Sunday, September 24, 2017

Alpha [Woman's] Suffrage Club of Chicago, Illinois.

The passage of the Illinois Presidential and Municipal Suffrage Bill in the summer of 1913 offered Negro women in Chicago the opportunity to merge their social welfare activities with electoral power. This was primarily due to the creation of the first and one of the most important Negro female suffrage organizations in the state, the "Alpha Suffrage Club." The Alpha Suffrage Club is believed to be the first Negro women's suffrage association in the United States.

It began in Chicago, Illinois in 1913 under the initiative of Ida B. Wells-Barnett and her white colleague, Belle Squire. The club elected officers and held monthly meetings. 

The Club aimed to reinforce Negro involvement in the struggle for women's suffrage, due to Negro women being unable to be involved in the National American Women Suffrage Association (NAWSA). 

The Alpha Suffrage Club was established to partially give a voice to women who could not represent themselves individually, and worked specifically towards giving a voice to Negro women, as well as to “politicize” Negro women into the government system. In 1916, the club had nearly 200 members, including well-known female suffrage activists Mary E. Jackson, Viola Hill, Vera Wesley Green, and Sadie L. Adams.
Within the next three years the group membership expanded into the thousands. The women were motivated by and sought to put an end to the countless lynchings of Negros in America.

Thanks to the help of the Alpha Suffrage Club, in 1915, Oscar Stanton De Priest became the first Negro alderman in the history of Chicago. Amongst their community activities, they spread their support for, and within, the Negro population with their newsletter, "The Alpha Suffrage Record," first printed on March 18, 1914. 

The publishing of this newsletter is very significant, because this is the first time that Negros had a public political voice.

READ THE FIRST NEWSLETTER HERE ─► The Alpha Suffrage Record; Volume 1, Number 1, March 18, 1914 in our Digital Research Library of Illinois History® 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Luna [Amusement] Park, Halsted and 52nd Streets, Chicago, Illinois. (1907-1911)

Luna Park occupied the site of a former picnic grove owned by Joseph Oswald and commonly known as Oswald's Grove. In 1906, a group of investors, led by boxing promoter James "Big Jim" O'Leary (son of Mrs. O'Leary of Great Chicago Fire fame), announced plans to convert the ten-acre picnic grove into an amusement park. Big Jim promised the park would be a strictly legitimate business. Construction began in the fall of 1906 and the park opened the following year.
Luna Park, originally started as a trolley park [1], which was smaller than most of the other Chicago amusement parks of the era; most notably Riverview Park (the largest amusement park in existence at that time.) and White City. Jim O'Leary became the park's manager in 1908.

Attractions included a midway with a small roller coaster,  a merry-go-round and other mechanical rides, a ballroom, a roller skating rink, live entertainment which included Vaudeville and Boxing matches, a restaurant, numerous games of chance, and souvenir stands.
Initially popular (averaging 5,000 patrons a day in its peak), attendance declined in light of the increasing competition from other Chicago-area amusement parks.

June 1908
In July of 1910, management temporarily closed the park in response to dwindling attendance. After Big Jim made a fortune in the 1910 Jack Johnson vs. Jim Jeffries championship fight, the park was reopened in 1911 as O'Leary attempted to find a buyer to no avail.

Luna Park's proximity to the Union Stock Yards and the smell that arose from the yards, especially on hot summer days, may have quickened its demise.

In 1912, most of the attractions were removed; the remaining structures were converted into a large food market hall. In 1916, the grounds were sold to real estate developer James H. Milligan to build single family houses.

[1] Trolley parks, which started in the 19th century, were picnic and recreation areas along or at the ends of streetcar lines in most of the larger cities. These were precursors to amusement parks. These trolley parks were created by the streetcar companies to give people a reason to use their services on weekends.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Saloon Building, Chicago. (1836-1871)

The 'Saloon Building' at the southeast corner of Clark and Lake Streets in Chicago. (1861)
The word “saloon” at that time did not imply so much a tavern... as a spacious meeting hall; it derived from the French word “salon.” It offered the largest hall west of Buffalo, NY, for concerts, debates, dramatic performances, and political ceremony. Chicago received its city charter under its roof in 1837 and it served as city hall and Municipal Court until 1842.

