WBEZ | Near North Side http://www.wbez.org/tags/near-north-side Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en There in Chicago (#20) http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-01/there-chicago-20-105073 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1-31-2013.JPG" title="Wells Street at Burton Place--view north" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1-30-1976_0.JPG" title="1976--the same location" /></div></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">How well did you find your way around the Chicago of the past?</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">We are on Wells Street a long block south of North Avenue.&nbsp;In 1976 much of the Old Town strip still&nbsp;self-identified as a funky center of the counterculture.&nbsp;&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Thirty-seven years later, the&nbsp;physical view up Wells Street hasn&#39;t changed much. However, a wave of gentrification has swept westward from La Salle through this area. The rents here are no longer cheap.</div></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 01 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-01/there-chicago-20-105073 'Hooray for Captain Streeter!' http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-06/hooray-captain-streeter-100498 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/00--1915 in court.jpg" style="float: left; width: 200px; height: 226px; " title="George Wellington Streeter (Library of Congress/Chicago Daily News)" />Though he didn&rsquo;t find his life&rsquo;s mission until he was 50 years old, George Wellington Streeter has achieved a kind of immortality: One of Chicago&rsquo;s swankiest neighborhoods carries his name, all because he originated a local version of the Occupy Movement.</p><p>Streeter was born in Michigan in 1837, one of 13 children. He had little formal education, and scuffled through different jobs &mdash; logger, miner, ice-cutter, carnival showman, mariner. In the summer of 1886 he got into a scheme to run guns to Honduras.</p><p>While trying out his little steamship in a Lake Michigan storm, Streeter ran up on a sandbar off Superior Street. He couldn&rsquo;t move, so he decided to stay there.</p><p>Everything east of Michigan Avenue was then a swamp. Streeter convinced local builders to dump their debris near his ship. Gradually the area filled in, and became land.&nbsp;</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/00--Streeter%20shack%201905.jpg" title="Streeter's shack, 1905 (Library of Congress/Chicago Daily News)" /></div><p>Meanwhile, Streeter discovered that his man-made land was beyond the boundaries of both Chicago and Illinois. As a Union captain in the Civil War, he had a right to a homestead. He announced he was establishing the independent District of Lake Michigan, with no authority above him except the U.S. government.</p><p>Streeter began selling lots to speculators. Squatters arrived, and built shacks in the district&rsquo;s 186 acres. Industrialist N.K. Fairbank, who claimed he owned the area, tried the evict Streeter. The Captain ran him off with a load of buckshot.</p><p>All through the 1890s and 1900s, there were sporadic attempts to remove Streeter and his supporters. The raids were usually conducted by private detectives working for real estate interests. Sometimes the police did the honors. When things quieted down, the occupiers would creep back.</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/00--1916.jpg" title="The Civil War vet tells stories to World War I recruits, 1917 (Library of Congress/Chicago Daily News)" /></div><p>The Captain himself had a keen eye for public relations. He portrayed himself as a little guy taking on the big-money fat cats. On that basis, whenever Streeter turned up in a news story, most Chicagoans sympathized with him. Besides, he was putting on a good show.</p><p>He had good lawyers, too. The various cases against Streeter dragged through the courts into the 1910s. Most of the delays were caused by jurisdictional issues.</p><p>Looking back from the safety of another century, the whole matter seems like harmless fun. It wasn&rsquo;t always. Over the years, an unknown number of people were killed. In 1902 Streeter himself was convicted in the death of an opposition slugger. He was pardoned after nine months in prison.</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/00--Wrecking%20buildings%201918.jpg" title="The end of Streeter's Occupy Movement, 1918 (Library of Congress/Chicago Daily News)" /></div><p>By 1918 Streeter&rsquo;s domain was reduced to a few blocks around a tar-paper &ldquo;castle&rdquo; when he was arrested for peddling liquor without a license. Shortly afterward, new warrants were obtained by Chicago Title and Trust Company. There was one more raid, and the Captain was again ousted from the lakeshore.</p><p>He never returned. Streeter spent the next few years operating a floating hot dog stand in East Chicago. When the old rogue died in 1921, the Mayor of Chicago attended the funeral. So did many of the real estate magnates Streeter had battled over the decades.</p><p>They probably came to make sure he was really dead.</p></p> Tue, 03 Jul 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-06/hooray-captain-streeter-100498 The Chicago Hall of Fame http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-04/chicago-hall-fame-98098 <p><p>Two years ago, I founded the Chicago Hall of Fame.</p><p>What–we didn’t have a hall of fame before then? Today there are halls of fame for aviators, inventors, songwriters, police, rock-and-roll, and every sport in the world. But before 2010, there was no Chicago Hall of Fame. That's why I started one on my old "Unknown Chicago" blog.</p><p>You might say that the first hall of fame was developed by the Catholic Church–think of the roster of canonized saints. However, the modern idea dates from 1900, with the founding of the Hall of Fame for Great Americans in New York.