WBEZ | Chicago history http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago-history Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en When MLK Moved to Chicago http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-01-26/segment/when-mlk-moved-chicago-114624 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/MLK-flickr-caboindex.jpg" alt="" /><p><div>January 26th<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/fifty-years-ago-today-dr-martin-luther-king-jr-gets-chicago-address-114607">&nbsp;was the 50th anniversary of the day the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. established residency in Chicago.</a> Joining us first is author Mary Lou Finley who was with the civil rights leader during his time in Chicago. Finley discusses King&rsquo;s work and his fight against poverty.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Then we play a few segments from Dr. King&#39;s visit to WVON, one of the nation&rsquo;s premier African-American-owned talk radio stations in 1966. King spent more than 20 minutes answering questions on owner and host Wesley South&rsquo;s call-in show called &ldquo;Hotline.&rdquo; Most bear striking similarities to the criticism of the Black Lives Matter movement.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Finally, we are joined by Damon Williams, co-director of Let Us Breathe Collective and co-chair of Black Youth Project 100 Chicago. He&rsquo;ll talk about the MLK teach-in he led and the impact of the Chicago Freedom Movement decades later.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-01-28/reclaimed-soul-chicago-born-hits-66-114636"><strong>RELATED:&nbsp;<span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 16px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; line-height: 21px;">Reclaimed Soul: Chicago-Born Hits from &#39;66</span></strong></a></div><div id="content-titles" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px; font-family: Georgia, serif; vertical-align: baseline;"><div>&nbsp;</div></div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Tue, 26 Jan 2016 16:33:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-01-26/segment/when-mlk-moved-chicago-114624 The History of the Chicago Defender http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-01-13/brief-history-chicago-defender-114468 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/defenderHoughtonMifflinHarcourt.jpg" style="float: left; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="(The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America, cover)" />The Chicago Defender has been around for a long time--since 1905.</p><p>And it&rsquo;s always been more than a newspaper. It was a voice for the voiceless, a lamp that shed light on Jim Crow, and a catalyst for the Great Migration. It motivated and inspired Black Americans to embrace and focus their political and electoral power.</p><p>Author, publisher and journalist Ethan Michaeli dives deep into the paper&rsquo;s history in his new book &#39;The Defender: How The Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America.&#39; He shares some of his favorite moments from the Defender&rsquo;s 110 years.</p></p> Wed, 13 Jan 2016 14:23:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-01-13/brief-history-chicago-defender-114468 How Chicago's Slaughterhouse Spectacles Paved The Way For Big Meat http://www.wbez.org/news/economy/how-chicagos-slaughterhouse-spectacles-paved-way-big-meat-114056 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/unionstockyards.JPG" alt="" /><p><div id="res458353031" previewtitle="The famed architectural firm Burnham and Root designed the iconic entranceway to the Union Stock Yard in 1879. It quickly became the symbol of the market and the meat industry in Chicago."><p data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="The famed architectural firm Burnham and Root designed the iconic entranceway to the Union Stock Yard in 1879. It quickly became the symbol of the market and the meat industry in Chicago." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/03/page-x1_wide-844ff2e2b8b0c4c010857bebe5cba57ed9686e18-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 348px; width: 620px;" title="The famed architectural firm Burnham and Root designed the iconic entranceway to the Union Stock Yard in 1879. It quickly became the symbol of the market and the meat industry in Chicago. (Courtesy of Dominic A. Pacyga/University of Chicago Press)" /></p><div><div><p style="text-align: justify;">It&#39;s impossible to pinpoint the exact moment Americans embraced industrialized food. But the first Christmas after the Civil War is a key date to note. That&#39;s when Chicago&#39;s infamous Union Stock Yard opened to the public, in 1865.</p></div></div></div><div id="res458350474"><div data-resid="458350474" id="slideshowGallery458350474"><div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Boiling vats used to prepare hogs for hair removal, circa 1890. Assembly line techniques, or &quot;disassembly&quot; line techniques, were used very effectively in Chicago's Union stockyards, says Slaughterhouse author Dominic Pacyga." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/03/chi-pacyga-fig01005_edited-264e12ea0c163402bddb3fc1d979d395d8981e43-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 285px; width: 290px; float: left;" title="Boiling vats used to prepare hogs for hair removal, circa 1890. Assembly line techniques, or &quot;disassembly&quot; line techniques, were used very effectively in Chicago's Union stockyards, says Slaughterhouse author Dominic Pacyga. (Courtesy of Dominic A. Pacyga/University of Chicago Press)" /></div><div><div style="text-align: justify;"><img alt="Men load cattle onto a car for shipment to Chicago, circa 1890." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/03/chi-pacyga-fig02003_edited1-8774839a5760cc984f7121bf31cf879e63b5d406-s800-c85.jpg" style="text-align: center; height: 285px; width: 290px; float: right;" title="Men load cattle onto a car for shipment to Chicago, circa 1890. (Courtesy of Dominic A. Pacyga/University of Chicago Press)" /></div></div><div><div style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</div></div><div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="As part of the spectacle of the packinghouses, a worker shackled the leg of a hog onto a revolving wheel known as a Hurford wheel. The animal was then lifted into the air to begin the slaughtering process." data-original="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/03/chi-pacyga-fig01004_edited1-ddc168feecfe1693e5a750f7f21613f8ff231cf1-s800-c85.jpg" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/03/chi-pacyga-fig01004_edited1-ddc168feecfe1693e5a750f7f21613f8ff231cf1-s800-c15.jpg" style="height: 878px; width: 540px;" title="As part of the spectacle of the packinghouses, a worker shackled the leg of a hog onto a revolving wheel known as a Hurford wheel. The animal was then lifted into the air to begin the slaughtering process. (Courtesy of Dominic A. Pacyga/University of Chicago Press)" /></div></div></div><div id="res458352688" previewtitle="Slaughterhouse"><img alt="Slaughterhouse" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/bakertaylor/covers/s/slaughterhouse/9780226123097_custom-453fedd0c495bfdf9b92a690ccda7c7879e220cd-s400-c85.jpg" style="text-align: justify; height: 467px; width: 310px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Slaughterhouse: Chicago's Union Stock Yard and the World It Made by Dominic A. Pacyga" /><p style="text-align: justify;">They saw just about everything. Hogs were driven to the roofs of the building, where they were allowed to cool down. And then they were brought onto the kill floor, about 12 or 13 at a time, where a shackler would shackle the hind leg. And then the hog would be lifted into the air by the Hurford wheel, and they&#39;d go to the sticker, who basically cut the hog&#39;s throat.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Then it would pass onto an army of 150 men and women who would dress the hog. And then you were taken off to see the soap works, the hide rooms, through the whole thing.</p></div><p style="text-align: justify;">&quot;Its promoters clearly thought there could be no more appropriate way to observe a festive Christian holiday in the midst of America&#39;s capitalist hothouse than to open the greatest livestock market the world would ever see,&quot; writes Dominic A. Pacyga in his&nbsp;<a href="http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/S/bo17555429.html">new book</a>,&nbsp;<em>Slaughterhouse: Chicago&#39;s Union Stock Yard and the World It Made.</em></p><p style="text-align: justify;">&quot;See&quot; is the key word here. Because the new modern industry was quite a spectacle to behold, says Pacyga, and it was by watching it that Americans began to change their relationship to meat. We caught up with Pacyga by phone to talk about how Chicago instigated that transformation.&nbsp;Here&#39;s part of our conversation, edited for brevity and clarity.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Why were the Union stockyards so important?</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">The Union stockyards were so important because this mass industry really changed the way Americans, well, the way the world thinks about food. Also, it was sort of the beginning of mass industrialization, at least in Chicago. The use of assembly line techniques &mdash; or, really, &quot;disassembly&quot; line techniques &mdash; began very early in Cincinnati, but they were used here in Chicago very effectively.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><img alt="The view from the Union Stock Yard water tower looking southwest to the sheep house and Packingtown, circa 1890. Notice the smoke rising from the huge plants." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/03/chi-pacyga-fig02004_edited1-c55d9d8e85433b50705ce04f7efe05cc7013d980-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 320px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="The view from the Union Stock Yard water tower looking southwest to the sheep house and Packingtown, circa 1890. Notice the smoke rising from the huge plants." /><strong>In the book, you mention that when the stockyards opened, they were quite a tourist attraction.</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">And remained a tourist attraction well into the 20th century. By the turn of the 19th century, about 500,000 [people] a year were coming to visit the stockyards and the packinghouses. We should keep the two apart. The stockyard was a livestock market: 450 acres covered with pens and railroad chutes and office buildings.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">But the packinghouses adjacent to it were another several hundred acres of meat packing plants. And people would come and take a tour of both. They&#39;d go through the stockyards, usually entering through the stone gate just west of Halsted Street, and then eventually end up in the packinghouses themselves.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">At the very beginning, the tours were given by street kids, but eventually the packinghouses had organized tours with uniformed tour guides. You&#39;d walk into a rather nice waiting room and were taken by the guides. There were galleries above the kill floors, so you could watch the whole process.</p><p><img alt="Longhorn cattle in the sales pens at Chicago's Union Stock Yard, circa 1890. Notice the elevated ramp or viaduct in the background, over which livestock were driven to the packinghouses." data-original="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/03/page-8-71f63ab6f162b315bde51337f6ffdb02fe2bd6aa-s800-c85.jpg" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/03/page-8-71f63ab6f162b315bde51337f6ffdb02fe2bd6aa-s800-c15.jpg" style="text-align: center; height: 311px; width: 310px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Longhorn cattle in the sales pens at Chicago's Union Stock Yard, circa 1890. Notice the elevated ramp or viaduct in the background, over which livestock were driven to the packinghouses. (Courtesy of Dominic A. Pacyga/University of Chicago Press)" /></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>What exactly did people see when they toured the stockyards?