WBEZ | Dynamic Range http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en In search of Chicago’s abandoned cable car tunnels http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/search-chicago%E2%80%99s-abandoned-cable-car-tunnels-107715 <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/lasalle%20street%20cable%20car%20tunnel%20NYPL%20circa%201900%20small.jpg" style="height: 313px; width: 620px;" title="This stereoscopic photo, which dates from around the turn of the last century, shows the entrance to LaSalle Street cable car tunnel under the Chicago River. Chicago’s cable car tunnels were the first in the country used for mass transit. (New York Public Library/Robert N. Dennis Collection)" /></div><p>I&rsquo;ve been spending a lot of time underground the past few weeks.</p><p>Like, literally. I&rsquo;ve been trying to answer a question Rogers Park resident Karri DeSelm submitted to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city">Curious City</a>:</p><blockquote><p>I have heard there is a network of layered tunnels under the city. Is this true, and if so, what was the purpose of the tunnels when they were designed and built?</p></blockquote><p>Next week I&rsquo;ll have a full answer for Karri, exploring what turns out to be the <em>many different kinds of tunnels </em>hidden under Chicago&rsquo;s downtown<em>.</em></p><p>In the meantime, here&rsquo;s a kind of preview: a look at one particular set of historic tunnels &ndash; and a search for what&rsquo;s left of them.</p><p><strong>The past</strong></p><p>You may not know it, but before Chicago had the &ldquo;L&rdquo; <a href="http://www.wbez.org/content/%E2%80%98l%E2%80%99-chicago-ran-cable-cars">the city ran on cable cars</a>. In fact, Chicago was once home to the world&rsquo;s largest and most profitable network of cable cars.</p><p>And, just as city planners built bridges to take traffic of all kinds over the Chicago River, they also built tunnels under the river, first for pedestrians and wagon traffic and later for street cars.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1877%20LaSalle%20tunnel.jpg" style="float: left; height: 281px; width: 300px;" title="An 1877 illustration from a popular Chicago guidebook called ‘Seven Days in Chicago’ depicts the earliest version of the LaSalle Street tunnel. (JM Wing/Public domain)" />In the mid-1800s, before Chicago built its famous bascule draw bridges, &ldquo;bridges used to be on a central pivot, so they were often open,&rdquo; says Northwestern University&rsquo;s Carl Smith, who has written extensively about Chicago&rsquo;s infrastructural history. &ldquo;People on horse-drawn carriages would have to wait to cross.&rdquo;</p><p>So the city dug two tunnels to alleviate traffic, one under the river at Washington Street that opened in 1869, and another at LaSalle Street that opened on July 4, 1871. An illustration of the LaSalle Street tunnel from an 1877 guidebook depicts a series of three brick-lined archways: two one-way passages for wagon traffic and a third for pedestrian use. <a href="http://www.greatchicagofire.org/landmarks/lasalle-street-tunnel">According to Carl Smith</a>, one reporter noted the following about the LaSalle Street tunnel on the day of its grand opening:&nbsp;</p><blockquote><p>It was &ldquo;well lighted with gas, and admirably ventilated, and as neat, clean, and free from dampness as could be desired. In all respects it seemed to be a model tunnel,&rdquo; especially when compared to the damp and &ldquo;unpleasant&rdquo; Washington Street Tunnel. . .&nbsp;</p></blockquote><blockquote><p>One speaker noted that the choice of Independence Day for the opening was especially fitting, &ldquo;since the completion of the tunnel was the beginning of an era of independence from bridge-tenders, railway companies, and lazy lake captains.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1908 lasalle street tunnel.jpg" style="float: right; height: 192px; width: 300px;" title="A 1908 color postcard shows the LaSalle Street tunnel after it was converted for electric street car use. The elevated train tracks that run along Lake Street are visible on the far left. (Wikicommons)" />The opening date of the LaSalle Street tunnel was also a lucky break for thousands of Chicago residents who used it to flee from the Great Chicago Fire only a few months later.</p><p>When cable cars and then street cars came to Chicago in 1882, the tunnels had to be dug deeper underground. &ldquo;They were very shallow,&rdquo; says CTA transit historian Bruce Moffat. &ldquo;As ships got bigger they started worried about hulls of ships running into them.&rdquo;</p><p>The refurbished tunnels were approximately 60 feet underground, as deep as the deepest portions of today&rsquo;s CTA tunnels. But their entryways were much steeper: they rose and fell at a 12 percent grade, according to Moffat.</p><p>&ldquo;The steepest grade or ramp an &lsquo;L&rsquo; train has now is in the order of four percent,&rdquo; Moffat said. &ldquo;So they had to be going actually at a pretty good clip at the bottom.&rdquo;</p><p>The West Chicago Street Railroad, a private cable car company, dug a third tunnel under the Chicago River between Van Buren and Jackson Streets in 1894. But as the city moved on from cable cars to electric streetcars, and from electric street cars to elevated trains (and diesel busses and cars), the older means of transit faded away and the companies that ran them gradually went out of business.</p><p>All three cable and streetcar tunnels were eventually shut down and sealed off, and Moffat says they are not incorporated into existing CTA infrastructure.</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;ve long since been decked over at both ends,&rdquo; he said.</p><p><strong>The present</strong></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cable car manhole cover patrick steffes.JPG" style="float: left; height: 225px; width: 300px;" title="An unmarked manhole cover on LaSalle Street might be an entrance to the abandoned cable car tunnel below. (Patrick Steffes) " />There&rsquo;s a ramp on LaSalle Street just south of Kinzie, which many people think is a remnant of the old cable car tunnel. It&rsquo;s not &ndash; that ramp leads down to a loading dock on Carroll Street, which is adjacent to the river and the buildings on either side of LaSalle.</p><p>But during my conversation with Bruce Moffat, he left me with this one tantalizing tidbit: &ldquo;If you go to the corner of LaSalle and Kinzie,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;you&rsquo;ll find a manhole cover that leads down into the tunnels.&rdquo;</p><p>Really? That sounded like a dare to me.</p><p>I called up my go-to guys for checking out historic urban remnants: Dan Pogorzelski, Jacob Kaplan and Patrick Steffes. They run the website <a href="http://forgottenchicago.com/">Forgotten Chicago</a>, which chronicles strange and delightful bits of the city&rsquo;s built ephemera. They also offer <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-06-29/goose-island-remnants-%E2%80%98forgotten%E2%80%99-chicago-88518">walking and biking tours</a>, such as their upcoming <a href="http://forgottenchicago.com/events/june-23-avondale-bike-tour/">bike tour of Chicago&rsquo;s Avondale neighborhood</a>.