</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/04-17--Franklin%20Street_0.JPG" title="What do we do with Franklin Street?"></div></div><div><p>Anyway, here are my simple rules for induction--</p></div><p>(1) “Chicago” includes the city, suburbs and exurbs.</p><p>(2) The person named must have made a major and long-lasting impact on Chicago, or have helped publicize Chicago to the wider world.</p><p>(3) The person named need not be a native of Chicago, but must have made her/his worthy contribution while living in Chicago.</p><p>(4) The person named must be dead at least 25 years. &nbsp;</p><p>The Chicago Hall of Fame currently has sixteen enshrinees--</p><div><p><strong>Jean Baptist Pointe DuSable (1745?-1818) &nbsp;</strong></p><p><strong>William B. Ogden (1805-1877)</strong></p></div><p><strong>Carter Harrison Sr. (1825-1893)</strong></p><p><strong>(Aaron) Montgomery Ward (1844-1913)</strong></p><p><strong>Daniel Burnham (1846-1912)</strong></p><p><strong>William Rainey Harper (1856-1906)</strong></p><div><p><strong>Samuel Insull (1859-1938)</strong></p></div><div><p><strong>Jane Addams (1860-1935)</strong></p></div><p><strong>Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959)</strong></p><p><strong>Robert R. McCormick (1880-1955)</strong></p><div><p><strong>George Halas (1895-1983)</strong></p></div><div><p><strong>Al Capone (1899-1947)</strong></p></div><div><p><strong>Richard J. Daley (1902-1976)</strong></p></div><div><p><strong>Nelson Algren (1909-1981)</strong></p></div><p><strong>Mahalia Jackson (1911-1972)</strong></p><p><strong>Bill Veeck (1914-1986)</strong></p><p>Some of these people are my choices, some reflect suggestions I received from readers of my former blog.</p><p>I gave a lot of thought to how we should memorialize these people. &nbsp;Busts in a museum are forgotten, so we have to do this out in public. The Hollywood Walk of Fame idea has been worked to death by the Buy-a-Brick craze.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/04-17--Coming%20soon.jpg" title="Bring in the Chicago Hall of Fame!"></div></div></div><p>My solution incorporates an iconic, highly-visible part of Chicago’s heritage. We produce statues of the honorees—and attach them to sidewalk pillars of the ‘L.’</p><p>The stretch along Franklin Street between Kinzie and Chicago Avenue is perfect. The "L" pillars are all on the sidewalk, and there are about a hundred of them. The location is close to the major tourist areas. Putting the Chicago Hall of Fame there would also spruce up a pretty depressed-looking street.</p><p>So send me your ideas for further honorees in the Chicago Hall of Fame. And contact whatever movers-and-shakers you know who could make this idea a reality.</p><p>The Chicago Hall of Fame under the Franklin Street "L"—now that would be <em>real</em> public art!</p></p> Mon, 16 Apr 2012 11:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-04/chicago-hall-fame-98098 Women's rights http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-11-30/womens-rights-94315 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-29/11-30--Ganna Walska.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Feminism was in the news on November 30, 1923. Five hundred women came to Chicago for a conference of the National Women's Rights Party. They met at 675 N. Rush Street, the mansion home of Ganna Walska.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-23/11-30--Ganna Walska.jpg" style="width: 231px; height: 350px; float: left; margin: 5px;" title="Chicago socialite Ganna Walska. (Collection of John Schmidt)">Walska was one of those people who were famous for being famous. Born in Poland in 1887, she was currently married to her fourth husband, Chicago industrialist Harold McCormick. McCormick's money was financing her dubious career as an opera singer--a scenario Orson Welles admitted copying in <em>Citizen Kane</em>.</p><p>At the meeting a number of NWRP speakers outlined the discrimination that women suffered in America. The laws of practically every state treated them as inferior to men.</p><p>Ohio was one example. Women in that state could not become taxi drivers or railway crossing guards. Nor could they find employment in bowling alleys, bars, or Turkish baths. They weren't even allowed to shine shoes.</p><p>If anything, the problems became worse when a woman married. Under the tradition of English common law, a husband and wife became one person. That "one person" was the husband. He then had control of the wife's earnings. He might even compel her to work or take in boarders, then keep the money for himself.</p><p>One speaker noted that women had first gathered to demand equality at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. Since then progress had been slow. "We have been fighting for seventy-five years for our rights," she said. "It will probably take us another seventy-five to get them."</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-23/11-30--McCormick mansion.jpg" style="width: 400px; height: 322px; float: right; margin: 5px;" title="The conference site, and the home of Ganna Walska. (Library of Congress/Chicago Daily News)">Genevieve Melody, a Chicago public school teacher, felt that the nation's fundamental law had to provide the guarantee. "When we get a constitutional amendment providing for equal rights for men and women, that pronounced masculine squint will right itself," Melody said.</p><p>Ganna Walska did not speak at the meeting. It was her first venture into public affairs. She smiled and nodded her head during the proceedings, and shook hands with the women as they left.</p><p>Two weeks after the Rush Street meeting, an Equal Rights Amendment drafted by the NWRP was introduced in Congress. It was never enacted.</p><p>Ganna Walska herself became a vocal feminist, but was never a leader of the movement. She later divorced Harold McCormick and had two more marriages. She died in 1984.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 30 Nov 2011 13:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-11-30/womens-rights-94315