Archive Page 2

Then and Now, Jefferson-14th

1937–Jefferson Street @ 14th Street, view north

2017–the same location

In 1937 the neighborhood around Jefferson and 14th Streets was mostly tired commercial buildings.  Here and there, you might spot an ancient frame cottage—though the Great Fire of 1871 started a few blocks to the north, the flames did not touch this area.  Public transit was provided by the 14th-16th streetcar line.

In 2017 every building in the older photo is gone.  So is 14th Street, with the UPS facility sprawling over its onetime site.  And if you’ve compared as many “then and now” photos as I have, you’ll notice that Chicago streets have a lot more trees today than they did years ago.

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A Wedding in the Clouds (7-25-1925)

Even in 1925, brides were looking for ways to make their weddings distinctive. Dorothy McGonigie was set to marry Hartley Berglund. Her intended husband was a student aviator. That gave Dorothy the idea of staging Chicago’s first airborne wedding.

At 1 p.m. this Saturday afternoon, the two planes in the bridal party took off from the new flying field at 97th and Western. A crowd of 2,000 people waited on the ground. The planes climbed to 5,000 feet, then began a long glide downward.

Rehearsal Photo?

Rehearsal Photo?

In the first plane, the bride and groom stood before Rev. Fred Line of St. Paul’s-on-the-Midway Church and were joined in marriage, with the best man and maid of honor handling the rings. The second plane flew above, allowing the two flower girls to drop red roses on the newly-married couple. When the planes returned safely to earth, Rev. Line could joke that now he really was a “sky pilot.”

What happened to the newly-married couple in later years?  I don’t know.  But I’d love to find out.

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“The Chicagoan” magazine—1973 version

City magazines have been around for a long time.  Their modern era dates from 1968, when New York magazine was launched as an edgier alternative to The New Yorker.

Something similar happened in our city.  By 1973 Chicago Guide had become established as the local city monthly.  Jon and Abra Anderson, a columnist couple at the Daily News, felt there was room for another magazine.  That October they launched a new monthly with an old name—The Chicagoan.

October 1973--The first issue

October 1973–The first issue

The first issue laid out a perspective.  The staff of The Chicagoan liked Chicago, but didn’t like “baloney.”  The magazine would be open to any stories that were truthful, interesting, and well-written.    Phony boosterism was out.  Still, as Jon Anderson noted, “we are not going to be nattering nabobs of negativity, either.”

Anderson also asked readers to be patient while the magazine found its way.  He noted that the new Channel 2 news team of Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson had been launched with a huge wave of publicity, but were only now finding their style.

The Chicagoan quickly achieved its own style.  Each issue began with an introduction from Jon Anderson, followed by a group of short, topical pieces gathered under the title “The Frontlines.”  Then came a listing of the month’s special events and entertainment.  Regular columns included Abra Anderson’s pieces about food and drink, as well as others devoted to music, movies, media, art and architecture, theater and dance, and books.

December 1973--What Fun To Be a Bear!

December 1973–What Fun To Be a Bear!

The feature stories were heavy on politics—after all, this was the era of Daley the First.  Will Ralph Metcalfe run for Mayor?  Will Dan Walker or Charles Percy run for President?  Will Jim Thompson run for anything?  And who will be the Machine Boss of the Future?

Like the political articles, the features capture the special flavor of their times.  Oak Park is trying to stabilize as a multiracial village.  The Near West Side is struggling to survive.  Fast food joints have overrun Elmhurst Road.  Circle Campus is killing its students with coldness.  A new movie called The Sting is filming in town.  The Bears are having a lousy season.

Then there were the light-hearted odds and ends.  A Chicagoan board game. Various trivia quizzes.  A survival guide to O’Hare.  A dictionary of “Talkin’ Chicawgo.”

After nine wacky and wonderful issues, the Andersons sold the magazine.  The new owners kept The Chicagoan going through October 1974, then closed up shop.

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“Chicago”—a lost magazine of the Eisenhower Age

The current Chicago magazine grew out of the small monthly program guide for classical music radio station WFMT. When the publication expanded and began concentrating on stories, the title was changed to Chicago Guide. In 1975 it became simply Chicago.

June 1954--with Mayor Carter Harrison Sr.

June 1954–with Mayor Carter Harrison Sr.

Nearly forgotten today was an earlier Chicago magazine. That one first appeared in March 1954.

Introducing their new publication, the editors claimed that Chicago was really two cities. While the city was notorious for crooks, gangsters, and grafters, there was another, less-celebrated city which has been “the principle seedbed” for some of the most revolutionary aspects of American life. Chicago the magazine would attempt to cover both.

Each monthly issue opened with a listing of upcoming local events, followed by short snippets of city life gathered under the heading “West of the Water Tower.” Pictorial essays visited points of contemporary interest like Riverview, Sieben’s Bierstube, and Maxwell Street, as well as the annual Chicago Cat Show and the Old Town Holiday Fair. There was also poetry and fiction, either every good or very bad.