&nbsp;</p><p>I convinced Dan, Jacob and Patrick to help me look for signs of the old tunnels &mdash;and, if possible, to help me find a way inside.</p><p>We met up at the corner of LaSalle and Kinzie on a Saturday morning, in search of Moffat&rsquo;s manhole cover. But a cursory look reveals that this particular intersection is lousy with manhole covers, most stamped with the names of various utility companies.</p><p>We skulk around for a while counting. Finally Patrick returns with a tally, an astonishing 57 manhole covers.</p><p>&ldquo;Counting side streets but not counting square covers or storm sewers,&rdquo; Patrick says.</p><p>Dan asks whether this might merit an honorary street sign.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cable%20car%20tunnel%20bus%20pad%20patrick%20steffes.jpg" style="float: right; height: 400px; width: 300px;" title="A steam between the asphalt paving and concrete pad on Washington Street suggests another cable car remnant. (Patrick Steffes) " />After more scouting (and a little jaywalking) we amble over to the landscaped median running through LaSalle Street. There, just north of Kinzie we spotted an unusually large and unmarked manhole. It was almost a manhole cover within a manhole cover &ndash; and it was locked.</p><p>&ldquo;This would be at the point where the tunnel would be coming in,&rdquo; Dan said, peering down, and reminding us that the tunnel&rsquo;s termination point was actually closer to Hubbard Street.</p><p>He wriggled onto his belly and lay down in the street to see if he could peer inside, as cars honked and changed lanes to avoid him. But the hole was too small for him to make out anything below the surface.</p><p>We found a matching manhole cover on the other side of the river, just north of Lake Street and again, just east of the median on LaSalle. We were foiled here, too, as this one was not just locked but cemented shut.</p><p>We had better luck finding tunnel remnants on Washington Street. On the west side of the river, Washington passes under the Ogilvie Transportation Center. There&rsquo;s an eastbound lane of traffic, a westbound lane, and curiously, a center lane, too.</p><p>Jacob, who wrote the introduction to <a href="http://www.amazon.com/books/dp/1609493273">Greg Borzo&rsquo;s book on the history of Chicago&rsquo;s cable cars</a>, pointed out a metal seam running through the street. Whereas the outside lanes of traffic were paved with asphalt, this center lane was covered in a concrete pad.</p><p>&ldquo;This is definitely a remnant,&rdquo; Jacob said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m almost 100 percent sure this is the cable car tunnel under here. This is actually a concrete pad. This supposedly covers up the portal.&rdquo;</p><p>Unfortunately, this pad-covered portal was not going to take us anywhere deeper than street level. There would be no tunnel access for us, at least not on this trip. But the Forgotten Chicago crew did help me catch sight of interesting, overlooked elements in the built environment I would have otherwise missed. In other words, they did what they do best.</p><p>If you want more historic cable car remnants still and can&rsquo;t wait until next week, check out Greg Borzo describe what else is left of that old school transit system in the audio above.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a> showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Greg Borzo spoke at an event presented by Chicago Public Library in January of 2013. Click <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/greg-borzo-105697">here</a> to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p><p><em>Robin Amer is a producer on WBEZ&rsquo;s digital team. Follow her on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/rsamer">@rsamer</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 14 Jun 2013 17:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/search-chicago%E2%80%99s-abandoned-cable-car-tunnels-107715 Reissued city guide explores Chicago’s illicit pleasures circa 1893 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/reissued-city-guide-explores-chicago%E2%80%99s-illicit-pleasures-circa-1893-107596 <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/1893%20ferris%20wheel%20LOC.jpg" style="height: 315px; width: 620px;" title="The first Ferris Wheel, erected for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exhibition in Chicago, was just one of many diversions available to fairgoers. (Library of Congress/American Memory Collection)" /></div><p>Recent <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/economy/chicago-ministers-oppose-gambling-expansion-107374">clashes over</a> <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-senators-clash-gambling-regulator-over-chicago-casino-106602">casino expansion</a> in Illinois make it easy to forget that gambling was once a leisure staple in Chicago.</p><p>Not in today&rsquo;s slot machine heavy, Horseshoe Casino extravaganza sort of way, of course. In 1890s, Chicago gambling took place in back alley saloons, tony parlors and other dens of sin. (And, depending on how you looked at it, at the Chicago Board of Trade. One observer wryly cautioned readers that buying futures was &ldquo;just another way to lose one&rsquo;s money betting against the house.&rdquo;)</p><p>That admonition is just one of many offered up by the anonymous author(s) of <em>Chicago by Day and Night: The Pleasure Seeker&rsquo;s Guide to the Paris of the Americas</em>, an 1892 guide to Chicago&rsquo;s entertainment nooks and crannies offered to tourists and travelers who flocked to Chicago by the hundreds of thousands for the World&rsquo;s Columbian Exhibition. Beyond gambling, the book warns male visitors to steer clear of lecherous, short-term golddiggers, in a chapter titled &ldquo;As to Adventuresses,&rdquo; and encourages tamer pleasure-seekers to visit some of the city&rsquo;s earliest museums.</p><p>The original pressing of <em>Chicago by Day and Night</em> was lost to history, obsolete by the time the fair ended. But the book has now been resurrected by Northwestern University Press, along with explanatory annotations by Bill Savage, a senior lecturer at the school, and Paul Durica, a newly minted University of Chicago PhD who offers <a href="http://vimeo.com/46907235#">whimsical walking tours and reenactments</a> through his series Pocket Guide to Hell.</p><p>Savage and Durica have collaborated prior to this, on a Nelson Algren-themed bar crawl and other events. And while Savage concentrates on 20th century history, Durica&rsquo;s an expert on the 19th century. So when he was pressed by acquisitions editor Michael Levine, Savage agreed to write the guide&rsquo;s introduction &ndash; but only if Durica was on board to help.