WBEZ | Michigan Avenue http://www.wbez.org/tags/michigan-avenue Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Bridge to the future http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-05/bridge-future-107122 <p><p>Mayor William Hale Thompson celebrated his 51st birthday on May 14, 1920.&nbsp;He marked the occasion by dedicating the new Michigan Avenue Bridge.&nbsp;Now, <em>that</em> was something worth celebrating&ndash;and Chicago did.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/05-14--Bridge.jpg" title="Michigan Avenue bridge traffic, 1920s (Chicago Daily News)" /></div><p>Michigan Avenue had always&nbsp;been a South Side street.&nbsp;It ended at the south bank of the Chicago River. If you wanted to cross over to the North Side, you had to go a block west to Rush Street.</p><p>North of the river,&nbsp;there was no Magnificent Mile. In the early 1900s this part of the&nbsp;city was an area of factories and scruffy rooming houses.&nbsp;Instead of wide, beautiful, bustling North Michigan Avenue, there was narrow little Pine Street.</p><p>But the three rules of real estate are: (1) location, (2) location, (3) location.&nbsp;Here was a large tract of&nbsp;under-developed land close to the central business district.&nbsp;Burnham&rsquo;s 1909 Plan of Chicago proposed building a bridge connecting Pine Street with Michigan Avenue.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/05-14--Pont Alexandre III, Paris.JPG" title="Pont Alexandre III, Paris" /></div><p>The city was eager to spur development north of the river.&nbsp;In 1917 Edward Bennett was hired as architect and began work on the &ldquo;link bridge.&rdquo;&nbsp;He based his design on the famous Pont Alexandre III in Paris.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">Bennett&rsquo;s&nbsp;Michigan Avenue Bridge was actually two parallel bridges that operated independently. The main span was 220 feet long and double-decked.&nbsp;All commercial traffic was exiled to the lower level.&nbsp;Later, the city planned to build connecting double-decked highways along both banks of the river.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">At 4 p.m. on dedication day, Mayor Thompson and&nbsp;city officials climbed into cars at Congress Plaza, and led a motorcade up Michigan Avenue.&nbsp;They&nbsp;stopped at the new bridge.&nbsp;The mayor got&nbsp;out of&nbsp;his car, said a few words, then cut the red-white-and-blue ribbon that hung across the roadway.</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/05-14--Michigan%20Ave%20Bridge%20Dedication%20%281920-City%29.jpg" title="Michigan Avenue Bridge dedication--May 14, 1920 (City of Chicago)" /></div></div><p>That was the signal.&nbsp;Airplanes suddenly appeared overhead and &ldquo;bombed&rdquo; the bridge with confetti.&nbsp;A calliope pumped out rousing tunes.&nbsp;People cheered.&nbsp;&nbsp;The mayor waved at the crowd. Then he got back into the car and the motorcade continued.</p><p>Four thousand cars followed Thompson over the new bridge.&nbsp;They represented business concerns, motor clubs, political organizations and everyday citizens.&nbsp;After a leisurely tour of the city&rsquo;s boulevard system, the parade dispersed.&nbsp;That evening a fireworks display concluded the day&rsquo;s events.&nbsp;</p><p>With the opening of the bridge, Pine Street was widened and became the northern part of Michigan Avenue.&nbsp;The Wrigley Building followed, and the Tribune Tower, and everything else.</p></p> Tue, 14 May 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-05/bridge-future-107122 George Washington's Spy http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-03/george-washingtons-spy-105897 <p><p>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.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/25--Nathan%20Hale.JPG" style="width: 300px; height: 398px; float: right;" title="'Nathan Hale'--435 N. Michigan Ave." />Time was every American History book&nbsp;told the tale of Nathan Hale. In the early days of the Revolution he was a Connecticut school teacher and a lieutenant in the state militia. He volunteered to go on a mission behind&nbsp;British lines for General Washington, was caught, and was hanged as a spy on September 22, 1776. He was just 21 years old.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country&quot;&mdash;those were reported to be Hale&rsquo;s last words. Whether or not he actually said them is something historians debate. Still, all accounts agree that Hale died bravely. The young teacher has become enshrined in the pantheon of American heroes.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Hale was a Yale graduate. Around 1905 a group of Yale alumni began collecting funds to erect a statue of Hale on campus. Since they couldn&rsquo;t afford to hire Augustus Saint-Gaudens to do the design, they settled for his apprentice, Bela Pratt. The Pratt statue was&nbsp;completed in 1914.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The Michigan Avenue Hale is a 1940 casting of the Yale Hale. The commission came from the <em>Tribune</em>&rsquo;s publisher, Col. Robert R. McCormick.&nbsp;A staunch supporter of the Reserve Officers&rsquo; Training Corps,&nbsp;the Colonel&nbsp;felt that Hale was a&nbsp;sterling model&nbsp;of youthful patriotism.