WBEZ | Chicago history http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago-history Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en How Blue Island fought off Chicago's annexation attempt http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/how-blue-island-fought-chicagos-annexation-attempt-109763 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/136868066&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>If Blue Island, a Southwestern suburb of just four square miles, once beat back Chicago&rsquo;s attempt to annex it, we shouldn&rsquo;t be surprised that they trounced other suburbs in a Curious City face-off.</p><p>Recall that curious citizen Jim Padden asked Curious City how Chicago grew over time by annexing its neighbors. (The answer? It&rsquo;s in an <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/gulp-how-chicago-gobbled-its-neighbors-109583" target="_blank">animated map</a>).</p><p>But then, we asked you: Which Chicago suburb&rsquo;s story of resisting annexation do you want to hear more about?</p><p>Blue Island prevailed against Oak Park, which is on the city&#39;s western border, and Evanston to the north. I want to thank the&nbsp;<a href="https://docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/forms/d/1hZ7pRixGl5BicB0a6JZQ7Iz94ZRrx9cTcgxD3Wn8GQQ/viewanalytics#start=publishanalytics" target="_blank">thousands of you who voted</a>.&nbsp;</p><p>If you&rsquo;re not familiar with the place, Blue Island is a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/sections/lifestyle/echo-past-help-blue-island%E2%80%99s-future-105883" target="_blank">diverse, proudly working class suburb</a> of about 24,000 people. It&rsquo;s about 16 miles southwest of Chicago&rsquo;s loop, as the crow flies.</p><p>To get to the heart of why this suburb said &lsquo;No thanks&rsquo; when Chicago came knocking, we need to go back in time.</p><p><strong>Which is the city, which is the suburb?</strong></p><p>In the 1830s, Blue Island and Chicago were just whispers of their future selves among Illinois wilderness.</p><p>&ldquo;Blue Island is just two years younger than Chicago,&rdquo; said chair of the Blue Island Historical Society Mike Kaliski. &ldquo;So Blue Island was a stopping point for travelers going on to Chicago. It was still a day&rsquo;s travel from here to Chicago. So between Chicago and Joliet, Blue Island was it. There was nothing else and this was a big town. So Blue Islanders always felt maybe Chicago should be the suburb, not Blue Island. &rdquo;</p><p>But Blue Island remained a modest four square miles while Chicago grew, annexing its neighbors one at a time. By 1914, Chicago had sidled up to Blue Island&rsquo;s doorstep.</p><p>&ldquo;Morgan Park had voted for [annexation by Chicago in 1914],&rdquo; Kaliski said. &ldquo;So now, oh boy, it&rsquo;s getting closer. Now what are we going to do? So there was probably a little more urgency to the Blue Islanders&rsquo; frame of mind at that time.&rdquo;</p><p>Blue Islanders got to see what happened to their neighbors in Morgan Park after Chicago gobbled them up in 1914. For one thing, Morgan Park lost half its street names in the transition; its east-west streets took on numbers (e.g., West 111th Street), following Chicago&rsquo;s convention.</p><p>We dug out some old newspapers to give a sense of how the arguments for and against annexation played out. Here&rsquo;s an excerpt from the Blue Island Standard on February 2, 1915.</p><p>&ldquo;Who is Annexation Society? The writer afraid or ashamed to disclose his identity...The first gun in the annexation campaign was fired last Saturday when hundreds of circulars called Volume 1 Annexation filled the mails and found their way into nearly every home in the city.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>The anonymous &lsquo;Annexation Society&rsquo; flyers touted Chicago&rsquo;s public schools and other city services. But they didn&rsquo;t convince many Blue Islanders. In 1915, residents rebuffed Chicago in a landslide, with about 77 percent voting not to join Chicago.</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/blue%20island%20historic%20western.PNG" style="height: 207px; width: 350px; float: left;" title="Archival image of Western Avenue in Blue Island. (Courtesy of Rock Island Public House)" /><strong>Blue Island roots</strong></div><p>The outcome doesn&rsquo;t surprise Richard Bauer. The 83-year-old comes from a family whose roots in Blue Island run deep. He&rsquo;s a direct descendent of Henry Bauer, who <a href="http://www.blueisland.org/landmarks/33-bauer/" target="_blank">opened a brewery in Blue Island in 1858</a>. Richard Bauer was born 15 years after the annexation vote, but remembers plenty of stories about why it failed.</p><p>&ldquo;There were certain businesses and politicians that were very prominent and it wouldn&rsquo;t be any advantage to them at all,&rdquo; Richard said. &ldquo;They&rsquo;d be out. Naturally they&rsquo;d want to stay the way it was.&rdquo;</p><p>Richard said he never heard anyone in Blue Island consider joining Chicago again.</p><p>&ldquo;If there had been any talk it wasn&rsquo;t serious talk,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Jason Berry is a city planner and history buff who loves Blue Island so much he braved a blizzard to come out and talk about it.</p><p>&ldquo;We have our own identity,&rdquo; Berry said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not a shock to me that in 1915 Blue Islanders also felt the same way &mdash; growing up in the shadow of Chicago doesn&rsquo;t mean you have to give up who you were. The pride that Blue Islanders have today you see echoed in these old papers. Blue Islanders always felt strongly about their place in history and I&rsquo;m glad that they were able to hold onto it.&rdquo;</p><p>Identity. That word keeps popping up. Sure, taxes, politics and plenty of other things factored into Blue Island&rsquo;s fear of annexation. But it seems that &mdash; for most folks I talked to &mdash; it&rsquo;s about identity.</p><p><strong>Identity and infrastructure</strong></p><p>It&rsquo;s one thing to have a strong community identity. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/question-answered-how-are-chicago-neighborhoods-formed-103831" target="_blank">Plenty of Chicago neighborhoods do.</a></p><p>Shoot, Hyde Park was annexed into the city way back in 1899, but if you ask someone at 55th and Woodlawn where they live, odds are good the first words out of their mouth aren&rsquo;t &ldquo;Chicago,&rdquo; but &ldquo;Hyde Park.&rdquo;</p><p>So the warm fuzzy feeling of a Blue Island identity wasn&rsquo;t enough to fight off annexation. It had to have city services good enough to make Chicago&rsquo;s offers of infrastructure unconvincing.</p><p>A big part of it was that Blue Island had already secured a way of getting fresh water from Lake Michigan without Chicago&rsquo;s infrastructure.</p><p>&ldquo;They didn&rsquo;t need Chicago to come in and say, &lsquo;Hey, you&rsquo;re going to get water, you&rsquo;re going to get this and this &mdash; we&rsquo;ve already got it,&rsquo;&rdquo; Kaliski said. &ldquo;We got a contract and they already secured the water. So you gotta understand their attitude was we don&rsquo;t need you. We don&rsquo;t want to be part of Chicago. There&rsquo;s nothing Chicago could offer except higher taxes.&rdquo;</p><p>Blue Island was also bolstered by its connection to the railways and had diverse industry. It made everything from bricks to beer.</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/rockislandpublichouse_elliott.PNG" style="float: right; height: 200px; width: 350px;" title="Blue Island’s Bauer brewery opened in 1858 but didn’t survive until today. The the beer-loving tradition continues with a new business: Rock Island Public House. (WBEZ/file)" /><strong>Depending on diversity for future growth</strong></div><p>The only thing more diverse than the industry in Blue Island&rsquo;s past is its people. The <a href="http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/17/1706704.html" target="_blank">latest U.S. Census numbers</a> show residents are:</p><ul dir="ltr"><li>41.3% white</li><li>47% Latino (can include other categories)</li><li>30.8% African-American</li></ul><p>The city just elected its first Latino mayor: <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBsnlL7YcVc" target="_blank">Domingo Vargas</a>. He says Blue Island&rsquo;s diversity still keeps it distinct from Chicago and newer suburban sprawl to its west.</p><p>Blue Island businesses struggled in the 20th century to compete against suburban malls.</p><p>But Vargas &mdash; whose own family has lived in Blue Island since 1914 &mdash; says the suburb is poised to grow again. They&rsquo;re not making bricks anymore, but they are <a href="http://www.wbez.org/sections/lifestyle/echo-past-help-blue-island%E2%80%99s-future-105883" target="_blank">brewing again</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;Blue Island&rsquo;s basically been a community of churches. As well as the breweries. So from one extreme to the other,&rdquo; Vargas said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re coming back. The churches are coming back, the breweries are coming back, and eventually hopefully more of the small businesses will be the unique niches here again.