Note: During this time period, the word 'grocery' meant a tavern or pub.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Lake View House, Chicago. 1854-1890

Built roughly where Lake Shore Drive and Byron Street now intersect, the building served as a hotel where city dwellers could go to escape noise and pollution.

In 1854, James Rees and Elisha Hundley built the Lakeview House as a resort for potential investors in local land. (According to legend, Walter Newberry stood on the hotel’s veranda and, admiring its view, suggested that it be called “Lake View House.”)

Wealthy Chicagoans seeking summer retreats from the city’s heat and disease bought up land in the eastern sector of the area. New railroad lines prompted development of more residential land and added suburban characteristics to Lake View’s resort atmosphere.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The History of Illinois' Lincoln Trial.

In 1914 plans were made by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) to recognized the road that Abraham Lincoln traveled while a circuit lawyer between Springfield and Danville, Illinois (now called Lincoln Trail) by placing markers at each county line.
At this time only a few of the markers still exist, one being on the Champaign-Vermilion County line at the intersection of 1800E & 1350N. The DAR had the existing marker refurbished and it was dedicated on June of 2011.

Finish Plans For Dedication of Lincoln Memorial Marker Urbana Daily Courier (excerpts).
The program for the dedication of the Champaign county memorial marker of the Lincoln Circuit, to be held under the auspices of Alliance chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, at 2 o’clock Saturday afternoon, May 6, 1922 was completed today.

At a meeting of the Alliance chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, November 11, 1914, at the home of Mrs. George W. Busey, Judge J. O. Cunningham gave a very interesting talk on “The Real Lincoln Highway,” or the road traveled by Abraham Lincoln while driving from one court house to another of his circuit in 1847.

This address created so much interest that Mrs. G. W. Busey moved that Alliance chapter try to interest Danville, Decatur and Springfield chapters to unite with Alliance chapter of Urbana and Champaign in marking this historical road. This motion, seconded by Mrs. H. V. Canter, was carried.

Judge Cunningham also addressed this larger gathering on the importance of marking the Lincoln circuit road. After which a committee was appointed to take action. Miss Lottie E. Jones was made chairman and women from each of the chapters represented were appointed members of this committee.

The following spring Garrett H. Baker of Urbana and Mr. and Mrs. C. D. Babb of Homer made several trips across Champaign and adjoining counties, accompanied by Judge and Mrs. Cunningham, Mrs. E. H. Waldo, regent of Alliance chapter, Miss Lottie Jones, and Mrs. George Busey and located the road from Danville to Monticello.

Many attempts were made to find the road from Monticello to Decatur, but were unsuccessful. Finally, Mrs. Jessie Palmer Webber and Miss Jones, after much research, found that Lincoln’s circuit extended thru 18 counties and that he went from Clinton to Monticello, then to Urbana, Danville, Paris, Charleston, Shelbyville, Sullivan, Decatur, Taylorville and Springfield. At different times in the course of Lincoln’s circuit riding he traveled thru each of the following counties: Sangamon, Menard, Mason, Tazewell, Woodford, Livingston, McLean, DeWitt, Piatt, Champaign, Vermilion, Edgar, Coles, Shelby, Moultrie, Macon, and Christian. Because several of these counties were without local chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution, prominent lawyers and other interested friends formed the Lincoln Circuit Marking association, of which Judge Franklin H. Boggs is president, to assist the DAR in marking the circuit.

The difficulties incident to the world war, which began in 1914, retarded the completion of the project until 1922.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Oak Street Beach, Chicago, Illinois, 1914.

Oil painting "Oak Street Beach" Chicago, Illinois. 1914. by Minnie Harms Neebe.

The Wendella Sightseeing Boats has a long history in Chicago, Illinois.

The Wendella Sightseeing Company was founded in 1935 by Albert Borgström, a Swedish immigrant. Wendella continues to be a Chicago family owned and operated business, now in its fourth generation with third generation Michael Borgström as President.

Chicago’s Original Architecture Tour® originated at the northeast corner of Navy Pier until moving to its present location on Michigan Avenue at the Wrigley Building in 1938. Albert knew people wanted more than just the small speedboat rides that were popular at the time. A carpenter by trade, Albert built a 65’ wooden yacht named Wendela, later changed to Wendella for pronunciation.

