WBEZ | History http://www.wbez.org/tags/history Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Are there fallout shelters left in Chicago? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/are-there-fallout-shelters-left-chicago-112688 <p><p>Kyle Bolyard&rsquo;s drive to work as a history teacher in suburban Niles, Illinois, takes him past a strange sign. It&rsquo;s planted on the side of a sturdy, brick building owned by the regional wastewater treatment authority.</p><p>&ldquo;I pass this building every single day and at some some point along the way I just kind of noticed it,&rdquo; says Bolyard, 26. &ldquo;It&#39;s a pretty small sign. It&#39;s kind of rusted a little bit. It says &lsquo;fallout shelter on floors one and in basement.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Fallout shelter, as in nuclear fallout following an atomic bomb blast. The symbol on the sign is familiar to Americans who lived through the Cold War: three yellow triangles circumscribed in a circle, pointing down. That sign got Kyle thinking.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>I was wondering if there were any nuclear fallout a nuclear blast shelters left in the city of Chicago or the area.</em></p><p>By some estimates there were hundreds of thousands of dedicated fallout shelters built in the 20 years following World War II. We looked for one still standing, and we did find some old shelters. But they&rsquo;re hardly the apocalypse-proof, fully-stocked bunkers that were once ready to weather a bomb blast and weeks-worth of radioactive fallout. Still, these remnants of Cold War-era infrastructure do exist across the city. In fact, buildings that served as fallout shelters are often in places you might not expect.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">&lsquo;It was an eerie time.&rsquo;</span></p><p>It feels distant to many people today, but for years the world was gripped with fears of a possible nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States. Each country stockpiled tens of thousands of nuclear warheads in the decades following World War II, pursuing a strategy of &ldquo;deterrence&rdquo; by bulking up to discourage an attack. Meanwhile the now-defunct Office of Civil &amp; Defense Mobilization (commonly called Civil Defense) focused on preparing Americans for the unthinkable. A lot of people from this era remember <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKqXu-5jw60" target="_blank">Bert the Turtle, who taught a generation of kids to &quot;duck and cover&quot;</a> in the event of a bomb.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/BFT8hLjHtuE" width="420"></iframe></p><p>They were worried about two things: the actual blast of an atomic bomb, of course, but also its fallout &mdash; contaminated dust and debris kicked up into the air and rendered radioactive by a nuclear explosion.</p><p>Big, industrial cities like Chicago were considered major targets for a possible nuclear attack. Diane Addams, who grew up in the Woodlawn neighborhood during the 1950s, remembers it as an anxious time.</p><p>&ldquo;It was kind of scary,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;People were buying and making fallout shelters, and trying to find out where we could go if there was an attack and all that kind of stuff. And they had those little signs that were saying that you go here, like in the subway, or certain other areas.&rdquo;</p><p>Addams says those who had the money and a little property could build their own bunkers. As apartment dwellers, her family had to have faith in public shelters.</p><p>&ldquo;It was just an eerie time,&rdquo; says Addams.</p><p><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="0.9148073022312373" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_99201" scrolling="no" src="https://www.scribd.com/embeds/275207521/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;access_key=key-MfCvfCEg3HkiBdpwfmVj&amp;show_recommendations=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Cold War preparation really got hot in 1961, when Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev threatened to cut off Western access to Berlin, <a href="http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/berlin-is-divided" target="_blank">then a divided city</a>. President John F. Kennedy <a href="http://www.presidentialrhetoric.com/historicspeeches/kennedy/berlincrisis.html" target="_blank">addressed the nation, pumping up the Civil Defense budget and urging Americans to prepare</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;In contrast to our friends in Europe, the need for this kind of protection is new to our shores. But the time to start is now,&rdquo; Kennedy said. &ldquo;In the coming months, I hope to let every citizen know what steps he can take without delay to protect his family in case of attack. I know that you will want to do no less.&rdquo;</p><p>Although some historians say the speech was mainly meant to intimidate Khrushchev, one effect was to stoke public anxieties about nuclear war.</p><p>&ldquo;There&#39;s this huge national debate of whether or not to build a shelter. Some magazine called that the question, &lsquo;To dig or not to dig,&rsquo;&rdquo; says Kenneth Rose, a professor at California State University Chico and author of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/One-Nation-Underground-Fallout-American/dp/0814775233" target="_blank">the book One Nation Underground: The Fallout Shelter in American Culture</a>. &nbsp;&ldquo;Almost every newspaper and every magazine in the country had articles on nuclear war and fallout shelters.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Local response: Cold War conversions</span></p><p>Like many cities across the country, Chicago designated existing structures as public fallout shelters, typically choosing large masonry buildings with windowless basements and thick stone or concrete walls. Federal officials affixed these buildings with reflective metal signs measuring 10 by 14 inches. In Chicago those included public school buildings, <a href="http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1976/10/31/page/4/article/display-ad-526-no-title" target="_blank">City Hall</a> and, indeed, the Terrence J. O&#39;Brien Water Reclamation Plant at 3500 W. Howard St. &mdash; the building that inspired Kyle Bolyard&rsquo;s question.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/nuclearshelters/falloutSheltersThumb.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 487px; margin: 5px;" title="Fallout shelter sign posted at 3500 Howard St, Skokie, Illinois. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></p><p>Practically every town in America had some sort of public refuge like this, and Chicago had thousands. <a href="http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1967/07/13/page/83/article/civil-defense-devises-methods-to-study-home-shelter-potential" target="_blank">In 1967 the Chicago Tribune reported</a> that Cook county had 2,522 public fallout shelters, of which 1,691 were stocked with food and supplies. About three quarters of the county&rsquo;s 5 million people could have fit in the shelters, most of which were downtown, in the Loop.</p><p>Federal Civil Defense officials were responsible for stocking fallout shelters with everything they&rsquo;d need to survive at least two weeks underground. <a href="http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1962/10/26/page/8/article/u-s-spending-80-million-for-shelter-stock#text" target="_blank">Nationally the Pentagon spent more than $80 million on supplies</a>, which included bulgur wheat crackers for nutrition, giant drums of water and &ldquo;sanitation kits&rdquo; for personal hygiene.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://docsteach.org/documents/7386473/detail?menu=closed&amp;mode=search&amp;sortBy=relevance&amp;q=primarily+teaching+2015&amp;commit=Go" target="_blank"><img alt="" src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/nuclearshelters/0849falloutShelterSupplyInventory.jpg" style="width: 610px; height: 485px; margin: 5px;" title="Supplies suggested for bomb and fallout shelters around the height of the Cold War. (Source: Records of The Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization)" /></a></p><p>None of the agencies that we talked to &mdash; local, county, state, federal &mdash; could say exactly when they stopped checking up on fallout shelters in Chicago, or even what happened to any of the records about how many shelters existed in the area. It just kind of dropped off.</p><p>And by 1963 some survival kits were already deteriorating in storage. <a href="http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1963/11/24/page/12/article/civil-defense-kits-in-storage#text" target="_blank">The Tribune reported supplies for 2.2 million people were sitting &ldquo;virtually untouched&rdquo;</a> in federal warehouses at 39th Street &amp; Pershing Road and at O&#39;Hare International Airport. &ldquo;According to records of the federal government, Illinois ranks 50th in the fallout shelter stocking program. Chicago rates at the bottom of the list of metropolitan cities,&rdquo; <a href="http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1963/11/24/page/12/article/civil-defense-kits-in-storage" target="_blank">reported David Halvorsen</a>. Just a few dozen of the 3,000 federally approved shelters had been stocked, months or years after they&rsquo;d been designated as public refuges.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Local response: new construction</span></p><p>In some cases, though, the city did more to adapt to Cold War concerns than just slap a fallout shelter sign onto existing buildings and wait for federal supplies &mdash; a fact that becomes apparent during a tour conducted by Larry Langford, spokesman for the Chicago Fire Department. Langford drives me, questioner Kyle, and his wife, Amanda Snyder, around the South Side to see a few fire stations that had their own dedicated fallout shelters.</p><p>&ldquo;Most of the North Side fire houses have been replaced. So we have to, of course, go to old firehouses to find this,&rdquo; says Langford, who remembers Bert the Turtle&rsquo;s &ldquo;duck and cover&rdquo; drills.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="basement of Chicago Fire Department Engine 15, 8028 S. Kedzie Ave" src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/nuclearshelters/doorToTheVaultForWeb.jpg" style="width: 600px; margin: 5px;" title="Basement of Chicago Fire Department Engine 15, 8028 S. Kedzie Ave. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></p><p>Today the space under Engine 60 in Hyde Park looks like a lot of basements: Firemen use it to store their workout equipment, as well as bicycles they help repair for kids in the neighborhood. During the Cold War, though, the basement had heavy steel doors that could seal in hundreds of people at a time. The shelter also had a generator and a sophisticated air handling system to keep out radioactive debris.</p><p>&ldquo;The walls are very thick concrete designed to withstand all kinds of shock,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>As for a direct hit by an atomic bomb?</p><p>&ldquo;Nothing&#39;s going to withstand that,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>For questioner Kyle Bolyard, the area looks like what he expected: bare concrete walls, big open spaces and dark, twisting corridors.</p><p>&ldquo;You can imagine just rows and rows of cots or bed mats,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;It would be really dark and really cramped.&rdquo;</p><p>Snyder adds: &ldquo;I would imagine it would start to smell really bad after a couple hours.&rdquo;</p><p>All of the shelter&rsquo;s supplies were thrown out a long time ago, says Langford, but the structure remains solid.</p><p>&ldquo;We could still use it if we had to,&rdquo; he says.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/nuclearshelters/gasMeterKyle.jpg" style="width: 610px; height: 405px; margin: 5px;" title="Basement of Chicago Fire Department Engine 60, 1150 E. 55th St. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Local response: private construction</span></p><p>Some patriotic citizens built their own shelters, following the advice of nationally circulated pamphlets and public service announcements preaching vigilance.</p><p>&ldquo;In the event of enemy attack, every item on this list is essential,&rdquo; reads one of the many advertisements placed in Civil Defense literature and popular magazines. Their list includes a personal dosimeter for each member of the family to measure radiation exposure, as well as fire extinguishers, radios, air filters and a toilet for the fallout shelter.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/nuclearshelters/gilhoolyPermit.png" style="width: 610px; height: 348px; margin: 5px;" /></p><p>In 1961 Bernice Gilhooly built Chicago&rsquo;s first publicly authorized, private fallout shelter. <a href="http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1961/08/22/page/5/article/county-board-oks-building-bomb-shelter" target="_blank">The Chicago Tribune reported Gilhooly planned to spend $3,500 on her subterranean shelter &mdash; almost $28,000 in today&rsquo;s dollars. But, the secretary and mother of three told the newspaper it was worth it</a>:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;Asked if she expected to be the subject of joshing by her neighbors, she said: &#39;I don&#39;t care. A lot of them could look foolish because they didn&#39;t think along the same lines we do.&rdquo; Asked if he planned to build a family shelter, [Mayor Richard J.] Daley replied, &ldquo;After the matter is thoroly [sic] gone over, we will take the necessary steps to protect our family.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>The structure got in the way of property modifications next door, and the shelter was imploded. Today Jim Schaller owns the Bridgeport home, as well as the remains of the bomb shelter.</p><p>&ldquo;It had trundle beds on the wall. It had five gallon glass containers of water. There was a crank to crank air in, air shafts that were sticking out the property next door,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;They locked a heavy door, metal door locked on both sides.&rdquo;</p><p>Schaller says he threw out the old supplies. Now he does his laundry by the patched-over drywall that was once home to the shelter&rsquo;s steel vault door. He and his wife never thought to save the shelter, even though they&rsquo;re old enough to remember those anxious days when Cold War missiles were ready to fly.</p><p>&ldquo;It was a novelty is all it was &mdash; a place to put junk,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Another closet.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">What&rsquo;s the use?</span></p><p>In spite of the nation&rsquo;s Cold War preoccupation with preparing for a nuclear attack, many people at the time doubted the shelters&rsquo; effectiveness. They also wondered whether there was any use in preparing for fallout when a blast itself would likely wipe out most Chicagoans before they had a chance to hunker down.</p><p>&ldquo;No other nation, even Russia, is so perturbed about shelters. Could it be that it is propaganda to distract our attention from more immediate problems?&rdquo; <a href="http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1961/10/23/page/18/article/bomb-shelter-hysteria" target="_blank">asked &ldquo;E.H.&rdquo; in a 1961 letter to the Tribune</a>. &ldquo;Let us by all means make our homes as safe as possible, but let us not allow &quot;fallout&quot; to become an obsession with us.&rdquo;</p><p>That helps explain why only a minority of Americans built their own shelter. Add that to the fact that an effective shelter could cost about $2,500 (about half of the median family income in 1961), and you have an explanation for why the nation&rsquo;s brief obsession with bomb-proof shelters translated into relatively few structures.</p><p>&ldquo;For a very brief time there was this frenzy of private shelter building. But even the frenzy was only a small number of people. It never really caught on,&rdquo; says Stephen Schwartz, editor of the<em> <a href="http://cns.miis.edu/npr/index.htm" target="_blank">Nonproliferation Review</a> </em>and adjunct professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. &ldquo;I think people just sort of resigned themselves to the fact that if this did happen this was all going to be over pretty quickly. It didn&#39;t matter if you were above ground or below &mdash; you were toast.&rdquo;</p><p>That blend of skepticism and fatalism even spread among public officials.</p><p>&ldquo;Someone asked Chicago&#39;s chief Civil Defense administrator what they should do,&rdquo; says Kenneth Rose. &ldquo;And he said, and I quote, &lsquo;Take cover and pray.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Bernard Kelly, who was the Civil Defense Director of suburban Oak Forest during the early and mid-sixties, says he never thought fallout shelters were an effective response. But the exercises of stocking them and practicing drills proved useful when they needed to deploy responses to natural disasters. And, he says, it was reassuring.</p><p>&quot;There was a general Cold War threat that hung over the nation,&rdquo; he says. &quot;And the alternative was to do nothing. It&#39;s not human nature to do nothing.&quot;</p><p>After President Kennedy called for millions of dollars to stock fallout shelters around the country in 1961, Chicago aldermen and <a href="http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1961/08/22/page/5/article/county-board-oks-building-bomb-shelter" target="_blank">Cook County commissioners</a> decided to <a href="http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1961/08/19/page/9/article/bomb-shelter-rules-set-by-city-council" target="_blank">allow Chicagoans to build their own shelters</a>, in case the public network wasn&rsquo;t enough. A reporter for the <em>Christian Science Monitor </em>was at that meeting:</p><blockquote><p>When aldermen were not harassing the discussion they clipped fingernails are gone towards the ceiling for for the most for the most part paying little attention to the government shelter documents handed them at the beginning of the meeting. Few of them asked to vote for the significant ordinance had ever seen the pertinence data previously. Further indication of the perfunctory action apparently expected of the meeting.</p></blockquote><p>So even at the time, the urgency of the threat varied wildly, depending on who you asked.</p><p>&ldquo;Chicago certainly certainly wasn&#39;t unique here,&rdquo; says Rose. &ldquo;American cities simply were not prepared for a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. And we can all thank our lucky stars that this war didn&#39;t happen.&rdquo;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>(See also: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/what-happened-nike-missile-sites-around-chicago-105087" target="_blank">How Cold War anti-aircraft missiles were stationed across Chicago</a>)&nbsp;</em></p><p>What about today? The U.S.S.R. is no more, and there are far fewer nuclear warheads around now than during the Cold War. But nuclear war is still a possibility. Should we be stocking up and seeking shelter?</p><p>&ldquo;In my opinion,&rdquo; says Rose, &ldquo;living in fear of nuclear war is no way to live a life. And you know there&#39;s plenty of survivalists out there who have spent a lot of money preparing for this ghastly possibility. But as far as I&#39;m concerned that&rsquo;s wasted money, and a wasted way to live your life.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s easy to see fallout shelters as an historical oddity, and even to laugh at people like Bernice Gilhooly, who spent thousands of dollars preparing for a bomb that never dropped. Today we have our own national anxieties &mdash;&nbsp;about airport security, surveillance, terrorism&nbsp;&mdash; with public programs and private responses just as controversial as was a lot of Cold War culture. Someone born today might look back on one of our <a href="http://www.dhs.gov/see-something-say-something" target="_blank">&ldquo;if you see something, say something&rdquo; signs</a> with the same curiosity that drew questioner Kyle Bolyard to that rusty placard announcing a fallout shelter on his drive to work.