</p><p>Durica said they decided to annotate the original book as well because it was &ldquo;a document of the moment.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re 120 years removed,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;A lot has changed.&rdquo;</p><p>Those gambling dens, and other houses of pleasure? Gone, Durica says, the victim of the 1894 global economic crash. &ldquo;Places oriented around leisure and sensual pleasure went out of business,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;They were some of the first things to fold.&rdquo;</p><p>Felled, but not forgotten. Hear Durica and Savage tag-team a reading from their chapter on gambling in the audio above.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a> showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Bill Savage and Paul Durica spoke at an event presented by the Newberry in May of 2013. Click <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/chicago-day-and-night-pleasure-seeker%E2%80%99s-guide-paris-america-meet-editors">here</a> to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p><p><em>Robin Amer is a producer on WBEZ&rsquo;s digital team. Follow her on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/rsamer">@rsamer</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 07 Jun 2013 16:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/reissued-city-guide-explores-chicago%E2%80%99s-illicit-pleasures-circa-1893-107596 What it took to rehab the Viceroy http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/what-it-took-rehab-viceroy-107478 <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/Before-1.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="The Viceroy Hotel on Chicago’s near West Side fell on hard times before it was rehabbed late last year. (Photo courtesy of Shane Welch)" /></div><p>The Viceroy Hotel had its problems long before the alderman was robbed.</p><p>Built in 1929, the hotel originally catered to middle class professionals who couldn&rsquo;t afford their own two-flat. It was built in the dense, up-and-coming near West Side, with 175 tiny rooms and a view of Union Park. It was a beautiful example of Chicago&rsquo;s many Art Deco terracotta buildings. A <em>Chicago Daily Tribune</em> editorial from the year it was erected praised the new building, saying the hotel would &ldquo;add a dash of color to a district. . . daubed with grime put on by Old Father Time.&rdquo;</p><p>But like the surrounding neighborhood the Viceroy fell on hard, then harder, times. You&rsquo;d never recognize the building praised by the papers if you had seen the hotel just a few years ago.</p><p>&ldquo;My house got robbed several Christmases ago, and the police came and they didn&rsquo;t find anything,&rdquo; Alderman Walter Burnett (27th) recalled. &ldquo;Then somebody recognized the person who robbed my home. I jumped in the car, and I chased him right to the Viceroy Hotel.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>There, he saw some of the hotel&rsquo;s down-and-out residents.</p><p>&ldquo;There was a young lady who was on drugs, and there was a man who was pimping her,&rdquo; the alderman said. &ldquo;That was the type of characteristic of people who were in the Viceroy.&rdquo;</p><p>In 2002, a young reporter named Mandy Burrell <a href="http://www.chicagojournal.com/Blogs/Near-Loop-Wire/06-30-2010/From_the_archives:_A_night_at_the_Viceroy">tried to spend the night at the Viceroy</a> for a story. She was offered crack before she even walked in the door and could not bring herself to touch the furniture in her $38 room.</p><blockquote><p>After looking at the stained and soiled comforter tattered by cigarette burns and other unidentifiable transgressions, [I&rsquo;d decided] that we would not be lying or sitting on the bed that night. In fact, it didn&#39;t seem wholesome to touch anything in the room. From the faded, pulled-up mess of a carpet to the showerless bathroom, with its filthy bathtub and mildewed grout, it seemed impossible that the room would pass muster on any state health inspection. Even the wood paneling on the TV set was gashed and burned by god knows what. And there was no way I&#39;d ever use the threadbare towel or two Styrofoam cups resting upside down on the dresser.</p></blockquote><p>Burrell barely made it past midnight. Later she called the Viceroy &ldquo;the most depressing place I&rsquo;d ever been,&rdquo; although she admitted the real takeaway from her reporting was the stark contrast between her own privileged upbringing and that of the poverty-stricken tenants she encountered that night.</p><p>The Viceroy went out of business not too long after after that. Writing for WBEZ in 2011, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/content/another-chapter-chicago%E2%80%99s-viceroy-hotel">Micah Maidenberg described</a> the metal guards strapped across the windows of the vacant building.</p><p>But the Viceroy Hotel has gone through a second transformation: it&rsquo;s no longer a shady SRO, but rather, a model of affordable housing.</p><p>Now called Harvest Commons, the old hotel was recently rehabbed by a coalition of community developers and neighborhood groups, including Heartland Housing and the nearby First Baptist Congregational Church.&nbsp;</p><p>At a recent talk on the project, Hume An, Heartland Housing&rsquo;s Director of Real Estate, and architect Jeff Bone of Landon Bone Baker, explained their ambitions. The Viceroy was given city landmark status in 2010. But it wasn&rsquo;t enough for An, Bone and company to merely save the building, with its intricate, molded plaster and sculpted terracotta tiles.</p><p>An says Heartland is &ldquo;focused on affordable and permanent supportive housing.&rdquo; That means it wants to serve the neediest residents: those living at below 60 percent of area medium income. According to An, that translates to about $31,000 a year.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/After-1.jpg" style="float: right; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="Harvest Commons’ 89 apartment units are subsidized by CHA, but are meant to look just like market rate units. (Photo courtesy of Shane Welch)" />&ldquo;That&rsquo;s not a lot of money,&rdquo; An says. And because of rental subsidies provided by the Chicago Housing Authority, An says that if residents &ldquo;make zero income, they pay zero rent.&rdquo;</p><p>The affordability piece of the Viceroy rehab is especially noteworthy as <a href="http://www.wbez.org/chateau-hotel-residents-avoid-immediate-order-vacate-105922">the city stands ready to lose other SROs</a>, which, despite their reputation as fleabag motels, still provide cheap housing to people who might otherwise be homeless.</p><p>&ldquo;We house those in most need,&rdquo; An added.</p><p>That includes people who are formerly homeless, incarcerated, or, like one resident An described, living in a shelter.</p><p>&ldquo;This is the first time in a long time he has his own kitchen and bathroom, and he&rsquo;s loving the privacy,&rdquo; An said.