $50.61 million in short-term debt.   The chairman of Fields’ Chicago operation, George P. Kelly, looks at the movement of the Store for Men to the main building as a positive act, saying, “Our studies show that women do most of the shopping for men.  When we move those departments into State Street we’ll get more women in here and more business.”



June 29, 1954 -- Field Enterprises, Inc., the publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times, completes the purchase of a six-story building on the southwest corner of Rush Street and East North Water Street for $300,000, adding the property to a site already owned by the company.  The building will be razed as soon as practical, and the 15,000 square foot lot added to the 45,000 square feet that the company already owns, a site that extends westward to Wabash Avenue on the north side of the river.  The Chicago firm of Naess and Murphy is already drawing architectural plans for a multi-level building that will cover the entire site and provide offices and printing facilities for the Sun-Times.  The building got built, stood for forty years and then gave way to today’s Trump International Hotel and Tower.  Additional information about the Sun Times building can be found in this entry in Connecting the WindyCity.  The new home for the Sun Times is shown under construction in the photo above.



June 29, 1926 –The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that William J. Lynch, the city’s Harbor Master, has reported the statistics for the opening and closing of bridges in 1925.  “The bridge operating section functioned without interruption during the year,” the report observes. “Forty-eight bridges were operated twenty-four hours daily … Three hundred and thirty-nine bridge tenders were employed, which includes forty men used during the three summer months on vacation related work.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, June 29, 1926] The total number of openings for 1925 was 94,684 with the average time for each opening estimated at 3.5 minutes.  All told, bridges were closed to street traffic for 5,689 hours during the year.  The report finds the movement of most excursion boats to the Municipal Pier helpful in the bridge opening problem, but the Tribune reports, “… the opening of bridges for sand scows, tug boats, dredges, and commercial craft of all kinds … will continue until the city adopts a permanent bridge policy.”


June 29, 1891 Chicago’s Health Department files six suits against the establishment of Benzo and Pieper, a livestock fattening concern located at the intersection of Addison Street and the north branch of the river.  Benzo and Pieper, situated on nine acres, is typical of many such enterprises located all along the river.  The Chicago Daily Tribune describes the grounds, “In a long, low shambling shed there are now kept eighty head of steers, though as many as 250 are at times fattened in this one building . . . rows of fattening bullocks, standing ankle deep in filth, bloated through overeating until they can hardly stand, and chained to one spot for five months without being able to take exercise.”  One thing that made this particular company noteworthy was that it held a contract for removing the garbage from “all the principal hotels” in the city with six teamed wagons collecting refuse from the alleys of those establishments.  In front of the cattle shed described earlier stood a building with nine tanks, each holding 45 barrels.  Again from the Tribune’s copy, “The garbage wagons drive alongside these tanks and empty their contents into them.  Water from the river is pumped into the tanks until the mass reaches the required consistency when fires are started underneath and the swill is kept boiling for some ten hours . . . And this is the stuff which goes to put flesh on the lean bones of scraggy steers . .    The article points out the incredible fattening qualities of this concoction by describing one of those scraggy steers, “ . . . so fat, in fact, that its legs could not support its body for any length of time, and in consequence it lay down nearly the whole time, this proving no interference to its eating, as the troughs are so low that they can be reached by the cattle without getting up.”  Such a bull would gain 100 pounds a month during the time it was confined.  August Benzo, one of the owners, “a good-natured German who owns a saloon at Clybourn place and Elston avenue” says that he will fight the cases in court.  The photo above shows the same area as it appears today.