Capital of the World (12-6-1945)

Was Chicago finally going to get some respect?  That seemed possible on this date.  There was a good chance the city would become headquarters of the United Nations.

The old League of Nations had been unable to prevent World War II.  Now that the war was over, the UN had been created as a replacement.

William McFetridge

The delegates were temporarily meeting in London.  Most member countries favored putting the permanent headquarters in America.  But where?  Among the sites proposed were Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco, New York City, Westchester County New York—and Chicago.

A four-man delegation from Chicago had traveled to London to meet with UN officials.  Now the Chicagoans were on their way home.  Before boarding their plane, they talked with reporters.

“We feel absolutely confident that Chicago ranks high in the running,” said Corporation Counsel Barnet Hodes.  “We are more convinced than ever that Chicago meets every requirement.”

The war had been over less than six months, and much of Europe was still devastated and poor.  UN officials were frankly worried about the high cost of living in the United States.  That was one area where Chicago had an advantage over other American sites.

“We impressed on these people that they can get more for their money in Chicago,” labor leader William McFetridge said.  Housing, food, recreation, and education were cheaper than in any of the other cities.  Foreign diplomats could live very well in the Windy City.

Adlai Stevenson

The Chicago delegation had another reason to be optimistic.  The city had its own “inside man” at the UN.

Adlai Stevenson, an up-an-coming Chicago lawyer, was then serving in London as deputy U.S. delegate to the UN.  Stevenson wanted to get into politics.  Helping make Chicago the Capital of the World would also help young Adlai’s career.

If the UN did come to Chicago, where exactly would it be located?  The delegation did not comment on that.  Rumors were already circulating that the site would be Northerly Island.

Of course, Chicago never did become the UN headquarters.  A timely donation from the Rockefeller family secured the prize for New York City.  Back home, Northerly Island became an airport called Meigs Field.

Hey, since we didn’t get the UN, should we try to land the Olympics?


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