</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">Actually, it&#39;s kind of hard for contemporary people to think about: Why would you take children to see this? But as late as the 1950s, grade school children in Chicago were taken to see the hog slaughter. It was the presentation of the modern. And the fact is that the presentation of the modern was both intriguing and frightening. It was a spectacle. It drew hundreds of thousands of people a year.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>How did that &quot;spectacle&quot; or the &quot;presentation of the modern&quot; change the way people thought about their food?</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">In 1890 it took about eight to 10 hours for a skilled butcher and his assistant to slaughter and dress a steer on a farm. In Chicago, it took 35 minutes. Big packing houses were killing 1,500, 2,500 steers a day. They were killing 6,000 to 7,000, maybe even 8,000 hogs a day. And the same amount of sheep. It was this grand spectacle of something that was very common. I mean, if you grew up on a farm, you knew how to do these things. You knew where meat came from. Suddenly it&#39;s removed from everyday life. It&#39;s removed from the human experience.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Do you think that, because people were able to watch this spectacle, it actually helped bring about this change that separated us from where meat comes from?</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">Sure. It made it less personal. Those of us who live in cities don&#39;t have a personal relationship with the meat we eat. There&#39;s this separation. And it must have been absolutely fascinating to people in the 19th century to see this mass [of livestock] coming together. The&nbsp;<em>Chicago Tribune</em>&nbsp;called it &quot;organized chaos.&quot; From 1893 to 1933 there were never fewer than 13 million head of livestock at the stockyards annually. Twice, they peaked at over 18 million. Just a massive amount of animals. One author called it &quot;man, meat and miracle.&quot; It was actually the miracle of mass industrialization.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/12/03/458314767/how-chicago-s-slaughterhouse-spectacles-paved-the-way-for-big-meat?ft=nprml&amp;f=458314767" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Fri, 04 Dec 2015 15:18:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/economy/how-chicagos-slaughterhouse-spectacles-paved-way-big-meat-114056 Nike opening store with only Michael Jordan items in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/nike-opening-store-only-michael-jordan-items-chicago-113461 <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/16521749482_5aed601a6f_z.jpg" style="height: 327px; width: 620px;" title="The Jordan Store at 166 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn. (flickr/Maxim Pierre)" /></div><p>Nike is opening a Michael Jordan-only store in Chicago&#39;s Loop this weekend.The new Jordan Brand store opens Saturday.</p><p>The <a href="http://trib.in/1GrWtmt" target="_blank">Chicago Tribune reports</a> it will sell merchandise with the trademarked Michael Jordan &quot;Jumpman&quot; silhouette. Nike also plans stores in New York, Los Angeles and Toronto featuring the former Chicago Bulls star. Jordan Brand offers basketball, training, sportswear and kids&#39; products.</p><div><p>Nike Chief Executive Mark Parker says Jordan&#39;s popularity opens up a &quot;world of opportunity&quot; for the company.</p><p>Nike also said last week that it will report Jordan Brand financial results separately from its basketball division.</p><p>Sarah Mensah is general manager of the Jordan Brand in North America. She says consumers wanted a place to see everything Jordan-related. She says stores also will feature items chosen &quot;specifically by Michael.&quot;</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 22 Oct 2015 10:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/nike-opening-store-only-michael-jordan-items-chicago-113461 The unsung hero of urban planning who made it easy to get around Chicago http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/unsung-hero-urban-planning-who-made-it-easy-get-around-chicago-112061 <p><p><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">Editor&#39;s note: This was piece was produced in collaboration with the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.architecture.org/" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150); outline: 0px;" target="_blank">Chicago Architecture Foundation,</a>&nbsp;which provided research, expertise and other assistance during its development.</em></p><p>Jessica Fisch and Paul Toben are engaged to be married this fall. But before the two new arrivals to Chicago start a new life in a new home, they want to solve a mystery with roots in the city&rsquo;s early history.</p><p>Toben and Fisch bought a house in the Edgewater neighborhood last year, and they&rsquo;ve been fixing it up since. But they discovered something odd about the address displayed on their siding.</p><p>&ldquo;It was underneath the vinyl siding that was here before and it shows our current house number, which is very visible,&rdquo; says Toben, pointing to metal numbers nailed into the wood slat. It spells out 1761. &ldquo;But then two boards below, there&#39;s a sort of ghosted, painted-over paint.&rdquo;</p><p>That number, barely visible in the 110-year-old wood, reads 615.</p><p>&ldquo;We want to know when we went from 615 to 1761,&rdquo; says Fisch. She and Toben asked Curious City:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>&ldquo;Where did the old number come from? When and why did they renumber the streets?&rdquo;</em></p><p>Fisch and Toben aren&rsquo;t the only Chicagoans with two house numbers &mdash; in fact, any building in the city built before 1909 probably had a different number than it does now.</p><p>These are the result of a massive shift in how the city handles street names and addresses. Today Chicago is known for having one of the simplest street systems of any big city in the world, with every address emanating out from a central origin point at the intersection of State &amp; Madison Streets. It wasn&rsquo;t always going to be that way, though, and many people fought the change. But Edward Paul Brennan, an unsung hero of urban planning, spent much of his life taming the navigational chaos of Chicago&rsquo;s adolescence, and his legacy lives on more than a century later &mdash; even if few people know his name.</p><p>So answering the &ldquo;when&rdquo; of our questioners&rsquo; inquiry is easy: September 1, 1909. But to answer &ldquo;why,&rdquo; we need to go back to some early Chicago history, when a map of the city looked very different.</p><p><strong>The expanding city</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/gulp-how-chicago-gobbled-its-neighbors-109583" target="_blank">Chicago was booming in the late 19th century, gobbling up neighboring towns and annexing them as new neighborhoods of the city</a>. Hundreds of thousands of European immigrants poured into the city, helping triple the city&rsquo;s population between 1880 and 1910. It ballooned in both population and physical size, quadrupling in area in 1889 alone.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/CityLimits/cityLimitsGIF.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chicago%20grow%20graphic.jpg" style="height: 356px; width: 620px;" title="Chicago's population grew tremendously throughout the mid-to-late 19th century. There was hardly an effort to standardize street names and addresses until Edward Paul Brennan came up with a plan. (Click to watch animation of how Chicago grew)." /></a></div><p>&ldquo;That was great for those communities because they got the promise of a good infrastructure, but it also created logistical problems obviously for managing a city that size,&rdquo; says Andrew Oleksiuk, secretary of the Illinois Postal History Society.</p><p>Every town that folded into Chicago, from Lake View to Hyde Park, had its own system for naming and numbering streets. Some towns counted out addresses starting from the Chicago River, while others started from Lake Michigan. Some placed even numbers on the north side of the street, others put them on the south. Some even let developers choose their own street names or numbers if there wasn&rsquo;t a lot of local opposition.</p><p>Oleksiuk says the topsy-turvy numbering system contributed to mailmen&rsquo;s struggle to keep up with changing tech, such as the telegraph, streetcars and a new entrant: the telephone.</p><p>&ldquo;The post office really did see itself as being challenged by these new technologies,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;So doing something like straightening out the numbering system and making it more efficient for mail delivery made them able to compete better in this world of new technologies.&rdquo;</p><p>As city limits swallowed up existing towns, no one bothered to standardize street names and addresses. Not surprisingly, this system frustrated Colonel LeRoy D. Steward, superintendent of city delivery for the Chicago post office, who spoke at an Industrial Club meeting in April 1908.</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;Chicago is suffering from improper mail delivery because of improper street arrangement. ... At present there are 125 towns within the city limits, and all have local street names and numbers. At present there are 511 streets of practically duplicate names. No one knows how many duplicate street numbers there are.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>In a later speech Steward asked: &ldquo;What is the use of spending large sums in beautifying the city when one cannot find one&rsquo;s way about it?&rdquo;</p><p>Such critiques emerged alongside the so-called <a href="http://xroads.virginia.edu/~cap/citybeautiful/city.html" target="_blank">City Beautiful movement</a>, whose proponents believed societal ills would evaporate with the development of rationally designed cities. Private groups like the <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/290.html" target="_blank">City Club</a> and the <a href="http://www.commercialclubchicago.org/" target="_blank">Commercial Club</a> banded together to improve the city, promoting ideas like <a href="http://burnhamplan100.lib.uchicago.edu/history_future/plan_of_chicago/" target="_blank">Daniel Burnham&rsquo;s famous Plan of Chicago</a>, which was published in 1909 &mdash; the same year Brennan&rsquo;s system for rationalizing city addresses first took effect. Celebrated architects and engineers built the Loop, standardized the city&rsquo;s cable car system and carved out green spaces that we still use today. But the elegance of our street system is taken for granted.</p><p><strong>New solutions from a man with a plan</strong></p><p>It wasn&rsquo;t a postal worker or even an urban planner that smoothed out the system. It was a man named Edward Paul Brennan.</p><p>Brennan was a delivery boy for his father&rsquo;s grocery store, and later a bill collector for the music company Lyon &amp; Healy. He was so frustrated with the chaos of Chicago&rsquo;s address system that in 1901 he came up with his own. But it would take him years to get it implemented.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Brennan 1910 courtesy Adelaide Brennan.jpg" style="height: 385px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="Edward Paul Brennan in 1910, who devoted his life to crafting a perfect plan for Chicago street nomenclature. (Photo courtesy Adelaide Brennan)" /></div><p>Brennan wasn&rsquo;t the first person to recognize the problem, but he was the most persistent at arguing for a solution. As early as 1879, the <em>Chicago Daily Tribune</em> reported on an ordinance for renumbering South Side streets based on Philadelphia&rsquo;s plan, where addresses increased by 100 with every block. It didn&rsquo;t pass.</p><p>&ldquo;His daughter told me that when he was delivering groceries for his father. Before he was even a bill collector, he was running into this problem,&rdquo; says Patrick Reardon, an author and journalist who has researched the history of Chicago&rsquo;s street grid. &ldquo;So this was not something that Brennan uncovered &mdash; it was what everybody lived with. It was like snow in the winter &mdash; it was just part of the nature of the city.