WBEZ | Presidents http://www.wbez.org/tags/presidents Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Ronald Reagan's Chicago home http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-05/ronald-reagans-chicago-home-98605 <p><p>Before Barack Obama, only one U.S. President had called Chicago home. As a boy, Ronald Reagan lived on the first floor of the building at 832 East 57th Street.</p><p>The Reagans moved into their&nbsp;apartment in January of 1915. They&rsquo;d come to the city from the western Illinois village of Tampico. Jack Reagan, Ronald&#39;s father, got a job selling shoes in the Loop. His wife, Nelle, stayed home with the two boys, 6-year-old Neil and little Ron&ndash;called &ldquo;Dutch&rdquo;&ndash;who was going on 4.</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/05-02--Reagan%20home.jpg" title="President Reagan's Chicago home--832 E. 57th St." /></div><p>The University of Chicago was a few blocks east, but the area where the Reagans settled wasn&rsquo;t fashionable. Nor was the building&ndash;their flat was lighted by a single gas lamp, which operated when a quarter was deposited in a timer. They probably picked the location for its easy access to the Cottage Grove streetcar line.</p><p>After living in tiny Tampico, Chicago was a brave new world for Dutch Reagan. He was excited to see all the people and activity. When a horse-drawn fire engine clanged by his apartment window, he decided there could be no finer profession than Chicago fireman.</p><p>All was not pleasant for Dutch. He came down with bronchial pneumonia and nearly died. A neighbor brought over a set of lead soldiers for the boy to play with, and they became his favorite toy.</p><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/05-02--Reagan_0.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 380px; float: right;" title="A child of Hyde Park (National Archives)" /></div></div><p>Jack Reagan was a&nbsp;drinker, which didn&rsquo;t help the family&#39;s finances. President Reagan remembered that his mother &ldquo;had to make a soup bone last several days and be creative in her cooking.&rdquo; Fried liver was considered a Sunday feast.</p><p>The boys did their part, too. In&nbsp;the summer, Nelle would hang a sack of fresh-popped popcorn around each of their necks, and send them out to peddle it in front of White City&nbsp;amusement park, a mile away on 63rd Street. Child labor laws were fairly loose then.</p><p>Sometime in 1916 the Reagan family left Chicago and moved to Galesburg. It&rsquo;s not clear whether Jack quit his Loop job, or was fired. But their time in Hyde Park was over.</p><p>Many years later, President Reagan told a friend he&#39;d once lived in Chicago, but didn&#39;t know the address. Reagan had always been frank about his dad&#39;s drinking. The friend scoured old arrest records, and found Jack Reagan of 832 E. 57th St., charged as a &quot;drunk-and-disorderly.&quot;</p><p>Meanwhile, in Hyde Park, the University of Chicago continues to expand. Since the Chicago home of our 40th President doesn&rsquo;t have any landmark status, its future is uncertain.</p></p> Wed, 02 May 2012 09:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-05/ronald-reagans-chicago-home-98605 The Tribune messes up...or, what ever happened to President Dewey? http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-11-02/tribune-messes-upor-what-ever-happened-president-dewey-93604 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-02/dewey truman.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>November 2, 1948. Election night.</p><p>Like the rest of the country, Chicagoans awaited news of who was going to be president. At about 10 p.m., the bulldog edition of the next day's <em>Tribune</em> hit the streets. The headline read "Dewey Defeats Truman."</p><p>Well, that was to be expected. President Harry Truman was trailing badly in all the polls. The election was a mere formality. Thomas E. Dewey, the governor of New York, would be moving into the White House.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-29/11-02--Dewey.jpg" title="What, me worry?" height="330" width="256"></p><p>But don't go looking for President Dewey in your history books. Truman upset all the pollsters and won. And the World's Greatest Newspaper was stuck with its most embarrassing headline.</p><p>Many factors led to the <em>Tribune</em>'s screw-up. The printers were on strike, so the first edition had an earlier deadline. First returns showed Dewey with his expected lead. The staunchly-Republican <em>Tribune</em> was no friend of Democrat Truman. The paper's political correspondent assured the editor that Dewey was in. So the editor gave the order: "Roll the bulldog!"</p><p>Over 150,000 papers were on the street when the <em>Trib</em> started to have second thoughts. Trucks were sent to retrieve the bulldog edition, replacing it with papers headlined "Early Dewey Lead Narrow." But by then, too many early copies had passed into public hands.</p><p>The next day Truman was returning to D.C. by train from his home in Missouri. His victory was assured. At the St. Louis railroad station, a reporter handed him a copy of the infamous <em>Tribune</em>. Grinning broadly, the president held up the paper for photographers.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-29/11-02--Truman and Trib.jpg" style="width: 467px; height: 340px;" title="He who laughs last . . ."></p><p>Back in Chicago, the <em>Sun-Times</em> gloated at its rival's mistake. For two days after the election, the paper ran a cut of the <em>Tribune</em>'s front page, with the caption "The polls were off--so were some headlines." On the third day, the <em>Sun-Times</em> put the train station picture of Truman on its own front page.