</p><p>Because Heartland&rsquo;s other mission is to build projects that are environmentally sustainable, Harvest Commons was also built with a number of green components, including geothermal heating and cooling systems, a green roof, and an adjacent urban farm. The project received&nbsp;certification from <a href="http://www.enterprisecommunity.com/solutions-and-innovation/enterprise-green-communities">Enterprise Green Communities</a>, a LEEDS alternative which works specifically with affordable housing.</p><p>Of course, the greenest part of all was using the existing building, rather than tearing it down in favor of new construction. It came at a price, though: $260 per square foot compared to the estimated cost of similar new construction, $90-200 per square foot. These costs were subsidized mostly by the state, along with historic tax credits.</p><p>In the audio above, An and Bone explain why the cost was so high, and what it took to pull off the rehab and reconstruction. Bone begins by describing the process of &ldquo;disassembling&rdquo; the historic building.<br /><br /><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a> showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Hume An and Jeff Bone spoke at an event presented by the Chicago Architecture Foundation in May of 2013. Click <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/preservation-and-adaptive-reuse-viceroy-hotel-107421">here</a> to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p><p><em>Photos courtesy of Shane Welch. Check out more of his excellent architectural photography <a href="http://shanewelch.com/documentary/commercial/viceroy-hotel-reconstruction/">here</a>.</em></p><p><em>Robin Amer is a producer on WBEZ&rsquo;s digital team. Follow her on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/rsamer">@rsamer</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 31 May 2013 16:37:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/what-it-took-rehab-viceroy-107478 Water, water everywhere, but not enough to drink http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/water-water-everywhere-not-enough-drink-107361 <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/watertower%20flickr%20willitrun.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="The water tower at Chicago and Michigan Avenues. This landmark building served as a pumping station, used to deliver water from the lake starting in 1869. (Flickr/Willitrun) " /></div><p>The story of Chicago&rsquo;s founding as a modern American city sometimes reads like the creation myth of some bygone animist religion. We were meant to settle here, the story goes, because this is the spot where the winding Chicago River empties cleanly into the great blue expanse of Lake Michigan. This is the place where the prairie meets the water, where the water meets the prairie.</p><p>Great news &ndash; especially the water part &ndash; for a booming metropolis, right?&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;It would seem that Chicago would have no problem,&rdquo; said Northwestern University historian Carl Smith. &ldquo;Twenty percent of the world&rsquo;s surface water is right there. . . What more could you want?&rdquo;</p><p>Actually, Smith says, Chicago&rsquo;s natural landscape proved a huge disadvantage to early settlers.</p><p>The ground was soggy and drained poorly. The river deposited silt in the lake and made navigation around the mouth of the river nearly impossible. And crucially, the city made the grave mistake of dumping its waste and pulling its drinking water from the same source.</p><p>Can you say cholera? It took an outbreak of the waterborne disease (and the surfacing of dead bodies in the shore-side cemetery) for city fathers to figure out what a bad idea this was.</p><p>Smith has studied of what came next, and the resulting book, <em><a href="http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/C/bo15233177.html">City Water, City Life</a> (University of Chicago Press, 2013)</em>, outlines the Chicago&rsquo;s early attempts to build the kind of water infrastructure needed to support the Windy City&rsquo;s rapid growth.</p><p>The bigger Chicago got, the more desperate its water problems became. The city had 330,000 inhabitants by 1870, and over a million just 20 years later, making it the second largest in the country and ushering in a kind of urban density the country had never known.</p><p>You can&rsquo;t just let people fend for themselves at that point, Smith argues &ndash; especially if you need them.</p><p>&ldquo;As a matter of principle you cannot deprive people of water, and [in] practice you need these people, particularly to work the jobs in the city,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>In the audio above, Smith explores Chicago&rsquo;s first few attempts to lick this problem. It&rsquo;s a shockingly juicy tale for a bit of urban planning history.</p><p>My favorite part? The one where fish came right out of the taps!</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a> showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Carl Smith spoke at an event presented by the Newberry in May of 2013. Click <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/city-water-city-life-water-and-infrastructure-ideas-urbanizing-philadelphia">here</a> to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p><p><em>Robin Amer is a producer on WBEZ&rsquo;s digital team. Follow her on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/rsamer">@rsamer</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 24 May 2013 15:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/water-water-everywhere-not-enough-drink-107361 Architect’s Pilsen vision is green and fashion friendly http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/architect%E2%80%99s-pilsen-vision-green-and-fashion-friendly-107256 <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/urban%20works%20pilsen%202.jpg" style="height: 235px; width: 350px; float: right;" title=" Saldana Natke wants to transform an abandoned stretch of railway into an ultra-modern textile center and fashion incubator. (Courtesy of UrbanWorks)" /></div><p>Architect Patricia Saldaña Natke grew up on the 4800 block of South Marshfield Avenue, in Chicago&rsquo;s Back of the Yards neighborhood. Her parents, immigrants from Mexico, worked in the Stockyards.</p><p>Some days after school, Saldaña Natke would take the bus away from her aging, blue collar neighborhood with its bungalows and smoke stacks, up to the Loop, and marvel at the sparkling skyscrapers and expansive public parks in the city&rsquo;s downtown.</p><p>&ldquo;I would look at the beautiful buildings and wonder why those kinds of spaces weren&rsquo;t in existence where I lived,&rdquo; Saldaña Natke recalled. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s the reason I became an architect; I felt that public places should be the greatest in the area of most need.