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">No contemporary portrait of Hale has ever been found, so Pratt&rsquo;s&nbsp;rendering has become the accepted image. At&nbsp;least six copies of the Yale&nbsp;original have been erected at various sites. One of these statues&nbsp;of George Washington&#39;s spy stands in Langley, Virginia--at CIA Headquarters.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></p> Thu, 04 Apr 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-03/george-washingtons-spy-105897 Tis the season http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-11/tis-season-103926 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Michigan%20Avenue%20lights%20flickr.jpg" style="width: 388px; height: 388px; float: left;" title="" /></div><p>They are putting up the stands and the barricades today, making ready for the one million people, give or take, coming to watch tomorrow the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival parade make its way down Michigan Avenue.</p><p>Think back, way back and imagine the delight that must have been felt by the fur-clad gang huddled in some cave on the night that one of their buddies walked in holding a burning torch and said, more or less, &quot;Hey, everybody, look at this! I call it light.&quot;</p><p>So it has been ever since&mdash;light as the answer to the ancient need to dispel the fears that lurk in darkness and bring hopefulness into the bleakness that is winter. For centuries, light was used by various cultures and religions in their rites and festivals. Then Americans and their Christmas celebrations came along.</p><p>Before Thomas Edison invented the filament lamp in 1879; light meant fire and fire meant danger: Those who decorated their trees with candles risked a very incendiary Christmas. Though lights in many styles were being manufactured by the 1880s, they were so expensive as to be out of the reach of all but the wealthy. Even after that most dour of our presidents, Calvin Coolidge, turned on the lights of the first national Christmas tree on the South Lawn of the White House in 1923, few citizens took to decorating their homes, or even their trees, with lights.</p><p>But by the &#39;50s, with suburban homes and lawns providing plenty of room but also large areas of darkness, holiday lights began to appear on houses and yards in ever-growing numbers and ever more creative designs, soon to be embellished and sometimes overwhelmed by a sort of Christ-meets-Rudolph weirdness.</p><p>Most city folk lacked large canvases for their holiday handiwork, but that didn&#39;t stop designers Joe Kreis and George Silvestri. One day in 1959 they took strings of delicate little lights that Silvestri had discovered in Italy and put them on the branches of otherwise barren elm trees near the corner of Michigan and Erie.<br /><br />Michigan Avenue will tomorrow be ablaze with a million of those little lights, give or take. Some people complain that this sort of flashy bash is yet another example of the crass commercialization of the holidays. Others will tell you the more lights-and Disney characters-the merrier.</p><p>Though the most outlandish displays&mdash;and my-tree-is-brighter-than-your-tree competitiveness&mdash;add fuel to the arguments of those who deplore decorations as yet another example of the corruption of Christmas, most resist the call to excess.</p><p>We are no longer, most of us, living in caves, and so we know that winter eventually will move to spring, the darkness to dawn.</p><p>Let me ask you&hellip;isn&rsquo;t it wonderful to be driving and turn down a street you&rsquo;ve never been on before and then see a light, a decoration on a lawn or in a window.</p><p>What does it tell me?</p><p>It tells me that there is hope in the world.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 16 Nov 2012 15:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-11/tis-season-103926 The Wrigley himself http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-07-25/wrigley-himself-89553 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-July/2011-07-25/Wrigley building_Flickr_MaryN0503.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Wrigley Gum Company is moving out of the Wrigley Building. So let's take a look at the man who started it all.</p><p>William Wrigley Jr. was born in Philadelphia in 1861. His family manufactured soap. When he was 30, William moved to Chicago, planning to open a branch of the business.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-23/7-25--William Wrigley 1929.jpg" style="width: 269px; height: 355px; margin: 5px;" title=""></p><p>"Everybody likes something for nothing," he said. Along with each can of scouring soap, Wrigley included some baking powder as a bonus. The baking powder soon proved more popular than the soap, so he made the baking powder his primary product. Now he needed a new bonus item to go with the baking powder.</p><p>Wrigley began giving away two sticks of chewing gum with his baking powder. And once again, the bonus became more popular than the original product. So much for baking powder. Wrigley started making gum.</p><p>In the 1890s chewing gum was just catching on in America. Wrigley had many compertitors, but he was a born marketer. "[William Wrigley] was the last of the super-salesmen," Bill Veeck later wrote. "He was a well-upholstered, jovial man who liked people and knew what made them tick."