&rdquo;</p><p>There&rsquo;s even talk now in Blue Island of making room for newcomers by snapping up a few bits of available land in the surrounding area.</p><p>Because, as just about everyone we met there said: Who wouldn&rsquo;t want to live in Blue Island?</p><p><em>Tricia Bobeda is a WBEZ web producer. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda"> @triciabobeda</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 24 Feb 2014 16:45:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/how-blue-island-fought-chicagos-annexation-attempt-109763 Gulp! How Chicago gobbled its neighbors http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/gulp-how-chicago-gobbled-its-neighbors-109583 <p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: There&#39;s plenty going on in this post: We&#39;re answering a question (partly through <a href="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/CityLimits/cityLimitsGIF.html" target="_blank">an animated GIF</a>!), but we&#39;re also letting you know we&#39;re not done! A previous version of this post asked you to pick which city&#39;s story of resistance to Chicago annexation we should tell next: Blue Island, Oak Park or Evanston. Almost 2,700 of you made your voices heard! The <a href="https://docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/forms/d/1hZ7pRixGl5BicB0a6JZQ7Iz94ZRrx9cTcgxD3Wn8GQQ/viewanalytics#start=publishanalytics" target="_blank">results</a>? Let&#39;s just say we&#39;re looking forward to revisiting our short interview with Blue Island Mayor Domingo Vargas, who told our producers that he considers the suburb to be &quot;the center of the universe.&quot; You can hear Vargas and other suburban officials make their case in our <a href="https://soundcloud.com/curiouscity/smackdowns-lake-michigan?in=curiouscity/sets/curious-city-podcasts" target="_blank">&quot;Smackdowns&quot;</a> podcast episode.&nbsp;</em></p><p>At its start, Chicago was a marshy outpost of hearty settlers who used the convergence of Lake Michigan and the Chicago River to their benefit.</p><p>Now the city spans approximately 237 square miles. Many of its nearly <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/about/facts.html" target="_blank">2.7 million residents</a> live far enough from both the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/have-your-say-lake-michigan-vs-chicago-river-109317" target="_blank">lake and river</a> that the economic drivers and geographic anchors are out of sight, out of mind.</p><p>Curious Citizen Jim Padden grew up in <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/sweet-spot-top-chicago-107897" target="_blank">Beverly</a> &mdash; one of the far flung neighborhoods in the southwestern corner of Chicago. He always wondered why his community was part of the city when others closer to the Loop (such as west suburban Oak Park) maintained their independence.</p><p>So he asked this question about Chicago&rsquo;s borders:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>What were the original city limits? How did it grow over time as it annexed the neighborhoods we know today?</em></p><p>Chicago swallowed up neighboring towns and villages at a breakneck pace early in its history. Some, like Hyde Park Township, kept remnants of their old names as neighborhood names. Others, like Oak Park, fought tooth and nail to maintain their autonomy.</p><p>The squiggly city borders we know today are the result of hundreds of elections, in which residents faced the same choice: Do you want to be a Chicagoan?</p><p><strong>From marsh to metropolis</strong></p><p>When Chicago was incorporated as a town in 1835, there wasn&#39;t much municipal government in the area; in fact, there wasn&rsquo;t much government at all.</p><p><a href="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CC_citylimits_inline.jpg" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CC_citylimits_inline.jpg" style="height: 427px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum" /></a></p><p>But Chicago&rsquo;s borders soon expanded for the same reason they do elsewhere: money and politics. After all, if you wanted to know who you could collect tax dollars from, you had to know who lived in the city and who didn&#39;t. Maps at the Chicago History Museum show that in 1837, city borders were:</p><ul><li>Lake Michigan to the east</li><li>North Avenue to the north</li><li>22nd Street to the south</li><li>Wood Street to the west</li></ul><p>In the <a href="http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-great-fire-destroys-much-of-chicago" target="_blank">Great Fire of 1871</a>, much of the city was destroyed. The most significant annexation in Chicago history came almost two decades later, in 1889.</p><p>That&#39;s when Hyde Park, Lake View and Jefferson and Lake townships became part of Chicago. The annexations were the result of an election and <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/53.html" target="_blank">added 125 miles and 225,000 people to the city</a>, making it the nation&rsquo;s largest city by square mileage at the time.</p><p>(The land in Hyde Park would become home to the city&rsquo;s marquee event, the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/your-ticket-white-city-108994" target="_blank">World&#39;s Fair: Columbian Exposition</a>, just a few years later in 1893.)</p><p>Other annexations didn&#39;t change the population of Chicago as dramatically, but many were contentious for the residents involved. The city&rsquo;s longstanding reputation as a haven for sin fueled efforts by some townships to stay autonomous (and dry).</p><p>But others agreed to join, being wooed by the city&rsquo;s municipal services. The city&rsquo;s public schools system was a draw. Its superior water, sewer, electric, and roadway services were attractive too.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Explore: </strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/gulp-how-chicago-gobbled-its-neighbors-109583#scribd">Archival news coverage of the 1899 annexation of the Austin neighborhood on Chicago&rsquo;s West Side</a></p></blockquote><p>&ldquo;Those four townships that voted wholesale to come in in 1889, they were looking at Chicago and the municipality as really a way out of a lot of problems,&rdquo; said Chicago History Museum historian Peter Alter. &ldquo;No longer were things like sewers and power seen as luxuries that you could offer to the rich; they were seen as necessities.&rdquo;</p><p>The paradigm began to shift away from annexation as the city could no longer afford to swell and the last major annexation &mdash; the land for <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/924.html" target="_blank">O&#39;Hare International Airport &mdash;</a> was more of a grab for land than individual taxpayers in 1956.</p><p>&ldquo;One of the reasons annexation stops [...] in the early 1900s is because the city really doesn&rsquo;t want to annex any more territory,&rdquo; said Chicago historian Ann Keating, who wrote <em>Chicago Neighborhoods and Suburbs: A Historical Guide</em> and co-edited <em>The Encyclopedia of Chicago</em>. &ldquo;Our vision is suburban communities wouldn&rsquo;t want to join in to the city, but the fact of the matter is the city kind of hits a point where they can no longer extend services.&rdquo;</p><p>Meanwhile, some suburban communities remained adamant about their independence.<a name="scribd"></a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/tbobeda">Tricia Bobeda</a> is a producer on WBEZ&#39;s digital team and co-host of the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/podcasts">Nerdette Podcast</a>. Follow her on <a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda">Twitter</a>. <a href="https://twitter.com/alyssaedes" target="_blank">Alyssa Edes</a> was a WBEZ web intern this fall.</em></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;"><a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/189269972/Austin-s-annexation-into-Chicago" style="text-decoration: underline;" title="View Austin's annexation into Chicago on Scribd">Archival news coverage of Austin&#39;s annexation into Chicago</a></p><p><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="0.195789016713697" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="800" id="doc_66250" scrolling="no" src="//www.scribd.com/embeds/189269972/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;access_key=key-f588hiqpv1x2j5sf16w&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="600"></iframe></p></p> Mon, 27 Jan 2014 15:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/gulp-how-chicago-gobbled-its-neighbors-109583 Looking back at Uptown in the mid-1970s http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/looking-back-uptown-mid-1970s-108429 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Storyteller.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In 1973, <a href="http://bobrehak.com/wordpress/">Bob Rehak</a> was 24-years-old, living in Rogers Park and working downtown at an advertsing agency. His daily commute took him through Uptown, a gritty, struggling neighborhood on Chicago&#39;s North Side.&nbsp;</p><p>An introvert working to break out of his shell, Rehak gave himself a challenge: Get off the Red Line &#39;L&#39; train at Wilson Avenue, walk up to the first person he saw, and ask if he could take their picture. It worked.