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Meet our questioner: Kyle Bolyard</span></p><p><img alt="" src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/nuclearshelters/kyleBolyardForWeb.jpg" style="width: 330px; height: 248px; margin: 5px; float: right;" title="Kyle Bolyard at Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House in Plano, Illinois. (Courtesy of Amanda Snyder)" />Kyle and his wife Amanda Snyder both teach at NewHope Academy in Niles. They say they first wondered about fallout shelters in the Chicago area when Kyle teamed up with a literature teacher at NewHope for a humanities class that included a unit on the Cold War. He was hoping to show the class a fallout shelter for a field trip.</p><p>&ldquo;I had them design their own fallout shelter,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Somebody had this huge stack of all the board games they would want to play for weeks &mdash; those kinds of things. A lot of people forgot basic stuff like food and water. But they had games covered.&rdquo;</p><p>Growing up in Edwardsville, Illinois, outside St. Louis, Kyle knew about Nike Missile sites nearby, and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/what-happened-nike-missile-sites-around-chicago-105087" target="_blank">our story about similar sites in Chicago</a> got him wondering about other Cold War infrastructure that might still have echoes today.</p><p>Now that he&rsquo;s seen some old fallout shelters in person, he&rsquo;s satisfied; yes, he expected many bare concrete walls to be left behind, but he was still a little surprised.</p><p>&ldquo;I wondered if they would still be any supplies left around. It&#39;s interesting to hear that those are all removed at a certain point and these are kind of now being used for different things. I guess I didn&#39;t expect to see them as weight rooms now,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Space is so valuable, especially in Chicago, that you would take any available space like that and do something with it.&rdquo;</p><p>As for his own thoughts on what to have in a personal fallout shelter, Kyle boils it down to this: &ldquo;I think it all depends on who you have down there with you.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a href="http://cabentley.com/" target="_blank">Chris Bentley is a freelance journalist</a> who reports regularly for WBEZ&rsquo;s Curious City. Follow him at <a href="http://cabentley.com/" target="_blank">cabentley.com</a> and on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/cementley" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Wed, 19 Aug 2015 18:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/are-there-fallout-shelters-left-chicago-112688 Black business' slow flight from Bronzeville http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/black-business-slow-flight-bronzeville-112524 <p><p>Bronzeville played a huge part in African-American history. When the Great Migration began a century ago, black Southerners flocked to the South Side neighborhood, which stretched between State Street and the lake, from 22nd Street to 63rd Street.</p><p>These migrants transformed the area into a black population center and a nexus of black culture. On the business side, a mass of black consumers supported black-owned restaurants, shops and other enterprises.</p><p>It&rsquo;s this commercial &nbsp;history that attracted the attention of Clare Butterfield, who lives on the north end of the neighborhood and sent along this question:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>I wondered where those shops went. &hellip; There&rsquo;s just not a lot of businesses there. And they&rsquo;re not black-owned for the most part. So that was question: Where did they go? What happened to them?</em></p><p>We found several reasons behind the dispersal of Bronzeville&rsquo;s black commercial might, from demographics to a changing business climate. But Clare herself touched on a possible explanation, too, one that&rsquo;s both common and controversial: Perhaps legalized segregation had an upside for black Chicagoans otherwise hurt by discrimination and, when that segregation ended, the business climate took a hit.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Business in the heart of Bronzeville</span></p><p>The neighborhood&rsquo;s status as a vibrant commercial center is undeniable, according to <a href="http://www.thehistorymakers.com/sites/production/files/styles/bio_photo/public/Reed_Christopher_wm.png" target="_blank">Christopher Robert Reed</a>, an emeritus professor of history at Roosevelt University and one of <em>the</em>&nbsp;go-to scholars on black Chicago. (He also grew up in Bronzeville, his father owning a three-chair barber shop in the neighborhood until a fire destroyed it in the 1970s).</p><p>&ldquo;The State Street corridor was a commercial center for black Chicago,&rdquo; Reed says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s been likened to a black Wall Street.&rdquo;</p><p>This activity happened in the context of persistent racial segregation in Chicago. The primary instruments that kept blacks in Bronzeville and the rest of Chicago&rsquo;s &ldquo;Black Belt&rdquo; were restrictive covenants, private legal agreements that barred whites from selling their homes to blacks. Until the covenants were ruled unconstitutional in 1948, discrimination crowded black families of all economic stripes into too few residential units. This created a critical density of black consumers and, the theory goes, one that kept black-owned businesses viable.</p><p>But there&rsquo;s danger in presenting life or business in Bronzeville as a happy Jim Crow fest: Segregation did breed business ingenuity, but it also bred discriminatory practices. That led to some surprises in the neighborhood&rsquo;s composition. For one, Chicago&rsquo;s whites kept blacks out of white neighborhoods, but that didn&rsquo;t stop whites from operating their own businesses within Bronzeville. <a>In</a>&nbsp;the seminal book <em><a href="http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/B/bo3638645.html" target="_blank">Black Metropolis: </a><a href="http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/B/bo3638645.html">A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City</a></em>&nbsp;authors St. Clair Drake and Horace Cayton found that, in 1938, Bronzeville blacks owned and operated 2,600 businesses while whites had 2,800.</p><p>And, there&rsquo;s more. The area&rsquo;s black businesses were smaller and older than their white counterparts, and they only received less than a tenth of all the money spent by black consumers within the area.</p><p>Business cycles, too, were unkind. Reed says from the 1920s on, blacks did own businesses on 35th Street, but these operations &ldquo;were hurt tremendously by the Great Depression that started in 1930.&rdquo;</p><p>Even after the worst of the Depression passed, segregation had put the black business community on unsure footing, as black owners couldn&rsquo;t compete with whites when it came to securing capital. Steven Rogers, who teaches black entrepreneurship at Harvard University, says there&rsquo;s always been a dearth of support by mainstream financial institutions.</p><p>&ldquo;In the 1940s when we saw blacks in the business world, the only support that black-owned businesses had was through guerrilla financing, that&rsquo;s self-financing, or family,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;We didn&rsquo;t see that institutional support that we saw with white-owned companies. And the reality is when that happens, when that&rsquo;s in existence, you won&rsquo;t see the prosperous businesses as we see in the white communities.&rdquo;</p><p>And that left black businesses of the past last century much more vulnerable.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Spread far and wide</span></p><p>There are no data that show clear pre- and post-1948 numbers of black-owned businesses, but it&rsquo;s clear that blacks began to disperse in the 1950s because of the lifting of covenants. At the same time &ldquo;urban renewal&rdquo; (often derided as &ldquo;Negro removal&rdquo;) was underway.</p><p>&ldquo;The expansion of Lake Meadows, Prairie Shores, Michael Reese Hospital, Mercy Hospital and the Illinois Institute of Technology led to the displacement of thousands of black families from State Street east over to the Lake from 26th Street south to about 35th,&rdquo; says Reed. &ldquo;This was a devastating blow to black demographic unity and it affected businesses operations adversely on 35th Street.&rdquo;</p><p>The bottom line, Reed says, is that &ldquo;the customers had moved away.&rdquo;</p><p>The erosion of a concentrated customer base plays into changes that took place in Scott&rsquo;s Blue <a>Book</a>, a black business directory that contained an array of listings &mdash; everything from sausage-makers to dentists. As desegregation continued, the tone of the books shifted from unabashedly pro-black to more race-neutral in the 1960s.<a name="presentation"></a></p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://wbez.is/1LRR1t5" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Blue%20Book%20Comparison%20presentation%20THUMB.png" style="width: 100%;" title="" /></a></div><p>And there was another transformation, one that gets to Clare&rsquo;s observation about Bronzeville&rsquo;s present-day businesses not being black-owned.</p><p>&ldquo;What happened to the businesses happened to a lot of businesses in America, once the economy was transformed by the global economy&rsquo;s dominance,&rdquo; Reed says.</p><p>35th Street faced competitive trends similar to those faced by other commercial strips in Chicago, to the point where, today, 35th Street includes multinational companies: McDonald&rsquo;s, Chase Bank, Subway and Popeye&rsquo;s, to name a few. (<a href="http://popeyes.com/franchise/international/areas-available.php" target="_blank">Yes, Popeye&rsquo;s is international!</a>)</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Survivors of segregation and then integration, too</span></p><p>The Depression, a global economy and urban renewal played their roles in undercutting or dispersing Bronzeville&rsquo;s black-owned businesses. As we&rsquo;re answering Clare&rsquo;s question about what happened to them, it&rsquo;s fair to point a brighter side: Some of these businesses stayed put.</p><p>Among the survivors are black-owned Seaway Bank and <a href="http://www.isfbank.com/">Illinois Service Federal</a>, a savings and loan that&rsquo;s been around since 1934. The latter issued home loans when commercial banks shunned black customers.</p><p>Illinois Service Federal chairman Norman Williams also happens to be president of <a href="http://www.unityfuneralparlors.com/" target="_blank">Unity Funeral Parlors</a>, a black-owned South Side business that started in 1937.</p><p>&ldquo;My father came to Chicago as an insurance executive,&rdquo; Williams says. &ldquo;This was an entrepreneurial idea that came to him that he hoped his family would be able to continue.&rdquo;</p><p>Williams&rsquo; father turned out to be right. For decades, few white funeral homes served blacks, and many of the funeral homes survived a more integrated era.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Continuing legacy</span></p><p>Black businesses are no longer clustered in an area like the Black Belt, but that doesn&rsquo;t mean they don&rsquo;t exist. The basic pattern was that black businesses moved into the neighborhoods that black people moved into.</p><p>&ldquo;Black Chicago has always been recognized as the crown jewel of black-owned businesses throughout the country,&rdquo; says Harvard&rsquo;s Steven Rogers. &ldquo;The black business community in Chicago is responsible for some historic events in our country.&rdquo;</p><p>Historic events like &hellip; helping finance the elections of the city&rsquo;s first black mayor and the country&rsquo;s first black president.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">More about our questioner</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/preferredheadshot3.png" style="float: right; height: 322px; width: 290px; margin: 5px;" title="(Photo courtesy of Clare Butterfield)" />Clare Butterfield grew up in Central Illinois but has been in Chicago for 30 years, having lived on the North, West and South sides.</p><p>She&rsquo;s called Bronzeville home for the past 10 years, and, following our reporting, appreciates a reminder that urban renewal programs deeply affected her neighborhood.</p><p>&ldquo;I&#39;ve seen the memorial marker on State Street north of 35th that mentions that IIT displaced a row of black businesses there,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;Some of the businesses got swept out along with the housing, and that should have been more obvious to me.&rdquo;</p><p>Clare is just one of many questioners who&rsquo;ve asked about some of the least comfortable parts of Chicago history.</p><p>&ldquo;It&#39;s hard for white people to ask these questions,&rdquo; she says, &ldquo;partly because we don&#39;t want to be interpreted as critical, when we mean to be sympathetic (however imperfectly), and partly because we&#39;re probably not going to like what we learn: more examples of injustice and the use of power by people like us, first to force people into a neighborhood and then to force them out of it.&rdquo;</p><p>The only way out, she says, is affirm that these things happened and, when we can, show, too, how &ldquo;some entrepreneurs persisted and thrived in spite of everything they had to navigate.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a>.&nbsp;Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 30 Jul 2015 15:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/black-business-slow-flight-bronzeville-112524 Were Chicago's public schools ever good? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/were-chicagos-public-schools-ever-good-112025 <p><p>Our questioner Julie had completely forgotten she asked this when we reached out to her. She lives in Chicago&rsquo;s North Center neighborhood and didn&rsquo;t want to say much more about herself. But here&rsquo;s what she wanted to know:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>There is reporting about how Chicago Public Schools is slowly getting better. Was there ever a time when they were <strong>good</strong>?</em></p><p>As an education reporter, I&rsquo;ve heard many versions of this question during <a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/bvevea" target="_blank">my time covering Chicago Public Schools</a>, and that&rsquo;s partly why I wanted to take a stab at answering it. But I also wanted to tackle this question because it asks us to think about our relationship with the public schools and what we expect them to do.</p><p>Measuring a school or school district&rsquo;s success or failure is no easy feat, and it&rsquo;s even harder to measure over time because the standards and metrics have changed significantly. <a href="https://ccsr.uchicago.edu/sites/default/files/publications/Trends_CPS_Full_Report.pdf" target="_blank">A recent study from the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research</a> stated that &ldquo;discrepancies are due to myriad issues with publicly reported data &mdash; including changes in test content and scoring &mdash; that make year-over-year comparisons nearly impossible without complex statistical analyses.&rdquo;</p><p>Because the definition of &ldquo;good&rdquo; is subjective,<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/good-school-bad-school-how-should-we-measure-111736" target="_blank"> we solicited your help</a> in defining how to use it while reporting this story. Some of you suggested using standardized test scores, which go back decades. (Schools haven&rsquo;t used the same test over time, making comparisons difficult.) Others suggested we consider grades or safety.</p><p>Ultimately, we decided to look at when CPS did a good job preparing students for successful careers; that is: When did the district best prepare people to be productive, taxpaying citizens? Career readiness is a consistent expectation, and it&rsquo;s possible to compare one era to another.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The 1940s, a Golden Era?</span></p><p>Based on this measurement and what historians and other experts suggested, the 1940s would seem the best contender for the district&rsquo;s golden era of public education. Schools provided valuable workforce training that was needed in the local industries, like steel and iron work, retail and office or clerical jobs.</p><p>The 1940s saw the culmination of a series of unprecedented investments in public education, mostly from the federal government. The Smith-Hughes Act of 1917 funneled millions of dollars into vocational training. Chicago schools set up programs in accounting, drafting, welding, and even &ldquo;household arts.&rdquo;</p><p>After a lag during the Great Depression, the war effort and New Deal programs brought even more vocational programs. One example: In 1939, the city built <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-05/school-architecture-look-sprawling-chicago-vocational-99372">Chicago Vocational High School</a>, and quickly turned it over to the U.S. Navy to train young men in aviation mechanics. (By the late 1940s, control of the school returned to the Chicago Board of Education.)</p><div class="image-insert-image ">Another example to point to: More than a dozen local unions collaborated with and supported the programs at Washburne Trade School to train future electricians and carpenters.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><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/lane tech automobile dept.JPG" style="height: 389px; width: 620px;" title="New Deal programs of the 1940s brought more vocational programs to public education, like this automobile shop class at Albert Grannis Lane Manual Training High School, now named Lane Technical College Prep High School in Chicago's North Center Neighborhood. (Courtesy Chuckman's nostalgia and memorabilia website) " /></div></div><p>But Dionne Danns, an education historian at Indiana University, provides a fast reality check when it comes to assessing the era. She points out that, at the turn of the century, and into the 1940s, people did not even need a high school diploma. In fact, most people weren&rsquo;t even finishing elementary school.</p><p>&ldquo;You didn&rsquo;t have to go to school for a job,&rdquo; Danns says. &ldquo;You went to school because they wanted you to go. They were opening more schools because they wanted immigrants to go to school and learn what it meant to be American.&rdquo;</p><p>And more importantly, Danns says, the 1940s can&rsquo;t count as a golden era of public schooling because schools were not providing education to all children; African Americans, Latinos and other minority groups did not have access to the same public schools as whites.</p><p>Women were just beginning to gain access to colleges and careers. Many attended the Lucy Flower Vocational School, which offered a home economics program and some two-year programs in sewing, dressmaking and millinery (hat-making).</p><p>A <a href="http://ecommons.luc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1770&amp;context=luc_diss">study</a> out of Loyola University pegged Chicago Vocational High School enrollment in 1946 at 2,721 students. Just 204 were girls. Another all-girls school opened that year. Richards Vocational High School had an enrollment of 230 women and offered curriculum in home arts, dressmaking, beauty culture, and bookkeeping among other things.</p><p>&ldquo;We can&rsquo;t underestimate the role schools played in maintaining inequalities in society,&rdquo; Danns says.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1964%20map.jpg" style="float: right; height: 502px; width: 350px;" title="Locations of integrated and segregated elementary schools in Chicago, 1964. (Source: Board of Education)" /><span style="font-size:22px;">Better schools, more students</span></p><p>What about looking for the CPS golden era of career readiness just a bit later, perhaps sometime in the &lsquo;50s or &lsquo;60s? It&rsquo;s tempting, because the inequalities we saw in the 1940s were challenged in 1954, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that segregated schools are &ldquo;inherently unequal&rdquo; and therefore, unconstitutional.</p><p>By the 1960s, African Americans were enrolling in public schools that had been historically all white. And for a while, schools were integrating.</p><p>In 1964 Paul Goren (today, the Superintendent of District 65 in Evanston) was in kindergarten in the city&rsquo;s Avalon Park neighborhood. Hanging on his office wall are three class photos: one each from 1964, 1967 and 1968. In the 1964 photo, half of the smiling children are white, the other half are African American. The 1968 picture, though, shows just three white students.