</p><p>Wrigley enjoyed his work, saying that nothing great was ever done without enthusiasm. In the early years he did most of the selling himself. Even when the company became a global success, he never quit pushing forward. New flavors were always being trotted out.</p><p>Promotion never stopped. When he moved into a new market, he hired attractive women to pass out free samples. Merchants who sold the most gum were given free gifts--lamps, razors, fishing tackles, cookbooks, and whatever.</p><p>And he advertised everywhere. By 1910 millions of people were chewing gum. If you asked them why, they probably couldn't have explained it.</p><p>William Wrigley had become one of the richest men in the world. He began branching off into other fields. One of his projects was Catalina Island, off the coast of L.A., which he made into a major resort. Back in Chicago, he built the magnificent company headquarters in 1921. It was the first major office building on the Magnificent Mile.</p><p>And the Cubs! All his life, Wrigley had been a baseball fan. When he got a chance to buy stock in the team in 1916, he jumped at it. A few years later he had the controlling interest.</p><p>He renamed the ballpark Wrigley Field, spruced it up, and added an upper deck--the vines came later. He also spent money on the finest available players. The Cubs won the pennant in 1929 and set a major league attendance record.</p><p>As Wrigley grew older, he devoted more of his time to his Western operations. His last business venture was the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix. Son Phil took over the gum company. The Cubs were run by William Veeck Sr.</p><p>William Wrigley Jr. died in 1932. If you seek his monument, he left some dandy ones.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 25 Jul 2011 12:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-07-25/wrigley-himself-89553 Baby, there's a shark near the water: The blade-edged Swissotel still looks sharp after 20+ years http://www.wbez.org/blog/lee-bey/2011-03-15/baby-theres-shark-near-water-blade-edged-swissotel-still-looks-sharp-after-2 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-March/2011-03-16/swissotel_leebey.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="380" width="258" title="" alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-March/2011-03-16/untitled shoot-050.jpg" /></p><p>Forgive me for paraphrasing that <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPQlxHWsemI&amp;feature=related">great&nbsp; VV&nbsp;Brown tune</a> in the above headline. I was strolling around Wacker east of Michigan yesterday when I admired again the sublime, blade-like coolness of the Swissotel; a silvery architectural dorsal fin right at the edge of the Chicago River.</p><p>Completed in 1989, the silvery 45-story hotel is the work of the late, great Chicago architectural icon Harry Weese. The hotel--much like Weese skyscraper jail, the slit-windowed Metropolitan Correctional Center at Clark and Van Buren--is a three-sided building, rather than a four-sided box.&nbsp; Located 323 E. Wacker Drive, the Swissotel was a late addition to the predominantly 1970s-era Illinois Center complex. But looking at it now, the building is a transition between the old Miesian boxes next door and the sleek new generation of buildings that were to come to the area, such as the neighboring Aqua Tower, and nearby Blue Cross/Blue Shield building at Columbus and Randolph.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="380" width="342" title="" alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-March/2011-03-16/untitled shoot-055.jpg" /></p><p>The building is skinned in opaque and reflective glass that nicely mirror the city around it. You can see the Wrigley Building, the modernist 401 N. Michigan Ave., and Trump Tower reflected in this portion of the hotel's base.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="380" width="307" title="" alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-March/2011-03-16/untitled shoot-071.jpg" /></p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="380" width="248" title="" alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-March/2011-03-16/untitled shoot-069.jpg" /></p><p>If somebody out there is compiling a roster of the city's future architectural landmarks, here's hoping they add this one to the list.</p></p> Wed, 16 Mar 2011 04:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/lee-bey/2011-03-15/baby-theres-shark-near-water-blade-edged-swissotel-still-looks-sharp-after-2 Redeveloping Wacker Drive, and Chicago’s riverfront http://www.wbez.org/story/architecture/redeveloping-wacker-drive-and-chicago%E2%80%99s-riverfront <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/riverwalk dan perry.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><a href="../../../../../../blog/justin-kaufmann/video-sarah-jindra-gives-birds-eye-view-wacker-drive-traffic">Traffic has been snarled</a> in the Loop this week thanks to the second phase of <a href="http://www.wackerdrive.org/projects.cfm">Revive Wacker Drive</a>, a major reconstruction of the famous double-decker street. This three year, $366 million endeavor will shore up the stability of the north-south portion of the roadway and will rebuild the Congress Parkway interchange that leads to I-90/94 and I-290.