&rdquo;</p><p>But Brennan wouldn&rsquo;t accept the status quo. Beginning in the 1890s he started a scrapbook, collecting newspaper articles about problems with city navigation or delays due to address confusion. Articles had headlines like &ldquo;Streets in a Tangle. Visitors Lost.&rdquo; One report tells about a doctor who couldn&rsquo;t find a patient during a house call emergency. Brennan lobbied business leaders and newspaper editors for decades, needling them with letters that began like this one:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;Dear Sir, Do you think a city should have two streets with the same name? Do you think a city should have one street with two or three, or even ten names? You agree that such naming of streets is ridiculous and an insult to the intelligence of any city. Yet Chicago, your city, has hundreds of such streets. This confusion costs you and the other citizens of Chicago hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. &hellip;&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>Like many Progressive Era activists, Brennan was motivated by the spirit of the time, devoting his life to crafting &ldquo;a perfect plan for Chicago street nomenclature.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;So let us go forward with the spirit that built the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/your-ticket-white-city-108994" target="_blank">World&rsquo;s Fair</a>, correct our error and present the people of Chicago with a perfect house numbering plan,&rdquo; he said in one of many letters lobbying Chicago aldermen and local business leaders.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Thompson_Chicago_plat_1830.jpg" style="height: 491px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="James Thompson's plat map of Chicago, 1830. (Wikimedia Commons)" />Brennan&rsquo;s plan benefitted from the grid system laid out by James Thompson&rsquo;s official plat map for the city in 1830. Because of the regular spacing of Chicago&rsquo;s city blocks, the continuation of the grid despite any geographic features, and the absence of curved roads, Brennan&rsquo;s 1901 plan could be highly logical and mathematical. &ldquo;In this way,&rdquo; Brennan wrote, &ldquo;the numbers will indicate the locality at a glance.&rdquo;</p><p>With the help of an independent alderman named Charlie Byrne (who happened to be Brennan&rsquo;s cousin) he presented his &ldquo;Street Nomenclature Plan&rdquo; to the City Council in 1901. It included four big ideas: All addresses would be centered around a 0,0 point at State and Madison Streets; street names would include the direction; even-numbered addresses would always be on the west and north sides of any street, with odd numbers on the east and south sides; house numbers would increase by 800 (or 8 blocks) every mile, although Brennan had originally proposed 1000 addresses per mile.</p><p>Brennan&rsquo;s plan would also involve renaming many streets in order to cut confusion caused by duplication and other problems.</p><p>After his initial proposal, Brennan argued that Kinzie and State should instead be the new 0,0 baseline street, in honor of early settler John Kinzie. Alternate plans from other map enthusiasts proposed Western and Madison, because of its proximity to the geographic center of the growing city.</p><p><strong>A new address for every house in town</strong></p><p>After more than seven years of petitioning, the City Council passed Brennan&rsquo;s house numbering plan in 1908 and it went into effect on September 1, 1909. Businesses within the Loop fought the change early on, arguing that &mdash; among other things &mdash; it would cost too much to reprint their stationery. They received an extra two years to adopt the same system as the rest of the city.</p><p>The process of converting the address of nearly every household in Chicago was a daunting task. Newspaper accounts in the days and weeks leading up to the mandatory changes indicate confusion, resignation, and also humor. City directories published maps and thick new guides that residents and businesses could purchase, listing every old address and its new equivalent. Residents sent illustrated postcards with poems or cartoons to friends, notifying them of the change.</p><p>&ldquo;If you had your Aunt Matilda in Kansas who&#39;s sending you a letter, she doesn&#39;t necessarily know about the re-numbering system,&rdquo; says Oleksiuk. &ldquo;You have to write her a letter to tell her, &lsquo;My new address is such and such.&rsquo; &lsquo;Oh you moved?&rsquo; &lsquo;No I didn&#39;t. They&#39;re just re-numbering the streets.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Trouble lived beyond the initial confusion, though, as some people actively fought the change.</p><p>&ldquo;There were people who saw what [Brennan] was doing and what the city was doing in changing street names as meddling with the historic nature of their streets,&rdquo; says Reardon. &ldquo;So it was not a simple or an uncontroversial thing.&rdquo;</p><table border="0" cellpadding="1" cellspacing="1" style="width: 620px;"><tbody><tr><td><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/addresses/1.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/old_residence_1_thumb.jpg" style="height: 203px; width: 203px;" title="" /></a></div></td><td><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/addresses/5.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/mailman_newspaperclip_6_thumb.jpg" title="" /></a></div></div></td><td><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/addresses/3.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/town_5_thumb.jpg" title="" /></a></div></div></td></tr><tr><td><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/addresses/2.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/newhomenumber_3_thumb.jpg" style="height: 203px; width: 203px;" title="" /></a></div></td><td><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/addresses/4.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/sameoldhammock_4_thumb.jpg" style="height: 203px; width: 203px;" title="" /></a></div></td><td><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/addresses/6.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/mayor_newspaperclip_7_thumb.jpg" title="" /></a></div></td></tr></tbody></table><p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:10px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Above: Postcards and newspaper clippings show the humor and confusion the city felt after the house number changes. Click on an image for large view.</span></span></p><p>Some residents banded together, lobbied their aldermen, and fought the city&rsquo;s proposed street name changes.</p><p>Under Brennan&rsquo;s plan, the tiny streets of Arlington Place and Deming Place in Lincoln Park should have been renamed as Montana Street and Lill Avenue, because they aligned east to west with those longer streets, despite not having a continuous block of streets.</p><p>&ldquo;Deming Place and Arlington Place residents joined Bellevue Place residents yesterday in expressing indignation at the cold-bloodedness of the council committee on street nomenclature which has threatened to rob them all of their euphonious titles.&rdquo; &mdash; <em>Chicago Daily Tribune</em>, Dec. 19, 1908</p><p>Others in the city were upset that they were losing a familiar house number. Mrs. Charles E. Pope, a resident along Chicago&rsquo;s Lake Shore Drive, wrote to the <em>Chicago Daily Tribune</em> in early 1909:</p><p>&ldquo;Really, I don&rsquo;t see how we shall be able to bear the burden of four numbers after being used to only two. Besides, most of us have lived here many years, and we don&rsquo;t like to see things changed.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://www.chsmedia.org/househistory/1909snc/start.PDF" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/map%20showing%20house%20number%20cutout.PNG" style="height: 153px; width: 220px; float: right;" title="Click for full document of Chicago's 1909 street name and number changes." /></a>But even after the city-wide address renumbering, Brennan&rsquo;s work wasn&rsquo;t done. For the next 30 years he rooted out duplicate street names and inconsistencies, lobbying incessantly as part of the City Club&rsquo;s two-man Street Nomenclature Committee.</p><p>Brennan didn&rsquo;t get everything he wanted. He publicly lamented when aldermen wouldn&rsquo;t take his suggestions for new street names, all of which he said should reference &ldquo;meaningful&rdquo; things like art, literature, history, poetry, and &ldquo;illustrious names from many foreign lands.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It is for us of the present day to continue the work so well begun by the pioneers of Chicago instead of being looked upon as iconoclasts by future generations,&rdquo; he said in 1913. &quot;With a history rich in meaningful names there will be no need of our innocent thoroughfares being rechristened Hinton, Dunmore, Dennison, Empire, or Limerick.&quot;</p><p>As always for Brennan, it was a matter of historic importance.</p><p>&quot;We are about to do something which will last as long as Chicago does,&rdquo; he wrote.</p><p><strong>Brennan&rsquo;s legacy</strong></p><p>After the initial disruption caused by the changes, Chicagoans eventually appreciated the relative simplicity of the city&#39;s new street names and addresses. But Brennan&rsquo;s name was largely forgotten in the years after his death in 1942. His daughters wrote to newspaper editors and the city&rsquo;s map department attempting to have their father&rsquo;s work recognized.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">Five years later, City Council named a South Side street in his honor: South Brennan Avenue runs from 96th Street south to 98th Street in the Jeffery Manor neighborhood. At the time the city publicly acknowledged the elegance of Brennan&rsquo;s system, noting &ldquo;There are now fewer street names in Chicago than in any other city in the country of even one-half the area of Chicago.&quot; Chicago had 3,629 miles of streets with just 1,370 names &mdash; far fewer than other cities with smaller geographical footprints at the time: New York (5,003), Baltimore (3,929), or Cleveland (2,199).</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/honorary%20brennan.jpg" title="Today, Brennan's got an honorary street named after him at the intersection of State and Madison Streets, the city's 0,0 point. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></div></div><p>Every time Chicagoans navigate the 227 square miles of their city, they&rsquo;re unwittingly perpetuating Brennan&rsquo;s legacy. But until recently one of the only explicit reminders of the man himself was a collection of weathered scrapbooks he carefully collected, which was placed in the care of the Chicago History Museum by Mary Brennan, one of his daughters.</p><p>Another daughter, Adelaide, lived to the age of 99 and was able <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-08-25/opinion/ct-perspec-0825-madison-20130825_1_south-branch-north-branch-chicago-river" target="_blank">to see Ald. Brendan Reilly dedicate the northwest corner of State and Madison as Edward Brennan Way</a> in 2013.</p><p>Still, few people recognize the name of the man instrumental in rationalizing Chicago&rsquo;s streets. Compare that to the fate of Daniel Burnham.</p><p>&ldquo;Edward Paul Brennan was the man who, in my mind, is comparable to Daniel Burnham,&rdquo; says Patrick Reardon. &ldquo;Burnham had the Plan of Chicago, which was set up to change the landscape, the physical landscape of the city. Edward Brennan changed the mental landscape of the city.&rdquo;</p><p>And that mental landscape persists today. Since Brennan&rsquo;s system is universal across the city, with 800 numbers to a mile, Chicagoans still use that same mental landscape to get around their city.</p><p>Raphael Nash was born in the West Side&rsquo;s Austin neighborhood, but has lived all over the city. He had to learn Brennan&rsquo;s system, even if he didn&rsquo;t know it was Brennan&rsquo;s.</p><p>And even though most people today use a GPS to get around, Nash says it&rsquo;s useful to have a mental map as precise as Brennan&rsquo;s.</p><p>&ldquo;Sometimes I&#39;m driving and I don&#39;t need to be fumbling with the phone or anything so I just look up and pay attention to the number,&rdquo; Nash says.