&rdquo;</p><p>Saldaña Natke channeled those beliefs into <a href="http://www.urbanworksarchitecture.com/" target="_blank">UrbanWorks</a>, the architecture and planning firm she founded, which specializes in socially and environmentally conscious planning and design work -- the kind she dreamed about as a kid. She&rsquo;s set her sights on one Chicago hood in particular: Pilsen.</p><p>&ldquo;[Pilsen] needs to be a place where people can move upward in mobility,&rdquo; Saldaña Natke said. &ldquo;The entire core of why I work in Pilsen comes to the fact that there are neighborhoods that need a lot of attention.&rdquo;</p><p>UrbanWorks&rsquo; previous Pilsen projects include a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/pilsen-community-leaders-say-neighborhood-college-dorm-will-help-more-kids-graduate-96994" target="_blank">college dormitory</a> intended to help keep <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-02/new-college-dorm-pilsen-gaining-attention-and-accolades-105573" target="_blank">students from the neighborhood</a> on the path to academic success, <a href="http://www.urbanworksarchitecture.com/projects/civic_2.html" target="_blank">a high school</a> designed to resemble the copper canyons of Mexico and Saldaña Natke&rsquo;s most ambitious project: a master plan for Pilsen.</p><p>In architecture and planning circles, a master plan is a grand vision for the future development of a neighborhood.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s much more than a wish list,&rdquo; Saldaña Natke said. &ldquo;It may be implemented slightly different than the plan shows, but the core of it should remain intact.&rdquo;</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/Urbanworks%20pilsen%20plan.jpg" style="height: 247px; width: 350px; float: left;" title="UrbanWorks master plan for Pilsen aims to increase the neighborhood’s greenspace. (Courtesy of UrbanWorks)" />This plan isn&rsquo;t funded, but Saldaña Natke is working with 25th Ward Alderman Danny Solis and the Department of Housing and Economic Development to assemble funds to inch her vision along.</div><p>Saldaña Natke consulted with Pilsen residents in a series of community meetings, including a neighborhood-wide meeting at Providence of God Catholic Church in 2004.&nbsp; The resulting plan aims to build on Pilsen&rsquo;s assets: its strong Mexican cultural heritage, its main commercial drag zoned for pedestrian use and&nbsp;its historic architecture.</p><p>&ldquo;The community says church steeples are its high rises,&rdquo; Saldaña Natke said.</p><p>The plan calls for greater access to the Chicago River and also addresses what Saldaña Natke says are the neighborhood&rsquo;s challenges: While the west side of Pilsen is served by the CTA&rsquo;s Pink, Green and Orange Lines, the east side has few transportation options, leaving the neighborhood disconnected.</p><p>And, there is a surprising lack of green space in Pilsen. According to Saldaña Natke, the city requires two acres of green space for every 1,000 Chicago residents.</p><p>&ldquo;But the Park District just said to us that the recommended amount is four acres of green space,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;[Pilsen] is over 18 acres short.&rdquo;</p><p>So, UrbanWorks&rsquo; master plan starts there. Saldaña Natke envisions more green space along the neighborhood&rsquo;s largely industrial waterfront, and the transformation of an abandoned, surface-level railway that runs along Sangamon Street into a stretch of park&mdash;something like New York&rsquo;s High Line or the Northwest Side&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-09/bloomingdale-trail-reveals-chicagos-idea-grand-city-planning-102655" target="_blank">Bloomingdale Trail</a>, only without the elevation. Then, she hopes to transform the abandoned buildings that line the railroad into a fashion and textile incubator.</p><p>A fashion incubator?</p><p>Yes, Saldaña Natke says.</p><p>&ldquo;You shouldn&rsquo;t need to go to 900 North Michigan or Michigan Avenue to see all the high-end fashion shows. Why can&rsquo;t it be in the neighborhoods?&rdquo;</p><p>You can hear Saldaña Natke describe her dream in more detail in the audio above.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range" id="docs-internal-guid-7ba7f574-b48a-af42-0b81-707797174770">Dynamic Range</a> showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Patricia Saldana Natke spoke at an event presented by the Chicago Architecture Foundation in April of 2013. Click <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/make-plans-pilsen-sprints-forward-107182">here</a> to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p><p><em>Robin Amer is a producer on WBEZ&rsquo;s digital team. Follow her on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/rsamer" target="_blank">@rsamer</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 17 May 2013 16:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/architect%E2%80%99s-pilsen-vision-green-and-fashion-friendly-107256 Edward Hirsch: Poems for my father(s) http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/edward-hirsch-poems-my-fathers-107127 <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/Chicago%201950.jpg" style="width: 620px;" title="The Chicago of Hirsch’s youth. (Flickr/Joe and Jeanette Archie)" /></div><p>The poet Edward Hirsch was born in Chicago in 1950, and many of his poems are haunted by little glimpses back into that old city of his youth. In the 2008 poem &ldquo;Cotton Candy,&rdquo; for example, Hirsch is again a small boy, walking with his grandfather over one of Chicago&rsquo;s many bascule bridges:</p><blockquote><p>We walked on the bridge over the Chicago River<br />for what turned out to be the last time,<br />and I ate cotton candy, that sugery air,<br />that sweet blue light spun out of nothingness.<br />It was just a moment, really, nothing more,<br />but I remember marveling at the sturdy cables<br />of the bridge that held us up<br />and threading my fingers through the long<br />and slender fingers of my grandfather,<br />an old man from the Old World<br />who long ago disappeared into the nether regions.<br />And I remember that eight-year-old boy<br />who had tasted the sweetness of air,<br />which still clings to my mouth<br />and disappears when I breathe.</p></blockquote><p>There is pain here, but also tenderness, and maybe even a little nostalgia -- a recognizable combination where the subject matter is childhood and family.</p><p>As an adult, Hirsch won the Lanvan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets and the prestigious Rome Prize, as well as fellowships from the MacArthur and Guggenheim foundations (the latter of which he now chairs) and the National Endowment for the Arts.</p><p>But Hirsch&rsquo;s&nbsp; future success was not necessarily forecast by his Chicago childhood. Early on Hirsch was burdened by a biological father, his &ldquo;first father&rdquo; as he calls him in one poem, with poor boundaries and cruel attachments. In one poem, Hirsch depicts Harold, nicknamed &ldquo;Ruby,&rdquo; talking openly to his young children about his sexual preferences and his frustration with their mother&rsquo;s &ldquo;frigidity.