</p><p>Goren says that in his class of about thirty or so, those last three white children were the last three white children left in the entire school.</p><p>&ldquo;What I remember very distinctly, and again, it&rsquo;s characterized in the pictures up above, was arguments kids were making saying, &lsquo;We&rsquo;re moving!&rsquo; &lsquo;Oh, why are you moving?&rsquo; And the answer was because the schools are not good,&rdquo; Goren recalls. &ldquo;That sort of confused me, because the schools didn&rsquo;t seem to be any different than they were when they were frankly, all white.&rdquo;</p><p>That same year, an advisory panel on integration warned the Chicago Board of Education that whites were fleeing the district in mass numbers.</p><p>The board dragged its feet and did little to prevent white flight during the 1960s, but by 1970 the board started systematic attempts to integrate the schools.</p><p>It created the first generation of magnet schools, many of which are still successful today: Whitney Young, Disney, and Inter-American, among others. They were endowed with special programs and extra resources that would attract white students and African Americans. Students applied from all over the city and their names were essentially, picked out of a hat.</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/metro%20high%20school%20yearbook%201978.PNG" style="height: 457px; width: 620px;" title="Metro High School's curriculum was built on the idea of the city being a classroom, and held classes at places like the Shedd Aquarium and Second City. (Source: Metro High School yearbook, 1978)" /></div><p>Goren went to one such school, called Metro High (or, Chicago Public High School for Metropolitan Studies). Not only was it an experiment in diversity, the school had a <a href="http://www.metrohschicago.com/bonus/Cycle3catalog1973.pdf">unique curriculum</a>. Goren took classes across the city: marine biology at Shedd Aquarium, animal behavior at Lincoln Park Zoo, and public speaking at Second City.</p><p>&ldquo;For me the golden era was my time at Metro High School,&rdquo; Goren says. The school closed in 1991.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/goren.PNG" style="height: 235px; width: 275px; float: right;" title="Paul Goren, right, at Metro High School in 1975. " /></p><p>Goren says many of the kids who attended Metro and other magnet schools were propelled into good careers in law and medicine. He has several friends who are now teachers in the area, as well.</p><p>But a lot of Chicago kids weren&rsquo;t that lucky. Magnet schools became isolated islands of success, but if you didn&rsquo;t get into one, public education was a mixed bag. &nbsp;</p><p>Among other problems, inequalities persisted. Danns says when schools started to integrate, local trade unions pulled support from Washburne Trade School. An <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1986-11-27/news/8603290329_1_apprenticeship-public-schools-board">article</a> from the Chicago Tribune in 1986, mentioned that in 1963 fewer than 2 percent of apprentices at Washburne were black.</p><p>In other words, even with years of effort on the part of the district, a career-ready curriculum remained out of reach for large swaths of CPS students.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">&#39;Worst in the nation&#39;</span></p><p>There are few reasons to argue that CPS was at its best in the &lsquo;80s, because (among other reasons), CPS ran into financial troubles throughout the decade. Also, between 1979 to 1987, Chicago teachers went on strike nine times. Districts started measuring achievement and looking at dropout rates, and in Chicago, things did not look great.</p><p>In 1987, then-U.S. Secretary of Education William Bennett famously characterized Chicago schools as &ldquo;the worst&rdquo; in the nation. More than half of all students were dropping out of high school at the same time the value of a high school degree was increasing. Factory jobs had all but disappeared and the country was still recovering from the 1982 recession.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/VC8dPdPo9Tg?rel=0&amp;controls=0&amp;showinfo=0" width="620"></iframe></p><p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:10px;">Above: A short video recollection from a CPS teacher about the 1980s strike. (YouTube/Chicago Teachers Union)</span></span></p><p>Susan Lofton was a teacher in the early 1990s and vividly remembers being locked out because CPS couldn&rsquo;t make payroll.</p><p>&ldquo;All of a sudden was told don&rsquo;t go to work on Monday,&rdquo; Lofton says. &ldquo;I remember going to an unemployment office where there was literally a roped off area for teachers to go be processed.&rdquo;</p><p>In 1988, the Illinois General Assembly passed the first Chicago School Reform Act, creating local school councils at each individual school. Many schools improved under this model, but others did not.</p><p>In 1995, the state gave total control of CPS to mayor Richard M. Daley. This started the last era we&rsquo;re going to consider. &nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">More success than we realize</span></p><p>I&rsquo;m going to suggest something that might surprise you. Maybe, just maybe, we&rsquo;re living in CPS&rsquo; golden era right now.</p><p>There&rsquo;s a growing body of evidence that Chicago&rsquo;s schools are improving quickly and &mdash; for certain populations of students &mdash; doing better than other districts. <em>U.S. News and World Report</em> just released its annual rankings of the nation&rsquo;s best high schools: <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/mayor/press_room/press_releases/2015/may/six-chicago-public-high-schools-among-top-ten-in-the-state--u-s-.html">Six of the top 10 in Illinois are in CPS and another three in the top 20.</a></p><p>&ldquo;When the state&rsquo;s not doing well or not making great progress, there&rsquo;s always some number of people who say, &lsquo;Well maybe that&rsquo;s just because Chicago&rsquo;s not doing well. Maybe they&rsquo;re just dragging down the rest of the state,&rsquo;&rdquo; says Robin Steans, executive director of <a href="http://www.advanceillinois.org/">Advance Illinois, a bipartisan group focused on improving the state&rsquo;s education policy</a>. &ldquo;What we found is that&rsquo;s not true. Chicago has made steady gains both academically and in terms of some critical outcomes, like graduation.&rdquo;</p><p>Steans&rsquo; group looked at scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, from 2003 to 2013 and found Chicago students grew 11 points on the 8th grade math test and 7 points on the 4th grade reading test. The state grew just 7 points and 3 points, respectively.</p><p>Advance Illinois also compiled state graduation data from 2014 to compare Chicago with other districts for certain subgroups of students. They found that Latino students enrolled in CPS are more likely to graduate high school than their counterparts in many suburban districts, including Maine Township High Schools and Evanston Township High School.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s so counterintuitive to what they think they know about Chicago that they just disregard it,&rdquo; Steans says of the data. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s been so much noise, with the teachers strike and the school closings. The political heat and noise tends to crowd out what&rsquo;s actually beneath and behind that.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://urbanedleadership.org/about-us/people/paul-zavitkovsky/" target="_blank">Paul Zavitkovsky</a>, a&nbsp;leadership coach and assessment specialist&nbsp;at the Urban Education Leadership Program at the University of Illinois - Chicago, may be able to help. In a forthcoming study, Zavitkovsky&rsquo;s findings mirror what Advance Illinois found.</p><p>&ldquo;On an apples-for-apples basis, if you compare yourself with your counterparts based on race and socioeconomic status in other parts of the state, you have a higher probability of having a better educational experience in Chicago,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>But Zavitkovsky goes further. He shared a preliminary version of the report with WBEZ that showed students in the 75th percentile for 4th grade math achievement grew 20 points between 2003 and 2013. The performance of that subgroup in the rest of the state grew only 3 points in the same amount of time.</p><p>However, he&rsquo;s not convinced CPS is in a &ldquo;golden era&rdquo; because of all this data. From Zavitkovsky&rsquo;s vantage, the real win is that we have more information than we&rsquo;ve ever had before,and that can better inform the national conversation about public schools.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re better positioned now than we&rsquo;ve ever been to know what we have to do in order to be able to get that kind of stuff into the hands and into the heads of more than just a small percentage of kids, coming primarily from the most privileged families in America,&rdquo; Zavitowsky says.</p><p>There&rsquo;s no easy way to measure job readiness and whether these improvements translate into more successful alumni. Short of picking up the phone and calling all the former students, CPS does not follow students into employment.</p><p>The closest indicator available is college persistence, and CPS also made gains in it during the last decade. A <a href="https://ccsr.uchicago.edu/publications/educational-attainment-chicago-public-schools-students-focus-four-year-college-degrees">report from the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research</a> found that between 2006 and 2014, the percentage of CPS students earning a bachelor&rsquo;s degree within 6 years of high school graduation jumped from 8 percent to 14 percent. The national rate is 18 percent.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Greater Expectations</span></p><p>I&rsquo;ve been reporting on CPS for more than four years and I&rsquo;ve covered a lot of the noise and dysfunction Steans mentioned. But I&rsquo;ve also reported on schools that are trying everything to improve.</p><p>They include schools like Senn High School in Edgewater. Susan Lofton, the teacher who remembers being in the unemployment line back in the 1990s, is now the principal at Senn. When she took over in 2010, the school had a bad name.</p><p>&ldquo;A-B-S,&rdquo; Lofton says, &ldquo;Anywhere But Senn.&rdquo;</p><p>Lofton created the Senn Arts magnet program and expanded the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/eight-forty-eight/2012-04-25/chicagos-middle-class-not-interested-hidden-gem-high-schools-98519">rigorous International Baccalaureate program</a>, which had long been a hidden gem.</p><p>She also recruited drama teacher Joel Ewing away from Walter Payton College Prep, a prestigious selective enrollment school.</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/ewing.png" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Joel Ewing teaches a drama class at Senn High School. Previously a teacher at Walter Payton College Prep, Ewing says he accepted the position at Senn because he saw a void that needed to be filled. (WBEZ/Jesse Dukes)" /></div><p>&ldquo;When I took the job at Senn Arts, I got crooked heads,&rdquo; Ewing says. &ldquo;&lsquo;Why would you leave Walter Payton? That&#39;s clearly one of the best schools, in the city, state.&rsquo; ... I thought there was a void that needed to be filled. Payton is going to be alright.&rdquo;</p><p>Senn chose to become a little like a magnet school but still focus on neighborhood students &mdash; a strategy that lots of CPS schools are trying. But Lofton says the biggest hurdle to changing Senn&rsquo;s reputation has nothing to do with academics.</p><p>&ldquo;The first day I got here, I took the Red Line,&rdquo; Lofton recalls. &ldquo;I, myself, could barely get through the station to get myself to school. There were a lot of my kids there that were just loitering because, &lsquo;Hey! We don&rsquo;t go to school on time here.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Now, she and the other administrators start every morning at the Thorndale Red Line stop, shuffling students along and calling the cops on anyone else who, as she says, had no business being there.</p><p>Senn is not alone: Schools across the city worry about safety, sometimes even before academics. It&rsquo;s a big departure from past decades.Today, we expect schools to do more than we ever have. Making the local train stop safe? Since when is that in the job description of a principal or teacher? If Lofton and Senn staff want their students to be prepared for college and careers, they don&rsquo;t really have a choice not to.</p><p>The latest trends tempt me to say that the time we&rsquo;re looking for, when CPS schools were good ... is right now. The district&rsquo;s serving more students than ever and it&rsquo;s still making incremental progress, despite the noise and dysfunction that sometimes overshadow much of it. (As an education reporter, I know I share the blame for that.)</p><p>But I&#39;m not convinced this is the golden era; there&rsquo;s a lot of work to be done and that bad stuff I report on? It does really happen.</p><p>So, even if there was never a &ldquo;golden age&rdquo; and even if the idea itself is impossible, I think we have to keep asking questions, looking at what works and what doesn&rsquo;t and never stop highlighting those who are not being served.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is a producer and reporter for WBEZ. You can follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 13 May 2015 17:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/were-chicagos-public-schools-ever-good-112025 Uptown's moment as a 'Hillbilly Heaven' http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/uptowns-moment-hillbilly-heaven-111964 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/203187587&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Hillbilly Heaven. That was a common nickname for Chicago&rsquo;s Uptown neighborhood in the 1950s and 1960s. For about twenty years, the neighborhood, which sits between Lakeview and Rogers Park, was locally famous for being home to thousands of white Southern migrants, many of whom came from the Appalachian region. And while many migrants lived in other neighborhoods on the North Side, Uptown had the greatest concentration of Southerners and, not coincidentally, it was where the poorest members of that community lived.</p><p>The Southern influence stuck around through the &lsquo;70s, but by the &lsquo;90s, it was difficult to find many Southerners in Uptown. The history fascinated questioner Matthew Byrd, a college student originally from Chicago. Byrd is descended from Southern migrants (both of his mother&rsquo;s parents were born in West Virginia), and he grew up visiting his extended family in the South and asking his grandparents about Uptown in the &ldquo;Hillbilly Heaven&rdquo; days.</p><p>&ldquo;I always asked them why they came to Uptown &hellip; and they never gave me a definitive answer. I wanted to know why they all came to that neighborhood. &hellip; Like, why didn&rsquo;t they come to like Bridgeport or Humboldt Park. Why was it Uptown?&rdquo;</p><p>His question for Curious City:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Why did so many migrants from Appalachia end up in Chicago&#39;s Uptown neighborhood during the &#39;50s and &#39;60s? Why did so many leave?</em></p><p>With help from Byrd&rsquo;s own family, historians and others, we&rsquo;re able to provide a quick account of how the neighborhood transformed from a swank, Midwestern urban neighborhood to one where, according to sociologist Todd Gitlin: &ldquo;You&rsquo;d walk down the street [and] you&rsquo;d hear some country western song coming down the window, and as you proceeded down the street, you&rsquo;d hear the same song coming out of other windows. You heard a lot of Southern accents. You saw a lot of Southern license plates.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The Great (White) Migration</span></p><p>It doesn&rsquo;t take a great mental leap to grasp why so many white Southerners came to Chicago when they did. Like most migrant groups, they came because there were abundant jobs. While we might be more familiar with <a href="http://www.census.gov/dataviz/visualizations/020/">&ldquo;The Second Great Migration&rdquo;</a> (1940 - 1970) &nbsp;of African Americans from the South, to the North, Midwest, and West, more white migrants than black made the trek to the North after World War II.</p><p>Chad Berry, a historian at Berea College, takes up the phenomenon in <em>Southern Migrants, Northern Exiles</em>: &ldquo;Anyone familiar with the history of especially the Upland South will immediately ask not so much why southerners left their region in droves in the twentieth century, but why it took them so long to pack their bags. ...&rdquo; The Upland South, a region that includes most of Appalachia as well as places farther west such as Western Kentucky and Arkansas, had been in an economic slump since before the Civil War, and it offered few economies apart from subsistence farming and coal mining.</p><p>But before 1920, Southerners hoping to leave had few choices. Large Northern industries could largely satisfy their hunger for cheap labor by recruiting immigrants from other countries. Chicago&rsquo;s Polish, Irish, Italian, and many other European populations all have their roots in the late 19th century. But in the 1920s, the U.S., still reeling from World War I, clamped down on immigration with a series of federal laws that drastically restricted the immigrant labor pool. This meant big industry had to turn inward for cheap labor. Berry says &ldquo;They look in three places: whites, blacks, and domestic-born Latino people.&rdquo;</p><p style=" margin: 12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block;"><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="undefined" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_27083" scrolling="no" src="https://www.scribd.com/embeds/263449521/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style=" margin: 12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block;"><span style="font-size:10px;">Above: A 1967 pamphlet for The Chicago Southern Center, an organization that helped Southern migrants adjust to urban living. (Courtesy Chicago History Museum)</span></p><p>Southern whites and blacks began to come north, but just as the migration started, the Great Depression slowed down industry so much that jobs became scarce. The migration was put on hold until 1941. &ldquo;And then during and after World War II, there&rsquo;s an amazing demand for manufacturing,&rdquo; says Berry. &ldquo;Chicago was a real magnet for workers, just as Detroit, Indianapolis and Cleveland and other countless places were in the Midwest.&rdquo;</p><p>In the late 1940s (a bit earlier than Matthew Byrd had ventured), white Southerners began travelling north again, lured by stories of abundant jobs. Roger Guy, a sociologist who interviewed Southerners in Uptown during the 1990s says &ldquo;Migrants spoke about being able to leave a job, and being able to walk across the street and get another one.&rdquo;</p><p>Southerners worked in light industrial factories such as Polaroid and Zenith. Some performed more brutal and less lucrative day labor in the steel mills. Others found work in carpentry, or in the city&rsquo;s prominent candy industry, or even as handymen or shade tree mechanics.</p><p>The jobs brought changes to the traditional order of Southern life. First off, women often performed the same work that men did. And, the Southerners now worked in the same workplaces as African Americans, Latinos, and recent European immigrants. Southern migrants who hailed from the more isolated Appalachian region had never even met Catholics or Jews before coming North.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Uptown: A neighborhood ready for migrants</span></p><p>The new arrivals needed a place to arrive within the city &mdash; a neighborhood that was near industrial work but also offered affordable rents. They found Uptown. While we don&rsquo;t know which Southern migrant first settled there, or precisely when that happened, a series of events primed Uptown as a suitable port of entry.