</p><p>Brennan&rsquo;s system is so simple that Nash and several other Chicagoans interviewed for this story say it has ruined them for other cities.</p><p>&ldquo;When I spent time on the East Coast I learned cities like Boston, which is just a mess. I was like OK, we had order,&rdquo; says Nash. &ldquo;And when I came back home was I was like, &lsquo;wow this is really easy.&rsquo; I don&rsquo;t know why I never paid attention to it.&rdquo;</p><p>Now Nash knows who to thank for that.</p><p>&ldquo;Thank you, Mr. Brennan,&rdquo; he says.</p><p><strong>Who inspired our question?</strong></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/toben%20_%20fisch1%20%281%29%202.jpg" style="height: 434px; width: 620px;" title="Paul Toben, left, and Jessica Fisch, right, discovered their old house number while fixing up the place they recently bought in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></p><p>We have several questioners to thank for inspiring this look into the city&rsquo;s rational street-numbering system. Jessica Fisch and Paul Toben started us off, but so did Marina Post, a Chicago homeowner.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/post6%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" style="height: 484px; width: 270px; float: right;" title="Marina Post asked us a similar question about her home in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" />Post wondered why her 1890s home in Wicker Park (today 2146 W. Caton St.) was one of several homes in the neighborhood with stained glass windows displaying lower, outdated address numbers. Post&rsquo;s is 51.</p><p>&ldquo;I can imagine it would feel somewhat demeaning to go from 51, which feels kind of exclusive,&rdquo; Post says, &ldquo;to 2146, which just makes you feel like you&#39;re one of the masses somehow. I could imagine if I were living at that time I would feel attached to my number.&rdquo;</p><p>She may as well have been talking about Mrs. Charles E. Pope, who complained about &ldquo;the burden of four numbers&rdquo; to the <em>Chicago Daily Tribune</em> during the address change. In fact we might owe our questioners&rsquo; curiosity to those stubborn homeowners from the early 20th century who kept their old house numbers beside the new, standardized addresses under Brennan&rsquo;s plan. Without them we wouldn&rsquo;t have the physical evidence of the pre-1909 system &mdash; or lack thereof &mdash; that piqued the interest of people like Paul Toben, Jessica Fisch and Marina Post.</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/">cabentley.com</a> and on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/cementley" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>. Jen Masengarb is Director of Interpretation and Research at the <a href="http://www.architecture.org/" target="_blank">Chicago Architecture Foundation</a>. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/jmasengarb" target="_blank">@jmasengarb</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 20 May 2015 12:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/unsung-hero-urban-planning-who-made-it-easy-get-around-chicago-112061 The legacy of Michael Jordan in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/legacy-michael-jordan-chicago-111803 <p><p>Everyone from superfans to the casual office bracket pool participant follows NCAA March Madness. We rally around underdogs. We&rsquo;re suckers for Cinderella stories. It&rsquo;s as much about these journeys as the sport itself. So as teams compete for the championship title, let&rsquo;s look at Chicago&rsquo;s biggest basketball legend. Our tall tale. Michael Jordan.</p><p>Jordan came to Chicago in the 1980s, and went on to have one of the most memorable careers in basketball. Briefly, Chicago had the best sports team in the country. <a href="http://archive.fortune.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1998/06/22/244166/index.htm" target="_blank">We were known around the world</a> as the home of Michael Jordan and the Bulls. He brought home six NBA championship trophies in the &lsquo;90s.</p><p>Jordan&rsquo;s lasting fame in Chicago is what prompted a seventh-grader working on a history project to ask this question about him. (The student chose to remain anonymous.)</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>What was Michael Jordan&rsquo;s impact on Chicago?</em></p><p>Jordan wondered about his local legacy too. In 1993, he said this to a crowd at the opening of the Michael Jordan Restaurant:</p><blockquote><p>&quot;I want to say to the Chicago people, thank you for your support. Ever since I came to this city in 1984, you have taken me in like one of your own, and I&rsquo;ve tried to reciprocate that in my talents and playing the game of basketball. Hopefully the two is going to be a relationship that&rsquo;s going to last a lot longer than me just playing basketball.&quot;</p></blockquote><p>MJ did indeed leave the Bulls and the city in 1999. So, what did MJ leave behind? We consider possible economic impacts as well as his cultural &mdash; even spiritual &mdash; contributions, too.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Timeline: A brief history of Jordan</span></p><p>If you&rsquo;ve never been a Jordan fan, just need a refresher, or are too young to remember, here&rsquo;s a timeline of how Jordan&rsquo;s career intersects with Chicago history.<a name="timeline"></a></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="650" scrolling="no" src="http://cdn.knightlab.com/libs/timeline/latest/embed/index.html?source=0Ai7E2pZ6aCZtdEczczVJNzlKNFlUakM0bW1MQlZvOEE&amp;font=Bevan-PotanoSans&amp;maptype=toner&amp;lang=en&amp;height=650" width="95%"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Jordan&rsquo;s economic impact: A windfall for the Windy City?</span></p><p>In the 1990s, the Bulls were on fire. They won championships. More people bought tickets to games and wanted Bulls memorabilia. However, according to sports economists we talked to, it&rsquo;s difficult to find measurable economic impact on the city.</p><p>Allen Sanderson, an economics professor at the University of Chicago and editorial board member of the <a href="http://jse.sagepub.com/" target="_blank">Journal for Sports Economics</a>, says pro sports teams typically draw in-person audiences within a 25-mile radius. He argues that when all those Chicagoans and suburbanites bought tickets to basketball games, that very same ticket cash likely would have just gone elsewhere &mdash; say, to Chicago restaurants, malls, etc.</p><p>Economics and Business Professor Rob Baade of Lake Forest University agrees that during Jordan&rsquo;s time in Chicago, it was likely that local fans just shifted some of their spending from one entertainment choice to another. Bulls are on a hot streak? Spend Saturday night in the arena. Lackluster season? Go out to dinner instead.</p><p>These kinds of arguments, he says, continue beyond Chicago and Michael Jordan. Consider a more <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/nov/17/lebron-james-economic-impact-cleveland-we-expect-too-much" target="_blank">contemporary debate about economic influence and famous athletes: LeBron James and the city of Cleveland, Ohio</a>. Sports celebrities have some effect, Baade says, but it&rsquo;s often modest.</p><p>&ldquo;If you make the argument that Cleveland&rsquo;s economy has ramped up during LeBron&rsquo;s return, you&rsquo;d have to look at the entire Ohio economy,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Whatever modest effect Jordan did have, though, likely got a bump from the fact that he got the Bulls into the playoffs, effectively lengthening the local playing season, and creating several more games.</p><p>&ldquo;You can make the argument that more people are coming in to watch playoffs. But that&rsquo;s not lasting,&rdquo; Baade said.</p><p>But what about Jordan&rsquo;s own spending? After all, by the mid-90s he was one of the world&rsquo;s highest-paid athletes.</p><p>Sanderson says the success didn&rsquo;t put money back into Chicago because that money was spent elsewhere. Jordan went on trips to Jamaica and other places that took him &mdash; and his wallet &mdash; outside of the city.</p><p>Jordan does still have a home in north suburban Highland Park. The mansion, complete with entrance gates adorned with the number 23, is for sale. Though he left the city more than 10 years ago, the house is still on the market. (Any takers? <a href="http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/2700-Point-Dr-Highland-Park-IL-60035/4902463_zpid/" target="_blank">There&rsquo;s a gym and a basketball court (duh), and it&rsquo;s only $16 million.</a>)</p><p>What about the Michael Jordan Restaurant? It&rsquo;s closed (<a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1994-01-14/entertainment/9401150342_1_waiter-plate-iced" target="_blank">possibly because of bad reviews such as this one</a>), but the Michael Jordan Steak House, which opened in 2011, still stands. The restaurant employs about 150 people. According to manager Myron Markewycz, the operation&rsquo;s doing well. Markewycz estimates that during the first few years it was open, Jordan visited the restaurant about 30 times. That was before Jordan divided his time between residences in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Florida. Now, while Markewycz can&rsquo;t give a specific number, he says they see much less of Jordan.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The United Center: The house that Jordan built?</span></p><p>It&rsquo;s tempting for an armchair historian to credit the United Center&rsquo;s construction to Jordan and the Bulls&rsquo; success. After all, you can&rsquo;t miss the statue of Jordan that dominates one of the center&rsquo;s main entrances. And, a surface reading of the timeline lends some evidence: Jordan arrived in 1984 and the United Center opened for business in 1994, replacing the Chicago Stadium.</p><p>But actually, the United Center was a joint venture designed to house both the Bulls and the Blackhawks hockey team. And it was first planned in 1988, years before the Bulls&rsquo; first championship in 1991.</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/UnitedCenter.jpg" style="height: 338px; width: 450px;" title="Chicago's United Center was opened in 1994. (Flickr/Esparta)" /></div><p>Sanderson says it&rsquo;s likely Jordan was just in the right place at the right time. Yes, Jordan excelled at the United Center, but basketball&rsquo;s popularity was the draw, not Jordan.</p><p>Jordan&rsquo;s rookie season was 1984, just as the NBA&rsquo;s popularity began to snowball. Until then, not many Americans watched basketball at the stadium or on TV. According to Sanderson, the playoffs were taped and aired later because not enough people wanted to watch them live. The sport gained momentum throughout the &lsquo;80s. Jordan and the Bulls, he says, rode the wave.</p><p>Sam Smith, a sports reporter who covered Jordan for the Chicago Tribune and authored two books about the star, says this rising tide compelled the NBA to push all teams &mdash; including the Bulls &mdash; to build new stadiums, fill seats and boost revenue.</p><p>&ldquo;They committed all of the franchises to have to get new buildings,&rdquo; he said, adding that if teams couldn&rsquo;t pull it off financially or politically, they were pressured to look for new cities to play in.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MJ%20united%20center%20statue%20for%20united%20center%20section_0.jpg" style="float: left; height: 361px; width: 250px; margin: 5px;" title="Chicago Bulls' star Michael Jordan stands next to a 12-foot bronze statue of himself unveiled outside the United Center in Chicago, Ill., Nov. 1, 1994, during a salute to Jordan by the Bulls. At left is Jordan's mother Deloris. (AP Photo/John Zich)" /></p><p>&ldquo;Everybody was put onto this,&rdquo; Smith said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s why Seattle&rsquo;s team moved to Oklahoma City, as an example.&rdquo;</p><p>But Charles Johnson, the CEO of Johnson Consulting (a firm that works on stadium projects, among other things) gives Jordan more credit.</p><p>Johnson helped supervise the development of the United Center for Stein and Company. He says the previous venue, the Chicago Stadium, had become obsolete and that there &ldquo;was no doubt&rdquo; that the United Center would have been built at some point. Still, he says, Jordan &ldquo;absolutely&rdquo; drove the timing.