&rdquo; Ruby then left the family when Edward was a still a child, an event Hirsch writes about in &ldquo;My Father&rsquo;s Back&rdquo;:</p><blockquote><p>There&#39;s an early memory that I carry around<br />In my mind<br />like an old photography in my wallet,<br />little graying and faded, a picture<br />That I don&#39;t much like<br />but nonetheless keep,<br />Fingering it now and then like a sore tooth,<br />Knowing it there,<br />not needing to see it anymore....</p><p>The sun slants down on the shingled roof.<br />The wind breathes in the needled pines.<br />And I am lying in the grass on my third birthday,<br />Red-faced and watchful<br />but not squalling yet,<br />Not yet rashed or hived up<br />from eating the wrong food<br />Or touching the wrong plant,<br />my father&#39;s leaving.</p></blockquote><p>And yet, Hirsch was also cared for by his &ldquo;other father&rdquo; &ndash; the man who raised him. He writes about this father with the great longing of a grown-up son who has just lost his parent in &ldquo;Early Sunday Morning&rdquo;:&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><blockquote><p>Give me back my father walking the halls<br />of Wertheimer Box and Paper Company<br />with sawdust clinging to his shoes.</p><p>Give me back his tape measure and his keys,<br />his drafting pencil and his order forms;<br />give me his daydreams on lined paper.</p><p>I don&rsquo;t understand this uncontainable grief.<br />Whatever you had that never fit,<br />whatever else you needed, believe me,</p><p>my father, who wanted your business,<br />would squat down at your side<br />and sketch you a container for it.</p></blockquote><p>Of channeling these feelings and memories into his work Hirsch said, &ldquo;I became, I&rsquo;d say, addicted to this idea: That you could take the muck and mire of your own life, you could take the messy things in your own life, the difficult experiences you didn&rsquo;t understand, and try to turn them into something.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;And the idea that you could turn them into something that you thought was beautiful? That seemed noble to me. I aspired to that,&rdquo; Hirsch added.</p><p>The poet gave a reading in Chicago in April, and read several poems that touched on these two men in his young life. You can hear his reading in the audio above.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a> showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Edward Hirsch spoke at an event presented by the Society of Midland Authors in April of 2013. Click <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/poet-edward-hirsch-106990">here</a> to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p><p><em>Robin Amer is a producer on WBEZ&rsquo;s digital team. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/rsamer">@rsamer</a>.</em></p></p> Sat, 11 May 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/edward-hirsch-poems-my-fathers-107127 Bioluminescent creatures keep predators at bay http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/bioluminescent-creatures-keep-predators-bay-107012 <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/bio%20bay%20youtube.jpg" title="The bioluminescent ripple effects of a splash in the Bio Bay. (YouTube/TobiasJHN)" /></div><p>When I was in my early 20s I traveled to Puerto Rico on vacation with some friends from high school. We sat on the beach and drank fruity drinks with tiny umbrellas, visited the colonial fort in old San Juan (a place that, with its rolling green meadows and stone turrets perched just above the ocean cliffs, looked to me like Narnia) and for several days we stayed in a rental in Vieques.</p><p>The diminutive island eight miles east of the mainland was for many years a U.S. naval base. Much of the heavily forested island was made into a wildlife preserve, which is now off-limits. But the rest of the island has retained a similar kind of rural, unspoiled beauty. There are white sand beaches and coral reefs, and even feral horses that trot around the pastel-colored houses. But Vieques&rsquo; most remarkable natural feature is its <a href="http://biobay.com/">Bioluminescent Bay</a>.</p><p>I went to the Bio Bay at night, on a bus that departed from the tiny town of Esperanza and wound its way east along the coast. It was perfectly dark when we arrived, and silent, except for the sound of insects and giggling tourists. Our tour guides produced canoes, and we filed in by twos and threes, paddling out to the center of the bay.</p><p>The water was black and glassy, but at the appointed time we jumped in to meet the creatures that give the Bio Bay its name. As we landed in the murk with one splash after another, the water around us flashed with a bright, milky blue glow, illuminating our limbs and reflecting up onto our faces. I swept my arm through the water and watched as it left a trail of blue stardust lit up behind it.</p><p>The Bio Bay, you see, is home to millions upon millions of tiny, one-celled microorganisms called dinoflagellates &ndash; in this case tiny marine plankton that are among the earth&rsquo;s many bioluminescent creatures. They produce their eerie light when they&rsquo;re disturbed, as they were when we decided to take a midnight swim in their home.</p><p>&ldquo;What&rsquo;s the <em>point </em>of that light?&rdquo; J. Woodland &ldquo;Woody&rdquo; Hastings asked at a recent Chicago lecture. The Harvard professor of Natural Sciences studies bioluminescence in creatures across the spectrum of life, from simple, one-celled bacteria to angler fish that swim in the deepest, darkest depths of the ocean and carry their light around with them.</p><p>Hastings said this is the question he&rsquo;s invariably asked at his talks. In the case of one such organism he&rsquo;s studied, a luminous mushroom found in the Brazilian rain forest, Hastings posited that the glow of the fungi attracts insects, which will eat the mushroom and help disperse its spores. But in the case of the plankton in the Bio Bay, my tour guide had another explanation: supposedly, he said, the glow was meant to act like <a href="http://siobiolum.ucsd.edu/dino_bl.html">a &ldquo;burglar alarm,&rdquo;</a> meant to attract a secondary predator that would threaten and scare away the primary predator bothering the dinoflagellates.</p><p>As my tour guide spoke, I felt a blindingly painful sting on my left calf. A jellyfish that I could not see &ndash; but which had clearly seen me &ndash; had wrapped its tentacle around my leg. I hauled myself out of the water and back into the boat, howling with pain. Nature at work!</p><p>In the audio above you can hear Hastings&rsquo; account of another mystical spot of bioluminescent water, this time in the Indian Ocean, known to generations of sailors as the &ldquo;milky sea.