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/uptown%20in%20the%201920s.jpg" style="float: right; height: 296px; width: 320px;" title="Uptown's Chelsea Hotel, on the left, opened in 1923 and required its first residents to rent rooms on a monthly basis to ensure no 'transients' stayed in the building. (Photo courtesy jontrott.com) " /></p><p>According to Roger Guy, Uptown in the 1920s rivaled The Loop as the premier shopping and entertainment destination in Chicago. It was the heart of Chicago&rsquo;s silent film industry, and there were several monolithic brick residential hotels where professionals could stay for weeks, months or longer, depending on their busy and shifting schedules.Young single people could live in fancy Art-Deco apartments and enjoy an active nightlife. The Uptown Theater &mdash; &nbsp;at the time, Chicago&rsquo;s second-largest entertainment venue &mdash; showed movies and stage shows, and contained a nightclub and several shops. The &ldquo;Moorish&rdquo;-looking Aragon theater featured highbrow jazz music, while the Green Mill Gardens and the Arcadia Ballroom catered to younger, wilder patrons.</p><p>The depressed economy of the 1930s saw the neighborhood change significantly. The film industry went to Hollywood, the nightlife became seedier and many of the wealthier tenants left. To save money, landlords deferred maintenance, and to keep their units profitable, they began subdividing large luxury apartments into single- and double-room units to rent to a less wealthy clientele. Many residential hotel rooms were similarly converted to small studios. By the 1950s, Uptown was full of cheap, formerly fancy apartments.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">&lsquo;Hillbilly Heaven&rsquo;</span></p><p>As a port of entry, many Southerners came to Uptown because they knew somebody there, and knew they could find cheap rent. Those who could find good jobs often moved to other, quieter neighborhoods, but those who couldn&rsquo;t tended to stay in Uptown. That meant it became the locus of Southern white poverty in Chicago.</p><p>Many Southerners who lived there remember the neighborhood fondly. They enjoyed the opportunity to hear country music, or even familiar accents. But our questioner&rsquo;s grandmother, Linda Lambert, says her family was in for a shock when they arrived from West Virginia in 1965.</p><p>&ldquo;There were many Southern people,&rdquo; she says, &ldquo;but they weren&#39;t the Southern people we were used to being around. They were a little rough around the edges. If I was getting ready to go to the store, my dad would watch me walk down the block. Somebody would be whistling at me, and it was kind of upsetting.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="420" mozallowfullscreen="" scrolling="no" src="//slides.com/loganjaffe-1/deck-2/embed?token=y7n404tH" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="576"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:10px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Above: Photos of Appalachian migrants in Uptown taken by Bob Rehak, who documented the neighborhood throughout the 1970s. See his photo book: <a href="http://bobrehak.com/wordpress/uptown-portrait-of-a-chicago-neighborhood-in-the-mid-1970s-by-robert-rehak/" target="_blank"><em>Chicago&#39;s Uptown: 1973-77</em></a> for more.&nbsp;</span></span></p><p>Southerners developed a bad reputation among some Chicagoans. In the 1950s, The <em>Chicago Tribune</em> ran a series of articles about Southerners in Uptown, featuring reporter Norma Lee Browning. Although she developed a reputation as a tough investigative reporter, Browning&rsquo;s articles were loaded with stereotypes about rural Southerners. Here&rsquo;s an excerpt from the series&rsquo; first article, entitled &ldquo;<a href="http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1957/03/03/page/1/article/girl-reporter-visits-jungles-of-hillbillies" target="_blank">Girl Reporter Visits Jungles of Hillbillies</a>&rdquo;:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;Authorities are reluctant to point a finger at any one segment of the population or nationality group, but they agree that the southern hillbilly migrants, who have descended on Chicago like a plague of locusts in the last few years, have the lowest standard of living and moral code [if any] of all, the biggest capacity for liquor, and the most savage and vicious tactics when drunk, which is most of the time.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>Another article purported to document the newcomers&rsquo; family life: &ldquo;They get married one day, unmarried the next, and in the confusion of common law marriages many children never know who their parents are &mdash; and nobody cares.&rdquo;</p><p>Despite the apparent gross exaggerations and fabrications from the <em>Chicago Tribune</em>&rsquo;s reporting, it appears there <em>were</em> some unsavory characters in Uptown. Roger Guy explains Uptown had some of the characteristics of an oil boomtown, where young single men would work for a few weeks, and then use their wages to party.</p><p>Migrant Linda Lambert says, &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s like any other culture, you got your good and you got your bad. There was a lot of poverty. That is true. But a lot of people who lived there lived there until they could do better. It was just a stop in the road.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Displacement</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/uptown%20demolition%20area.jpg" style="height: 328px; width: 620px;" title="An evaluation of the condition of a block of housing in Uptown by the city's Department of Urban Renewal, 1967. (Flickr/Devin Hunter)" /></p><p>If some Uptown Southerners represented a rougher element, others just struggled to survive in a city that was not always hospitable. Virginia Bowers, a former resident who originally came from West Virginia, says that tenants in Uptown often had to deal with unscrupulous landlords. She had worked managing property. During interviews with Roger Guy she&rsquo;d said: &ldquo;I lost my first job as a manager in a building because I stuck up for a couple that had been bitten by a rat. The owner wanted me to lie about it. I told [the housing inspector] that I couldn&rsquo;t lie to him. I was a mother myself and I couldn&rsquo;t lie.&rdquo;</p><p>There were numerous reports of landlords cutting corners to save money. According to tenants and local activists, owners turned off the heat, electricity, or water in buildings. They deferred maintenance to save money, and harassed or evicted tenants who complained. Activists including scholar Todd Gitlin and Helen Shiller (who became the area&rsquo;s alderman in 1987) organized tenants to resist unsanitary conditions through rent strikes, public protest and other tactics. In some cases, they were able to bring about better housing conditions.</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/uptown%20apartment%20interior.jpg" style="height: 420px; width: 620px;" title="An Uptown apartment kitchen in 1967. (Flickr/Devin Hunter)" /></div><p>But even as Southerners in Uptown sought to improve housing conditions for the poor in Uptown, the city and developers had other plans. By the late 1960s, abundant jobs were scarce, and Uptown&rsquo;s reputation as a rough place with substandard housing grew worse. The city instituted a series of public works projects, including razing several square blocks to relocate Harry S. Truman City College. A group called the &ldquo;Uptown Area People&rsquo;s Planning Organization&rdquo; organized under the leadership of Chuck Geary. Geary was a migrant himself &mdash; a Korean War veteran, erstwhile hitchhiker, father of eight and a preacher. He worked with architect Rodney Wright to develop an alternative to the Truman College plan called <a href="http://www.thecyberhood.net/documents/papers/guy.pdf" target="_blank">Hank Williams Village</a>, named after the famous country singer. According to Roger Guy, the village would be a &ldquo;planned community with subsidized apartments, a pharmacy, and an employment agency.&rdquo; It was never built.</p><p>After the Truman College relocation effort won out, the area saw a series of developments. The city and developers argued urban renewal was necessary to replace substandard housing and rid Uptown of blight. Helen Shiller argues the poor in Uptown, who also included Native Americans, Japanese-American migrants, Latinos, and a handful of other groups, were seen as undesirable by the city and business community. &ldquo;The city&rsquo;s policy, in the North Side at least, was to create public works projects in specific communities where they wanted to remove people,&rdquo; she says.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/williams site from guy paper.PNG" style="float: right; height: 304px; width: 300px;" title="(Source: 'Hank Williams Village and the Legacy of Advocacy Planning' by Roger Guy)" />City officials and developers responded that they were not trying to remove anybody, but the neighborhood needed improvement, and if that meant some people were displaced, it was an unfortunate necessity.</p><p>Shiller argues that planning for Uptown could have been more inclusive, preserving housing for the poor, including white Southerners. But, she says, that didn&rsquo;t happen.</p><p>&ldquo;A handful of developers were redefining the community in real estate terms and claiming parts of it,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;They had deep pockets and built up large tracts of family housing, kicked people out wholesale, rehabbed the buildings, and tripled and even quadrupled the rent.&rdquo;</p><p>Whether or not the city and developers actively targeted poor white Southerners for removal, the evictions and rising rents seem to have driven thousands, if not tens of thousands out of Uptown, and likely out of Chicago. The way demographic data was collected makes it difficult to say, but Roger Guy feels that by the 1990s there were few signs left that Uptown had ever housed tens of thousands of Southerners. He says in 1994 and 1995, he volunteered to register voters.</p><p>&ldquo;I walked along those streets in the heart of Uptown and went in buildings knocking on doors,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t remember encountering a Southerner.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Into the fabric of Chicago</span></p><p>According to historian Chad Berry, many Southerners left Uptown on their own terms before urban renewal and gentrification ever took place. He says academics and journalists found they could document the once-high concentration of Southerners in Uptown, but it proved more difficult to document the lives of those who were successful and left the neighborhood.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Byrd%2011.jpeg" style="height: 356px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="Linda Hensley Lambert and Glen Lambert, our question-asker's grandparents, who moved to Ravenswood in 1978. (Photo courtesy the Lambert family)" />&ldquo;People who did find the economic dream they were looking for, might have moved on and, when they moved on, they might have bought a little brick tiny house in the suburbs,&rdquo; Berry says. &ldquo;And on one side was a Polish-American family, on the other side was a Lithuanian-American family, and right in the middle there was a Southern or Appalachian family.&rdquo;</p><p>Matthew Byrd&rsquo;s grandparents, Glen and Linda Lambert, are among the Southerners who did well for themselves. Glen landed a job at S&amp;C Electric on his first full day in Chicago in 1969 and the couple lived north of Uptown, in Rogers Park. He worked at the company forty-three years and that stable, well-paying job (along with supplemental work from Linda) allowed them to move to a shady street in nearby Ravenswood in 1978, raise kids, and eventually retire to Kentucky.</p><p>Byrd is proud his home city provided opportunity and a better life to his grandparents and other Southerners, as it has for migrants and immigrants from countless places. But he thinks it&rsquo;s important to remember the <em>full</em> history, and believes the Chicago let down the thousands of white Southerners who were pushed out of Uptown by eviction and rising rents.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s success and there&rsquo;s failure,&rdquo; Byrd says. &ldquo;I think the failure means the next time a large group of people from another part of the country or world that&rsquo;s kind of maligned comes here, just do better by them than we did people from Appalachia or people Poland, Africa, Vietnam. Do better by them.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/question%20asker_2.jpg" style="height: 291px; width: 400px; float: left;" title="Question-asker Matthew Byrd outside of the S&amp;C Electric Company, where his grandfather worked. (WBEZ/Jesse Dukes)" /><span style="font-size:22px;">About our questioner</span></p><p>Matthew Byrd has always been close to his grandparents, Glen and Linda Lambert. He grew up visiting extended family in West Virginia whenever possible, and pumping both of his grandparents for stories of what it was like coming to Chicago. He&rsquo;s a student at the University of Iowa, and already<a href="http://littlevillagemag.com/a-community-divided-racial-segregation-on-the-rise-in-iowa-city/"> working as a journalist</a> in Iowa City.</p><p>Byrd is well aware that he&rsquo;s probably in the last generation of his family to hear his grandparents&rsquo; stories of childhoods in West Virginia, or Chicago&rsquo;s &ldquo;Hillbilly Heaven&rdquo; of the 1960s.</p><p>&ldquo;My kids aren&rsquo;t going to have the same access to memories I had,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s no physical remnants. &hellip; There&rsquo;s very few. The story is going to die soon, and I just wish more people could know about it.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a name="reading"></a>Jesse Dukes is Curious City&rsquo;s audio producer. He doesn&rsquo;t tweet, but follow <a href="https://twitter.com/loganjaffe" target="_blank">@loganjaffe</a> (Curious City&rsquo;s multimedia producer) for occasional #IfJesseTweeted tweets.</em></p><hr /><p dir="ltr">Further reading on the topic of Appalachian migrants to Uptown:</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33518.Uptown_Poor_Whites_In_Chicago" target="_blank">Gitlin, Todd, and Nanci Hollander. <em>Uptown; Poor Whites in Chicago</em>. New York: Harper &amp; Row, 1970.</a></p><p><a href="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11036817-hillbilly-nationalists-urban-race-rebels-and-black-power?from_search=true&amp;search_version=service" target="_blank">Sonnie, Amy, and James Donald Tracy. <em>Hillbilly Nationalists Urban Race Rebels, and Black Power: The Rise of Community Organizing in America</em>. New York: Melville House, 2011..</a></p><p><a href="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6036088-from-diversity-to-unity?from_search=true&amp;search_version=service" target="_blank">Guy, Roger. <em>From Diversity to Unity: Southern and Appalachian Migrants in Uptown Chicago, 1950-1970</em>. Lanham, MD: Lexington, 2007.</a></p><p><a href="http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3522944-southern-migrants-northern-exiles" target="_blank">Berry, Chad.&nbsp;<em>Southern Migrants, Northern Exiles</em>. Urbana: U of Illinois, 2000.</a></p></p> Wed, 29 Apr 2015 16:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/uptowns-moment-hillbilly-heaven-111964 Three decades as a Chicago policewoman http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/three-decades-chicago-policewoman-111781 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/StoryCorps 150327 PatHayes bh.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>When <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2001-02-16/news/0102160213_1_policewoman-policewomen-chicago-police-force">Pat Hays started with the Chicago Police in the 1960s</a>, her uniform was a skirt with a box jacket and &ldquo;a ridiculous hat shaped like a sugar scoop. And it didn&rsquo;t matter how many bobby pins you used, that damned hat would lift up in the wind and go trailing down the street. So if you got a choice of losing your hat or losing your prisoner, the hats were $40 apiece and there weren&rsquo;t that many available. It was a one-of-a-kind deal. You couldn&rsquo;t even find a hat to replace the hat that belonged to you. So of course we held on to the hat. You could always get the prisoner later.&rdquo;</p><p>StoryCorps producer Maya Millett interviewed Hays at home and they talked about Hays&rsquo; three decades on the force. When she started, the belief that you were a policewoman because you serviced all of the bosses was common, Hays said.</p><p>Once, Hays was part of a new unit, and the man she was working with asked how she got the job. She didn&rsquo;t say anything and after about ten minutes he kept at it. He accused her of sleeping with one of the bosses. She kept quiet.</p><p>He kept pestering her and finally asked, &ldquo;Which one are you sleeping with?&rdquo;</p><p>Hays says he looked him right in the eye and said, &ldquo;<em>All</em> of them.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;And I won the pissing contest,&rdquo; Hays said. &ldquo;A lot of times it was just brains over brawn.&rdquo;</p><p>The job took a toll on Hays&rsquo; marriage. She says she wouldn&rsquo;t want her daughters to follow in her footsteps. &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t want them to put up with the things I did,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t want them to see the things that I saw.&rdquo;</p><p>In spite of the negatives, Hays said, &ldquo;It&rsquo;s kind of a calling. Nobody&rsquo;s gonna tell you you did a good job. Your sergeant&rsquo;s not going to tell you how great you are&hellip;but you have to be able to go home knowing that you did some good, you helped somebody along the way, or the person that you talked to today is in a better situation than when you dealt with her.&rdquo;</p><p>Hays says when she finally retired, it wasn&rsquo;t because she was tired of the job or that she was tired of talking to people.</p><p>&ldquo;It was because I couldn&rsquo;t stand all of the nonsense that the bosses were going through,&ldquo; she said, &ldquo;I still like solving people&rsquo;s problems. I would have done it forever. It was the paramilitary mindset that I had the most trouble with.&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 11:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/three-decades-chicago-policewoman-111781 Chicago's forgotten Civil War prison camp http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicagos-forgotten-civil-war-prison-camp-111688 <p><p>When Chris Rowland&rsquo;s co-worker told him that Chicago was once home to a Civil War prison camp, he almost didn&rsquo;t believe it. But a bit of Googling led Chris to a name, Camp Douglas, and a location, Chicago&rsquo;s Bronzeville neighborhood. It also led him to the camp&rsquo;s gloomy history, one that included dismal living conditions and a death toll that numbered in the thousands. Beyond that, though, Chris, a 36-year-old sales engineer at a South Side manufacturing company, found hardly any information about the camp. So he came to Curious City for help:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Why was there a prison camp in Chicago during the Civil War and why did so many people die there? What happened to it?</em></p><p>Camp Douglas was one of the largest POW camps for the Union Army, located in the heart of Bronzeville. More than 40,000 troops passed through the camp during its nearly four years in operation. What&rsquo;s more &mdash; and this is where it gets gloomier &mdash; it&rsquo;s been hyperbolically remembered by some historians as the &ldquo;deadliest prison in American history&rdquo; and &ldquo;eighty acres of hell.&rdquo; So the fact that Chris, despite his earnest attempt, didn&rsquo;t find much on Camp Douglas interested Curious City, too. How could one of the deadliest Civil War prison camps virtually disappear from our collective memory? Answering this part of Chris&rsquo;s question had us consider how a city acknowledges the darker parts of its past and the benefits, if any, of remembering them at all.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Why Chicago? </span></p><p>Located on the South Side of Chicago around 31st Street between Cottage Grove Avenue and present-day Martin Luther King Drive, Camp Douglas occupied roughly four square blocks &mdash; about 80 acres total &mdash; and operated from 1861 to 1865. Back then the area was the country, outside the city limits. Today, it&rsquo;s Bronzeville.</p><p>When it opened in 1861, Camp Douglas was a training and enlistment center for Union soldiers, a pit stop or starting point for soldiers headed to the battlefield. In other words, it had been improvised, and wasn&rsquo;t meant to hold prisoners or last more than a couple years. After all, no one thought the Civil War would go on as long as it did.