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it is safe to say that this is the building that Michael built,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I do not think this can be said anywhere else, so emphatically.&rdquo;</p><p>Johnson, Sanderson and Smith agree that Jordan had a definite impact on the new stadium&rsquo;s capacity and other amenities &mdash; in particular, the high number of suites.</p><p>&ldquo;If MJ was not in the picture, that many suites would never have happened,&rdquo; Johnson said, adding that the decision to create additional luxury seating turned into an excellent revenue stream for the construction project.</p><p>Smith goes further, saying that the NBA pointed to Jordan&rsquo;s track record and crowd appeal as an argument to expand suites and other accommodations. He says the franchises listened.</p><p>&ldquo;You can make a case with Michael that he influenced all of these buildings everywhere,&rdquo; Smith said.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Charitable impact</span></p><p>Throughout the 1990s, Michael Jordan was the richest athlete in the world, raking in $78.3 million in 1997 alone. Even if Chicago felt little economic impact from the Bulls&rsquo; success, you might suspect that Jordan&rsquo;s personal wealth &mdash; and fundraising in his name &mdash; had potential to leave a more measurable mark on the city.</p><p>In 1989 Jordan and his mother, Deloris, created the Michael Jordan Foundation, a Chicago-based charity that focused on improving education on a national scale. It had two offices and twelve people on staff. Student who participated in Jordan&rsquo;s Education Club could earn a weekend trip to Chicago if their grades and school attendance improved.</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/MJ%20econ%20impact%20AP_1.jpg" style="height: 345px; width: 450px;" title="Chicago Bulls player Michael Jordan gestures during a news conference at Bercy stadium in Paris Wednesday Oct. 15, 1997. Michael Jordan is the richest athlete in the world, regaining the top spot on the Forbes magazine list for the fifth time in six years. Jordan will earn dlrs 78.3 million in 1997. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)" /></div><p>But in 1996, seven years after the foundation&rsquo;s start (and shortly after Jordan made his <a href="http://chicago.suntimes.com/basketball/7/71/450458/michael-jordan-proclaimed-im-back-20-years-ago-today" target="_blank">famous Bulls comeback</a>), he<a href="http://www.apnewsarchive.com/1996/Michael-Jordan-Pulls-Plug-on-Charitable-Foundation/id-0c0db7ac6126eb83ad42762939677c11" target="_blank"> pulled the plug</a>. Jordan told the press he wanted to take a &ldquo;more personal and less institutional&rdquo; approach to financial giving, and that he&rsquo;d rather &ldquo;pick and choose to whom I give my donation.&rdquo;</p><p>And, aside from a substantial <a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=9999200019825" target="_blank">$5 million donation</a> to Chicago&rsquo;s Hales Franciscan High School in 2007, Jordan doesn&rsquo;t seem to have picked or chosen much else when it comes to local donations.</p><p>One Chicago charity to which MJ does still contribute is the James R. Jordan Foundation, an evolution of the Michael Jordan Foundation named in honor of his father. Deloris Jordan (Michael&rsquo;s mother) is the founder. Michael has little administrative involvement, a fact quickly asserted by the foundation.</p><p>&ldquo;He hasn&rsquo;t been here in how many years?&rdquo; said Samuel Bain, the foundation&rsquo;s director of development. &ldquo;[MJ] hasn&rsquo;t lived here, hasn&rsquo;t played here.&rdquo;</p><p>Bain says it&rsquo;s challenging to quantify the impact of the James R. Jordan Foundation on the city itself, but suspects it&rsquo;s benefited more local children and families than MJ&rsquo;s efforts in the early &lsquo;90s.</p><p>Under Deloris&rsquo; direction, the James R. Jordan Foundation partners with three Chicago K-8 schools, two of which are on either side of the United Center. Every student enrolled in these schools is part of a program called the <a href="http://www.jamesjordanfoundation.com/a-team-scholars.html" target="_blank">A-Team Scholars</a>, which awards scholarship money to students based on the letter improvements of their grades each semester.</p><p>Bain says the program has helped Chicago kids make it to high school and college. Some students have become <a href="https://www.gmsp.org/" target="_blank">Gates Millennium Scholars</a>, and a number of graduates from the James R. Jordan Schools have returned to Chicago as program mentors.</p><p>&ldquo;The impact shows in actual neighborhoods, in kids who are making it,&rdquo; Bain said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s the result of making it to college.&rdquo;</p><p>As far as MJ&rsquo;s contributions?</p><p>&ldquo;He&rsquo;s a supporter like our other supporters,&rdquo; Bain said. &ldquo;We are not the Michael Jordan Foundation. We don&rsquo;t want the focus to be on Michael.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Second to none</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MJ%20need%20you%20back%20pride%20section_0.jpg" style="float: right; margin: 5px; height: 381px; width: 250px;" title="(AP Photo) " />For a while, everyone wanted to <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0AGiq9j_Ak" target="_blank">&lsquo;Be Like Mike.&rsquo;</a> Which means Chicago&rsquo;s identity got a bit of a makeover, too.</p><p>Before MJ came along &ldquo;if you were traveling and told someone you were from Chicago, people would say, &lsquo;Oh, Chicago. Al Capone!&rsquo; Now, it&rsquo;s &lsquo;Chicago? Michael Jordan!&rdquo; said Sanderson.</p><p>Sam Smith says that the city experienced a sense of pride that it hadn&rsquo;t had before.</p><p>For a long time, he points out, Chicago was the &ldquo;Second City&rdquo; to New York or Los Angeles.</p><p>&ldquo;Here in Chicago, sports teams have traditionally been unsuccessful. They were associated with losing and being made fun of,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>That sentiment turned around. The United Center&rsquo;s Michael Jordan statue, entitled &quot;The Spirit&quot; and completed in 1994, has these words emblazoned on it: &ldquo;The best there ever was. The best there ever will be.&rdquo; It was as if, when Jordan was playing for the Bulls in the &lsquo;90s, everyone was proud to be from Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;You can&rsquo;t be the best forever,&rdquo; Smith said, &ldquo;but for a while we were number one.&rdquo;</p></p> Wed, 01 Apr 2015 11:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/legacy-michael-jordan-chicago-111803 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 Tensions and torches after the Great Chicago Fire http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/tensions-and-torches-after-great-chicago-fire-110908 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/171250855&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>The Great Chicago Fire has been a key part of Chicago&rsquo;s identity since the fateful dry, windy night of October 8, 1871, when the O&rsquo;Leary barn caught on fire. The blaze is represented by one of the stars on the city&rsquo;s flag. It&rsquo;s cited as the reason Chicago became a beacon of innovative architecture. And, it&rsquo;s often referenced with pride as an example of Chicago&rsquo;s indomitable, can-do spirit.</p><p>But University of Chicago history major Angela Lee asked us to skip all that. Instead, she asked us this question, which gets to a less-commonly discussed aspect of the disaster &mdash; how it affected residents&rsquo; relationships with each other.</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>How did the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 affect where Chicago&rsquo;s wealthy and poor lived?</em></p><p>Significant gaps in the historical record create problems answering this question with much precision, but there is a lot to learn. Among other things: Chicagoans at the time were uneasy when it came to the mixing of the social classes. And months after the fire, social tensions were stoked by &mdash; of all things &mdash; the type of materials available to rebuild.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Before the blaze</span></p><p>In 1870 Chicago was home to 298,977 people. Lacking modern zoning and planning sensibilities, the city was also a hodgepodge; homes, businesses, and even small manufacturing establishments were located near each other. According to Anne Durkin Keating, professor of history at North Central College, Chicago&rsquo;s working class and poorer areas tended to be near the river, on undesirable polluted land and close to jobs. The neighborhood where the fire began on the South Side, for example, was packed with small, wooden homes of immigrants according to Karen Sawislak, the author of <em>Smoldering City: Chicagoans and the Great Fire, 1871-1874</em>.</p><p>The wealthy were also spread out, often near the emerging central business district, Keating says. One wealthy enclave was north of the river, centered around Washington Square Park on the Near North side. Large homes in that area were owned by families with familiar names like McCormick, Ogden, and Kinzie. Another wealthy enclave that was not affected by the fire was Prairie Avenue between 18th and 20th Streets.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">During this era Chicago also had a large immigrant population, many of whom were homeowners. &ldquo;Rates of immigrant home ownership from 1850 to 1920 were incredibly high,&rdquo; says Elaine Lewinnek, the author of <em>The Working Man&rsquo;s Reward: Chicago&rsquo;s Early Suburbs and the Roots of American Sprawl</em>. In some of the city&rsquo;s poorest neighborhoods (as well as some areas just beyond its border), she says, home ownership rates among the working class neared 95 percent. &ldquo;It was really this immigrant-led American dream. It trickled up.&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/fire+demographics+story/burned+district+map+larger.jpg" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/burned district map for story.jpg" title="An illustration in Richard's Illustrated shows the districts of Chicago affected by the Great Fire. 1871. (Photo courtesy Newberry Library)" /></a></div></div><p>In contrast, renting was common among wealthy people with deeper roots in the country. &ldquo;Native-born Americans weren&rsquo;t so interested in owning homes. There was more prestige in some renting areas,&rdquo; Lewinnek says.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">After the fire, an &lsquo;awful democracy of the hour&rsquo;</span></p><p>Many accounts concerning the fire have been preserved in personal letters. Mrs. Aurelia R. King penned a note to friends that reads:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;The wind was like a tornado, and I held fast to my little ones, fearing they would be lifted from my sight. I could only think of Sodom or Pompeii, and truly I thought the day of judgement had come. It seemed as if the whole world were running like ourselves, fire all around us, and where should we go? &hellip; Yet we are so thankful that if we were to be afflicted, it is only by the loss of property. Our dear ones are all alive and well, and we are happy.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>During chaos of the fire, people from all walks of life fled their homes with a few treasured possessions and valuables. They waited for the fire to pass wherever they could: in the lake, on the prairie, in parks and in tunnels. People even sought shelter in abandoned graves. Bodies had been removed from City Cemetery years earlier, but the actual graves had not yet been filled in. These empty graves made a convenient, if creepy, place to seek shelter.</p><p>The usual divisions between groups of people vanished as Chicagoans endured this epic fire together. In fact, this jumble of different types of people was an element of <em>why</em> the fire was so distressing to some. &ldquo;This is the Victorian age. It was a time when people wanted their spatial separations to be clear. It wasn&rsquo;t clear right after the fire, part of the pressure in rebuilding is to make things clearer,&rdquo; Lewinnek says.