</p><p>&quot;Much to my suprise, what I found was people were extremely friendly,&quot; he said. &quot;They didn&#39;t beat me over the head and steal my Nikon as I&#39;d feared. I think they were flattered that somebody was there paying attention.&quot;</p><p>From there, he was hooked. Rehak&nbsp;<a href="http://bobrehak.com/wordpress/portfolio-2/documentary/">documented Uptown and its residents</a> for the next four years, developing nearly 5,000 black and white photographs. In the end, he created a portrait of one of the most dense and most diverse neighborhoods in Chicago history.</p><p>Until recently, those images have been largely forgotten. But when the photographer uploaded them online in July, they went viral, reaching 4.5 million page views in a just a few months. Rehak said more than 500 people have contacted him about the photos, some of whom appear in the very shots he took forty years ago.&nbsp;</p><p>Now remastered as a book, titled &quot;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Uptown-Portrait-Chicago-Neighborhood-mid-1970s/dp/098527333X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1380640293&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=uptown+rehak">Uptown: Portrait of a Chicago Neighborhood in the Mid-1970s</a>,&quot; the collection is now available in stores.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Use the sliding tool to see Uptown then and now<a name="slider">:</a></strong><br /><br /><iframe frameborder="0" height="610" scrolling="no" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/INTERACTIVE+DATA+PUBLISHING/2013+Projects/August/UptownBeforeAfter/BeforeAfterWilson.html" width="620"></iframe></p><p>Rehak took this photo of Wilson Avenue, looking east toward Sheridan Road on the &#39;L&#39; platform. In the background is the Sheridan Plaza Hotel, which sat vacant for many years before it was renovated and turned into apartments in 2009.</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="440" scrolling="no" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/INTERACTIVE+DATA+PUBLISHING/2013+Projects/August/UptownBeforeAfter/BeforeAfterLawrence.html" width="620"></iframe></p><p>Rehak took this shot at Lawrence Avenue and Broadway on Dec. 27, 1975. The Riviera Theater was playing &quot;Snow White&quot; and Lawray Drugs was advertising Bufferin for $1.09. Today, a Starbucks and abandoned Borders dominate the view. (Photo cropped for comparison.)</p><p><em>Alyssa Edes is a digital media intern at WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/alyssaedes" target="_blank">@alyssaedes</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Tue, 03 Dec 2013 15:03:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/looking-back-uptown-mid-1970s-108429 Your ticket to the White City http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/your-ticket-white-city-108994 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ferris%20wheel%202.jpg" style="height: 222px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="The Ferris wheel at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. (Library of Congress)" />The Field Museum unveils a <a href="http://fieldmuseum.org/happening/exhibits/opening-vaults-wonders-1893-worlds-fair" target="_blank">new exhibit this week</a> about the 1893 Columbian Exposition.</p><p>The World&rsquo;s Fair was held in Chicago&rsquo;s Jackson Park and&mdash;for six ballyhooed months&mdash;brought together ancient cultures, cutting-edge technology and a Ferris wheel that makes Navy Pier&rsquo;s look pint-sized in comparison.</p><p>It was a monumental feat for the growing metropolis, made even more impressive by the fact that the city was just two decades past the infamous and <a href="http://www.chicagohs.org/history/fire.html" target="_blank">devastating fire</a>.</p><p>Millions of travelers who flocked to Chicago for the Fair were faced with the stark juxtaposition of architect Daniel Burnham&rsquo;s White City and the soot-stained, crime-ridden urban environment beyond the fairgrounds.</p><p>Curious Citizen Michael Dotson wanted a more complete picture of what the Exposition was like for someone who bought one of the 27 million tickets sold, so he asked two fair-related questions. We couldn&rsquo;t resist this one:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>What was it like to be a visitor at the 1893 World&rsquo;s Fair?</em></p><p>The bestselling nonfiction book <em><a href="http://www.randomhouse.com/crown/devilinthewhitecity/home.html" target="_blank">The Devil in the White City</a></em> offers a vivid portrait of the Fair from the perspective of two men: the aforementioned <a href="http://www.pbs.org/programs/make-no-little-plans/" target="_blank">Daniel Burnham</a> and the <a href="http://www.biography.com/people/hh-holmes-307622" target="_blank">serial killer H.H. Holmes</a>.</p><p>But to help us understand what a day at the Fair was like for people who weren&rsquo;t building cities or elaborate death traps, we used a different book: <em><a href="http://chicagobydayandnight.com/" target="_blank">Chicago by Day and Night: The Pleasure Seeker&rsquo;s Guide to the Paris of the America</a></em>.</p><p>Think of it as Lonely Planet circa 1892. The travel guide&rsquo;s anonymous author (likely <em>authors</em>) provides a detailed look at Chicago&rsquo;s architecture and entertainment options. It contains plenty of boosterism, but also some frank advice about avoiding con artists and adventuresses (women well-practiced in charming a man out of his wealth).</p><p>An <a href="http://archive.org/details/chicagobydaynigh00vynn" target="_blank">archive</a> of original text of <em>Chicago by Day and Night</em> is available online, but earlier this year Northwestern University Press <a href="http://chicagobydayandnight.com/" target="_blank">published a new version</a> edited by historians Paul Durica and Bill Savage.</p><p><a href="http://chicagobydayandnight.com/bios" target="_blank">These guys</a> know a thing or two about Chicago history and, as you can see in the video above, they&rsquo;re not opposed to donning period garb when it gets people geeked about the city&rsquo;s past. Durica is responsible for the <a href="http://pocketguidetohell.com/" target="_blank">Pocket Guide to Hell</a> historical reenactments and teaches at the University of Chicago. Savage is a senior lecturer at Northwestern University. The duo added a new introduction and notes to the 1892 text.</p><p>For the fullest time travel experience possible, we suggest curling up with some <a href="http://www.npr.org/programs/morning/features/patc/crackerjack/" target="_blank">Cracker Jack</a> and a <a href="http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/design/2012/11/where-did-pabst-win-that-blue-ribbon/" target="_blank">PBR</a> and reading this 1892 guide for Chicago tourists. Then spend an afternoon strolling through <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2004-07-02/features/0407020064_1_world-s-fair-science-and-industry-ferris-wheel" target="_blank">Jackson Park</a> and exploring the Field Museum&rsquo;s exhibit of about 1,000 of its <a href="http://archive.fieldmuseum.org/columbianexpo/introduction.asp" target="_blank">massive collection</a> of Exposition artifacts.</p><p>As you do, keep these facts in mind:</p><ul><li>Daily admission to the Fair cost 50 cents, which is the equivalent of the cost of a 3D movie <a href="http://www.westegg.com/inflation/" target="_blank">today</a> (about $12).</li><li>A ride on the Ferris wheel cost 50 cents.</li><li>A night in one of the city&rsquo;s finest hotels cost $5 (about $125 in <a href="http://www.westegg.com/inflation/" target="_blank">modern dollars</a>). In this era, the trendiest accommodations also offered something new to Chicago diners: a prix fixe menu.</li><li>The Fair spanned 686 acres. Disney&rsquo;s Magic Kingdom and Epcot could fit squarely inside.</li><li>Some of the performers in ethnic villages on the Midway got fed up with the Fair&rsquo;s rules, long hours and unreasonable demands. A group of Eskimos, for example, was required to wear traditional fur-lined garb during a Chicago summer. They opened their own shows outside the fairgrounds.</li><li>The massive crowds at the Fair made it a <a href="http://www.history.com/news/7-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-1893-chicago-worlds-fair" target="_blank">prime location for premiering and marketing new products</a>. Cracker Jack, Wrigley&rsquo;s Juicy Fruit gum and Cream of Wheat date back to this time.</li><li>Pabst won some awards for its beer at the Fair. But it didn&rsquo;t win a<em> blue</em> ribbon. Contemporary PBR fans ... you&rsquo;re drinking a <a href="http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/design/2012/11/where-did-pabst-win-that-blue-ribbon/" target="_blank">120-year-old lie</a>.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/mashup_fair.PNG" style="float: left; height: 411px; width: 620px;" title="This mashup map shows how current attractions such as Disney’s Magic Kingdom and Epcot would fit neatly within the massive fairgrounds. (Courtesy of the Field Museum)" /></li></ul><p><em><a href="https://twitter.com/triciabobeda" target="_blank">Tricia Bobeda</a> and <a href="http://www.twitter.com/iamandrewgill" target="_blank">Andrew Gill</a> are WBEZ web producers.