He added seating for 100 passengers and included a narration of Chicago’s architecture and history. What began as a 30-minute tour quickly evolved into the 90-minute Wendella’s Signature Lake & River Tour.
In 1962, Wendella started a rush hour commuter service between Michigan Avenue and the Northwestern Railroad Station, enhancing transportation options for the city’s thousands of commuters by utilizing the resources of the Chicago River. Known as the River Bus since 1999, this service was intended to get people out of their cars by providing a fast, convenient, and economical way to get around downtown Chicago.

In 2001, the Chicago Area Transportation Study (CATS) recommended the River Bus for inclusion in the Federal Governments Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ), a program aimed at reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality in urban areas. CATS determined the River Bus provided a measurable benefit in reduction of auto emissions and auto congestion within the crowded downtown area. In 2007, the River Bus service was rebranded and expanded into the iconic black and yellow Chicago Water Taxi, which continues to provide daily scheduled service on the Chicago River.
For 80 years, Wendella has provided millions of visitors and commuters with an opportunity to experience Chicago in a unique way. The Borgström family and Wendella employees have always set the highest standards for safety, accuracy of information, and customer service while never forgetting to give back to the community. Wendella operates eight vessels, providing several tours and specialty cruises, private events and the Chicago Water Taxi service. Wendella vessels are inspected and certified annually by the United States Coast Guard and all Wendella Captains are licensed USCG operators. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Coca-Cola delivery truck outside of Parklane Food Mart at 2471 North Clark Street in Chicago. 1937

Coca-Cola delivery truck outside of Parklane Food Mart at 2471 North Clark Street in Chicago. 1937

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Drinking fountain on State Street, Chicago. 1912

Drinking fountain on State Street, Chicago. 1912

Opening of Chicago's Michigan Avenue Bridge on May 14, 1920.

The opening of Chicago's Michigan Avenue Bridge on May 14, 1920.  The bridges ornamentation was added later.

Visitors to the Palmer House take a guided tour of Chicago in 1885.

Visitors to the Palmer House take a guided tour of Chicago in 1885.

The History of the Chicago Cardinals Football Team.

In 1898, Chicago painting and building contractor Chris O'Brien established an amateur Chicago-based athletic club football team named the Morgan Athletic Club. O'Brien later moved them to Chicago's Normal Park and renamed them the Racine Normals, since Normal Park was located on Racine Avenue in Chicago.

In 1901, O'Brien bought used maroon uniforms from the University of Chicago, the colors of which had by then faded, leading O'Brien to exclaim, "That's not maroon; it's cardinal red!" It was then that the team changed its name to the Racine Cardinals.
The original Racine Cardinals team disbanded in 1906 mostly for lack of local competition. A professional team under the same name formed in 1913, claiming the previous team as part of their history. As was the case for most professional football teams in 1918, the team was forced to suspend operations for a second time due to World War I and the outbreak of the Spanish flu pandemic.

They resumed operations later in the year (even with the suspension they were one of the few teams to play that year), and have since operated continuously. At the time of the founding of the modern National Football League, the Cardinals were part of a thriving professional football circuit based in the Chicago area. Teams such as the Decatur Staleys, Hammond Pros, Chicago Tigers and the Cardinals had formed an informal loop similar to, and generally on par with, the Ohio and New York circuits that had also emerged as top football centers prior to the league's founding.

In 1920, the team became a charter member of the American Professional Football Association (later renamed the National Football League (NFL) in 1922), for a franchise fee of $100. The Cardinals and the Chicago Bears (the latter founded as the Decatur Staleys before moving to Chicago in 1921) are the only charter members of the NFL still in existence, though the Green Bay Packers, which joined the league in 1921, existed prior to the formation of the NFL. The person keeping the minutes of the first league meeting, unfamiliar with the nuances of Chicago football, recorded the Cardinals as from Racine, Wisconsin. The team was renamed the Chicago Cardinals in 1922 after a team actually from Racine, Wisconsin (the Horlick-Racine Legion) entered the league. That season the team moved to Comiskey Park.
The 1920 Chicago Cardinals. They are a charter member of the NFL and were in Chicago 2 years before the Bears.
The Staleys and Cardinals played each other twice in 1920 as the Racine Cardinals and the Decatur Staleys, making their rivalry the oldest in the NFL. They split the series, with the home team winning in each. In the Cardinals' 7-6 victory over the Staleys in their first meeting of the season, each team scored a TD on a fumble recovery, with the Staleys failing their extra point try.