</p><p>Reverend E. P. Roe later recalled the tunnel under the Chicago River at LaSalle Street: &ldquo;There jostled the refined and delicate lady, who, in the awful democracy of the hour, brushed against thief and harlot. &hellip; Altogether it was a strange, incongruous, writhing mass of humanity, such as the world had never looked upon, pouring into what might seem in its horrors, the mouth of hell.&rdquo;</p><p>When the fire finally stopped, rumors swirled about more potential trouble. Survivor Ebon Matthews recalled &ldquo;one who was not an eyewitness can hardly imagine the fears of incendiarism, looting, etc., which prevailed. Stories of all kinds were afoot concerning thefts, murders, and the like.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><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/CHM illustration.jpg" title="Witnesses recounted avoiding the flames for two days. Image: Scene on the Prairie, Monday night. Alfred R. Waud, Pencil, Chalk, and Paint Drawing, 1871 (Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)" /></div></div></div><p>According to Sawislak, there was an undercurrent of uncertainty about what could happen next. Yet, she says, after the first couple of days passed things were orderly. &ldquo;After reading through records of contemporaneous accounts, you sense this huge fear of disorder, further explosion and disruption in the aftermath, but really everyone who was charged with public safety is kind of constantly saying: &lsquo;You know? It&rsquo;s really quiet. People are going about their business and being very helpful.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Military presence</span></p><p>Nevertheless, a feeling of unease remained. &ldquo;Very quickly business leaders in the city basically prevailed upon the mayor to cede civic authority over peacekeeping in the aftermath of the fire, and give it to the army. It became a military operation commanded by General Philip Sheridan,&rdquo; Sawislak says.</p><p>According to an account in historian Carl Smith&rsquo;s <em><a href="http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/U/bo5625323.html" target="_blank">Urban Disorder and the Shape of Belief: The Great Chicago Fire, the Haymarket Bomb, and the Model Town of Pullman</a></em>, former Lieutenant Governor William Bross recalled &ldquo;Never did deeper emotions of joy overcome me. Thank God, those most dear to me and the city as well are safe.&rdquo; Bross said without Sheridan&rsquo;s &ldquo;prompt, bold and patriotic action, &hellip; what was left of the city would have been nearly if not quite entirely destroyed by the cutthroats and vagabonds who flocked here like vultures from every point of the compass.&rdquo;</p><p>This brief period of defacto martial law was controversial. &ldquo;His soldiers mostly were stationed to patrol the ruins of the banks and the hotels and the big commercial structures and safeguard what they thought was wealth that was sort of buried in the rubble. But they didn&rsquo;t go to work handing out food or helping people clean up the damage or building structures for temporary shelter. That was not considered to be part of their job,&rdquo; Sawislak says. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re not really there to help. They&rsquo;re there to guard, and that&rsquo;s a whole different project.&rdquo;</p><p>In 1872 Elijah Haines, a member of the Illinois House of Representatives, spoke to that body about the brief military presence in Chicago. &ldquo;They are men with bayonets, bringing complete military armament. For what purpose? For war?&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Smith does note that General Sheridan &ldquo;requisitioned relief rations and supplies from St. Louis.&rdquo;</p><p>He also describes an incident that may have hastened the end of this period of military involvement. &ldquo;Theodore Treat, a twenty-year-old college student on volunteer curfew duty, shot Thomas W. Grosvenor, who died the next morning. Grosvenor was a former Civil War officer and successful lawyer&rdquo; Smith writes. He continues, &ldquo;Grosvenor may in fact have been a victim of the false reports of rampant criminality that put Treat fatally on edge.&rdquo; &nbsp;Three days later, on October 23rd, 1871, General Sheridan resigned from his temporary post overseeing Chicago&rsquo;s security.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The class and ethnic divide</span></p><p>As Chicago emerged from this tense environment, the city discussed how to rebuild the burnt district. Foremost on some people&rsquo;s minds: preventing a similar disaster to the one they had just endured. This school of thought proposed new building rules, the most strident being that, for safety&rsquo;s sake, only brick and stone would be allowed for construction within the city limits. The problem with this idea? Wood was cheap. For the immigrant homeowners on the North Side, maintaining their homes trumped even fire safety.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/fire+demographics+story/lincolnParkLarger.jpg" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/smaller%20lincoln%20park%20refuge.jpg" title="Illustration from Harper's Weekly featuring refugees in Lincoln Park during the Chicago Fire of 1871. (Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)" /></a></div></div></div><p>&ldquo;People were furious,&rdquo; Lewinnek says, &ldquo;especially the German and Irish immigrants who lived on the North Side who had been most burned out by the fire, were furious they might not be able to rebuild.&rdquo; They tended not to have reliable insurance and felt they wouldn&rsquo;t be able to afford to keep their land if wood construction was not allowed. &ldquo;They&rsquo;d say things like: &lsquo;We don&rsquo;t care if the city burns again, we need our own houses,&rsquo;&rdquo; Lewinnek says. Populations affected included those of German, Irish and Scandinavian background.</p><p>Karen Sawislak says, circling this debate was a hard question: Who&rsquo;s a good American? &ldquo;It was the immigrant community, specifically Germans, Scandinavians, who pushed hard to not have the fire limits extended over their neighborhoods, because effectively that would have meant that some very large percentage wouldn&rsquo;t have been able to rebuild any time soon or possibly at all, because of the expense of construction with stone or brick,&rdquo; she says. She adds that it became a political fight over &ldquo;the right to better yourself in your new country through this hard work and investment you&rsquo;ve made versus the need to protect a bigger, more abstract public from another possible disaster.&rdquo;</p><p>This conflict came to a dramatic head on Monday night, January 15, 1872. Immigrants gathered and marched by torch light to City Hall. Reports vary between the local English language newspapers and the foreign language papers, but Lewinnek says between 2,000 and 10,000 people marched to city hall. They carried signs with slogans like, &ldquo;No Fire Limitz [sic] at the North Site,&rdquo; and &ldquo;Leave a House for the Laborur.&rdquo; Again, reports vary about what happened when they arrived at City Hall. The German-language <em>Staats-Zeitung</em> wrote that six windows were broken, while the <em>Chicago Times</em> declared &ldquo;ALL THE WINDOWS BROKEN,&rdquo; and called the event &ldquo;the most disgraceful riot which ever visited Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>In the end, the North Side immigrants won the right to re-build with wood on their existing property. Areas north of Chicago Avenue and west of Wells Street and Lincoln Avenue were outside the new fire limits. After another significant fire in 1874, the fire limits were finally extended to the city, according to Elaine Lewinnek.</p><p>By that time, most of the North Side immigrants had managed to rebuild their homes, and so their wooden homes were &ldquo;grandfathered in&rdquo; according to Lewinnek.</p><p>In terms of how the fire changed the layout of Chicago, existing trends quickened. In general, property owners and even wealthy renters tended to remain where they were before the fire. Suburbs continued to grow. Distinct districts &mdash; residential, manufacturing, and the downtown area &mdash; developed. Downtown land prices rose.</p><p>Also after the fire, Chicago&rsquo;s population changed. The Relief and Aid Society had given out free rail passes to people who wanted to leave town after the fire. Some left, while new residents arrived. &ldquo;Immediately after the fire 30,000 people moved to Chicago to help rebuild it. So you don&rsquo;t actually have the exact same population,&rdquo; Lewinnek says. Many of these newcomers rented or lived in suburbs. The city&rsquo;s population grew from just under 300,000 in 1870 before the fire to 503,185 in 1880. (As of the most recent census, in 2010, Chicago&rsquo;s population numbered 2,695,598. Chicago&rsquo;s highest census number was recorded in 1950, with 3,620,962 residents.)</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Telling silence, shared memory</span></p><p>Since the fire, of course, this era has been remembered as a triumphant moment in the city&rsquo;s history. In 1872 Frank Luzerne published a work titled <em>The Lost City! Drama of the Fire-Fiend! or Chicago, As It Was, and As It Is! and its Glorious Future!</em>. Citing nearly 5,000 newly-issued building permits, Luzerne wrote &ldquo;there will be no interruption in the work of rebuilding until the new Chicago arises from the ashes of the old, in more substantial grandeur, rehabilitated, immeasurably improved, and all the better for her thorough purification.&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/rebuilding 2.jpg" title="Before the fire wood construction was common but afterwards it was proscribed in much of the city. Image: The Rebuilding of the Marine Building; Glass Lantern Slide, ca. 1873. ichi-02845 (Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)" /></div></div><p>Sawislak takes issue with this narrative. &ldquo;Basically, I think that the Chicago fire is this very proud moment in the city&rsquo;s history, but it&rsquo;s a very heavily mythologized history,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;In many ways the disaster very much reinforced existing barriers between classes, between ethnicities.&rdquo;</p><p>Events surrounding the fire were extensively documented, but significant segments of the population were not included in that process and therefore their experiences were lost to history, Sawislak says. There are a wealth of first-person accounts of the fire, but says they were written only by people of means. &ldquo;We have very few records from working class people that are contemporaneous accounts of the fire,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s actually rather hard to find a record of how most Chicagoans experienced this signature event in the history of the city.&rdquo;</p><p>This imbalance, Sawislak argues, extends even to the estimated three hundred people who died in the fire. &ldquo;Even the fact that it&rsquo;s always an estimate tells you something,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;Most victims &mdash; virtually all &mdash; were working class, immigrants, in very densely packed immigrant neighborhoods that were most impacted by the early stages of the fire on the South Side.&rdquo; Even following years of research, Sawislak says she&rsquo;s never discovered a comprehensive list of names of the deceased.</p><p>Combine this, she says, with the fact that the working poor left behind so few written accounts of the fire, and you&rsquo;re struck with an uncomfortable truth.</p><p>&ldquo;The silences are really kind of what&rsquo;s telling.&rdquo; she says.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/angela%20lee%20photo.jpg" style="float: left; height: 268px; width: 200px;" title="(Photo courtesy Angela Lee)" /><span style="font-size:22px;">Now we have an answer. Who asked the question?</span></p><p>Angela Lee thinks a lot about cities, history, and demographics. She&rsquo;s originally from New York City. &ldquo;I&#39;ve only lived in cities,&quot; she says. &quot;I&#39;ve always been curious about why certain neighborhoods are located where they are, and why the divisions can be so extreme sometimes.