&nbsp;</em><em>Note: Tricia Bobeda assisted in the production of a website about </em>Chicago by Day and Night<em>.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Wed, 23 Oct 2013 15:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/your-ticket-white-city-108994 So Long, Chicago! http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-06/so-long-chicago-107757 <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/06-26--So%20Long%2C%20Chicago%21.jpg" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Well, not really. But as many of you know, this is &quot;so long&quot; to blogging at WBEZ.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">It&#39;s been fun. Thanks to Justin Kaufmann for hiring me. And thanks to all the wonderful people at WBEZ who&#39;ve helped me. There are too many to mention here, but I&#39;d like to single out Robin Amer and Tricia Bobeda, who were successively responsible for getting my stuff posted.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Most important, thanks to all of you who&#39;ve read the blog, with a special thanks to those who&#39;ve taken the trouble to post a comment. Anyone who&#39;s been a teacher &mdash; as I was for 38 years &mdash; knows the importance of getting feedback.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">I&#39;ve been asked if I&#39;m going to continue the blog. Yes &mdash; and no. I recently signed a book contract. Yesterday I filmed a segment for Travel Channel, and I have a few other projects going to keep me busy for a while. But I already have a post (on Capone) up on my resurrected site, and will try to put up new posts at least once a week. The site is called <a href="http://chicagohistorytoday.wordpress.com/" target="_blank">Chicago History Today</a>.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</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://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Lake%20Shore%20Dr%20%40%20North%20%281942-CTA%29.jpg" title="Lake Shore Drive near North, view south (CTA photo-1942)" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">To include at least a bit of historical content in today&#39;s post, I&#39;m running this 1942 picture. I was going to use it in an article about Lake Shore Drive&#39;s reversible lanes that I never got around to writing. Notice that the only thing separating the traffic lanes here are a series of wooden horses. Drivers must have been a lot more cautious 70 years ago.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">In closing, I&#39;ll once again pass on my Three Rules of Life:</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">(1) Never drive drunk.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">(2) Never play golf in a thunderstorm.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">(3) Never pay retail.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Best,</div><div class="image-insert-image ">JRS</div></p> Wed, 26 Jun 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-06/so-long-chicago-107757 Why the Kennedy backs up at the Edens junction http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-06/why-kennedy-backs-edens-junction-107813 <p><p>If you&rsquo;ve ever driven the Kennedy Expressway to O&rsquo;Hare&mdash;or to the far Northwest Side&mdash;you know about this bottleneck.&nbsp; You sail through the Edens junction, and suddenly everything comes to a screeching halt. Traffic crawls along for the next few miles, until you pass Harlem Avenue. Then&nbsp;the highway&nbsp;opens up again.</p><p>Why does this happen? It all goes back to the original design.</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/06-24--Junction_8.JPG" title="Smooth sailing at the Junction--it's Sunday morning!" /></div><p>In the 1950s, when Chicago&rsquo;s expressways were being built, they were geared toward moving traffic to and from the center of the city. Crosstown travel was rarely factored into the planning. Therefore, there was no ramp from the inbound Edens to the outbound Kennedy. Likewise, there was no ramp from the inbound Kennedy to the outbound Edens.</p><p>The Kennedy-Edens junction was complicated enough, with three railroad lines and busy Cicero Avenue right there. Building two additional ramps would involve additional land clearance and be wildly expensive.&nbsp; Therefore, the planners didn&rsquo;t bother with them.</p><p>During the 1960s, a Crosstown Expressway was proposed as an extension of the Edens south along Cicero. This meant that a full Kennedy-Edens interchange would be built. But the Crosstown was never constructed, and the Kennedy-Edens junction remained as it was.</p><p>So today, if you&rsquo;re on the inbound Kennedy (I-90) and want to access the outbound Edens (I-94), you drive through the junction and take the first exit at Keeler. Then you turn left on Keeler, drive under the Kennedy, and take another left&nbsp;up the next ramp. Now you&rsquo;re on the outbound Kennedy, and can get&nbsp;to the Edens.</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/Keeler%20cross-under.JPG" title="The notorious Keeler cross-under" /></div><p>You can follow the same procedure going from the inbound Edens to the outbound Kennedy&mdash;drive through the junction, then use the Keeler exit/entrance maneuver. But most drivers follow a different route.</p><p>Want to get from the inbound Edens to the outbound Kennedy? Exit at Cicero-Foster,&nbsp;then drive west on surface streets.&nbsp;After a mile or so you can get on the outbound Kennedy at Foster, or at Nagle-Bryn Mawr.</p><p>Now you have all this traffic getting on the outbound Kennedy at Foster, and at Nagle-Bryn Mawr. Meanwhile, there&rsquo;s a significant curve in the expressway that slows&nbsp;things down in the stretch between these two entrances. Result&mdash;a three-mile jam back to the Edens junction.</p><p>So, how to solve this mess?</p><p>1&mdash;Eliminate the Sayre exit. This exit was actually meant to serve Talcott Avenue, which was Illinois Route 62 when the expressway was constructed. The exit is little used today, and is only a few hundred feet from the Harlem exit.</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/Sayre%20Exit-02%20%282012%29.JPG" title="Is this exit necessary?" /></div><p>2&mdash;Build segregated acceleration/deceleration lanes along the outbound Kennedy between Nagle and Harlem. There&rsquo;s&nbsp;lots of space for them, though the greenery would have to be sacrificed.</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/Kennedy%20west%20of%20Nagle.JPG" title="Kennedy west of Nagle--plenty of room for extra lanes" /></div><p>I&rsquo;m not a traffic engineer, so I don&rsquo;t know if this is the best solution to the problem. But the present arrangement sure isn&rsquo;t working.</p></p> Mon, 24 Jun 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-06/why-kennedy-backs-edens-junction-107813 Two views of Pilsen, decades apart http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-06/two-views-pilsen-decades-apart-107755 <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/02--1947--West.jpg" title="1947--18th Street near Wood Street, view east (author's collection)" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/02--2013.JPG" title="2013--the same location" /></div></div></div></div><p>Chicago&#39;s Pilsen is named for a city of ancient Bohemia, what is now the Czech Republic. In the course of 66 years this neighborhood has changed from Czech to Mexican. Meanwhile, the streetcar has been replaced by a bus, the cars look different, and the &#39;L&#39; station has been renovated.</p><p>And yet all of the buildings are still in place. Film-makers searching for a 1940s streetscape would do well to consider this stretch of 18th Street.</p></p> Fri, 21 Jun 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-06/two-views-pilsen-decades-apart-107755 Six tunnels hidden under Chicago’s Loop http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/six-tunnels-hidden-under-chicago%E2%80%99s-loop-107791 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/tunnels/index.html" target="_blank"><img a="" alt="" below="" class="image-original_image" download="" file="" fit="" for="" get="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CCTunnels new topper.jpg" the="" title="Drawings by Erik Nelson Rodriguez of the Illustrated Press. Click on the picture above for a full-sized graphic or click &quot;Download the graphic!&quot; below to get a file fit for printing!" to="" /></a></div></div></div></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F97891205&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Karri DeSelm works in the JW Marriott Building, on the corner of LaSalle and Adams in downtown Chicago. Her building, the last designed by famed architect Daniel Burnham, was completed in 1914, and underwent major renovations two years ago. Karri says that at the time, her boss told her that she had been down deep into the building&rsquo;s basement, where she had seen the entrance to a secret tunnel that ran underneath the Loop.</p><p>That got Karri wondering:</p><blockquote><p><em>&ldquo;I have heard there is a network of layered tunnels under the city. Is this true, and if so, what was the purpose of the tunnels when they were designed and built?