Chicago Century

Chicago Century: Reading the Tribune from 100 years ago.

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Midway Gardens opened on this day in 1914.


Great perspectives of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Midway Gardens, 1914, Chicago.

Built in 1914 at 60th and Cottage Grove, this grand entertainment venue would succumb to the wrecking ball in 1929. It’s on my top 10 list of lost architectural sites in Chicago.

I’ve posted many photos of FLW’s masterpiece before but none with such clarity.

Read more here:

photos via SSC

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Chicago—January 2, 1914

The Lyric Theater (348 S State St) is the only Chicago movie house that shows films 24 hours a day. After 10 PM, admission doubles to 10 cents. The homeless buy a ticket and stay all night.

The films Sweet Bye and Bye, Patrick’s Goat, and A Dark, Dark Deed play to the snores of the crowd. At 5 AM a police officer wakes the crowd and sends them to the balcony while the floors downstairs are scrubbed. When the cleaning is finished, most return downstairs to sleep for another three hours or so before heading back to the streets.

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Chicago—January 1, 1914

The Dawes Hotel — a “flop de luxe for down and outs” — opens at 12-14 S. Peoria St. The 305 beds available for a nickel sell out within an hour of opening.

One tenant approaches a man for a cigarette: “Have you got the makins? I’ve got the papers.” Arthur Brown, architect of the fireproof hotel, gives him the cigarette which he lights from I the central fireplace.

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Chicago—New Year’s Eve, 1913

"The old idea of welcoming the new year with a flood of wine has gone out of fashion," says one of Chicago’s leading restauranteurs. "We expect this year to have large crowds, but wine buying will not be so important a part of the night’s program. People seem to be content to celebrate the occasion with a good dinner."

Arthur Farwell, leader of the city’s “sane New Year” committee, finalizes his plans for the “most elaborate chaperonage Chicago ever has been given on New Year’s Eve.” He has recruited 50 volunteers from various city departments to ensure “the merriment of the evening is kept within decent bounds and that the 1 o’clock ordinance is obeyed by the letter.” The city does not permit alcohol sales after 1 AM tonight.

Also limiting merriment, the forecast calls for snow flurries.

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Chicago—December 25, 1913

The City’s first municipal Christmas tree stands 85 feet tall in Grant Park. The Michigan Evergreen was lit yesterday in a ceremony attended by more than 100,000 people.

Two burglars rob six customers and staff during breakfast at Messinger’s restaurant (17 Quincy St.). Supposedly they asked for gifts.

A new mail delivery record was set for Chicago. During the 24 hours ending at 6 AM today more than 20,000 packages were delivered parcel post.

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Chicago--Christmastime, 1967

Mary and Joe were flat broke when they got off the bus in Chicago. They didn’t know anybody and she was expecting a baby. 

They went to a cheap hotel. But the clerk jerked his thumb at the door when they couldn’t show a day’s rent in advance.

They walked the streets until they saw a police station. The desk sergeant said they couldn’t sleep in a cell, but he told them how to get to the Cook County Department of Public Aid.

A man there said they couldn’t get regular assistance because they hadn’t been Illinois residents long enough. But he gave them the address of the emergency welfare office on the West Side.

It was a two-mile walk up Madison Street to 19 S. Damen. Someone gave them a card with a number on it and they sat down on a bench, stared at the peeling green paint and waited for their number to be called.

Two hours later, a caseworker motioned them forward, took out blank forms, and asked questions: Any relatives? Any means of getting money? Any assets?

Joe said he owned a donkey. The caseworker told him not to get smart or he’d be thrown out. Joe said he was sorry.

The caseworker finished the forms and said they were entitled to emergency CTA bus fare to Cook County Hospital because of Mary’s condition. And he told Joe to go to an Urban Progress Center for occupational guidance.

Joe thanked him and they took a bus to the hospital. A guard told them to wait on a bench. They waited two hours, then Mary got pains and they took her away. Someone told Joe to come back tomorrow.

He went outside and asked a stranger on the street for directions to an Urban Progress Center. The stranger hit Joe on the head and took his overcoat. Joe was still lying there when a paddy wagon came along so they pinched him for being drunk on the street.

Mary had a baby boy during the night. She didn’t know it, but three foreign-looking men in strange, colorful robes came to the hospital asking about her and the baby. A guard took them for hippies and called the police. They found odd spices on the men, so the narcotics detail took them downtown for further questioning.

The next day Mary awoke in a crowded ward. She asked for Joe. Instead, a representative of the Planned Parenthood Committee came by to give her a lecture on birth control.

Next, a social worker came for her case history. She asked Mary who the father was. Mary answered and the social worker ran for the nurse. The nurse questioned her and Mary answered. The nurse stared at her and ran for the doctor. The doctor wrote “Post partum delusion” on her chart.

An ambulance took Mary to the Cook County Mental Health Clinic the next morning. A psychiatrist asked her questions and pursed his lips at the answers.

A hearing was held and a magistrate committed her to Chicago State Mental Hospital on Irving Park Road.

Joe got out of the county jail a couple of days later and went to the county hospital for Mary. They told him she was at Chicago State and the baby had been placed in a foster home by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

When Joe got to Chicago State, a doctor told him what Mary had said about the baby’s birth. Joe said Mary was telling the truth. They put Joe in a ward at the other end of the hospital.

Meanwhile the three strangely dressed foreign-looking men were released after the narcotics detail could find no laws prohibiting the possession of myrrh and frankincense. They returned to the hospital and were taken for civil rights demonstrators. They were held in the county jail on $100,000 bond.

By luck, Joe and Mary met on the hospital grounds. They decided to tell the doctors what they wanted to hear. The next day they were declared sane and were released.

When they applied for custody of Mary’s baby, however, they were told it was necessary for them to first establish a proper residence, earn a proper income, and create a suitable environment.

They applied at the Urban Progress Center for training under the Manpower Development Program. Joe said he was good at working with wood. He was assigned to a computer data processing class. Mary said she’d gladly do domestic work. She was assigned to a course in key-punch operating. Both got $20-a-week stipends.

Several months later they finished the training. Joe got a job at a gas station and Mary went to work as a waitress.

They saved their money and hired a lawyer. Another custody hearing was held, and several days later the baby was ordered returned to them.

Reunited finally, they got back to their two-room flat and met the landlord on the steps. He told them Urban Renewal had ordered the building torn down. The City Relocation Bureau would get them another place.

They packed, dressed the baby, and hurried to the Greyhound Bus station.

Joe asked the ticket man when the next bus was leaving.

“Where to?” the ticket man asked.

“Anywhere,” Joe said, “as long as it is right now.”

He gave Joe three tickets and in five minutes they were on a bus heading for Southern Illinois — the area known as “Little Egypt.”

Just as the bus pulled out, the three strangely dressed men ran into the station. But they were too late. It was gone.

So they started hiking down U.S. 66. But at last report they were pinched on suspicion of being foreigners in illegal possession of gold.

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Chicago—December 23, 1913

Mrs. Ella Young wins reelection to superintendent of the Chicago Public Schools only thirteen days after she was ousted from the position by secret ballot. Since being removed from the board, the public and press have come to her defense — the Trib has hired her to serve as Education columnist beginning January 1. Four other board members had been removed at the same time as Young. John Harding, one of those former Board members, interrupts today’s meeting, shouting from the front of the room that those now working to reelect Young had been part of the conspiracy to get rid of her.

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