Posts Tagged 'landmarks'

Yesterday and Tomorrow

YESTERDAY (January 6th) I was a guest on Justin Kaufmann’s “Extension 720” show on WGN-radio.  We talked about some fugitive stories featured in Hidden Chicago Landmarks.

Historian John R. Schmidt explores hidden Chicago landmarks: The Unknown Fugitives

TOMORROW (January 8th) I will be sharing some stories from the book at the Clearing Branch Library (6423 West 63rd Place, Chicago), 6:00 to 7:30 pm.

Hidden Movie Landmarks on “Extension 720”

Last night Justin Kaufmann had me on his “Extension 720” WGN radio show.  We talked about three of the little-known movie-related sites in my book Hidden Chicago Landmarks.  Here’s the link—

Historian John R. Schmidt explores hidden Chicago landmarks: Hollywood in Chicago

Logan’s Tomb on “Extension 720”

This week on Justin Kaufmann’s “Extension 720” radio show, we paid a visit to Logan’s Tomb in Grant Park.  You didn’t know there’s a tomb in Grant Park?  Click on the link below—

Historian John R. Schmidt explores hidden Chicago landmarks: Who is buried in Logan’s Tomb?




Clarence Wagner’s Bridge on “Extension 720”

Last night on WGN’s Extension 720, Justin Kaufmann and I visited another site in my latest book, Hidden Chicago Landmarks.  Join us at the Clarence Wagner Memorial Bridge.

Here’s the link to the segment—

Historian John R. Schmidt explores hidden Chicago landmarks: The Clarence Wagner Bridge



The Balbo Column on “Extension 720”

Last night on WGN, Justin Kaufmann aired another segment we did on his “Extension 720” show.  It’s about the Balbo Column, part of a series based on my latest book, Hidden Chicago Landmarks.

Here’s the link to the segment—

Historian John R. Schmidt explores hidden Chicago landmarks: the Balbo Column


The Cow Path in the Loop on “Extension 720”

Last night on WGN radio, Justin Kaufmann broadcast a segment we did for his “Extension 720” show.  It’s about the cow path in the Loop, the first story in Hidden Chicago Landmarks.

To hear the segment, click the link below—

Historian John R. Schmidt explores hidden Chicago landmarks

Big Barn on Madison Street (3-28-1929)

Chicago won another battle in its war with New York on this date.  The Chicago Stadium opened for business.

This was the Second City Syndrome in 1929.  New York boasted Madison Square Garden, which could accommodate 20,000 spectators.  So Chicago had to do better.  Now, $7 million later, our city had the world’s largest sports arena—with an announced capacity of 25,000.

3-28--Stadium image.jpg

P.J. Harmon was a West Side promoter who’d made his rep running dance halls.  In 1926 he organized a syndicate of investors, and they quietly began buying up property around Madison and Wood streets.  They eventually acquired a square block.

When plans for the Stadium became public, many people were skeptical.  This whole giant barn was too immense!  And once ground was broken and construction got under way, strikes by 17 different craft unions delayed the project.  Still, Harmon pressed ahead.

Now it was ready.  Chicago fire officials had never dealt with such large crowds in an enclosed space, and decided to proceed cautiously.  Sale of standing room at the Stadium was temporarily banned.

Opening night featured a boxing card.  The main event was the light-heavyweight title bout between Tommy Loughran and Mickey Walker.  A total of 15,000 fights fans came out.

And, hey!  The joint sure was impressive.  The soaring walls towered over the surrounding cottages and tenements.  Attached to those walls, two vertical electric signs spelled out “STADIUM” in giant letters.

Copy of 3-28--Dem Conv 1940.jpg

But it was the inside that knocked your socks off.  Three balconies full of bright red chairs circling the room.  Twelve huge iron girders holding up the roof—no posts to block your view.  And the noise!  Fifteen thousand voices echoing up and back and around and through.  Yeah, it was gonna be fun coming here!

While Loughran was busy beating Walker, interns at nearby County Hospital spotted flames shooting from the Stadium’s roof.  Firemen were called, and they extinguished a burning tar barrel.  The spectators inside didn’t learn of the blaze until they opened their papers the next morning.

The Chicago Stadium became a popular venue for sporting events, concerts, political conventions, pageants, and other large gatherings.  It was torn down in 1994, replaced by the United Center across the street.

P.J. Harmon did not witness his arena’s greatest glory.  He was killed in an auto accident a little more than a year after the grand opening.  In keeping with his last wish, Harmon’s wake was held at the Stadium.