&rdquo;</em></p></blockquote><p>For starters, it&rsquo;s true &mdash; there <em>are</em> many tunnels underneath the Loop. We found no fewer than <em>six different sets of tunnels</em>, including the tunnels connected to Karri&rsquo;s building.</p><p>Each of the tunnels we found was at some point, or continues to be, a critical part of Chicago&rsquo;s infrastructure. The city would be lost without these tunnels. Sometimes they&rsquo;re hidden, and sometimes they&rsquo;re just overlooked, taken for granted by the people who walk above them. But trust us &mdash; 2.8 million people would notice the tunnels&rsquo; absence because they&rsquo;d have no reliable source of clean tap water, no flood control and no crosstown &ldquo;L&rdquo; service in the Loop.</p><p>And the tunnels that aren&rsquo;t still in use are more than just odd architectural remnants or historical curiosities. They may be obscured from sight and from memory (or even sealed off), but they&rsquo;re still an important part of the city&rsquo;s built environment. As one source put it, we ignore the tunnels at our own peril. When we erect new buildings downtown, we do so in a densely layered maze of infrastructure, both old and new.</p><p>To help wrap our heads around Karri&rsquo;s question, we worked with Erik N. Rodriguez of <a href="http://illuspress.com/">The Illustrated Press</a>. Based on our reporting, he created the graphic above, which shows six different kinds of tunnels, how deep underground they are and how they&rsquo;re situated relative to one another. Note, though, that the drawing is a composite; it shows what can be found at different depths across the Loop, but not necessarily beneath any single street address.</p><p><strong>1. The Pedway</strong></p><p>File Chicago&rsquo;s Pedway under tunnels you may not know you know. You may have seen the system&rsquo;s distinctive black and gold compass logo marking the entryways of skyscrapers downtown without knowing what they signified.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CuriousCityTunnelsThumbs-1.jpg" style="float: left; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="" />Short for &ldquo;pedestrian walkway,&rdquo; this maze-like system of semi-public hallways connects the basements of more than 50 Loop buildings, including municipal buildings like City Hall and the Thompson Center, shopping centers like Macy&rsquo;s and Block 37, and a few newer residential buildings, like the hypermodern Aqua tower. The Pedway also snakes through two CTA stations, a Metra station and several underground parking garages along Michigan Avenue.</p><p>Although the Pedway provides a climate-controlled alternative to Chicago&rsquo;s sidewalks, it&rsquo;s more than just a thoroughfare. Under its fluorescent lights and beige ceiling tiles you can get your haircut, get a clock fixed, grab coffee, shop for a blender or order new license plates.</p><p>Perhaps that&rsquo;s why Amanda Scotese offers walking tours of the Pedway through <a href="http://www.chicagodetours.com/">Chicago Detours</a>, her unconventional tourism company. As Scotese&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.chicagodetours.com/images/chicago-pedway-map-detours.pdf">carefully researched Pedway map</a> illustrates, this system of tunnels is a disconnected mishmash. Although the Chicago Department of Transportation technically oversees the Pedway, many sections are owned by other government entities, while still others are privately owned and controlled by the management of whatever building they pass underneath.</p><p>Case in point: During a recent afternoon rush hour visit to the Pedway, Scotese, our question-asker Karri and I were stymied by a section of the Pedway under City Hall that closed promptly at 5 p.m.</p><p><strong>2. CTA tunnels</strong></p><p>File these tunnels under those you probably take for granted. Although the city prides itself on its extensive network of elevated trains, two downtown subway tunnels also move commuters through the Loop. These tunnels are now owned and operated by the CTA, and in 2012, the combined &ldquo;L&rdquo; stops inside the two tunnels <a href="http://www.transitchicago.com/assets/1/ridership_reports/2012-Annual.pdf">served an average</a> of 82,343 passengers every weekday.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CuriousCityTunnelsThumbs-2.jpg" style="float: left; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="" />The first tunnel runs beneath State Street and serves the Red Line. The second goes under Dearborn Street and Milwaukee Avenue and serves the Blue Line.</p><p>The city began digging the two subway tunnels in 1938, with the help of money from FDR&rsquo;s New Deal and the Works Progress Administration.</p><p>Meant to accommodate crosstown &ldquo;L&rdquo; traffic, which could become snarled in the Loop, the tunnels range from 20 to 60 feet underground. Steel and concrete tubes 200 feet long housed the tunnels as they passed under the Chicago River.</p><p>As was the case with previous public works, the opening of the State Street subway tunnel in 1943 was cause for celebration: The curators of the transit history site <a href="http://www.chicago-l.org/">Chicago L</a> <a href="http://www.chicago-l.org/operations/lines/state_subway.html">describe the festivities</a> this way:</p><blockquote><p><em>Between 10:25 and 10:45 a.m., ten special trains arrived at State and Madison to unload their passengers. At 10:47 a.m., Mayor Kelly cut a ceremonial red, white, and blue ribbon strung across the northbound track, officially giving the new subway to the city.</em></p></blockquote><p>The Dearborn Street tunnel, delayed by World War II, was completed in 1951.</p><p><strong>3. Freight tunnels</strong></p><p>Of all the tunnels under the Loop, the 60 miles of freight tunnels 40 feet underground are the most extensive. They also happen to be unique to Chicago.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CuriousCityTunnelsThumbs-3.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="" />Dug by a private company between 1899 and 1906, these tunnels were meant to hide many miles of telephone cable. But transit historian Bruce Moffat says that somewhere during the construction process &ldquo;the company&rsquo;s promoters decided to build very large conduits &mdash; large enough for freight trains.&rdquo;</p><p>Tiny freight trains, that is. The tunnels were only seven feet tall and horseshoe-shaped, with concrete walls and tracks running along the floor. Meaning ... these freight cars were no bigger than small dumpsters.</p><p>This literal underground railroad delivered coal and freight to the sub-basements of prominent buildings in the Loop: City Hall, the Tribune Tower, the Merchandise Mart and dozens more.</p><p>The tunnels stretched from 16th Street to River North and the Field Museum. Remarkably, the tunnel system followed the street grid above so, to this day, you can navigate the freight tunnels using an ordinary Chicago street map.</p><p>That is if you could get inside. Most of the tunnel entrances were sealed in 1992, after a construction crew driving pilings into the Chicago River punctured the tunnels, flooding them and the buildings to which they were connected.</p><p>(We thought these freight tunnels were so interesting that they warranted their own radio story. Stay tuned, as it will air during WBEZ&rsquo;s June 21 broadcast of <em>All Things Considered</em>.)</p><p><strong>4. Cable car tunnels</strong></p><p>Between 1882 and 1906 it was the cable car network, not the &ldquo;L,&rdquo; that served as Chicago&rsquo;s main form of public transit. In fact, Chicago&rsquo;s cable car system was once the largest and most profitable of its kind.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CuriousCityTunnelsThumbs-4.jpg" style="float: left; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="" />The technology that powered cable cars &mdash; a single, continuous underground cable &mdash; wasn&rsquo;t compatible with the drawbridges that carried most other traffic over the Chicago River. Tunnels, though, could extend cable car service beyond the Loop to the city&rsquo;s North and West Sides.</p><p>The first two cable car tunnels made West Side service possible via Washington Street and North Side service possible via LaSalle. These tunnels were expanded from remnants of pedestrian and wagon tunnels dug at the same locations in 1869 and 1871. In fact, just a few months after it opened, the LaSalle Street tunnel served as a major escape route during the Great Chicago Fire.</p><p>Sitting 60 feet below ground, these new cable car tunnels were deeper than their predecessors, but they also happened to be steeper. The new tunnels had a 12 percent grade &mdash; three times the rise of today&rsquo;s CTA trains.&nbsp;</p><p>A private company built a third cable car tunnel between Van Buren and Jackson Streets in 1894. All three tunnels were later adapted for electric street cars, which replaced cable cars beginning in 1906.</p><p>But both means of transit ultimately fell out of use. When the &ldquo;L&rdquo; became ascendant the cable car tunnels were abandoned and sealed.