</p><p>But then, in February 1862, Ulysses S. Grant captured roughly 5,000 Confederate soldiers in a victory at the Battle of Fort Donelson at the Tennessee-Kentucky border. With nowhere else for the captured troops to go, Camp Douglas became a Union Army prisoner-of-war camp, and it stayed one for the duration of the war.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">As it turns out, Chicago&rsquo;s role as a transportation hub made it an ideal location first for a training camp and, later, for a prison. Eight railroads crisscrossed the region in a spaghetti soup of tracks that allowed goods to move to and fro. Young men could travel from various parts of the state to enlist. From there, the Union Army would assemble regiments and brigades and ship soldiers by rail to the front lines.</div><p>What&rsquo;s more, the camp&rsquo;s location was directly off the Illinois Central Railroad. At the time, this was the longest railroad in the world, running from Cairo, Illinois, along the Ohio River, to Chicago. History buffs may recall that at the beginning of the war Cairo was General Grant&rsquo;s staging location for Union attacks on the Confederacy. Once he captured Confederate troops, they were only a steamboat and train ride away from Camp Douglas.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://a.tiles.mapbox.com/v4/curiouscity.l4pfhnm5/page.html?access_token=pk.eyJ1IjoiY3VyaW91c2NpdHkiLCJhIjoibGM3MUJZdyJ9.8oAw072QHl4POJ3fRQAItQ#13/41.8593/-87.6501" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/camp douglas map still.PNG" style="height: 291px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Camp Douglas sat on about 80 acres of land around what is now 31st Street between Cottage Grove Ave. and Martin Luther King Drive. Click for larger map." /></a>&ldquo;Camp Douglas was Chicago&rsquo;s principal connection to the Civil War,&rdquo; says Theodore Karamanski, a history professor at Loyola University in Chicago and the author of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Civil-War-Chicago-Eyewitness-History/dp/0821420844" target="_blank"><em>Civil War Chicago: Eyewitness to History</em></a>.</div></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: 24px;">&lsquo;Eighty acres of hell&rsquo;</span></p><p>Camp Douglas&rsquo; makeshift nature showed in its rickety wooden barracks and crude sewer system. Soon, though, the camp was taking on more and more prisoners and keeping them for longer and longer. But because neither side intended on taking large numbers of prisoners for extended periods of time, Camp Douglas &mdash; as well as most other Civil War prison camps &mdash; proved unprepared to handle them.</p><p>&ldquo;That is when all the prison camps got a lot nastier,&rdquo; Karamanski says.</p><p>The camp was meant for no more than 6,000 prisoners, and as its ranks grew to roughly 12,000 at its peak it became more dangerous than any battlefield. Overcrowding and poor sanitation spread diseases such as dysentery, smallpox, typhoid fever and tuberculosis. Illness became the camp&rsquo;s leading cause of death, claiming roughly 4,500 Confederate soldiers, or 17 percent of the total number of men imprisoned at the camp during its nearly four years in operation, according to Karamanski&rsquo;s estimate. In his book, Karamanski cites an 1862 report by the U.S. Sanitary Commission, wherein an agent admonished Camp Douglas for its &ldquo;foul stinks,&rdquo; &ldquo;unventilated and crowded barracks,&rdquo; and &ldquo;soil reeking of with miasmic accretions&rdquo; as &ldquo;enough to drive a sanitarian to despair.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="true" frameborder="0" height="377" mozallowfullscreen="true" src="https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1ihNZ1PKt3yGIsJVdIok4GmOU27ZyCU_-xa6bQ5Tgvc4/embed?start=false&amp;loop=false&amp;delayms=5000" webkitallowfullscreen="true" width="620"></iframe></p><p>Karamanski estimates that during the Civil War only one in three soldiers died on the battlefield. The rest died in prison camps or camps of their own army.</p><p>&ldquo;Disease was rampant in Camp Douglas and it was rampant in the Civil War. More people in the Civil War died of diseases than from bullets,&rdquo; says David Keller, the managing director of the <a href="http://www.campdouglas.org/" target="_blank">Camp Douglas Restoration Foundation</a> and the author of a forthcoming book about the history of the camp.</p><p>Still, Karamanski is quick to refute the claim that Camp Douglas was &ldquo;the deadliest prison camp in America,&rdquo; as some historians claim. &ldquo;Civil War prison camps were terrible,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;All of them were terrible.&rdquo;</p><p>While Camp Douglas may have claimed more Confederate lives than any other <em>Union</em> prison camp, it pales in comparison to Andersonville, a Confederate prison in Georgia that offered neither barracks nor fresh water to its Union prisoners. In all, 13,000 men, or 28 percent of the total prison population, perished there, Karamanski says.</p><p>Given these details, it&rsquo;s probably no surprise that escapes occurred regularly at the camp. Many escape attempts were made by digging tunnels into the soft, swampy ground, but most came from bribing the guards. It is estimated that roughly 500 prisoners escaped from Camp Douglas one way or another.</p><p>Again, security was lax because the camp had never been intended to hold prisoners. &ldquo;They barely had any kind of wall up,&rdquo; Karamanski says. &ldquo;Some of the prisoners would just wander off and say &lsquo;Hey, let&rsquo;s go get a drink.&rsquo;&rdquo; Drunk and emaciated soldiers (still wearing their Confederate garb), would be picked up by local police and hauled, stumbling, back to the camp. &nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Camp Douglas as local spectacle</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/women%20visiting.jpg" style="height: 459px; width: 620px;" title="When Camp Douglas was first opened, Chicagoans had free access to the site. Above, visitors with picnic baskets arrive at the camp. (Photo courtesy Chicago History Museum) " /></p><p>Recall that Chris, our question-asker, could find little about the camp &mdash; as though the place had become a secret. Secrecy was certainly not the case during the war, though. In the camp&rsquo;s early days, Chicago residents were allowed free access to the camp. &ldquo;People were excited that here was the enemy, tamed, incarcerated and for your viewing,&rdquo; Karamanski says. Sometimes, though, visitors &mdash; likely Confederate sympathizers &mdash; would end up walking out with a prisoner.</p><p>Soon, though, the camp tightened up security and stopped admitting visitors.</p><p>At that point, a local businessman got an idea. Utilizing a hotel across the street from the camp, he built a viewing platform where he charged customers 10 cents a pop to climb a stairway up to a wooden platform to catch a glimpse of the rebels. &ldquo;It was a real treat for a lot of kids to see those Confederates,&rdquo; Karamanski says.<a name="tower"></a></p><p><iframe align="middle" frameborder="0" height="421" scrolling="no" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/cdmap.html" width="620"></iframe></p><p><em>Above: An 1864 illustration of Camp Douglas as seen from a Union observation tower, contrasted with a Google Earth view of the area today. The center bar can slide left or ride to hide or reveal either side.</em></p><p>When the Civil War concluded in the spring of 1865, Camp Douglas&rsquo; prisoners were given a set of clothes and a one-way train ticket out of the city. The camp itself was razed, rather quickly, by scavengers as well as the government, selling off the equipment as surplus. &nbsp;</p><p>When summer rolled around, though, &nbsp;the camp parade ground gave way to a new sport that returning union soldiers had learned during wartime: baseball. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Soldiers came back from the war and they&rsquo;d lost a lot of their youth,&rdquo; Karamanski says. &ldquo;Some of the first baseball games by Chicago&rsquo;s elite teams were played at Camp Douglas. ... It helped erase some of the memories of the war.&rdquo;</p><p>But Karamanski suspects baseball may have helped erase part of a larger memory, too: public memory, or in this case, the way a city tells the story of itself.</p><p>For the most part, the history of that memory nearly had Camp Douglas written out.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Remembering the forgotten</span></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/oak%20woods%20plot%20for%20web.jpg" style="height: 409px; width: 620px;" title="A monument in Oak Woods Cemetery at 67th Street and Cottage Grove marks the largest mass grave in the Western Hemisphere, or where roughly 4,000 Confederate soldiers who died at Camp Douglas are buried. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /></div><p>When we first meet Chris, our Curious Citizen, it&rsquo;s a bitterly cold day in late January and we stand on what Keller and others claim is the largest mass grave in the Western Hemisphere:<a href="http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/national_cemeteries/Illinois/Confederate_Mound_Oak_Woods_Cemetery.html" target="_blank"> a mound of roughly 4,000 Confederate soldiers</a> who died at Camp Douglas, now buried at Oak Woods Cemetery at 67th Street and Cottage Grove. (The soldiers had originally been buried in City Cemetery, now Lincoln Park. But soon after the war, the city thought better of placing the dead so close to Lake Michigan &mdash; Chicago&rsquo;s principal source of drinking water. That cemetery was closed and the Confederate soldiers were moved to Oak Woods, the only cemetery that would accept them.)</p><p>Staring up at the forty-foot-tall bronze and granite memorial where a despondent-looking Confederate soldier stands atop a granite column, bowing his head in remembrance, Chris asks: &nbsp;&ldquo;So why do you think it was forgotten about? Why was it swept under the rug?&rdquo;</p><p>First off, <a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/curiouscity/chicagofire/" target="_blank">the Great Chicago Fire </a>came just six years after Camp Douglas closed, sapping resources and shifting the city&rsquo;s priority away from the South Side. Then came the Great Migration, where hundreds of thousands of African Americans migrated North on the same railroad that once transported soldiers from Camp Douglas to the front lines of the Civil War. When they arrived in Chicago, African Americans began settling in Bronzeville. It&rsquo;s safe to say probably the last thing on their mind was exploring their neighborhood&rsquo;s lost history, centering on those who had previously fought to keep them enslaved. Then came the post World War II housing shortage and the urban renewal of the 1960s. &ldquo;There was a lot of reason to forget about it,&rdquo; Keller says of the camp.</p><p>But at the center of this question of why Camp Douglas was forgotten is the obvious tension of an African-American neighborhood and a city rooted in Union ideals taking steps to remember thousands of dead soldiers who fought on the side to uphold slavery.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think you can&rsquo;t ever discount the impact of race on Chicago memory,&rdquo; Karamanski says. &ldquo;So when dealing with the memory of oppression and racism &nbsp;&mdash; &nbsp;which is what the Civil War represents &nbsp;&mdash; &nbsp;it&rsquo;s never going to be something that&rsquo;s broadly consensual because it&rsquo;s a <em>felt </em>history.&rdquo;</p><p>And that strife over how to remember what happened at Camp Douglas didn&rsquo;t come about over time. There was deep-rooted animosity toward the Confederate cause from the moment the war ended.</p><p>In 1895, the night before President Grover Cleveland and his entire cabinet presided over the dedication of the memorial in Oak Woods, the monument was defaced by vandals. Later, a private citizen erected a more permanent protest, which still stands; just yards away from the memorial to the dead rebel soldiers a large granite marker honors those Southerners who resisted secession as &ldquo;martyrs of human freedom.&rdquo;</p><p>The issue reared itself again in 1992, when The Commission on Chicago Landmarks proposed to make the Oak Woods mound a historic landmark, drawing the ire of black alderman. &ldquo;Here is a group of people who looked upon my people as animals, as subhuman,&rdquo; then-Alderman Allen Streeter <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1992-10-02/news/9203300191_1_landmark-status-civil-war-monument" target="_blank">told the <em>Chicago Tribune</em></a>. &ldquo;I&rsquo;d rather forget about the whole thing,&rdquo; he added.</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/sign%20and%20funeral%20home.jpg" title="The first official acknowledgment of Camp Douglas was erected in the fall of 2014 outside of Ernie Griffin's former funeral home at 32nd Street and Martin Luther King Drive in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /></div><p>That&rsquo;s the same year that Ernie Griffin got involved. He ran the Griffin Funeral home at 32nd Street and Martin Luther King Drive &mdash; right smack on the former camp&rsquo;s site. The African-American funeral operator learned his grandfather had enlisted in the 29th U.S. Colored Infantry at Camp Douglas. Griffin decided, much to the neighborhood&rsquo;s chagrin, to erect a memorial to honor the dead rebels. It included a Confederate battle flag flown at half-mast. &ldquo;This was like an incitement to many African Americans,&rdquo; Karamanski says. After the flag kept getting torn down, Griffin took out an ad in the <em>Chicago Defender</em>, the city&rsquo;s African-American newspaper. In his book, Karamanski quotes Griffin, saying, &ldquo;The flag is not a symbol of hate. It is a symbol of respect for a dead human being.&rdquo; Griffin has since died, and the memorial was taken down when the funeral home closed in 2007.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Remembering the cost of victory</span></p><p>According to Karamanski, one of the most important things to keep in mind while trying to preserve history is the way we tell stories about the past ... as well as who tells them.</p><p>&ldquo;If we try to memorialize Camp Douglas in such a way that we don&rsquo;t share the story, share the authority in creating the site with the people in the community, then you&rsquo;re asking for trouble,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>It&rsquo;s a lesson being considered by Bernard Turner and David Keller, directors of the <a href="http://www.campdouglas.org/" target="_blank">Camp Douglas Restoration Foundation</a>, which plans to build a museum somewhere on the site of the former camp. Keller says they are &ldquo;very, very close&rdquo; to being able to announce a location.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s important to know what&rsquo;s in your neighborhood,&rdquo; says Turner.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s building community pride,&rdquo; adds Ke<span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Cambria; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">ller.</span></p><p>After the rocky attempts to memorialize Camp Douglas and the soldiers who died there, seeking to remember Camp Douglas has been going more smoothly lately. &nbsp;In 2014 the foundation helped persuade the Illinois Historical Society to erect the first official acknowledgement of the camp: a small plaque at 32nd Street and Martin Luther King Drive informing residents and passersby that they are in fact walking upon significant history. The foundation&rsquo;s also included the local public school, Pershing East, in its various projects, which include two archeological digs of the site. And it has discussed its efforts with the <a href="http://www.dusablemuseum.org/" target="_blank">DuSable Museum of African American History</a>.</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/SHERRY%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Sherry Williams, president of the Bronzeville Historical Society, says it's important to remember Camp Douglas as not only a prison camp, but also a place where black union soldiers and confederate prisoners intersected. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /></div><p>For Sherry Williams, president of the Bronzeville Historical Society, there&rsquo;s potential in telling stories about Camp Douglas that move beyond its brutal legacy.</p><p>&ldquo;We look at the Camp Douglas story as being told just about the miserable conditions that were faced by these prisoners of war, but there are wider stories to need to be expounded on,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not one narrative, it&rsquo;s multiple narratives.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>One such narrative hits close to Williams. After looking into the camp&rsquo;s death records, she discovered that a soldier named S.G. Cooper died at the camp. He was a Southerner whose family owned her direct ancestor, Nero Cooper, a former slave who enlisted in the Union&rsquo;s African-American infantry. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s a tie between Confederate soldiers and the Union black soldiers,&rdquo; Williams says. &ldquo;Here&rsquo;s the intersection of the fight for freedom.&rdquo;</p><p>Still, Karamanski says, it&rsquo;s okay if the way we remember Camp Douglas is kind of dark.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s true that Camp Douglas is a dark shadow on Chicago&rsquo;s history. But it also reminds us what the Civil War was about,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;You didn&rsquo;t go ahead and end slavery without a fight. But we&rsquo;re honest only if we really understand the cost that victory &nbsp;&mdash; &nbsp;of saving the union and ending slavery.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/question%20asker_1.jpg" style="height: 213px; width: 320px; float: right;" title="Curious Citizen Chris Rowland, right, at Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /><span style="font-size:24px;">Chris Rowland, Curious Citizen</span></p><p>Chris Rowland is a 36-year-old sales engineer at a South Side manufacturing company. He lives in Uptown and was reading <em><a href="http://www.harrietbeecherstowecenter.org/utc/" target="_blank">Uncle Tom&rsquo;s Cabin</a></em> when he got to thinking about the Civil War and what connection Chicago might have to it.</p><p>The topic then presented itself at work. &ldquo;One of the guys mentioned that there was actually a prison camp in the actual city in Chicago,&rdquo; he says. Except, &ldquo;nobody could remember what the actual name of it was.&rdquo;</p><p>He says one of the guys thought the name might have been Camp Burnham. Another guy thought the camp &nbsp;was called the Andersonville Prison, confusing the name of Chicago&rsquo;s North Side neighborhood with the famous civil war prison camp in Andersonville, Georgia.</p><p>But when Rowland searched a bit more on Google, he learned about the camp&rsquo;s real name, but not much else. When he submitted us this question about a year and a half ago, he says he was surprised at how difficult it was to find any information about Camp Douglas.</p><p>And though he&rsquo;s not a Chicago-native &mdash; or a history buff, he says &mdash; learning more about Camp Douglas, Chicago and the Civil War has put a bit of his own life into perspective.</p><p>&ldquo;I grew up in Oklahoma,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;We weren&rsquo;t even a state yet.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Meribah Knight is a freelance journalist in Chicago and reports for WBEZ&rsquo;s Curious City. Follow her at <a href="http://www.meribahknight.com/" target="_blank">meribahknight.com</a> and on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/meribah" target="_blank">@meribah</a>.</em></p><p><em>Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the location of where Mr. Nero Cooper had enlisted in the Union Army. According to Sherry Williams, he enlisted in the Union Army in Tennessee.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Wed, 11 Mar 2015 17:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicagos-forgotten-civil-war-prison-camp-111688 Building skyscrapers on Chicago's swampy soil http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/building-skyscrapers-chicagos-swampy-soil-111658 <p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: This was piece was produced in collaboration with the <a href="http://www.architecture.org/" target="_blank">Chicago Architecture Foundation,</a> which provided research, expertise and other assistance during its development.