Chicago-the-city was tearing down and rebuilding in the mid-‘50s. The magazine did a story on the demolition of South Side slums. Another time there was a “Sidewalk Superintendent’s Guide” on where to best view the construction of the Prudential Building and similar architectural wonders.

Contemporary issues, like the recent racial conflict in Trumbull Park, were analyzed. Studs Terkel contributed regular articles about the newest medium, television. Reform-minded Alderman Robert Merriam wrote a piece titled “Why Reformers Fail”—and a year later lost the mayoral election to Richard J. Daley.

"Chicago" contributor Studs Terkel

“Chicago” contributor Studs Terkel

Feature articles profiled Admiral Dan Gallery, Sewell Avery, Fritz Reiner, Tom Duggan, and other local celebrities. Advice was proffered on “How To Beat a Traffic Ticket.” The opposite ends of the music world were covered, with visits to the National Barn Dance and to the new Lyric Opera. Another story tried to determine who was the richest Chicagoan (It was either Henry Crown or John Cuneo).

Chicago seemed to be aiming at upscale readers. The real estate ads were heavily geared to North Shore and Gold Coast properties. Art galleries, furriers, financial brokers, and high-end auto dealers regularly bought space.  So did the city’s “better” radio stations.

It was a fun magazine. Sadly, it didn’t last. Three years after rolling out its first issue, this version of Chicago magazine ceased publication.

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Then and Now, 111th-Morgan

1943--111th Street @ Morgan Street, view east

1943–111th Street @ Morgan Street, view east

2017–the same location

In 1943 the area around 111th and Morgan Streets had a few small cottages, but was mostly vacant.  Low population density meant low demand for public transit.  Except for the passing siding in the photo, the local streetcar line was single track.

What a difference 74 years makes!  Repave the street, put in some sidewalks, add street lights, and plant a few trees.  And while you’re at it, cut an alley through just beyond the fire plug.  Now this stretch of 111th Street looks pleasantly settled.

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Chicago’s Little Green Book

In 1966, as the so-called Cultural Revolution spread through China, Americans became aware of a little red book called Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-Tung.  The title said it all—here were 304 pages of observations on life, the universe, and everything, drawn from the works of Communist China’s dictator.  Millions of Chinese youth were seen carrying copies of this secular Bible as they ran amuck through their country.

Mao Book

Such a book was a natural for parody.  In 1968 U.S. president Lyndon B. Johnson’s wisdom was collected in Quotations From Chairman LBJ.  Conservative pundit William F. Buckley was the subject of Quotations From Chairman Bill.

Meanwhile, back home in Chicago, longtime mayor Richard J. Daley had become a polarizing figure.  In June 1969, University of Wisconsin grad student Peter Yessne compiled a little green book titled Quotations From Mayor Daley.Daley Quotations

The book is 125 pages long, divided into 24 chapters.  Some of the chapter titles include How to Get Elected, The Correct Handling of Riots and Demonstrators, On the Power of Patronage, Graceful Concessions, and The Limits of Conviction.  There’s even a chapter called Bipartisanship—which consists of a single quotation from Daley telling how the Democrats will spread the word about their candidates in the upcoming election.

There are plenty of the famous Daley malaprops here.  Reading the book, it’s best to keep in mind the advice of the mayor’s press secretary, who told reporters to print what Daley meant, not what he said.  (Come to think of it, today we still hear political lackeys covering for their boss the same way.)

Quotations From Mayor Daley is an entertaining book for anyone interested in the golden age of the Chicago Democrat Machine.  Inexpensive copies are easy to find.

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CTA at War (7-7-1956)

The Chicago Transit Authority was going to war.  The enemy was pigeons.

The birds had been a nuisance at ‘L’ stations for decades.  CTA had been trying to get rid of them, but was hampered by city laws, which said that pigeons couldn’t be shot, poisoned, or otherwise hunted.  The Anti-Cruelty Society had also been watching how the transit agency dealt with the birds.

Now CTA had called in the professionals. A St. Paul Company, Twin Cities Pigeon Eliminating, was given a contract to do some pigeon eliminating.  Twin City’s method involved traps baited with enough pigeon food and water to keep the birds comfortable until they were collected.  The pigeons were then gassed.  This was considered a humane method of disposal, since some exterminators sold the captured birds to gun clubs for target practice.  Twin City’s traps were being set up in five Loop ‘L’ stations, as well as at the Wilson Avenue and the 63rd-Cottage Grove stops.

About the only person objecting to the program was Jerry Scalzo, owner of a hat-cleaning service on Wabash Avenue.  “What are they trying to do?” he asked. “Ruin my business?”

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