&nbsp;</p><p>They&rsquo;re still there, though, and there&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/search-chicago%E2%80%99s-abandoned-cable-car-tunnels-107715">plenty more to read about their remnants</a>.</p><p><strong>5. Water tunnels</strong></p><p>In 1867 Chicago built an intake crib two miles out in Lake Michigan to collect fresh drinking water for the growing city. Earlier efforts to collect water closer to shore had failed. If this fact inspires a big yawn from you, consider that at this point the city was still dumping sewage into the Chicago River, which fed directly into the lake.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CuriousCityTunnelsThumbs-5.jpg" style="float: left; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="" />This new crib fed water to the Pumping Station at Chicago and Michigan Avenues via a five foot tall, oval-shaped, brick-lined tunnel more than 10,000 feet long. At the time it was considered an engineering marvel. The crib-and-tunnel solution to water collection proved effective enough that Chicago built seven more intake cribs before 1935.</p><p>Those intake tunnels now feed through the city&rsquo;s two filtration plants, but at least one tunnel was taken out of service and sealed when a portion of it collapsed near Lake Shore Drive in 1998. Officials also shut down portions of the drive during repairs, fearing the collapse might be a hazard for motorists.</p><p>But the city is tight-lipped about what other parts of this infrastructure remain in use. We wanted to know where the remaining tunnels are located and how deep underground they are, but the Department of Water Management denied our request.</p><p>Tom LaPorte, the department&rsquo;s spokesperson and Assistant Commissioner, said the department feared such information might make the city&rsquo;s water infrastructure more vulnerable to terrorist attacks.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re the world&rsquo;s largest water treatment facility,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Anything that&rsquo;s going to put us at risk we&rsquo;re not going to do, even for WBEZ.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>6. The Deep Tunnel</strong></p><p>The Deep Tunnel is rarely referred to by its full name, the Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (TARP). But its nickname is apt; at a maximum depth of 350 feet it&rsquo;s the deepest of the six sets of tunnels we&rsquo;re treating here. When Chicago&rsquo;s freight tunnels flooded in 1992, the water was drained into the here.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CuriousCityTunnelsThumbs-6.jpg" style="float: left; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="" />This network of giant overflow sewers was built to prevent flooding and cut pollution in the region&rsquo;s waterways. When heavy storms hit the Chicago area, excess rainwater funnels into the Deep Tunnel system rather than into the lake.</p><p>The tunnels&rsquo; depth is not the project&rsquo;s only stunning statistic. As <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunnel_and_Reservoir_Plan">one writer</a> put it, &ldquo;the mega-project is one of the largest civil engineering projects ever undertaken in terms of scope, cost and timeframe.&rdquo;</p><p>Phase 1 construction, a network of nearly 110 miles of tunnels designed to store 2.3 billion gallons of water, began in 1975 and was not completed until 2006. Three enormous reservoirs, designed to store an additional 14.8 billion gallons of water, are set to be completed by 2029.</p><p>The Deep Tunnel&rsquo;s operator, The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, kindly offered us a tour of the project&rsquo;s south suburban pumping station, which, they told us, has a main chamber &ldquo;the size of two NBA basketball courts.&rdquo;</p><p>We declined their offer, but only for now. Curious City receives so many different questions about the Deep Tunnel and its economic and environmental impact that we&rsquo;re planning a separate story for later this summer digging into that.</p><p><strong>Tunnels aplenty, but running out of space</strong></p><p>So Chicago is chock full of tunnels, at least downtown. There are other tunnels, too, in other parts of the city. Since I&rsquo;ve started my reporting I&rsquo;ve had sources regale me with tales of industrial tunnels that connect factories in Bridgeport, and listeners write in with tidbits about a tunnel that might run under Midway Airport.</p><p>But is the time for tunnels over in this city? Or could we see the construction of new tunnels in the future?</p><p>Sources we talked to said it&rsquo;s unlikely. Most of the tunnels detailed above were built during Chicago&rsquo;s greatest growth and expansion. Chicago had 330,000 residents in 1870, but it boasted over a million just 20 years later. Major works of infrastructure, whether financed publicly or privately, were needed to support and encourage such growth.</p><p>But now, Chicago&rsquo;s population is declining &mdash; as many as 181,000 people left the city between 2000 and 2010 &mdash; even if some parts of town, like the Loop, have grown lately.</p><p>And between all the tunnels already under the Loop and other kinds of buried municipal and private infrastructure, it&rsquo;s pretty crowded underground. While there&rsquo;s no shortage of ongoing infrastructure projects abounding in Chicago, whether it&rsquo;s the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-09/bloomingdale-trail-reveals-chicagos-idea-grand-city-planning-102655">renovation of the Bloomingdale Trail</a> (sorry, I mean <a href="http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2013/06/17/sneak-peek-606">the 606</a>), upgrades to the Chicago riverfront or basic maintenance to the city&rsquo;s sewers, only the Deep Tunnel remains on the city&rsquo;s tunnel horizon.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>That means that every tunnel down there now will one day be old. We may even abandon the newer ones someday in favor of better, more efficient solutions that haven&rsquo;t yet been invented.</p><p>For our question-asker Karri, that&rsquo;s a good reminder to pay attention to what&rsquo;s there now.</p><p>&ldquo;You work up in an office cubicle and don&rsquo;t think about [what&rsquo;s underground],&rdquo; Karri said. Exploring that infrastructure now &ldquo;can remind you of a flood, or the original purpose of the area, the history of it.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I guess that&rsquo;s its value.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Robin Amer is a producer on WBEZ&rsquo;s digital team. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/rsamer">@rsamer</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Thu, 20 Jun 2013 19:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/six-tunnels-hidden-under-chicago%E2%80%99s-loop-107791 Orson Welles at Woodstock http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-06/orson-welles-woodstock-107601 <p><p>For 120 years, the Opera House in Woodstock has stood at the southern end of the town square. In 1934 entertainment history was made there. That&rsquo;s when a 19-year-old prodigy named Orson Welles scored his first triumph.</p><p>Welles started acting as a student at the nearby Todd School for Boys.&nbsp;After that he&nbsp;bounced around the theatrical world for a few years.&nbsp;Meanwhile, back at Todd, headmaster Roger Hill was making tentative plans for a summer drama course.</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/06-11--Welles%20%28Van%20Vechten%20L%20of%20C%29.jpg" style="width: 270px; height: 346px; float: right;" title="Young Orson Welles (Van Vechten photo, Library of Congress)" /></div><p>Now Welles returned to Woodstock, took the idea, and proceeded to &ldquo;jazz it up.&rdquo;&nbsp;He proposed a full-scale summer drama festival at the Opera House.</p><p>Welles knew all about the old summer-stock barn shows.&nbsp;His vision was for something greater.&nbsp;Each year music lovers made pilgrimages to Bayreuth and Salzburg in Europe.&nbsp;He would create the same excitement here!&nbsp;Woodstock would become the summer capital of American theater!</p><p>Headmaster Hill signed on.&nbsp;Then Welles went to work.</p><p>He secured the &ldquo;delighted co-operation&rdquo; of the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce.&nbsp;He imported two star actors he&rsquo;d met in Ireland.&nbsp;He&nbsp;recruited prominent Chicagoans for a Friends of the Festival&nbsp;Committee.&nbsp;He threw parties.&nbsp;He charmed reporters.&nbsp;He turned out mountains of breathless publicity.</p><p>The festival opened on July 12.&nbsp;Patrons motored in from all over the city and the North Shore, the press came on a chartered bus.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;It is a&nbsp;gala occasion, perhaps the most exciting the little town of Woodstock has ever had,&rdquo; the <em>Tribune</em> reported.&nbsp;&ldquo;The whole&nbsp;town was out to watch the guests assemble in front of the theatre.&rdquo;</p><p>The first play was <em>Trilby</em>, a once-popular relic of the 1890s. Welles directed, and also played the villain hypnotist, Svengali.&nbsp;The reviews were mainly positive.&nbsp;And everyone loved&nbsp;the venue.