</em></p><p>From his office tower in downtown Chicago, Mike Vendel has no reason to doubt the structural stability of the buildings where he and hundreds of thousands of others spend their workdays. Looking back on the Loop from the shores of Lake Michigan, though, it&rsquo;s a different story.</p><p>&ldquo;Outside enjoying the lakefront, beaches, parks,&rdquo; says Vendel, &ldquo;you see the sand and you see these huge skyscrapers in the skyline and you think: How do they stay stable in that structure?&rdquo;</p><p>He asked Curious City how it all came to be:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>What special techniques or extra work is required to construct massive buildings on swampland around Chicago?</em></p><p>He&rsquo;s right to wonder. Steadying skyscrapers in Chicago (and, come to think of it, many cities around the world) is still a staggering feat of structural engineering. If architects and engineers don&rsquo;t do it right, the results could be catastrophic: They could end up with a lopsided building or, worse, a fatal collapse.</p><p>As we found out, in the past 150 plus years, architects have struggled to tame Chicago&rsquo;s swampy soil, with varying degrees of success. In fact, the city&#39;s very identity as a hotbed for architecture and geotechnical engineering might be a product of what reporters once deemed &ldquo;the great layer of jelly in Chicago&rsquo;s cake.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">From swamp to city</span></p><p>Offering just a <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/993.html" target="_blank">short portage between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River basin</a>, the area that would become downtown Chicago was a natural choice for the city&rsquo;s settlers &mdash; and a naturally swampy setting. Ray Wiggers, a geologist with Oakton Community College, says Chicago&rsquo;s bedrock is buried beneath silt, mud and clay.</p><p>&ldquo;If you had been here, for example, in 1820 when Chicago was still a very small settlement, what you would have found first of all was a soil profile that was mostly wetland soil. It would be <a href="http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/267930/Histosol" target="_blank">something we&rsquo;d call a histosol</a> &mdash; it&rsquo;s very peat-rich, very rich in organic matter,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Very swampy, marshy.&rdquo;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_MANUSCRIPTS/illinois/cookIL2012/Cook_IL.pdf" target="_blank"><em>View the USDA&#39;s Soil Survey of Cook County for&nbsp;a detailed look at Chicago-area soil</em></a></p><p>The soil was so slick that <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-01/raising-chicago-105064" target="_blank">in 1856, Chicago lifted itself up to 14 feet off the ground</a> to keep from sinking and sliding around in the mosquito-infested marshland.</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s soil started as sediment drifting around in Lake Chicago &mdash; an ice-age precursor to Lake Michigan. That material settled to the bottom, leaving present-day denizens a thick layer of squishy soil.</p><p>&ldquo;If you can imagine your front yard and the little muddy spot you have after it&rsquo;s rained for a while,&rdquo; says Wiggers, &ldquo;that sediment is really, really saturated and it&rsquo;s very oozy. Imagine trying to build a skyscraper in that.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR WEB chicago in 1820.jpg" style="height: 478px; width: 620px;" title="(Image courtesy Library of Congress)" /></div></div><p>By contrast New York City &mdash; whose architects and engineers pioneered the skyscraper along with Chicago&rsquo;s during the late 19th century &mdash; had nearly perfect soil conditions for anchoring tall buildings. Despite being surrounded by water, Manhattan has readily available bedrock.</p><p>The rock outcroppings jutting out of the earth in Central Park are visible proof that New York&rsquo;s bedrock, Manhattan schist, comes all the way up to the surface in some places. Chicago&rsquo;s equivalent, a rock called dolomite, can be as deep as 85 feet underground.</p><p>&ldquo;And yet here in Chicago we persevered through all the muck, literally, and built [skyscrapers] here,&rdquo; Wiggers says.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://digicol.lib.depaul.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/p16106coll1/id/170/rec/25" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR%20WEB%20soil%20map%20crop.jpg" style="height: 274px; width: 620px;" title="Generalized soil map of the region of Chicago, 1927. Click to explore a large version of this map. (Image courtesy DePaul University archives)" /></a></div><p>Reporters in the late 19th century described Chicago&rsquo;s soil as &ldquo;a great jelly-cake&rdquo; with a &ldquo;semi-fluid&rdquo; layer like &ldquo;molasses.&rdquo; Here&rsquo;s a bit from an 1891 article in the New York Times &mdash; back when the word skyscraper was so new that reporters had to put it in quotes:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;What shall it profit Chicago to have taken the prairies and the wheat fields and the distant lairs of wolves and bears in its municipal embrace if the proud palaces in the haunts of its Board of Trade must sink in a smother of slimy ooze? Who shall restrain the great layer of jelly in Chicago&rsquo;s cake? Who can say when it will be released, to be mixed with the sluggish sewage of the river, and then to fill the streets and pour in at the windows while the thin upper crust sinks to its ultimate resting place on the lower clay?&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>That clay actually became the key to some early engineering solutions for tall, heavy buildings. Before then, they fine-tuned a method to float their massive buildings on layers of jelly-like clay called the desiccated crust. But as anyone who has stumbled through the lobby of the Auditorium Building has experienced, early engineers didn&rsquo;t always get it exactly right.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">An early experiment</span></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/Library%20of%20Congress%2C%20Prints%20%26%20Photographs%20Division%2C%20HABS%2C%20Reproduction%20number%20HABS%20ILL%2C16-CHIG%2C39--1.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 620px;" title="The Auditorium Building in 1963, which floats in the soil on a layer of clay instead of bedrock.(Photo courtesy Library of Congress, Prints &amp; Photographs Division, HABS, Reproduction number HABS ILL,16-CHIG,39--1)" /></div><p>The 1889 Auditorium Building is well-known for the important role it played in establishing the artistic and cultural identity of a young, booming city. Roosevelt University now owns the building at the corner of East Congress Parkway and North Michigan Avenue.</p><p>The multi-use building, designed by Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan, included an exquisite performance space with stunning acoustics and ornamentation. But the building also sheds light on how these late 19th century architects wrestled with designing increasingly taller and heavier buildings on Chicago&rsquo;s waterlogged clay.</p><p>If you&rsquo;ve ever visited the Auditorium Building or Theatre, you may have noticed that the floors are not quite even. And if you&rsquo;ve come in the Auditorium entrance off the Congress Parkway, located under the building&rsquo;s 17-story tower, you may have noticed that you walk <em>down</em> about four steps to buy your ticket and enter the lobby.</p><p>Those four steps were not part of Adler and Sullivan&rsquo;s original plans &mdash; they were added because that&rsquo;s how far the building has sunk into the earth since it was constructed in 1889. The building weighs more than 110,000 tons.</p><p>All new buildings sink a bit at first &mdash; a fact architects and engineers have tried to account for since they began building big enough to notice. But the Auditorium sunk more than 18 inches in the first year after it opened, leaving it with uneven floors that can make visitors feel drunk as they navigate. The technical term for this is &ldquo;differential settlement,&rdquo; which means that the different parts of the building &mdash; depending on how heavy they are and how much the soil can bear &mdash; settle to different depths.</p><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/FOR WEB Auditorium_bldg_(foundations)_HABS.jpg" style="height: 322px; width: 620px;" title="Adler and Sullivan designed a foundation system of isolated piers to distribute the load at several points across the Auditorium Building's base. (Source: Library of Congress, HABS, National Park Service)" /></div></div><p>In the basement of the Auditorium, there&rsquo;s a large crack on the concrete floor that runs parallel to the exterior wall. While the whole building has settled, this is where it&rsquo;s obvious that the heavier exterior stone walls have sunk almost a foot more than the interior structure, which was made from a lighter iron and steel skeleton.</p><p>The 1880s and 1890s saw several Chicago buildings that used a hybrid structural system of stone and brick on the exterior with iron and steel on the interior. But because architects knew that a continuous foundation around the building&rsquo;s perimeter would likely sink at different rates and to different depths, Adler and Sullivan designed a foundation system of isolated piers to distribute the load at several points across the building&rsquo;s base. These piers under the building resemble giant pyramids measuring more than 12 feet tall. They acted like the legs of a chair, redistributing the heaviest parts of the building&rsquo;s uneven footprint over a larger area. But these giant pyramids &mdash; made with layers of wooden timbers, crisscrossing steel embedded in concrete, and blocks of stone &mdash; took up valuable basement space.</p><p>Adler conducted extensive tests of the Auditorium footings, loading them with heavy pig iron to simulate the weight of the building and then measuring how much they sank into the earth. But this is an imperfect science. He based his calculations on exterior walls of brick, not the heavier granite and limestone that would eventually be used. It also became clear that the 17-story tower simply weighed more than the 10-story building surrounding it. And the weight of the exterior stone walls was much greater than the lighter skeleton frame of steel and iron used on the interior.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR%20WEB%20monadnock%20present%20Eric%20Allix%20Rogers%20flickr.jpg" style="height: 423px; width: 280px; float: right;" title="The Monadnock Building, built in 1891, is one of the heaviest skyscrapers still standing. (Flickr/Eric Allix Rogers)" /><span style="font-size:22px;">A later experiment: The Monadnock Building</span></p><p>As skyscrapers in the late 19th century grew taller, architects and engineers experimented with ways of preventing buildings from sinking too far into the clay, or settling unevenly.</p><p>Burnham and Root&rsquo;s 1891 Monadnock Building, which sits at the southwest corner of Jackson Boulevard and Dearborn Street, is one of the heaviest skyscrapers still standing. Its dark brown brick walls measure six feet wide at the base.</p><p>The building&rsquo;s basement holds clues to how such a heavy building stands without its feet on solid bedrock. Owner Bill Donnell explains that the Monadnock is distinctive because it&rsquo;s one of the tallest buildings with walls that actually do the work of holding it up. During the 1890s, buildings needed to get taller, so architects started shifting away from load-bearing walls; instead, they opted for a sturdy skeleton of steel.</p><p>Construction crews at the time couldn&rsquo;t dig down 80 feet to find bedrock, so they floated the building on the clay.</p><p>They took steel railroad rails and layered them into pyramid-shaped footings that could distribute the building&rsquo;s weight over a larger area. Picture dozens of columns pressing through the basement floor with pyramid-shaped feet, made from railroad rails caked with concrete.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR%20WEB%20grillage%20diagram.jpg" title="A diagram of standard grillage foundation of steel rails and concrete. " /></div><p>These so-called &lsquo;grillage&rsquo; foundations were used in several other Burnham and Root buildings throughout Chicago in the 1880s and 1890s, including the Rookery and the now-demolished Montauk Block and Great Northern Hotel. Burnham credits Peter B. Wight, who came to the city from New York after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, with helping to engineer the first one.</p><p>In fact, if we think back to our question about Chicago&rsquo;s swamp, this type of floating raft foundation actually makes a lot of sense. Imagine a tall tree growing in a water-filled swamp. Just like the Monadnock&rsquo;s foundations, the tree trunk flairs out wide at the base. With only a shallow root system, this is the tree&rsquo;s only way of buttressing itself in the mud.</p><p>The Monadnock is actually a hybrid; its northern and southern halves were completed a few years apart, and feature different structural systems. The north half of the Monadnock was the end of an era in structural design, showing the challenges of this type of floating-raft foundation and thick masonry walls.</p><p>A lot more than swampy soil factored into the desire for new structural systems around this time. As land values climbed, developers and clients required taller buildings to make building profitable. That meant architects and engineers needed to economize while also still strengthening the structure against gravity and wind. And if the walls of the building get thicker, the result is smaller rooms with less rentable space. Thicker walls also meant smaller windows. Long before the widespread use of strong electric lighting, natural daylight was a premium amenity that all tenants wanted.</p><p>Things changed a bit when the owners of the Monadnock Building expanded only a year and a half later. They commissioned architects Holabird &amp; Roche for the southern addition and rather than design another load-bearing brick building, the architects developed a lighter-weight steel skeleton frame building. Although it used a similar foundation, this steel skeleton frame brought benefits beyond simply weighing less; it had thinner walls, used less material and could be constructed faster.</p><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/monadnock grid bentley2.jpg" title="The grillage foundation seen under the basement floor of the Monadnock Building shows how the architects and engineers tried to float the building on clay. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></div></div><p>Just one year after the Monadnock&rsquo;s southern addition was built, another dramatically different type of foundation system, called caissons, was attempted for the first time in a Chicago skyscraper. At Adler and Sullivan&rsquo;s Stock Exchange Building construction site, crews were finally able to drill down through all the clay and fill the holes with concrete, which anchored the building to the bedrock.</p><p>Caissons were basically subterranean chambers that could keep construction work dry even deep underground. They diminished the need to float the building on top of the squishy soil, which meant that architects and engineers could experiment with new types of structural systems above ground.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 4.08.43 PM_0.png" style="height: 637px; width: 310px; float: right;" title="Surficial geology map of the Chicago region. Click to enlarge. (Courtesy USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service)" /><span style="font-size:22px;">Reaching new heights</span></p><p>Architects in Chicago have dug enough foundations to know their way around the city&rsquo;s famously swampy soil. But in many cities geotechnical engineers are still searching for solid footing.</p><p>&ldquo;For cities that are established, it&#39;s more a question of refinement,&rdquo; says Bill Baker, a structural engineering partner at architecture firm Skidmore Owings &amp; Merrill. &ldquo;There are still cities where you&#39;re trying to figure it out. [In] Las Vegas you can&#39;t find the rock. There have been some buildings with very large settlements, so how do you deal with that? [In] Houston, believe it or not, you can&#39;t find the rock.&rdquo;</p><p>Baker knows this problem well. In 1957 architects Walter Netsch and Bruce Graham used steel pilings to anchor Chicago&rsquo;s Inland Steel Building to dolomite bedrock buried deep beneath the Loop &mdash; the first time after almost seven decades of skyscraper construction that design teams and engineers had accomplished such a feat.</p><p>Though most of the digging and surveying underground is done remotely these days, Baker recalls looking up from 70 feet beneath the AT&amp;T Corporate Center, which opened in 1989.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re looking up at a little patch of light, which is the sky, and it of course has an earthy smell,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Somewhere along the way someone discovered there&rsquo;s a tendency to be methane down there, and so we don&rsquo;t go down them any more. We put cameras down there. But I kind of miss going down &hellip; to the bottom of the world there.&rdquo;</p><p>He says even though new technology makes it easier to find solid bedrock beneath 100 feet of wet clay, it doesn&rsquo;t always make sense to drill that deep. Modern engineers still use the same general principle Burnham &amp; Root employed when they floated the foundations of the Monadnock Building on an even flimsier layer of soil known as desiccated crust: They just spread the load. Only, today, they prefer a compacted layer of clay found deeper than the crust, called hardpan.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://archive.org/stream/historyconstruct00nich#page/n0/mode/thumb" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR%20WEB%20hardpan%20and%20other%20soil%20tests%20copy.png" style="height: 466px; width: 620px;" title="Hardpan, a soil layer above bedrock, is commonly used to anchor skyscrapers today. (Source: The history, construction and design of caisson foundations in Chicago, 1913) " /></a></div><p>&ldquo;One of the reasons we don&#39;t always sit on the rock is it&#39;s very expensive. Because once you poke through that hardpan you&#39;re fighting against water that&#39;s under pressure,&rdquo; Baker says. &ldquo;That last few feet is very expensive, which is why if at all possible you sit on the hardpan.&rdquo;</p><p>And Baker says Chicago&rsquo;s legacy as an innovation center for geotechnical engineering is very much alive.</p><p>&ldquo;If you were an architect you had to show that you were not just a ballerina, you had to show you could actually speak to the technology,&rdquo; says Baker. &ldquo;One of the things about Chicago is that it was always an architectural engineering town. &hellip; A lot of the serious architects out there are very, very savvy when it comes to technology.&rdquo;</p><p>While Chicago may have been dealt an unlucky geological hand, 19th century Chicagoans did find something useful to do with all the mucky clay: The city became the center of the nation&rsquo;s terra cotta industry. Architects used terra cotta, which is simply baked clay, to <a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/curiouscity/chicagofire/#buildingmaterials" target="_blank">help fireproof buildings after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871</a>.</p><p>So it might just be that Chicago&rsquo;s sloshy soil helped solidify the foundations of modern tall building design, engineering and construction.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR%20WEB%20vendel.jpg" style="height: 232px; width: 310px; float: left;" title="(Photo courtesy Mike Vendel)" /><span style="font-size:22px;">Mike Vendel, Curious Citizen</span></p><p>Mike Vendel, a computer programmer for Accenture, grew up in Chicago&rsquo;s West Lawn neighborhood and now lives in Edgewater. He says he first wondered about Chicago&rsquo;s swampy soil when volunteering in parks along the North Side lakefront. Looking south one day from Montrose Beach, Vendel noticed that Chicago&rsquo;s mighty skyscrapers were basically sitting on the same soggy footing he was.</p><p>&ldquo;I see these giant buildings on the horizon. And then I look down at the sandy soil I&#39;m standing on and I think, how do those massive and immense buildings stay stable in a soil like this?