</p><p>The years passed. By 1972 the new generation at the <em>Tribune</em> had come to terms with the paper's legenday blooper. Plans were made to present Truman with a replica plaque of the front page for its 25th anniversary. But the former president died before this could happen.</p><p>Today original copies of the "Dewey Defeats Truman" <em>Tribune</em> are valued collectables. However, if your budget is limited, a small ceramic mock-up of the front page is still sold--at the Harry Truman Presidential Library.</p></p> Wed, 02 Nov 2011 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-11-02/tribune-messes-upor-what-ever-happened-president-dewey-93604 The history behind Chicago's president streets http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-09-23/history-behind-chicagos-president-streets-91997 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-September/2011-09-23/Obama Drive_Schmidt.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Last year 127th Street in Calumet Park was renamed Obama Drive. As anyone familiar with downtown Chicago knows, "president streets" are an old city tradition.</p><p>Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Adams, Jackson, Van Buren, Harrison, Tyler, Polk, Taylor, Fillmore. Those are the first 13 presidents, and 12 of them have streets in or near the Loop. Since there were two presidents named Adams, Quincy Street honors president #6, John Quincy Adams.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-14/09-23--Obama Drive.JPG" style="width: 495px; height: 371px;" title=""></p><p>The one president without a street is #10, John Tyler. Some sources claim Tyler Street was changed to Congress Street during the Civil War, when Tyler declared allegiance to the Confederacy. Yet Tyler Street is still mentioned in news stories into the 1890s. Maybe the city didn't get around to changing the signs until then.</p><p>After Fillmore left office in 1853, the city seems to have abandoned the custom of automatically giving a president his own street. Now he had to earn the honor.</p><p>Lincoln Avenue, Grant Place, Garfield Boulevard, Roosevelt Road. From 1853 to 1909, out of eleven men who served as president, only four made the cut.</p><p>Wait--what about Pierce or Hayes or Arthur or Cleveland? Chicago does have those streets, but all of them were named for other people. So was Harding Avenue.</p><p>When Woodrow Wilson died in 1924, the city council decided he deserved a street. Chicago already had a Wilson Avenue, so the council changed Western Avenue to Woodrow Wilson Road. That lasted about a month, until pressure from business owners brought back the old name.</p><p>Since the Woodrow Wilson mess, the city has tried to avoid the hassle of renaming streets to honor presidents. Eisenhower and Kennedy got expressways--no address changes to worry about there! Taft got a minor street near O'Hare with no buildings on it.</p><p>But Barack Obama is a special case. As a citizen of Chicago, he will eventually be honored with a city street. And it will probably not be as remote as 127th Street.</p><p>I already have my own idea about what street name to change. What are your thoughts?</p></p> Fri, 23 Sep 2011 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-09-23/history-behind-chicagos-president-streets-91997 Why is there a William McKinley statue at Archer and Western? http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-08-03/why-there-william-mckinley-statue-archer-and-western-89570 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-August/2011-08-03/McKinley statue_WBEZ_Schmidt.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Unless you're a historian or a pigeon, you might not pay much attention to the statues that decorate our city and suburbs. But like our street names, each one has a story to tell.</p><p>The William McKinley statue stands near the southeast corner of Archer and Western. The statue is located in McKinley Park. The surrounding community is also known as McKinley Park. The only thing missing is a McKinley Boulevard.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-24/02--William McKinley.jpg" style="width: 286px; height: 425px; margin: 5px;" title=""></p><p>William McKinley was born in Ohio in 1843. He fought in the Civil War, then went into Republican politics. After serving in Congress and as governor of Ohio, he was elected our 25th president in 1896. He was re-elected in 1900.</p><p>McKinley was a popular president. But what really made him popular was his death. In 1901 he was in Buffalo, shaking hands with the public at the world's fair, when an anarchist stepped up and shot him in the chest. The president died a week later.</p><p>The nation went into an orgy of grief. Publishers rushed into print with special McKinley memorial books, artists painted portraits, orators made speeches, parents named their newborns after the fallen leader. The funeral was captured on Mr. Edison's new moving picture camera and became a popular mass entertainment.</p><p>In Chicago the South Park Commissioners acquired the vacant site of the old Brighton Park Race Track for the new McKinley Park. The centerpiece statue was designed by Charles J. Mulligan, and dedicated in 1905. The statue itself is an early example of recycling--the bronze came from an earlier statue of Columbus that nobody liked.</p><p>McKinley's reputation has been in decline ever since 1901. He was succeeded in office by his vice president, Theodore Roosevelt. By the time Roosevelt left the presidency, the McKinley administration looked like nothing more than an opening act.</p><p>Most historians have rated McKinley as an "average" president. That's still quite a compliment. And his tomb in Canton is fantastic.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 03 Aug 2011 12:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-08-03/why-there-william-mckinley-statue-archer-and-western-89570