</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/06-11--Woodstock%20Opera%20House.jpg" style="width: 270px; height: 345px; float: left;" title="Woodstock Opera House" /></div><p><em>Trilby</em> ran for two weeks.&nbsp;Next on the bill was <em>Hamlet</em>.&nbsp;Rather than play the title character, Welles cast himself as another villain, King Claudius.&nbsp;His performance was over the top&ndash;some critics&nbsp;liked it, others&nbsp;loathed it.&nbsp;But Chicago was talking about the magic going on up at Woodstock.</p><p>The&nbsp;season closed with&nbsp;<em>Tsar Paul</em>.&nbsp;This Russian tragedy had never been staged in America.&nbsp;Again Welles played a supporting role, a 60-year-old general.&nbsp;His performance was powerful yet restrained, making the audience forget he wasn&rsquo;t even old enough to vote.</p><p>The&nbsp;final curtain was lowered on&nbsp;August 19.&nbsp;The&nbsp;venture&nbsp;had been a grand success, though the financial results were mixed.&nbsp;Welles moved on with his career, and never staged a second festival in Woodstock.</p><p>Today the&nbsp;Opera House continues to provide a variety of live entertainment.&nbsp;The big summer event is the annual Mozart festival.&nbsp;The town was also the major location for Bill Murray&rsquo;s movie <em>Groundhog Day</em>.</p><p>Orson Welles has become a legend.&nbsp;And the legend&nbsp;was born&nbsp;at Woodstock in 1934.&nbsp;Drama critic Claudia Cassidy saw it coming, when she wrote: &ldquo;Perhaps the Festival&rsquo;s chief achievement will be to permit a lot of people to say of Orson Welles, &lsquo;I saw him when . . .&rsquo;&rdquo;</p></p> Thu, 20 Jun 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-06/orson-welles-woodstock-107601 Will Pullman ever be revitalized? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/will-pullman-ever-be-revitalized-107758 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F97763213&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>We have a lot of shorthand ways to talk about Chicago.</p><p>Boosters call it the &ldquo;city that works&rdquo; (a phrase coined by the late Arlington Heights writer <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1991/01/01/obituaries/frank-maier-57-dies-ex-newsweek-reporter.html">Frank Maier</a>, or maybe his <a href="http://chicago.straightdope.com/sdc20090903.php">editor</a>). Detractors gave the city perhaps its most famous &mdash; and its most vexing &mdash; identity as the <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/why-they-call-it-the-second-city/Content?oid=882456">&ldquo;second city.&rdquo;</a></p><p>For longtime residents though, I&rsquo;d wager Chicago is most a &ldquo;city of neighborhoods,&rdquo; an <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/question-answered-how-are-chicago-neighborhoods-formed-103831">identity Curious City has looked into</a>.</p><p>But not every neighborhood gets the same love or foot traffic, and that fact got Hannah Loftus thinking.</p><p>Loftus grew up in Glen Ellyn and is, as of this writing, a newly-minted graduate of the University of Chicago. (Congrats, Hannah!) While earning her anthropology degree, Loftus made field trips to Pullman, a historic neighborhood that hugs the Bishop Ford Expressway south of 95th Street.</p><p>Those visits prompted her to ask Curious City:</p><p><em>Will Pullman ever be revitalized?</em></p><p>Loftus&rsquo; question came from a big discrepancy she observed, one that&rsquo;s dogged Pullman residents for decades: Pullman&rsquo;s history is vast and rich, but today it struggles from a lack of jobs and amenities.</p><p><strong>Visible history</strong></p><p>If you&rsquo;re not familiar with the history Loftus caught on to, here&rsquo;s a brief sketch.</p><p>Starting in 1880, industrialist George Pullman had a whole town built from scratch, to house workers at his Pullman Palace Car Company, which was churning out a new mode of rail travel: luxury sleeping cars. His town of Pullman was an early example of a planned community, one so striking it was voted the most perfect town in the world, at the Prague International Hygienic and Pharmaceutical Exposition of 1896.</p><p>But Pullman&rsquo;s town didn&rsquo;t draw attention just because of its layout and industry &mdash; the workers were notable, too. The nation&rsquo;s first black labor union has its roots here, and a strike started by Pullman workers became one of history&rsquo;s most violent labor contests.</p><p><a name="gallery"></a></p><div align="center" id="PictoBrowser130619183510"><a name="gallery">Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer</a></div><p><a name="gallery"><script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser/swfobject.js"></script><script type="text/javascript"> var so = new SWFObject("http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser.swf", "PictoBrowser", "500", "500", "8", "#EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("source", "sets"); so.addVariable("names", "Curious City: Pullman"); so.addVariable("userName", "chicagopublicmedia"); so.addVariable("userId", "33876038@N00"); so.addVariable("ids", "72157634199298807"); so.addVariable("titles", "off"); so.addVariable("displayNotes", "on"); so.addVariable("thumbAutoHide", "off"); so.addVariable("imageSize", "medium"); so.addVariable("vAlign", "mid"); so.addVariable("vertOffset", "0"); so.addVariable("colorHexVar", "EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("initialScale", "off"); so.addVariable("bgAlpha", "72"); so.write("PictoBrowser130619183510"); </script></a></p><p>Today, some of this past is still visible.</p><p>Ninety-eight percent of the town&rsquo;s original housing stock, which ranges from practical row houses to stately mansions, still stands. If you combine that with what&rsquo;s left of a factory complex as well as the historic Hotel Florence, a walk through Pullman can feel like wandering into a 19th century town.</p><p>Still, Pullman is not on everybody&rsquo;s radar.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s good to have this history,&rdquo; says Loftus. &ldquo;But it&rsquo;s not quite something you think about when you consider the overall history of Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>In addition to its low profile, Loftus notes that Pullman also lacks basic resources, like grocery stores and jobs.</p><p>Now some residents I talked to questioned whether Pullman needs to be revitalized at all (they gave variations of &ldquo;What&rsquo;s wrong with our community the way it is?&rdquo;). But for many years community groups and aldermen have worked hard to develop the neighborhood.</p><p>For them the debate&rsquo;s been more about how &mdash; and not whether &mdash; to revitalize.</p><p><strong>History as resource?</strong></p><p>As ironic as this may sound, some are convinced Pullman&rsquo;s past is the big money maker.</p><p>Take Michael Shymanski. Officially, he&rsquo;s an architect and the President of the <a href="http://www.pullmanil.org/">Historic Pullman Foundation</a>. Unofficially, many call him the mayor of Pullman.</p><p>To get a better idea of Shymanski&rsquo;s vision, I tour the neighborhood with him. Turns out that vision draws from the design elements of the original town.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1%20%282%29.jpg" style="height: 180px; width: 270px; margin: 5px; float: left;" title="Jesse Jennings Sr. says lack of investment endangers the viability of Pullman and its racial diversity. (WBEZ/Shawn Allee) " />Pullman wanted a worker&rsquo;s utopia that he &mdash; the big boss &mdash; would control. He hired Solon Spencer Beman to design the community and factory complex (other still-existing Chicago structures by Beman include the Blackstone Library and the Fine Arts Building). Nathan F. Barrett developed the town&rsquo;s landscapes.</p><p>Shymanski says everything was oriented toward the railroad and making a grand impression upon train passengers. The main administrative building with its large clock tower was situated directly across from the train station. It was set back and preceded by a curvilinear drive and Lake Vista, a large reflecting pond that happened to fed by condensation collected from the huge Corliss engine that powered the Pullman machinery.</p><p>George Pullman constructed other facilities, too, including a church, a central market, and an arcade that housed a 500-seat theatre, a library, a post office and small shops for tailors and dentists.</p><p>&ldquo;Even today it&rsquo;s a model for pedestrian-scale development,&rdquo; says Shymanski. &ldquo;People could walk to all their normal activities within 10 minutes or so. They could get produce at Market Hall. There were all kinds of recreation activities along the edge of Lake Calumet. They could walk to work and were just a few steps from a train station that would take them downtown.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>The decline</strong></p><p>There&rsquo;s not as much to walk to today.</p><p>Pullman&rsquo;s dream of a model community evaporated, thanks to a crippling recession and the resulting workers strike (Pullman cut the workforce and wages, but kept charging the same rents). In 1898, Pullman was ordered to sell off non-factory property, including all the residential buildings (Chicago had annexed Pullman previously, in 1889). Though the factory <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/1028.html">kept manufacturing cars until the late 1970&rsquo;s</a>, the area went through some major changes.