On April 16, 1958—55 years ago today—Mayor Richard J. Daley dedicated the latest and greatest of his public works projects. Chicago now at its first modern toll highway, the Calumet Skyway.
Construction took two years and cost $101 million (about $850 million in today’s money). The elevated highway ran 7.5 miles southeast along the Pennsylvania Railroad embankment, from State-66th to the Indiana border, where there was a direct connection with the Indiana Tollway. The speed limit was 50, and the toll was 25 cents.
The morning’s ceremonies began at the Indiana end at 10:45 a.m. With 400 dignitaries and invited guests on hand, Daley and Indiana’s lieutenant governor cut the ribbon. Then the toll barriers were raised.
First vehicle on the new road was a school bus carrying 31 students and two teachers from Neil Elementary School. A 5th grade class from the school wrote to the mayor asking for the honor. The official motorcade followed. They all stopped at the 86th Street Toll Plaza for another ceremony.
April is here. The golf clubs come out of the basement and into my car’s trunk. And yet the time is bittersweet. I’m starting the third season without my favorite course—Evergreen Golf Club.
Evergreen was located at Western and 91st, in Evergreen Park. It wasn’t fancy and it wasn’t a great course. Yet in its own funky way, it was historic.
The site had originally been part of the Ahern farm. In 1924 the family opened an 18-hole daily fee course. Also on the property was a road house called the Beverly Gardens. At a time when most golf was played at private clubs, there weren’t many courses open to the public.
All sorts of people played Evergreen in those days. The most notorious regular was Machine Gun Jack McGurn, Al Capone’s chief trigger-man. McGurn was a scratch player who once competed in the Western Open. Big Al came out to the course a few times, too.
John Dillinger also visited Evergreen, but not to play golf.
Peace! Victory! My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!
It was April 1865. After four bloody years, America’s Civil War was over.
General Robert E. Lee had surrendered his army in Virginia. There were still some rebel forces fighting in other places. But now that Lee had given up, the rest of the South would surely accept defeat.
Chicago had been on edge for days, waiting for Lee to capitulate. Then, early on Sunday evening—April 9—the joyous tidings flashed over the telegraph. And the city celebrated.
Last week, for the White Sox opener, we talked about Johnny Mostil, a native Chicagoan who played his entire major league career in a Chicago uniform, and was also a Sox star. Today is the Cubs home opener. Today the subject is a Cubs star.
How many times have you walked past the Tribune Tower on North Michigan Avenue? You may want to stop and take a look at the statue in the little outdoor alcove. The young man standing stolidly there is Nathan Hale.
I was ten years old when I discovered that I had my own Chicago landmark.
We were driving my Grandma to visit one of her relatives in the old neighborhood, when I happened to glance up at the cornice of the building at 2007 West North Avenue. Carved in stone was the inscription “1884—J. Schmidt”.
I was excited as only a 10-year-old could be. I knew that Detroit had a downtown street called John R. Street. But here was a building with my name on it, right in my own home town. Maybe someday I could buy the building and live in it!
With time and growing up, my fascination with the J. Schmidt Building faded. Years later, I took the trouble to look up the building in one of the old city directories at the Historical Society. The original address had been 466 West North Avenue, and was a meat market. The proprietor was named John Schmidt—no relation, but a nice coincidence.