&rdquo; he wrote at the start of our reporting.</p><p>He wondered about the geology of our region and how early settlers overcame Chicago&rsquo;s swampy conditions to lay the foundations of a 20th century skyscraper boom.</p><p>&ldquo;Any architect probably knows how massive buildings can remain stable in any type of soil,&rdquo; he wrote. &ldquo;But to me, it&rsquo;s a mystery and fairly amazing.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Chris Bentley reports for WBEZ&rsquo;s Curious City and is the Midwest Editor of <a href="http://www.archpaper.com/" target="_blank">The Architect&rsquo;s Newspaper</a>. Follow him at <a href="http://cabentley.com/" target="_blank">cabentley.com</a> and on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/cementley" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>.</em></p><p><em>Jen Masengarb is Director of Interpretation and Research at the <a href="http://www.architecture.org" target="_blank">Chicago Architecture Foundation</a>. Follow her on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/jmasengarb" target="_blank">@jmasengarb</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 17:52:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/building-skyscrapers-chicagos-swampy-soil-111658 The rise of Casimir Pulaski Day http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/rise-casimir-pulaski-day-111624 <p><p>Casimir Pulaski Day. If you grew up in Illinois in the 1980s or 1990s (or, if you raised a kid at the time), you probably remember a school and government holiday &mdash; the first Monday in March &mdash; that most of the rest of the country does not observe.</p><p>Nic Levy, our question asker, remembers coming to Oak Park in fifth grade and being surprised. &ldquo;There was this holiday I saw on the calendar,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I couldn&rsquo;t pronounce it. I asked my parents. They also didn&rsquo;t know because they were from New England.&rdquo;</p><p>Nic remembers that one of his history teachers added a short aside about Pulaski during his class&rsquo;s unit on the Revolutionary War, so he grew up understanding that Pulaski was a hero of that war and that he was from Poland. But all that info was about the hero. For help with the holiday, he sent us this question:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>How did Casimir Pulaski Day become a public holiday in Illinois?</em></p><p>We let Nic, a history buff, take a crack at an answer. He guessed that Casimir Pulaski Day came about as an expression of Polish-American pride, maybe in the 1970s or 1980s.</p><p>&ldquo;After the &lsquo;60s, there was this climate in the U.S., not just of ethnic tolerance, but of celebration of different cultures in cities across America,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I feel like that kind of started in the &lsquo;70s.&rdquo;</p><p>Nic&rsquo;s on the right track, but the details make the story worth telling. Just consider what was working <em>against</em> the state holiday: Casimir died more than two hundred years ago, he never set foot in Illinois, the community that adored him arrived in Chicago nearly a century after he died, and, it turns out, he&rsquo;s not even the most famous Polish-American war hero.</p><p>The story behind this most &ldquo;Illinois&rdquo; of holidays involves Casimir, of course, but it&rsquo;s more of a story about a strong community that was willing to spend political capital to honor him.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Casimir Pulaski: Polish Patriot, American Volunteer</span></p><p>Let&rsquo;s start with Count Casimir Pulaski the man. He grew up in the struggle of Polish patriots against the neighboring powers that sought to annex or assert control over what was at the time the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. By the time he was 22, he was fighting against the new Polish King Stanislaw II, who was seen by many as a puppet of the Russians. Pulaski became an important cavalry officer in a series of wars. But by 1775, the conflict had gone badly for the Polish patriots, and he was exiled to France. There he met the Marquis de Lafayette and Benjamin Franklin, who recruited him to come to America, to fight in the Revolutionary War.</p><p>Columbia College historian Dominic Pacyga says Pulaski considered the American Colonists&#39; fight for independence from Great Britain as similar to Poland&rsquo;s own struggle for independence.</p><p>&ldquo;There was this revolutionary spirit, the Enlightenment was going on, soon there was going to be the French Revolution,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;So a lot of people were wrapped up in this revolutionary fervor that was going through the West at this time, and they ended up in the United States.&rdquo;<a name="painting"></a></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="363" mozallowfullscreen="" scrolling="no" src="//www.thinglink.com/card/627225578885349377" type="text/html" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="620"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:11px;"><strong>Above: Click on the painting&#39;s hotspots to hear about the artist&#39;s motifs. </strong>Analysis comes from experts at The Polish Museum of America. Painting:&nbsp;<em>Brigadier General Kazimierz Pulaski mortally wounded at the battle of Savannah on the 9th of October 1779</em>&nbsp;by Stanislaw Batowski Kaczor.&nbsp;</span></p><p>George Washington and other Colonial leaders were skeptical of these European idealists because not all of them lived up to their billing as great soldiers. But Ben Franklin helped Pulaski by writing a letter of recommendation to George Washington, describing the Pole as &ldquo;&hellip; an officer famous throughout Europe for his bravery and conduct in defense of the liberties of his country.&rdquo; Although the Continental Congress wouldn&rsquo;t approve a commission, Washington allowed Pulaski to enlist informally. Casimir Pulaski then proved himself at the <a href="http://www.ushistory.org/brandywine/thestory.htm" target="_blank">Battles of Brandywine</a> and <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Germantown" target="_blank">Germantown</a>, and George Washington named him a Brigadier General and the first Commander of the American Cavalry.</p><p>At first, American soldiers balked at the idea of fighting under a &ldquo;foreign&rdquo; officer. So, in March of 1778, Congress organized the Pulaski Legion, which was made up of mostly &ldquo;foreign&rdquo; soldiers &mdash; Colonists and volunteers from France, Germany, and Poland. Pulaski&rsquo;s Legion turned the tide at the skirmish at Egg Harbor, New York. In May, they drove the British out of Charleston, South Carolina.</p><p>But just a few months later, Pulaski died from a mortal wound he received in Savannah, Georgia. In the Early Republic, Pulaski was remembered as a Revolutionary hero, alongside his friend, the Marquis de Lafayette. Several new towns and counties were named &ldquo;Pulaski&rdquo; in his memory.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Pulaski&rsquo;s backers in the Polish-American community</span></p><p>Pulaski remained a great hero in his homeland as well, a sentiment that wasn&rsquo;t forgotten when Poles began arriving in the United States. If Pulaski hadn&rsquo;t had a community that respected his achievements, who knows if there would have been Casimir holiday.</p><p>By 1800, the independent Polish state had been divided between Russia, Austria, and Prussia. Poles began immigrating to Chicago in the 1860s as economic refugees from lands where they were ethnic minorities and often disenfranchised.</p><p>White Anglo-Saxon Protestants saw themselves as the &ldquo;real&rdquo; Americans, and they did not always welcome Poles with open arms.</p><p>&ldquo;They are from the other Europe. They have the names nobody can pronounce, they&rsquo;re not Protestants. There&rsquo;s a good deal of anti-Polish prejudice at the time,&rdquo; Pacyga says. Because of this, he says, Polish Americans used Casimir Pulaski &mdash; alongside the other Polish revolutionary hero, Tadeusz Kosciuskzko &mdash; as a symbol that Poles had contributed to the American Republic from the very beginning.</p><p>As early as the 1930s, Polish Americans in Chicago lobbied for public recognition of Casimir Pulaski. Their first major victory was a declaration, in 1933, that the former <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/1427.html" target="_blank">&ldquo;Crawford Road&rdquo; in Chicago would now be &ldquo;Pulaski Road.&rdquo;</a> According to Dominic Pacyga, many of the merchants and the shopkeepers in the area were not happy about <a name="wherescasimir"></a>the new name. &ldquo;They have to change letterheads, they have to change addresses, they have to mail out letters saying they&rsquo;re no longer on Crawford Road.&rdquo; For more than a decade, the issue remained contentious.</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/where%27s%20casimir%20topper.png" style="height: 143px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="500px" src="https://a.tiles.mapbox.com/v4/curiouscity.l9pnj16d/attribution,zoompan,zoomwheel,geocoder,share.html?access_token=pk.eyJ1IjoiY3VyaW91c2NpdHkiLCJhIjoibGM3MUJZdyJ9.8oAw072QHl4POJ3fRQAItQ" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:11px;"><strong>Above: Local historian Dan Pogorzelski says there&#39;s no statue of Casimir Pulaski in Chicago</strong>, but there are still places to find the Polish war hero around the city. Here are a few of Pogorzelski&#39;s suggestions. Anything missing? If you&#39;ve spotted Casimir somewhere else, write us at curiouscity@wbez.org and we&rsquo;ll add it to the map.</span></p><p>In 1944 a streetcar conductor got into a fight with a Polish-Chicagoan when he referred to the Pulaski Road stop as &ldquo;Crawford Road.&rdquo; But in the end, Pulaski Road stuck, due to support from the Democratic political machine. Pacyga says: &ldquo;In the Democratic Party, the Poles [were] an important faction, and they were able to pull it off.&rdquo;</p><p>Much of Chicago&rsquo;s Polish-American history, including the importance of Pulaski, is preserved at the Polish Museum of America. The museum, which occupies much of the headquarters of the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America, sits on Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago, near the traditional &ldquo;Polish downtown.&rdquo;</p><p>Malgorzata Kot, the museum&rsquo;s managing director, says Polish Americans relate to Pulaski because he was a soldier. He fought for freedom and independence in Poland and America, and he had to fight for acceptance when he came to America. She says Polish Americans relate to those struggles, and see them as at the center of their history. &ldquo;Kazimierz [Casimir] Pulaski is a symbol of a Pole who was important in Poland, who risked it all to come here and fight for your freedom and ours.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Casimir&rsquo;s day arrives </span></p><p>The Polish-American community that remembered Casimir so fondly did everything it could to get the political system to recognize him. The persistance paid off.</p><p>In the 1970s, the Polish American Congress in Chicago took up the cause of a statewide Casimir Pulaski holiday. In 1977, they succeeded in getting a law passed designating the first Monday in March &ldquo;Casimir Pulaski Day.&rdquo; This was only a commemorative day, meaning Illinois schools, public offices and banks stayed open.</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/first%20pulaski%20day%20maybe.jpg" title="Former Illinois Gov. Dan Walker signs the Pulaski Day bill September 9, 1973 at the Polish Museum of America in Chicago. First a commemorative holiday, Pulaski Day became an official public holiday in 1985. (Photo courtesy Polish Museum of America)" /></div><p>The lobbying efforts simmered for years, and gathered momentum again in 1985 when State Senator Leroy Lemke <a href="http://www.luminpdf.com/files/14235190/ST052185%20CASIMIR%20PULASKI%20FLOOR%20DEBATE.pdf" target="_blank">introduced a bill in the Illinois Senate</a> to make Casimir Pulaski Day a full public holiday. It would give public schools and some government offices a day off, at the governor&rsquo;s discretion.</p><p>Speaking in support, Senator Thaddeus Lechowicz cast the law as part and parcel of the ethnic pride movements increasingly common in American cities. &ldquo;Every ethnic group, every racial group has a person or persons they that they see have contributed to an extra degree in making this country great. ... Casimir Pulaski fills that need for Polish Americans,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Dominic Pacyga says the timing suggests the bill got traction due to the recent passage, in 1983, of a national holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., the slain civil rights activist. Lawmakers knew Martin Luther King Day would go into effect the next year, in 1986. Pacyga says the &ldquo;white ethnic&rdquo; community, including Poles, Jews, Italians, Greeks, Irish, wanted something similar. &ldquo;There was a feeling the white ethnic community should also have a day, and in Illinois, it made sense to make it Pulaski Day, because the Polish community is so large in Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>Retired State Senator Calvin Schuneman still remembers how the debate played in 1985. At the time, <a href="http://www.luminpdf.com/files/14235190/ST052185%20CASIMIR%20PULASKI%20FLOOR%20DEBATE.pdf" target="_blank">he raised concerns about the holiday</a>, and thirty years later, he has the same concerns.</p><p>&ldquo;If it&rsquo;s going to be a state holiday where government offices are going to be closed and schools are going to be dismissed, I think we have enough of those holidays.&rdquo; For Schuneman, who represented portions of western Illinois, this was a matter of Chicago politicians pushing something that didn&rsquo;t make sense for the rest of the state.</p><p>&ldquo;It was good politics for them,&rdquo; he says, &ldquo;but there certainly was no demand for recognizing Casimir Pulaski in my district.&rdquo;</p><p>The law did pass, though, and Governor Jim Thompson fulfilled the terms of the bill and declared a public school holiday across the state. Some municipal offices chose to close in honor of Casimir Pulaski, as did some banks. That freed many people up to visit the Polish Museum of America on Pulaski Day.</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/rahm%20pulaski%20day.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel speaks at the Polish Museum of America on Casimir Pulaski Day in 2014. In 2012, negotiations between Emanuel and the Chicago Teacher’s Union resulted in Chicago Public Schools dropping Pulaski Day as a day off from school. (Photo courtesy Polish Museum of America)" /></div><p>Every year on Pulaski Day, the president of the Polish Roman Catholic Union, currently Joseph Drobot Jr., presides over a formal ceremony honoring Casimir Pulaski. The Great Hall at the museum can hold up to 500 people, and he says it&rsquo;s usually full during the ceremony. There&rsquo;s an honor guard in bright red and blue eighteenth century cavalry uniforms. The event is open to the public and there&rsquo;s free Polish food. According to Drobot, &ldquo;This being an election year, there will be many politicians. It&rsquo;s an opportunity to be seen.&rdquo;</p><p>The ceremony is always held in front of the centerpiece of the Museum&rsquo;s Great Hall: a fifteen- foot-wide painting of Casimir Pulaski, painted by Stanislaw Batowski. It depicts Pulaski&rsquo;s mortal wounding at Savannah.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Whittling away Casimir Pulaski Day</span></p><p>While memory of Casimir Pulaski is alive and well at the Polish Museum of America, his holiday has been chipped away in the state&rsquo;s public schools.</p><p>In 1995 the legislature made Casimir Pulaski Day optional. Individual school districts in Illinois could apply for a waiver to opt out. Downstate districts were the first to seek waivers.</p><p>By 2009, 74 percent of the districts chose to keep school open on Pulaski Day. And in 2012, Chicago Public Schools dropped Pulaski Day during negotiations between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Teacher&rsquo;s Union.</p><p>When this happened, many Polish Americans felt disrespected, and even hurt. One <a href="http://blogs.chicagotribune.com/news_columnists_ezorn/2012/03/columbus.html" target="_blank">commenter on a blog post wrote</a>: &ldquo;So to sum it up, it took over 200 years for America to acknowledge the man and only in Illinois because of Chicago&#39;s large Polish population and a few decades later we are getting rid of the holiday.&rdquo;</p><p>But historian Dominic Pacyga says, while it might be a shame to lose the holiday, it&rsquo;s also part of what always happens with ethnic immigrant culture in America.</p><p>&ldquo;Many Polish Americans have assimilated. Seventy-five to 80 percent live in suburbs instead of Chicago,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;When you all live in Chicago, you had a lot of clout, when you live in 100 to 200 municipalities, your clout is fragmented. So the lesson is: Stay in Chicago. Come on back home, and we&rsquo;ll get Pulaski Day back.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/question%20asker_0.jpg" style="height: 267px; width: 200px; float: left;" title="(Photo courtesy Nic Levy)" /><span style="font-size:22px;">Nic Levy, Curious Citizen</span></p><p>Nic Levy, who asked Curious City to investigate Casimir Pulaski Day, agrees with Pacyga&rsquo;s take that the loss of the holiday is just part of how history works. Nic does feel that having memories of Pulaski Day is something that will define his generation in the decades to come. He enjoys thinking about how history affects geography, as in how the contributions of a Polish nobleman in the 18th century, could change the name of a Chicago road in the twentieth.</p><p>He&rsquo;s studying geography now, at McGill University in Montreal. He says his interest in geography and history began as a teenager in Chicago, right when he started driving. He used maps to plan routes, and was fascinated by the names of the streets, Chicago&rsquo;s orderly grid plan, and the way the grid intersected with the geography of the river, canals, and the lake.</p><p><em>Jesse Dukes is Curious City&rsquo;s audio producer.</em></p><p><em>Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of the managing director of the Polish Museum of America. The correct spelling is&nbsp;Malgorzata Kot.</em></p></p> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 16:22:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/rise-casimir-pulaski-day-111624 Worldview: Ebola's impact on education in Liberia http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2015-02-02/worldview-ebolas-impact-education-liberia-111487 <p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-b4a77d44-4c02-3a1b-ba21-1f0dbb18cba4"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/10410307_10152511491572489_3404610266722506052_n.jpg" style="height: 484px; width: 620px;" title="K2 graduation in St. Anthony of Padua school in Liberia. (Courtesy of Liberia Mission)" /></span></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/189163868&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false;&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 23.9999980926514px; line-height: 22px;">Ebola stalls first day of school in Liberia</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-b4a77d44-4c1a-1521-939f-a94c6eaf44e9">Schools in Liberia, which have been shut since August because of the Ebola epidemic, were supposed to reopen on February 2. But they got notice late on Friday that the government had decided to delay the re-opening of schools. </span>Some members of parliament have called for the reopening date to be moved to March 2nd, saying they are concerned that the Ebola epidemic is not yet fully under control and children are still at risk.</p><p dir="ltr">One of the schools that will not open Monday is St. Anthony of Padua School. It&rsquo;s run by the Skokie-based group Franciscan Works. Franciscan works is a not-for-profit organization that works in cooperation with the Catholic Church and runs the Liberia Mission, which includes homes for boys and girls, St. Anthony of Padua school and St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church.It serves about 340 children. Merrill Kenna, executive director of Franciscan Works, joins us to discuss the impact of the Ebola epidemic on children in Liberia.