&rdquo;</p><p>Her interest in where people live is long-standing. She began paying attention to real estate when she was just ten years old, she says. Now she&rsquo;s a fourth-year student at the University of Chicago, majoring in history. Thinking about the London fire of 1666 made her wonder, &ldquo;They had to completely rebuild the city, I thought something similar might have happened in Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Special help for this story comes from Carl Smith, author of <a href="http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/U/bo5625323.html" target="_blank">Urban Disorder and the Shape of Belief: The Great Chicago Fire, the Haymarket Bomb, and the Model Town of Pullman. </a>He also curates <a href="http://www.greatchicagofire.org" target="_blank">The Great Chicago Fire and the Web of Memory</a>.</em></p><p><em>Katie Klocksin is an independent producer. Follow her on twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/KatieKlocksin" target="_blank">@KatieKlocksin</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 07 Oct 2014 16:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/tensions-and-torches-after-great-chicago-fire-110908 The tale of the two-flat http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/tale-two-flat-110681 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/164044282&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: The podcast version of the story includes an excerpt from a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicagos-flammable-fire-escapes-109009#related" target="_blank">more extensive examination of Chicago-area wooden porches used as a means of egress</a>. To catch every episode, <a href="http://wbez.is/VIdLFv" target="_blank">subscribe to our podcast</a>.&nbsp;</em></p><p>Most older U.S. cities have a signature kind of building. In Brooklyn it&rsquo;s the brownstone, one standing shoulder-to-shoulder to the next. In Philadelphia, newcomers and visitors are struck by the distinctive row houses.</p><p>What about Chicago? Well, it&rsquo;s a city known for its skyscrapers, for sure. Outside of downtown, though, you won&rsquo;t find soaring steel and glass. In the neighborhoods, it&rsquo;s wood, brick and stone. The real workhorse of Chicago&rsquo;s built environment is the modest, ubiquitous (yet fascinating) two-flat.</p><p>You know the building. Two stories, with an apartment unit on each floor, usually with bay windows greeting the street through of a facade of brick or greystone. Most were built between 1900 and 1920.</p><p>Two-to-four unit apartment buildings make up 27 percent of Chicago&rsquo;s housing stock, according to data from the <a href="http://www.housingstudies.org/" target="_blank">DePaul Institute of Housing Studies</a>. The rest is split evenly between single-family homes, condominiums and buildings with five or more units.</p><p>We recently got a question that returns some wonder to this everyday building. Our question asker, who chose to stay anonymous, is particularly interested in why the two-flat became so popular. And she wants to know who calls these buildings home. As she observes in <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/questions/743" target="_blank">the question she submitted to Curious City</a>, they&rsquo;re somewhere between suburban houses and big apartment buildings:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Chicago-area two-flats straddle the line between apartments and homes. Who were they originally designed to serve? Has that changed?</em></p><p>The answer to that last part? It&rsquo;s revealed in a story, one you&rsquo;d miss if you choose to focus on the city&rsquo;s skyline or crane your neck to see the top of the Willis (Sears) Tower. It turns out the advent of the humble two-flat mirrors the development of Chicago&rsquo;s middle class. And in many ways it still does today, but in the wake of the 2008 financial and foreclosure crises, that may be changing.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">A Bohemian building boom</span></p><p>Through the late 1800s, European immigrants made up almost half of Chicago&rsquo;s population. Hundreds of thousands of Polish, German and Czech people settled here, often making their first home in narrow one-story buildings usually made out of wood. Those came to be called worker&rsquo;s cottages.</p><blockquote><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://wbez.is/1q1Znnk" target="_blank"><strong>Related: How the size of the &quot;foreign born&quot; population has changed in the city.&nbsp;</strong></a></p></blockquote><p>As Chicago&rsquo;s big industries grew &mdash; Sears, McCormick Reaper and Western Electric, to name a few &mdash; so did the population. Soon it made sense for developers and architects to build up as they built out. Hence two- and three-flat buildings, which offered denser housing, and gave the owners a shot at some extra income from renting out their extra unit.</p><p>We found several architects from the era who built two-flats by the dozens on spec, meaning they weren&rsquo;t designing for a specific client, but acting as &ldquo;owner-architect&rdquo; in the parlance of records from the era. Many of them were Bohemian. (Today, the former Bohemia is part of the Czech Republic).</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/czeckad.jpg" title="An ad for Lawndale two-flats steered toward Eastern European immigrants. (Courtesy Chicago History Museum) " /></p><p>In fact, along with Jen Masengarb of the <a href="http://www.architecture.org/" target="_blank">Chicago Architecture Foundation</a> &mdash; whom we partnered with on <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/questions/743" target="_blank">this voting round</a> and helped us research this story &mdash; we found an old article from the <em>Chicago Tribune</em> that shows the connection between the city&rsquo;s booming Czech population and its sprawling housing market. A headline from <a href="http://www.newspapers.com/newspage/28540648/" target="_blank">Oct. 17, 1903</a> crows: &ldquo;BOHEMIANS IN LEAD AS BUILDERS OF HOMES.&rdquo;</p><p>At the convention of the Building Association league of Illinois, Bohemian Frank G. Hajicek boasted of &ldquo;$12,000,000 in shares in force&rdquo; held by the &ldquo;the Bohemians of Chicago.&rdquo; It was a point of pride for the 28-year-old resident of the South Lawndale neighborhood.</p><p>&ldquo;Never in the history of the world, I believe, have people in a foreign land established themselves in homes so securely and rapidly as have the 200,000 Bohemians who make Chicago their home,&rdquo; said Hajicek in 1903.</p><p>In the heavily Eastern European Southwest Side neighborhoods of Pilsen (named for the Bohemian city of Plzeƈ), North Lawndale and South Lawndale, many of those homes were two-flats.</p><p>With Masengarb&rsquo;s help, we dug up some documents at the<a href="http://www.chicagohistory.org" target="_blank"> Chicago History Museum</a>, including a 1915 &ldquo;Book of Plans&rdquo; that enticed homebuyers to order away for all the materials needed to build a two-flat sized for a typical Chicago city lot.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/bookofplanslarger.png" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bookofplansinset.png" title="Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum. Click for larger view. " /></a></div><p>&ldquo;Our design No. 144 is a two-family flat designed for a money making proposition,&rdquo; begins one such ad. &ldquo;Anyone wanting a comfortable home and at the same time a good income on the investment will do well to consider this proposition.&rdquo;</p><p>Many, it seems, did consider it. A 1910<em> Tribune</em> article reported $38 million of flat building, &ldquo;a new high record in this field, exceeding by over $4,000,000 the figures of 1908, which also established a new record.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">A &lsquo;workhorse building&rsquo; in a western paradise</span></p><p>Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that it often wasn&rsquo;t young first-generation immigrants buying Chicago two-flats. Instead it was those who immigrated to Chicago as children in the late 19th century, and by the early 20th century had built up enough money to graduate from renting.</p><p>&ldquo;What appears to have happened is that the Czech population was essentially moving further west, out of Pilsen and other sort of areas, Maxwell Street areas, to newer land, I guess you could say,&rdquo; says Matt Cole of Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, which administers the <a href="http://www.nhschicago.org/site/3C/category/greystone_history" target="_blank">Historic Greystone Initiative</a>. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s where the name California [Avenue] comes from &mdash; it was like their western paradise.&rdquo;</p><p>Jen Masengarb and I take Cole up on his offer to point out one such western paradise: <a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/North+Lawndale,+Chicago,+IL/@41.8582574,-87.7139721,15z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x880e328a692e8e51:0x26c3604dc3282d76" target="_blank">the part of North Lawndale known as K-Town for its K-named avenues (Kostner, Kildare, Keeler, etc.)</a> near Pulaski and Cermak Roads. In 2010 K-Town was listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its collection of classic Chicago apartment buildings.</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/masengarbktown.jpg" title="Reporter Chris Bentley, Jen Masengarb and Matt Cole with Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago meet in K-Town to learn about Chicago's two-flats. (Photo courtesy Anne Evans) " /></div><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s like a microcosm of Chicago architecture,&rdquo; says Cole, pointing out stately greystones, single-family brick residences and flats in styles ranging from Queen Anne to Prairie to mashups of any and all architectural detailing popular between 1900 and 1930. &ldquo;The reality is that the two-flat and three-flat are the workhorse building of this period of Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>During our neighborhood walk, Masengarb points out that for a lot of early 20th century Chicagoans, the two-flat was a vehicle of social mobility.</p><p>&ldquo;This two-flat is that bridge, I think, between that older 1880s, 1870s housing,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;And then the bungalow which was the even bigger dream, and a bigger yard, my own space and nobody living upstairs, clomping around. &ldquo;</p><p>Consider Frank Stuchal. Census data shows in 1888 he immigrated to Chicago from Bohemia as a 13-year-old with his parents and two sisters. The census is taken every 10 years, and every 10 years as his income increased &mdash; Stuchal was first employed as a typesetter, then a print shop foreman, and finally business manager for a newspaper &mdash; he moved further west along Cermak avenue. In 1900 the 24-year old Stuchal rented an apartment at W. 23rd Street and South Spaulding Avenue with his two sisters. In 1920 he and his wife owned a two-flat, half of which they rented out to a German family. By 1930 he and his wife were raising their son in a bungalow they owned in the southwest suburb of Berwyn.</p><p>The 1920 census shows the street lined with two-flats occupied by second generation Czech, German, and Polish immigrants in their 40s and 50s, raising Chicago-born teenagers. Stuchal&rsquo;s neighbors included butchers, policemen, bookkeepers, bricklayers and librarians.</p><p>That two-flat Stuchal owned in 1920 was in K-town, near 21st Place and Keeler Avenue. It was built in 1916, and <a href="https://www.google.com/maps/@41.852501,-87.731744,3a,75y,144.04h,88.86t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sj8F0Ae9ndTVLStijAJ4d8A!2e0" target="_blank">it&rsquo;s still there</a>.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://www.google.com/maps/@41.852501,-87.731744,3a,75y,144.04h,88.86t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sj8F0Ae9ndTVLStijAJ4d8A!2e0" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/insert-images/Capture_0.JPG" style="width: 610px; height: 234px;" title="Frank Stuchal's two-flat was built in 1916. (Google Streetview/Google)" /></a></div><p>Today it&rsquo;s owned by Arquilla Lawrence, whose parents moved in when she was two years old.