Resurfaced 1972 campaign commercial reveals Chicago history

May 1, 2013

Check out this campaign commercial for Bernard Carey, a Republican who ran for Cook County State's Attorney—and won—back in 1972.

In just over 30 seconds, we get glimpses of Chicago's past. I like how the camera "finds" Carey as he walks by City Hall, then strolls through Daley Center plaza. There is SOM architect Myron Goldsmith's under-appreciated Brunswick Building, now called 69 W. Washington St., at the 18 second mark.

And as the camera swirls around Carey, we see the west side of old Block 37. Pause at 19 seconds and there is the McCarthy Building at Dearborn and Washington streets, right where CBS2 studios are today. The five-story building was built a year after the Chicago Fire and was a landmark until the city revoked the designation to allow the structure—and the rest of the block save an electrical substation—to be demolished for redevelopment. (That took almost 20 years to come.)

At 23 seconds, there is a view of the base of the 17-story Unity Building, also on Block 37, just above Carey's right shoulder. Built in 1892, attorney Clarence Darrow had offices there. 

Carey won the office in 1972 with support of black voters who crossed traditional party lines in order to vote out incumbent State's Attorney Edward Hanrahan. Hanrahan was a rising star within the local Democratic party until a police team assigned to his office raided the West Side headquarters of the Black Panther party and shot to death the organization's leaders, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, who were not armed.

Carey served as state's attorney until 1980 when he lost the office in a bitter campaign against future mayor Richard M. Daley. He later became a judge then retired to Naples, Fla., where he apparently has one heck of a Matchbox car collection.

The commercial is yet another gem from the Chicago Film Archives, a nonprofit that also maintains a virtual online museum of locally shot and produced 16mm films. The Carey spot was created by the late Emmy-winning documentarian Chuck Olin.