</p> <div>The first phase of Wacker&rsquo;s redevelopment started in 1999 with improvements to the east-west portion of the street. And although it was not the project&rsquo;s primary goal, a second set of redevelopment opportunities arose along the Chicago River. Wacker Drive is just one part of the complex built environment along the river, and Mayor Daley encouraged the project managers to reclaim some of the area in front of the river for public use. You can see the results in the form of the Chicago Riverwalk, which runs along the east-west portion of Wacker near the Michigan Ave. bridge.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The Riverwalk was the first part of a patchwork of plans past and future to improve public access to the downtown portion of the Chicago River. The city&rsquo;s vision for the riverfront was laid out in a 2009 plan developed by Chicago firm <a href="http://www.som.com/content.cfm/www_home">Skidmore, Owings &amp; Merrill</a> and includes wide pathways for walking and biking, a new market district, and theater space. If completed, the project would transform the face of Chicago&rsquo;s downtown. (You can see the entire Skidmore, Owings &amp; Merrill proposal in the extras section below.)</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>One key player in drafting plans for future improvements to the riverfront was Michelle Woods. Woods describes herself as a &ldquo;bridge builder,&rdquo; and in this case her meaning is literal. She is a bridge engineer for the Chicago Department of Transportation and was so heavily involved with the development of the under-bridge connections at Michigan and Wabash Avenues in 2009 that she joked they should rename the bridge &ldquo;Michelligan Ave.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In the audio excerpt posted above, Woods explains what it took to transform the riverfront area along East and West Wacker. (Among other things it took creating new land in the middle of the river and securing an act of Congress.) It&rsquo;s a good reminder of how much work would be involved in developing the north-south portion of the river along Wacker, too. But if you&rsquo;ve been stuck in traffic this week you probably already knew that.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="../../../../../../series/dynamic-range"><em>Dynamic Range</em></a><em> showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Michelle Woods spoke to an audience at the </em><a href="http://caf.architecture.org/"><em>Chicago Architecture Foundation</em></a><em> in May of 2010. Click </em><a href="../../../../../../episode-segments/chicago-riverwalk"><em>here</em></a><em> to hear her talk in its entirety, and click </em><a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/wbez/id364380278"><em>here</em></a><em> to subscribe to the Dynamic Range podcast. </em></div></p> Fri, 07 Jan 2011 17:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/architecture/redeveloping-wacker-drive-and-chicago%E2%80%99s-riverfront CBS 2 de-annexes State from newsroom lineup http://www.wbez.org/blog/robert-feder/cbs-2-de-annexes-state-newsroom-lineup <p><div style="margin-right: 15px; float: left; text-align: center;"><img width="201" height="201" class="size-full wp-image-19106" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 1px 5px;" src="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//annestate1.jpg" alt="" /></div><p>It's over and out for <a href="http://cbs2chicago.com/pressreleases/Anne.State.wbbm.2.658948.html">Anne State,</a> whose tenure as news anchor and reporter at WBBM-Channel 2 lasted just two years. In a move telegraphed by her demotion as 10 p.m. co-anchor last spring, her contract was not renewed by the CBS-owned station. State's last day on the air was Thursday, and her official bio is already gone from the station's website. In a brief statement released Friday, Jeff Kiernan, vice president and news director at Channel 2, said:<!--break--></p><blockquote>&quot;We appreciate Anne's contributions and wish her the very best in her future endeavors.&quot;</blockquote><p>State was signed by Channel 2 as 5 p.m. news anchor in February 2008 after she'd worked at NBC-owned KNSD-TV in San Diego. But upon her arrival in April, she was named 6 and 10 p.m. anchor, replacing the departed <a href="http://www.diannburnslive.com/">Diann Burns</a> alongside Rob Johnson. Under new station management -- in a realignment dictated as much by budget as performance &sbquo;&nbsp; -- her role was cut back one year later to anchoring only the 5 p.m. newscast and reporting for the 10 p.m. newscast. Although State drew little attention for her reporting, she did manage to capture a headline or two when she <a href="/feder/2009/11/sexy-photos-expose-tv-news-as-a-glamor-game/8752">posed provocatively</a> for photographer Maria Ponce in a spread published last October by Michigan Avenue magazine. The move leaves Johnson as Channel 2's solo anchor at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.</p></p> Fri, 26 Mar 2010 10:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/robert-feder/cbs-2-de-annexes-state-newsroom-lineup