In the summer of 1959, Chicago prepared to play host to a queen for a day.
Her majesty Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, visited our fair city during a North American swing primarily through Canada on the recently opened St. Lawrence Seaway.
The long-reigning monarch died Thursday at the age of 96, according to Buckingham Palace. Here is a look back at her only visit to Chicago.
Chicago was the only non-Canadian stop on the royal couple’s 15,000-mile summer journey, which was “a gesture to Chicago’s rising prominence as an international seaport,” reporter Gwen Morgan wrote in a June 1959 article for the Chicago Daily Tribune ahead of the visit.
The queen, who was 33 at the time of her visit, and Prince Philip were greeted in Chicago by Mayor Richard J. Daley, Illinois Gov. William Stratton and ambassadors from the British Commonwealth nations.
“My husband and I are very glad to be here today,” she said in a short speech near the lakefront. “We have looked forward for a long time to coming to Chicago and to the state of Illinois and to meeting our American friends from the middle of your country.”
The visiting dignitaries then proceeded parade-style down Michigan Avenue, where Chicagoans packed the streets to get a glimpse of the royals.
“From the moment the queen and Prince Philip landed in the morning, Chicago’s citizens had the welcome mat out for her,” the Tribune reported the next day. “They cheered and applauded her — and girls often squealed with happiness at her prince — as the royal-pair twice drove in processions down Michigan Avenue.”
Her visit, which was only about 14 hours long, included stops at Navy Pier, the International Trade Fair, the Ambassador Hotel and the Art Institute of Chicago, before a reception was held at the Drake Hotel.
Before a dinner at the Conrad Hilton Hotel, the queen received an emergency filling on an aching tooth, courtesy of a Chicago-area dentist whose office was on the first floor of the Drake, according to a Chicago Daily Tribune article.
“The temporary filling will serve her until she gets back to England,” Dr. Norman R. Olson of Glencoe told the newspaper.
Tooth intact, it was off to an evening fit for, well, a queen. The reception at the Conrad, along Michigan Avenue, was attended by nearly a thousand people, including many Midwest mayors and governors.
“Ever since we landed this morning we have not ceased to be impressed by the massive dignity of your city … We shall carry with us … a memory of the generous hospitality of Chicago which will long warm our hearts,” the queen told the crowd, according to the Chicago Public Library.
As she departed the city, she told Mayor Daley that “this is an unforgettable day — a day I will never forget,” according to a Tribune article from the time.
Courtney Kueppers is a digital producer/reporter at WBEZ. Follow her @cmkueppers.