</p><p>&ldquo;And I love it,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s been my home all my life, ever since I was two we moved into the neighborhood. I&rsquo;ve been here my whole life except when I went away to college.&rdquo;</p><p>Like many African-Americans, Lawrence&rsquo;s father moved to the neighborhood from the South &mdash; Oklahoma, in his case &mdash; during <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/545.html" target="_blank">The Great Migration of blacks to northern cities </a>during the middle of the 20th century. After World War II the neighborhood became the first African-American neighborhood on Chicago&rsquo;s West Side.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s why it&rsquo;s so well kept,&rdquo; says Corey Brooks, who also grew up in K-town. &ldquo;Because most of [the property owners] migrated from the South. This is where they put their roots in, so they all know each other.&rdquo;</p><p>Brooks introduces us to his wife, Rita, who is on her way to check in on her mom. Both of them moved back to their childhood homes in order to care for their parents. Turns out it&rsquo;s not just the neighborhood&rsquo;s property ownership that has lasted all these years.</p><p>&ldquo;This is my childhood sweetheart,&rdquo; says Rita, pointing to Corey. &ldquo;He was my first boyfriend! Then he got married to someone else, I got married, I lost my husband, and then two years ago we found each other and got married.&rdquo;</p><p>Before we leave K-Town, Jen Masengarb surveys the mishmash of early 20th century architectural styles on display.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s like a metamorphosis or an evolution. We&rsquo;re gonna try this over here on this block, and then this is five years later we&rsquo;re gonna try this &hellip; You can just see it evolving in the way that we live and the decisions that we&rsquo;re making in terms of what our families need, what is stylistically impressive,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;This architecture is us, it&rsquo;s a reflection of us.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Losing equity: Is the workhorse getting exhausted?</span></p><p>So the form of two-flats was basically a response to economics and demographics, as well as the size and shape of a Chicago city lot. The buildings no longer house predominantly Czech and other Eastern European immigrants, but today&rsquo;s tenants share a lot with their neighbors across the decades &mdash; many of them used two-flats to build community and a little bit of personal wealth in the form of equity. The two-flat was a bridge to a better life for the families that built Chicago as we know it.</p><p>One hundred years later, however, it&rsquo;s not clear how much longer two-flats will be able to fill that role.</p><p>K-town is well kempt, thanks in part to incentives from its historic district status. But two-flats are expensive to maintain. And since the 2008 financial and foreclosure crises, a lot of two-flats in other neighborhoods around Chicago are sitting vacant or being bought by developers who don&rsquo;t occupy the units.</p><p>And sometimes the ownership moved in the other direction. Eric Strickland tells us he bought a K-Town two-flat in the 90s. When he purchased the building on 21st Place, it was divided into three units. Once he&rsquo;d saved up enough money, Strickland converted the two-flat into a single-family home. He lives there now with his wife and daughter.</p><p>During the housing crisis two-to-four unit properties were disproportionately impacted by foreclosure. And Geoff Smith from the DePaul <a href="http://www.housingstudies.org/" target="_blank">Institute of Housing Studies</a> says two-flats don&rsquo;t really make economic sense for new development, so they may well be lost to history in lower-income neighborhoods.</p><p>&ldquo;What you see more commonly is a single-family home targeted for owner occupancy, or you see a larger rental building,&rdquo; Smith says.</p><p>He adds that, if older two-flats fall into disrepair, there will likely be no two-unit rentals to replace them. &nbsp;&ldquo;The concern is that in some of these more distressed areas, where there is a substantial stock of these buildings, there is a risk in some neighborhoods that this kind of housing could be lost,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>That prospect matters. According to data from the DePaul <a href="http://www.housingstudies.org/" target="_blank">Institute of Housing Studies</a>, today there are more than 76,000 two-unit apartment buildings in Chicago. In some neighborhoods &mdash; Brighton Park, New City, and South Lawndale &mdash; they still make up more than two-thirds of the housing stock, as well as a substantial proportion of the city&rsquo;s affordable housing.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://housing-stock.housingstudies.org/#13/41.8759/-87.6436" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/depaulmap.PNG" style="height: 300px; width: 620px;" title="Click to view full map from DePaul's IHS. " /></a></div><p>Prices for two-to-four unit buildings in distressed areas of Chicago fell roughly 70 percent between the pre-crash peak and current figures. That means many homes in those areas are worth less than they were in 1997, says Smith.</p><p>So if the &ldquo;money making proposition&rdquo; that two-flats once promised to working families is more elusive these days, what will become of the lower-income neighborhoods where these historic buildings are most prevalent?</p><p>&ldquo;Because of changing population dynamics, the changing nature of the city, in some areas you are going to see demand in decline. You may not see it recover, and there just may not be an economic value to some of these properties,&rdquo; says Smith. &ldquo;Hopefully some prescient, some really far forward-seeing investor can come in and say &lsquo;these properties have value for the long-term.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p><em>Chris Bentley is a freelance journalist and reporter for WBEZ&rsquo;s Curious City. <a href="http://cabentley.com/" target="_blank">Follow him at cabentley.com</a> and on Twitter at <a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>. Jen Masengarb is Director of Interpretation and Research for <a href="http://www.architecture.org/" target="_blank">the Chicago Architecture Foundation</a> and contributed reporting to this story. </em></p><p><em>Correction: A draft of the text for this story misstated the time period during which the majority of Chicago two-flats were constructed. The correct timeframe is between 1900 and 1920.</em></p></p> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 16:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/tale-two-flat-110681 Cabbage War: West Ridge vs. Rogers Park http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/cabbage-war-west-ridge-vs-rogers-park-110648 <p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/nsU07hchILU?rel=0" width="640"></iframe></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/163030116&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>We receive a good number of questions about Chicago neighborhoods: Among other things, we&rsquo;ve learned <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/question-answered-how-are-chicago-neighborhoods-formed-103831" target="_blank">how their boundaries are formed</a>, how the city&rsquo;s roster of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/gulp-how-chicago-gobbled-its-neighbors-109583" target="_blank">neighborhoods grew through annexation</a>, and how the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swept-their-homes-chicagos-latinos-built-new-community-110538" target="_blank">ethnic composition of neighborhoods can sometimes change </a>surprisingly quickly.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/cabbage-war-west-ridge-vs-rogers-park-110648#laura" target="_blank">Laura Jones Macknin</a> of the Ravenswood neighborhood sent along one of the more puzzling queries along these lines. Laura had been working on a health-related survey project in several Chicago neighborhoods. For reporting purposes, her team needed to distinguish between West Ridge and Rogers Park, which are tucked into the northeast corner of the city.</p><p>As Laura researched the neighborhoods&rsquo; dividing line, she bumped into historical references to an altercation between the two areas &ndash; one with a vegetative flair. The issue took hold of her enough that she sent us this question:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>What was behind the so-called Cabbage War in West Ridge and Rogers Park? I would like to know more because, you know ... Cabbage War.</em></p><p>Well, the Cabbage War had very little to do with cabbages per se. And though it&rsquo;s easy to dismiss such an oddly named conflict, this 19th century showdown involved something that neighborhoods and even entire cities continue to fight over today: parks and the taxes to create and maintain them.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Unfriendly neighbors</span></p><p>As West Ridge and Rogers Park evolved from being independent villages to neighborhoods of Chicago in the late 19th century, residents carried animosity towards one another. Rogers Park was urbane compared to the decidedly rural West Ridge, which grew a considerable amount of &ndash; you guessed it &ndash; cabbage. Rogers Parkers would hurl the &ldquo;Cabbage Heads&rdquo; epithet toward West Ridgers, and they prided themselves on the fact that they lived in a &ldquo;dry&rdquo; part of town where booze was outlawed. West Ridge, on the other hand, was home to several drinking establishments. The West Ridgers considered Rogers Parkers to be effete snobs, or &ldquo;silk stockings&rdquo; in the 19th century parlance.</p><p>This cultural divide persisted as things came to a head on the political front in 1896. The two areas (now Chicago neighborhoods) had proposed competing plans to create and fund parks. Notably, at this time, there was no unified Chicago Park District, and it was common for local communities to create separate parks authorities, which would sometimes compete for tax dollars. During the campaign to decide which parks plans would prevail, West Ridgers and Rogers Parkers exchanged harsh words and &mdash; in at least one case &mdash; deployed brutal tactics.</p><p>But let&rsquo;s stop the tale here. This is no <em>Game of Thrones</em> epic. Unlike that unfinished opus, the chronicle of Chicago&rsquo;s Cabbage War doesn&rsquo;t need umpteen books: You can get the gist (and all the drama) in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsU07hchILU&amp;list=UUkpMCLrDFxb1n74GOOw81-w" target="_blank">our short animated story</a>!</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><a name="laura"></a>Now we have an answer. Who asked the question?</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/question asker FOR WEB.png" style="height: 245px; width: 250px; float: left;" title="" /></p><p>Did you hear Laura Jones Macknin&rsquo;s voice at the top of our animated story? There&rsquo;s a chance you&rsquo;re actually familiar with it. Laura sent her question to us while working in a healthcare outreach program, <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2669689/">but she&rsquo;s also an actor</a>.</p><p>She&rsquo;s also performed voice work in local advertisements, including some for Central DuPage and Swedish Hospitals.</p><p>Laura wrote us early about her interest in the Cabbage War story. &ldquo;It&#39;s so odd and whimsical (Cabbages on poles! Cabbagehead slurs! Farmers vs. Northwestern!) that I wanted to know more about it,&rdquo; she wrote.</p><p>She also pressed us for a little <em>Game of Thrones</em> reenactment but, alas, the historical record might be a bit too scant to sustain a book or TV series.</p><p><em>Illustrator and reporter Simran Khosla can be followed&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/simkhosla" target="_blank">@simkhosla</a>. Sincere thanks to the <a href="http://rpwrhs.org/" target="_blank">Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society</a> for expertise, materials and interviews.</em></p></p> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 17:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/cabbage-war-west-ridge-vs-rogers-park-110648