&rdquo; And, you can hear more about the spectrum of creatures that cause our waters to glow like a softly lit siren.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range"><em>Dynamic Range</em></a>&nbsp;<em>showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Woody Hastings spoke at an event presented by the Chicago Council on Science and Technology in February of 2013. Click</em>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/bioluminescence-living-lights-lights-living-106379"><em>here</em></a>&nbsp;<em>to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p><p><em>Robin Amer is a producer on WBEZ&rsquo;s digital team. Follow her on Twitter</em><a href="https://twitter.com/rsamer">&nbsp;<em>@rsamer</em></a><em>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Sat, 04 May 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/bioluminescent-creatures-keep-predators-bay-107012 Whatever, NYC. Here’s a letter to Chicago we can get behind http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/whatever-nyc-here%E2%80%99s-letter-chicago-we-can-get-behind-106868 <p><p><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/21/books/review/the-third-coast-by-thomas-dyja-and-more.html?ref=review&amp;pagewanted=all">Rachel Shteir</a> got you down? If you haven&rsquo;t already, check out <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/steinberg/19584630-452/keep-your-head-up-youre-a-chicagoan.html">Neil Steinberg&rsquo;s response</a> (and his cabbie&rsquo;s) to the drubbing he and the city of Chicago received in the review Shteir did for the <em>New York Times</em> Sunday Book Review last week. Or, you might want to consider this self-described &ldquo;love letter&rdquo; to Chicago from another writer, Michael Hainey.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/michael%20hainey%20photo.jpg" style="float: right; height: 314px; width: 300px;" title="Hainey and his brother as children in Chicago. (Courtesy of Michael Hainey) " />Hainey&rsquo;s story is in some ways the opposite of Shteir&rsquo;s. While Shteir bemoaned her exile from New York to Chicago, Hainey, a hometown boy, settled in New York as an adult but never lost his connection to Chicago. He&rsquo;s now a deputy editor at <em>GQ</em>, but his most recent book takes a deeply personal look back at the city of his birth, from the smell of boiling cabbage wafting through the doorways of every house on his block, to the sight of fall leaves blowing through the alleys.</p><p>&ldquo;Even as a kid I felt these roots here,&rdquo; Hainey said in a recent interview with Bill Savage, a professor of literature, history and culture at Northwestern. (Savage, by the way, also had <a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20130423/OPINION/130429958/">words for Shteir</a>.) In <em>After Visiting Friends</em>, Hainey refers to Chicago as &ldquo;my old country,&rdquo; a place that he &ldquo;would always be pining for.&rdquo;</p><p>Of course, loving Chicago and pining for it doesn&rsquo;t mean you can&rsquo;t also see its faults. His descriptions are as intimate as they&rsquo;re grittily realistic.</p><p>Hainey&rsquo;s had his own experience with the city&rsquo;s sometimes disturbing underbelly. His father, Bob, was a rising star reporter at the<em> Sun-Times</em> in the &lsquo;60s. But he turned up dead one night when Michael was just six, leaving a stunned and fractured family behind. Obituaries said the elder Hainey, just 35 then, died &ldquo;after visiting friends,&rdquo; but it was never clear to Michael what really happened. So he spent 10 years investigating his father&rsquo;s death, and in the process, came to a new understanding of the city he loved.</p><p>Hainey&rsquo;s been tight-lipped about what mysteries he solved in the process of his reporting &ndash; you&rsquo;ll have to buy the book to find out what really happened to his dad. But in the audio above, you can hear him explain to Savage how &ndash; in the tradition of great Chicago memoirists before him &ndash; the city became a character in his book.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a> showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Michael Hainey and Bill Savage spoke at an event presented by Chicago Public Library in February of 2013. Click <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/michael-hainey-106719">here</a> to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p><p><em>Robin Amer is a producer on WBEZ&rsquo;s digital team. Follow her on Twitter<a href="https://twitter.com/rsamer"> @rsamer</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Sat, 27 Apr 2013 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/whatever-nyc-here%E2%80%99s-letter-chicago-we-can-get-behind-106868 Maid’s memoir gives glimpse at real life ‘Downton Abbey’ http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/maid%E2%80%99s-memoir-gives-glimpse-real-life-%E2%80%98downton-abbey%E2%80%99-106523 <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/maids%20of%20downton%20abbey%20AP%20PBS%20Nick%20Briggs.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="The maids of ‘Downton Abbey.’ The memoir of real life kitchen maid Margaret Powell served as one inspiration for the show. (AP/PBS, Carnival Film &amp; Television/Nick Briggs)" /></div><p>You may have heard of Anna and Mr. Bates, O&rsquo;Brien and Thomas, but have you heard of Margaret Powell? Her 1968 memoir about servants&rsquo; life below the stairs of a stately English house was a direct inspiration for <em>Downton Abbey</em> and its popular predecessor, <em>Upstairs, Downstairs</em>.</p><p>Powell, born Margaret Langley in 1907, grew up in Sussex extremely poor. Her father, a house painter, and her mother, a charwoman or house cleaner, could barely support Margaret and her six siblings.</p><p>&ldquo;I remember when we hadn&rsquo;t anything left to use for warmth and no money to get coal,&rdquo; she wrote in <em>Below Stairs</em>. &ldquo;I said to Mum, &lsquo;Get all the wood down. Let&rsquo;s have a fire with wood.&rsquo; She took every single shelf there was in the rooms and she even took the banisters from the stairs. Things like this make you hard.&rdquo;</p><p>Perhaps predicting her future success as a writer, Margaret won a scholarship to grammar school at age 13. But her parents couldn&rsquo;t spare her, and sent her to work in a laundry by the time she was 15.</p><p>A year later Margaret found work as a kitchen maid in a stately Regency-style mansion in the posh Adelaide Crescent section of Hove, a town on England&rsquo;s south coast. She recalled the first time she set foot in the house, which was home to a minister and his family:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;When my mother and I arrived at this house for the interview we went to the front door. In all the time I worked there, that was the only time I ever went in the front door. . . We were ushered into the hall and I thought it was the last word in opulence. There was a lovely carpet on the floor, and tremendously wide stairs carpeted right across, not like the tiny little bit of lino in the middle we had on our stairs. There was a great mahogany table in the hall and a mahogany hall stand, and huge mirrors with gilt frames. The whole thing breathed an aura or wealth to me. I thought they must be millionaires. I&rsquo;d never seen anything like it.