</p><div><strong>Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em><span style="font-size: 16px; white-space: pre-wrap;">Merrill Kenna is executive director of <a href="https://www.franciscanworks.org/">Franciscan Works</a></span></em>.</div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/189164736&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false;&amp;&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 23.9999980926514px; line-height: 22px;">World History Minute: the real Robinson Crusoe</span></p><p>Historian and author John Schmidt takes us back to a fictional day in world history: February 2, 1709, the day Robinson Crusoe was rescued. John explains the story of Alexander Selkirk, the man that&nbsp;most scholars believe the story of Robinson Crusoe is based upon.</p><p><strong>Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em><a href="https://twitter.com/JRSchmidtPhD">John Schmidt</a> is a historian.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Mon, 02 Feb 2015 14:34:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2015-02-02/worldview-ebolas-impact-education-liberia-111487 Wherefore art thou Romeoville? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/wherefore-art-thou-romeoville-111302 <p><p>It&rsquo;s a feat of imagination to look beyond modern developments in your town, suburb or neighborhood and picture how the place looked as it was getting its start. Even if your neck of the woods has no historic district or a single century-old home, it&rsquo;s still got a history. And, often, its starting point is somehow tied up with its name.</p><p>Paul Kaiser is particularly interested in the starting point of his adopted home of Joliet, the largest city in Will County. His question for Curious City goes back decades, when he first encountered an odd, name-related fact about Joliet and its apparent relationship to a village just north, Romeoville:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>I believe that Joliet was once named Juliet, while nearby Romeoville was once named Romeo. What&#39;s the story?</em></p><p>To find an answer for Paul, we found historians (both past and present), a linguistics professor and a Shakespeare expert to consider the relationship between the original town names. As we looked at the towns&rsquo; broader history, we found we were able to fill in at least some blanks left by a lack of documents. But more importantly, we learned why origin stories can still be useful to our own identity, even if you can&rsquo;t nail these stories down so tightly.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">What we know</span></p><p>Paul&rsquo;s onto something, at least when it comes to the two core details. Back in the 1830s, Joliet was founded as Juliet, and Romeoville was founded as Romeo. (Some sources also call the town Romeo Depot.) You can even see the names on old maps of the area &hellip; which is cute and all, considering they bear an obvious resemblance to <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romeo_and_Juliet" target="_blank">William Shakespeare&rsquo;s star-crossed lovebirds, Romeo and Juliet</a>. There is, however, no solid documentation &mdash; no municipal meeting minutes nor history accounted for by town founders &mdash; that unequivocally lays out why these towns were named as they were.</p><p>But there are some worthy speculations. Your best bet is to head back 150 years or so before the towns were named by white settlers. In the 1670s, French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet were traversing parts of the Great Lakes region, in part to find out if the Mississippi River flowed to the Gulf of Mexico or the Pacific Ocean.</p><p>In May of 1673, just southwest of present-day Chicago, they stumbled upon a huge mound near the Des Plaines River. On their maps, Marquette and Jolliet christened the landmark Mont Jolliet, and the name stuck. The name later morphed to Mound Joliet.</p><p>About 150 years later, the area was drawn into an ambitious plan by the U.S. government, the newly-formed state of Illinois, and investors to build the Illinois and Michigan Canal, a waterway that would connect the Great Lakes to the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. When completed, materials could be transported quickly, compared to the era&rsquo;s cumbersome overland routes. The federal government ceded land surrounding proposed routes, and lots were sold to fund canal construction.</p><p>James Campbell, treasurer of canal commissioners, bought a bunch of land in the Mound Joliet area. Except, for one reason or another, the area at this time became known as Juliet &mdash; with a U. This is where history gets wonky.</p><p>Even historians from the late 1800s (including those writing just a generation or so after Campbell) can&rsquo;t offer much insight into Juliet&rsquo;s origins. In his 1878 book <em>History of Will County, Illinois</em>, George Woodruff throws his hands in the air:</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/various%20theories%20take%20your%20choice.png" title="An excerpt from the book History of Will County, Illinois, published in 1878, lays out our three theories. " /></div><blockquote><p><em>Campbell&rsquo;s town was recorded as &lsquo;Juliet,&rsquo; whether after Shakespeare&rsquo;s heroine, or his own daughter, or by mistake for Joliet, the writer cannot determine. There are various theories; take your choice.</em></p></blockquote><p>We encountered three theories that account for the original name of Juliet, as well as some kind of relationship with Romeo.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The typo theory</span></p><p>Our question-asker, Paul, is familiar with the explorers Marquette and Jolliet, and he speculates that the town was named Juliet on maps, due to &ldquo;possibly human error on some of the map making. Where things just morphed to what somebody wanted it to be.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/juliet%20joliet%20timeline.png" title="Historical maps of the Will County area show the changing name of modern-day Joliet over time. (Source: Chicago History Museum)" /></div><p>We can find no record of cartographers of yore owning up to such a careless error. But Edward Callary, a linguistics professor at Northern Illinois University who wrote a <a href="http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/33nxw6km9780252033568.html" target="_blank">book on Illinois place names</a>, entertains the idea from an oratory standpoint. He says it&rsquo;s possible that 19th-century map makers may have simply not known how to translate the French-sounding name Jolliet into English. So, when marking the spot of Mound Jolliet, it&rsquo;s possible they made spelling errors. And if that&rsquo;s the case, Callary says, it&rsquo;s also possible those spelling &ldquo;errors&rdquo; were more like willful oversights.</p><p>&ldquo;We sometimes make up things that are a little bit closer to words that we already know rather than ones we don&rsquo;t know,&rdquo; Callary says.</p><p>For example, ever hear of Illinois&rsquo; Embarrass River? Callary points out the name comes from Americans reappropriating the river&rsquo;s French-given name, Embarrasser, which meant &ldquo;obstruction&rdquo; at the time.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The daughter theory</span></p><p>However, Sandy Vasko, the Executive President of the Will County Historical Society, is a proponent of what we call the daughter theory.</p><p>Remember land-buyer and canal treasurer James Campbell? Several sources suggest that he may have had a daughter named Juliet, and that when forming a town, he named it after her.</p><p>Ironically, the earliest suggestion of this comes from the same 1878 Will County history book we got our three theories from. In any case, the author writes:</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/daughter%20theory%202.png" title="" /></div><blockquote><p><em>On the 13th day of May, the Surveyor&rsquo;s certificate was filed, and on the 10th of June, 1834, the plat was recorded and the town christened to &ldquo;Juliet,&rdquo; for Campbell&rsquo;s daughter, it is said &hellip;</em></p></blockquote><p>All of this is debatable, though, since we&rsquo;ve also encountered history books that claim Campbell had a <em>wife</em> named Juliet, not a daughter. But Callary says that&rsquo;s not possible.</p><p>&ldquo;Campbell&rsquo;s wife&rsquo;s name was Sarah Anne,&rdquo; Callary says. &ldquo;He had no females in the family that were named Juliet that I can find. Maybe he named it for a friend&rsquo;s wife or daughter, but he didn&rsquo;t name it for his wife.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The Shakespeare theory</span></p><p>At face value, the Shakespeare theory is simple: The towns Romeo and Juliet were platted around the same time and named, perhaps puckishly (<a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/questions/861" target="_blank">as suggested by one our most prolific web commenters</a>), as a pair in honor of Shakespeare&rsquo;s star-crossed lovebirds. Some sources mention that either Romeo or Juliet were platted as a healthy competitor to the other.</p><p>There&rsquo;s a complex side to the Shakespeare theory, though. To understand why Shakespeare characters would even be appealing names for new towns, it&rsquo;s important to know that &mdash; at times &mdash; there&rsquo;s a lot at stake in a name.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/shakespeare marlboro.jpg" style="height: 386px; width: 280px; float: left;" title="A 1928 ad for Marlboro cigarettes. (Photo courtesy canadianshakespeares.ca)" />Recall that the I&amp;M Canal was meant to make Midwestern transportation cheap, but it was an expensive capital project. Vasko reminds us that &ldquo;people didn&rsquo;t want to buy land until there was a canal. And they couldn&rsquo;t build a canal until they sold the land. And so it was a vicious circle.&rdquo;</p><p>So any boost in land sales was forward momentum as far as the canal commission was concerned. This is where our recognizable Shakespeare characters, the towns named Romeo and Juliet, come in.</p><p>&ldquo;I truly believe that it was almost an advertising gimmick,&rdquo; Sandy Vasko says. She suspects &ldquo;somebody who was big into advertising said: &lsquo;Ya know, let&rsquo;s do this. Let&rsquo;s call this new land Romeo, it&rsquo;ll be a catch thing and maybe we can sell a few extra lots because of the Romeo and Juliet connection.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Sound like a far-fetched connection? Well, consider that, when we kicked the British out of the colonies, we let Shakespeare stay. And in 1800s America, the works of Shakespeare reached a new form of American kingdom.</p><p>&ldquo;Shakespeare is in the theaters, it&rsquo;s in peoples rhetoric books. They&rsquo;re being taught passages of Shakespeare and how to speak it in order to be eloquent,&rdquo; says Heather Nathans, chair of the Department of Drama and Dance at Tufts University. &ldquo;It had a kind of familiarity that I think maybe we don&rsquo;t have now.&rdquo;</p><p>With that level of popularity, it&rsquo;s hardly a surprise that Shakespeare was deployed, like today&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.target.com/bp/cake+boss" target="_blank">Cake Boss</a>, to entice people to buy stuff. Shakespeare became the Shakespeare brand.</p><p>&ldquo;Slap Shakespeare on [a product] and it instantly seems more elegant or elevated, or it&rsquo;s some clever tie-in that draws your attention to whatever it might be: little mints or cigarettes or playing cards.&rdquo; Nathans says.</p><p>If Shakespeare had become an important branding technique in 1800s America, was it used by I&amp;M Canal commissioners? Again, there are no surviving documents that lay this out, but the Bard as &ldquo;brand&rdquo; would have solved a problem the canal faced: Illinois sometimes seemed an uninviting place to prospective landbuyers.</p><p>&ldquo;People really didn&rsquo;t want to move here because they were worried: Are these Indians going to kill us?&rdquo; Vasko says. &ldquo;One of the things [the commissioners] had to do was be sure that people wanted to come here, and that the Indians were gone.&rdquo;</p><p>Mainly, the commissioners encouraged Illinois to act on the federal Indian Removal Act signed into law by President Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/shakespeare coca cola.jpg" style="float: right; height: 393px; width: 280px;" title="A 1928 Coca-Cola advertisement featuring William Shakespeare, published in Life Magazine. (Photo courtesy Coca-Cola) " />Tensions between Native Americans and white settlers came to a head during the timeframe of when Juliet and Romeo were founded. In the spring of 1832, <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/141.html" target="_blank">the Black Hawk War</a> broke out. Afterword, Native Americans, mostly Potawatomi in that area, were forced to leave Illinois for good. They gathered in Kankakee, then walked to reservations in Kansas and Nebraska, according to Vasko. &ldquo;A lot of old people died on the way, of course. A lot of young people were never born, died stillbirth, things like that,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;It was a very sad, sad time for Illinois, and it&rsquo;s why we have no Native American reservations at all here in Illinois.&rdquo;</p><p>After the exodus, land sales to white settlers increased. &ldquo;Now they felt safe,&rdquo; Vasko says.</p><p>Heather Nathans adds: &ldquo;I can&rsquo;t think of a better way to declare that that is the past and this is the future, by putting on some nice, recognizable Shakespeare names.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s hard to prove, but perhaps the new Shakespearean town names signalled safety to prospective settlers and investors back East. Regardless, the town names of Romeo and Juliet only stuck around for about 15 years, until 1845.</p><p>The change came about after former President Martin Van Buren passed through Juliet while touring western states. Van Buren noticed the town name of Juliet was similar to the name of Mound Joliet. He encouraged the citizens to reconsider having a town named Juliet after a<em> girl</em>, (again, supposedly Campbell&rsquo;s daughter) and instead call it Joliet, in honor of the renowned explorer.</p><p>&ldquo;And they took [that] under consideration,&rdquo; Vasko says. &ldquo;In 1845 they indeed changed the name from Juliet to Joliet. But, they did refuse to add any extra t&rsquo;s or e&rsquo;s. So the word was Joliet, very plain and simple J-o-l-i-e-t.&rdquo;</p><p>We don&rsquo;t know whether they gave Romeo a heads up, or even if they bothered to send a postcard. And we don&rsquo;t know how Romeo felt about it. But we know what they did: That same year, Romeo added -ville to its name, becoming Romeoville.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The myth lives on</span></p><p>Even without official records or documentation that answers why each place was originally named as it was, hints of Romeo and Juliet persist within their modern incarnations.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/romeo%20cafe%20juliet%20tavern.png" title="Romeo Cafe in Romeoville and Juliet's Tavern in Joliet are hints into the area's past lives. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe and Katie Klocksin)" /></div><p>As you drive through Romeoville you&rsquo;ll pass Juliet Ave. and Romeo Road, Romeo Cafe and Romeo Plaza. In Joliet, you&rsquo;ll find Juliet&rsquo;s Tavern &mdash; a nod to the city&rsquo;s former name.</p><p>But where the Shakespeare theory resonates most is perhaps at the Romeoville Area Historical Society. We take Paul, our question-asker, and his wife, Kathy there to meet Nancy Hackett, president of the society and a Romeoville resident.</p><p>Hackett shows us around the place, and we eyeball some items that hint at the area&rsquo;s slight hangup on its past self.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="true" frameborder="0" height="416" mozallowfullscreen="true" src="https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1PjwID6dIP5O75xdRfnY6TmoCR5BnjaugI4LIscbUvck/embed?start=false&amp;loop=false&amp;delayms=3000" webkitallowfullscreen="true" width="620"></iframe></p><p>Hackett says, even outside of the historical society, she lets the Shakespeare connection play out in her everyday life. Among other demonstrations, she shows off a bumper sticker that reads &ldquo;Wherefore art thou, Romeoville?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;For so long Romeoville was that tiny little place,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;When people ask me where it is I say &lsquo;It&rsquo;s north of Juliet&rsquo; &hellip; and then I correct it.&rdquo;</p><p>Hackett may correct herself on the town names, but there&rsquo;s one thing she won&rsquo;t budge on: Shakespeare is the reason for them. She says she knows this because it&rsquo;s in a book written by a woman named Mabel Hrpsha in 1967. Hrpsha was a member of the historical society and part of a long line of Romeoville residents who lived in the unincorporated part of town.</p><p>Hackett finds the specific page of Hrpsha&rsquo;s book, and reads:</p><blockquote><p><em>Romeo was one town proposed by the canal commissioners along the proposed canal. It was named after the Shakespearean hero and planned as a romantic twin sister and rival for Juliet, later Joliet.</em></p></blockquote><p>And even when she learns about the other two theories laid out in history books that predate Hrpsha&rsquo;s, Hackett says: &ldquo;I&rsquo;ll stick with Romeo and Juliet.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">What&rsquo;s in a name?</span></p><p>Without the evidence to confirm any single theory, it&rsquo;s hard to disabuse people like Hackett who have chosen to take one theory or another as gospel. But maybe the tendency to perpetuate origin stories &mdash; and the many ways they manifest &mdash; can sometimes be more interesting than a verifiably true story.</p><p>At least that&rsquo;s Callary&rsquo;s take on our answer to Paul Kaiser&rsquo;s question.</p><p>We learn that, through names, people make statements about their heritage. And if a tiny, tiny town like Romeo &mdash; almost written out of history books &mdash; has anything at stake, it is identity.</p><p>&ldquo;Very few [people] have heard of Romeoville&rdquo; Callary says. &ldquo;Joliet is large enough to have an identity on its own but Romeo &mdash; or, Romeoville &mdash; might need a little bit of help.&rdquo;</p><p>So people fill in the gaps because, well, that&rsquo;s just what people do.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s satisfying to have an answer,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;And when we don&rsquo;t &hellip; by golly, we make one up.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/paul%20and%20kathy.jpg" style="height: 420px; width: 280px; float: left;" title="Paul Kaiser and his wife, Kathy, after visiting the Romeoville Area Historical Society. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /><span style="font-size:22px;">Who asked the question?</span></p><p>Paul Kaiser, a retired math and computer science professor, moved to Joliet from Cleveland, Ohio, in 1973. As a curious new resident to the area, Paul got interested in the history of the I&amp;M Canal. It was while he was learning about the canal that he first came across old maps bearing the town names Romeo and Juliet.</p><p>&ldquo;For me this has been a trip around in a big, long historical circle,&rdquo; Paul says. &ldquo;It seems like we&rsquo;re always coming back to the canal, its importance back in the 1800s for opening up commerce and developing communities.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Luckily, Paul is comfortable with a bit of ambiguity in this Curious City investigation.</p><p>&ldquo;I do like the theory of Juliet being the original name because of Campbell&rsquo;s daughter,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;But as the author says, we don&rsquo;t have any records to really say with 100 percent accuracy. So it&rsquo;s a good guess. I like the story. I&rsquo;m comfortable with the story. But it still leaves some freedom to play with it if you want. I mean, it leaves mystery in your life.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Katie Klocksin is an independent radio producer. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/KatieKlocksin" target="_blank">@katieklocksin</a>. Logan Jaffe is Curious City&#39;s multimedia producer. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/loganjaffe" target="_blank">@loganjaffe</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 29 Dec 2014 15:40:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/wherefore-art-thou-romeoville-111302