</p><p>Through destruction or decay, some of the key infrastructure is gone. The Arcade Building was torn down in 1927, rendered obsolete by newer shopping areas. After multiple fires and a 1930s makeover, Market Hall is mainly a shell of brick and girders, though the original apartment buildings that form the square around the hall remain.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/arcade2.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: right; height: 242px; width: 270px;" title="The Pullman Arcade Building, as photographed in the late 1880s.(Photo courtesy of Historic Pullman Foundation)" /></p><p>The main administration building and clock tower, damaged by arson in 1998, have undergone some restoration and stabilization, but they&rsquo;re cordoned off behind a chain link fence.</p><p>What&rsquo;s left? In addition to the residences, the Greenstone Church remains sturdy, and there&rsquo;s the Hotel Florence, which is currently <a href="http://www.pullman-museum.org/misc/construction.html">being restored by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency</a>.</p><p>That any of this remains has much to do with the various historic designations Pullman has earned over the years.</p><p>In the 1960s there was an effort to raze Pullman and turn it into an industrial park. A civic group formed to fight this move, and since then the neighborhood has been granted local, state and federal landmark status.</p><p><strong>The drive for a park</strong></p><p>Despite its historic designations, Pullman hasn&rsquo;t yet figured out how to cash in on its past.</p><p>The Pullman Historic Foundation runs a visitors center, conducts tours and hosts events. The state offers regular tours and some interpretation of the (largely empty) factory building.</p><p>In the northern part of the district you can also visit the <a href="http://www.aphiliprandolphmuseum.com/">A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum</a>, which tells the story of how Pullman porters, who were all African American, became <a href="http://publications.newberry.org/pullman/">the first black union</a> in the United States. &nbsp;</p><p>But most of this history isn&rsquo;t tied together, and when visitors do come, they don&rsquo;t find much in the way of permanent programming, or even a dedicated gift shop to buy historic Pullman souvenirs.</p><p>So to draw more tourists and help revive Pullman&rsquo;s local economy, many Pullman boosters are trying to turn the area into a national historical park.</p><p>The idea was <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/lee-bey/2012-01-31/could-citys-pullman-community-become-home-chicagos-first-national-park-95974">proposed in early 2012 </a>by former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. who <a href="http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr3894">asked the Secretary of the Interior</a> to undertake a &ldquo;reconnaissance study&rdquo; of Pullman.</p><p>The National Park Service agreed. And according to Lynn McClure of the National Parks Conservation Association, the report &mdash; which, they say, should be out any day &mdash; is a &ldquo;high five&rdquo; for making Pullman a national park.</p><p>Now all that&rsquo;s required is congressional approval. Though Congress isn&rsquo;t known for acting swiftly, McClure is confident.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s no reason we can&rsquo;t get it done by the end of 2014,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>What would park status bring?</p><p>Pullman currently has some tourism traffic, but not a lot.</p><p>Mike Wagenbach of the State Historic Site says the neighborhood draws between 25,000 and 35,000 visitors each year. That&rsquo;s a drop in the bucket when you consider Chicago saw <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/travel/chi-chicago-draws-near-record-46m-tourists-in-2012-20130610,0,4660651.story">46.2 million visitors last year.</a></p><p>No doubt Pullman&rsquo;s low turnout has something to do with its location; though the neighborhood is just off a major freeway to its east, it&rsquo;s still 10 miles from the Loop. And that means it&rsquo;s far off the tourism industry&rsquo;s beaten path.</p><p>Lynn McClure says &ldquo;nobody is naive enough to think that [a park] would significantly increase tourism,&rdquo; but her office recently undertook an economic study to determine what effect such a designation might have on the area.</p><p>It turns out the idea of using a national park to generate economic activity has precedent.</p><p>In 1978, Lowell Massachusetts, once a significant player in America&rsquo;s historic textile industry, was turned into a park. Thirty years later, a study assessing its impact said the park acted as a catalyst, attracting and even speeding up investment.</p><p>Mike Shymanski says if Pullman were a national park, with lots of interpretation and tourism infrastructure, it <em>would </em>draw more people <em>and </em>give them somewhere to spend their money.</p><p>And that cash &mdash; the theory goes &mdash; could help revitalize Pullman.</p><p>&ldquo;The current purchasing power in the neighborhood can&rsquo;t sustain redevelopment,&rdquo; says Shymanski, &ldquo;But if we had 100,000 or 200,000 visitors coming a year, we could.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Pullman 2.0</strong></p><p>Still, not everyone is banking on Pullman&rsquo;s past.</p><p>&ldquo;Certainly the historic parts are important and we want to be sensitive to that,&rdquo; says David Doig, president of the non-profit Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives. &ldquo;But unless it&rsquo;s a desirable community with all the amenities that people expect, you know people aren&rsquo;t going to want to live there.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1%20%281%29.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: right; width: 200px; height: 300px;" title="David Doig, left, says development in Pullman should prioritize improvement in people's everyday living conditions. (WBEZ/Shawn Allee)" />To make a point about Pullman&rsquo;s future, Doig takes me up to the 11th floor of the U.S. Bank Building, his base of operations. There, we have a birds-eye view of a 180-acre construction site and the future home of a development called <a href="http://www.cnigroup.org/economic.html">Pullman Park</a>.</p><p>CNI is doing a lot to revitalize Pullman &mdash; everything from backing <a href="http://community.suntimes.com/swchicago/2012/12/06/pullman-to-become-thriving-art-neighborhood/">an artists space</a> to <a href="http://hpherald.com/2013/03/01/chicago-neighborhood-initiatives-impacting-pullman/">rehabbing historic homes</a> &mdash; but Pullman Park is their biggest and maybe most ambitious effort.</p><p>The mixed-use development underway at 111th Street and the Bishop Ford Freeway will sport a Walmart store (slated to open this fall), as well 1,000 units of housing, a recreation facility and park areas. There are also plans for pedestrian-scale retail.</p><p>Put all this together, and you see Doig&rsquo;s creating a Pullman 2.0.</p><p>It may be a scaled-down version of George Pullman&rsquo;s all-encompassing community, but it&rsquo;s one that would provide what locals say the neighborhood now lacks: retail spaces, jobs, affordable housing and community facilities. Fittingly, this new community would sit atop part of Pullman&rsquo;s former factory complex (Ryerson Steel Processing Inc., <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1987-02-16/business/8701120766_1_george-pullman-metals-industrial">bought part of the plant </a>in the late 1980s, but shut it down in 2006.)</p><p>Doig says his development and other efforts to revitalize historic Pullman are &ldquo;not competing but complementary.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;We really view this as kind of a catalyst for what we hope will be other forms of private investment and revitalization in the broader community,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>So what are the prospects for Pullman?</p><p>Mike Shymanski thinks things bode well for a true revitalization, despite all the years of investment that haven&rsquo;t yet made a difference.</p><p>&ldquo;Eventually, good ideas have their celestial order that makes them happen,&rdquo; says Shymanski. &ldquo;And I think we&rsquo;re very close to that.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Alison Cuddy is WBEZ&rsquo;s Arts and Culture reporter. Follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison?ref=tn_tnmn">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://instagram.com/cuddyreport">Instagram.</a>&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>Special thanks to the Historic Pullman Foundation, which gave Alison Cuddy permission to use several images posted here. You can find more at <a href="https://www.facebook.com/historicpullman/photos_albums">the organization&#39;s Facebook page</a>&nbsp;and <a href="http://www.pullmanil.org/">website</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 18 Jun 2013 16:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/will-pullman-ever-be-revitalized-107758