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>Powell died in 1984, but her legacy has been preserved &ndash; and not just through her memoir or shows like <em>Downton</em>. Chicago historian and actress Leslie Goddard has developed something of a specialty inhabiting the lives of famous women of yore. In an appearance in February, she took on the role of Powell, performing an adaptation of <em>Below Stairs </em>as the author herself.</p><p>In the audio above, you can hear Goddard perform as Powell. She describes the astonishing workload typical of a pre-war kitchen maid, and explains how the stark contrast between Powell&rsquo;s impoverished upbringing and her newly lush surroundings eventually radicalized her politics.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a> showcases hidden gems unearthed from <a href="https://soundcloud.com/chicago-amplified/a-conversation-with-u-s">Chicago Amplified&rsquo;</a>s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Leslie Goddard performed at an event presented by Chicago Culinary Historians in February of 2013. Click <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/tea-party-below-stairs-servants-life-early-20th-century-england-106369">here</a> to hear the event in its entirety.<br /><br />Robin Amer is a producer on WBEZ&rsquo;s digital team. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/rsamer">@rsamer</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Sat, 06 Apr 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/maid%E2%80%99s-memoir-gives-glimpse-real-life-%E2%80%98downton-abbey%E2%80%99-106523 Minnie Minoso’s first game http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/minnie-minoso%E2%80%99s-first-game-106394 <p><p>Baseball returns to the Windy City this week, even if spring weather has been slow in coming. Monday the White Sox take on the Kansas City Royals at the Cell. The Cubs open April 8 against the Milwaukee Brewers.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Minnie%20Minoso%201955%20AP.jpg" style="height: 474px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="Minnie Minoso rounds the bases at Comiskey Park in 1955. Minoso was the first black man to play for the White Sox. (AP)" />In honor of the occasion, let&rsquo;s revisit another important day of firsts in Chicago baseball.</p><p>The date was May 1, 1951, and on that day 26-year-old Cuban third baseman Orestes Arrieta made his Major League Baseball debut at Comiskey Park.&nbsp; You may know him better, of course, by his American nickname: Minnie Minoso. And when Minoso stepped up to the plate that day he was doing more than playing ball: He was also breaking the color barrier. Minoso was the first black man to play for the White Sox.</p><p>In 2006, Minoso sat down with former WBEZ host Steve Edwards to reminisce about his career. He offered this account of that fateful day. You can listen in the audio above, or check out the transcript below:</p><blockquote><p><em>For me, [my favorite on-field moment] was May 1, 1951.</em></p><p><em>I lived in 6409 [S.] Maryland [Avenue]. We went [to the game] by streetcar. I didn&rsquo;t have a car; I had no money for a car.</em></p><p><em>When I stepped at the plate, [White Sox first baseman] Eddie Robinson called me up. I hit third, he hit fourth.</em></p><p><em>He said, &ldquo;Eh, Minoso, do you know this guy?&rdquo; It was [pitcher] Vic Raschi, number 17&nbsp;</em><em>&ndash;</em><em>&nbsp;rest in peace, he died &ndash; for the New York Yankees.</em></p><p><em>I said, &ldquo;No, I don&rsquo;t know [him]. I&rsquo;ve never faced [him].&rdquo;</em></p><p><em>[Robinson] said, &ldquo;Good fastball, good curveball, and pretty good slider. And he&rsquo;s fast.&rdquo;</em></p><p><em>But you know, I&rsquo;m a funny guy. I look around. I don&rsquo;t know [Yankees catcher] Yogi [Berra]. And I said, &ldquo;This ugly man -- can he see?&rdquo; [Editor&rsquo;s note: Among Berra&rsquo;s many famous quotes is <a href="http://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/11/21/never-with-face/">this gem</a>: &ldquo;So I&rsquo;m ugly. So what? I never saw anyone hit with his face.&rdquo;]</em></p><p><em>And now Yogi gets up. &ldquo;Hey, Minoso! You don&rsquo;t know me. Why you call me ugly? My wife, she says I&rsquo;m nice looking.&rdquo;</em></p><p><em>I said, &ldquo;Well, you&rsquo;re lucky you&rsquo;re married. I&rsquo;m not married. My grandmother used to say I&rsquo;m a good Indian guy, nice looking, but she died. And now nobody calls me nice looking anymore.&rdquo;</em></p><p><em>So anyway, the umpire said, &ldquo;You two get out of here.&rdquo;</em></p><p><em>I said OK. I step on the plate. I say, &quot;Eddie! I&rsquo;m going to swing three, no matter what happens. If I miss it, then next time. If I make contact, I have a chance.&rdquo;</em></p><p><em>I get up there, the way I used to hit it.</em></p><p><em>&ldquo;Ladies and gentlemen, the first pitch!&rdquo; [says the announcer over the loudspeaker.]</em></p><p><em>I get prepared. I&rsquo;m swinging! And I run like a deer to first base. And the umpire says like that [makes a gesture] but I don&rsquo;t know whether [Yankees outfielder] Mickey Mantle had caught it.</em></p><p><em>And what I said I don&rsquo;t want to repeat. I said, &ldquo;Did this son-of-a-gun catch it?&rdquo; [The umpire] said, &ldquo;No, it&rsquo;s a home run!&rdquo;</em></p><p><em>I slow down. I&rsquo;m passing second base. I come home. The people shake my hand.&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>That was a great day &ndash; and a beginning. Because I was the first black player in the city and the first one for the Sox. The first one! And the first pitch! I hit it in the bullpen &ndash; 439 feet.</em></p><p><em>I never dreamed it. I used to weigh 176 lbs.</em></p><p><em>I have this ball. This guy caught it, and I still have this ball at my house.</em></p></blockquote><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range"><em>Dynamic Range </em></a>showcases hidden gems unearthed from <a href="https://soundcloud.com/chicago-amplified/a-conversation-with-u-s"><em>Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s</em></a> vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Minnie Minoso spoke at an event presented by the Chicago History Museum in October of 2006. Click <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/chicago-treasures-ernie-banks-minnie-minoso">here</a> to hear the event in its entirety.</p><p><em>Robin Amer is a producer on WBEZ&rsquo;s digital team. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/rsamer">@rsamer</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Sat, 30 Mar 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/minnie-minoso%E2%80%99s-first-game-106394