The Cardinals' defeat of the Staleys proved critical, since George Halas's Staleys went on to a 10-1-2 record overall, 5-1-2 in league play. The Akron Pros were the first ever league champions; they finished with an 8-0-3 record, 6-0-3 in league play, ending their season in a 0-0 tie against the Staleys. Since the Pros merely had to tie the game in order to win the title, they could afford to play not to lose. Had the Staleys not lost to the Cardinals, they would have gone into that fateful game with an 11-0-1 record, 6-0-1 in league play. As it was, it all but assured that the Staleys/Bears and Cardinals would be intense rivals.

The two teams played to a tie in 1921, when the Staleys won all but two games, thus the Cardinals came within 1 point of costing the Staleys a second consecutive championship in the league's first two years of existence.

In 1922, the Staleys, now renamed the Bears, went 9-3-0, losing to the Cardinals twice. The Bears still edged the Cardinals for 2nd place in the league, but those losses dashed all hopes of the Bears repeating as champions.

In 1923 and 1924, the Bears got the better of the Cardinals all three times the two teams played. But in 1925, the Bears went 0-1-1 against the Cardinals with the tie meaning the Cardinals were only a ½ game in front of the Pottsville Maroons heading into their fateful 1925 showdown.

Thus, in the first 6 years of the NFL's existence, the Bears-Cardinals games had a direct impact on the league championship 4 times. The Bears and Cardinals each took home 1 title during that span. But the Bears nearly cost the Cardinals their title, the Cardinals nearly cost the Bears their title, and had it not been for the Cardinals' tenacity against the Bears, the Bears very well might have won two more. The Bears were a dominant team against everyone but the Cardinals in the league's early years. From 1920-1925, the Canton Bulldogs, champions in 1922 and 1923, beat the Bears just 2 times and no other team in the NFL defeated the Bears more than once over that entire 6-year span... except for the Cardinals. The Cardinals battled the Bears to 4-4-2 split between 1920–1925 and established the NFL's first rivalry.

Legend has it that the Cardinals played the Chicago Tigers in 1920, with the loser being forced to leave town. While this has never been proven, the Tigers did disband after one season.

The 1925 season ended in perhaps the greatest controversy in professional football history. In those days, there was no fixed schedule nor any playoff games. The championship was decided by winning percentage. At season's end, after losing in a Chicago snow storm to the Pottsville Maroons 21-7, the Cardinals found themselves in second place. Hoping to improve their record, they scheduled and won two hastily arranged games against weaker teams, the Milwaukee Badgers and the Hammond Pros. The ploy was within the NFL’s rules at the time because of the open-ended schedule. Chicago finished the season with a record of 11-2-1. However, the league sanctioned them because a Chicago player, Art Folz, had hired four Chicago high school football players to play for the Milwaukee Badgers under assumed names to ensure a Cardinals victory.

Meanwhile, because Pottsville had played an unauthorized exhibition game in Philadelphia against the University of Notre Dame All-Stars, the Maroons were stripped of the title. The League decided not to award a championship for 1925. Later, it was offered to the Cardinals, whose owner, Chris O'Brien, refused to accept the championship title for his team. He argued that his team did not deserve to take the title over a team which had beaten them fairly. It was only after the Bidwill family bought the Cardinals in 1933 that the franchise began to claim the 1925 title as its own.

The Chicago Cardinals were one of the few NFL teams to host African-American players in the 1920s—most notably Duke Slater. After the folding of the first American Football League after its lone season, Slater, against all odds, successfully joined the Chicago Cardinals of the National Football League.

Not only was Slater pro football's first African-American linemen, he was also one of the NFL's most outstanding linemen of his era. In 1928, he encouraged the team to sign Harold Bradley Sr., who became the NFL's second black lineman. Slater and Bradley played alongside each other in the first two games of the 1928 season. A steel plate in Bradley's leg, due to a childhood injury, contributed to Bradley ending his NFL career after only two games—the shortest among the 13 African American players who played in the NFL before World War II.

Between 1926 and 1927 a movement began among the owners of the NFL to follow the racist example of professional baseball and in 1927 every African-American player was out of the league, with the sole exception of Duke Slater. The color ban faced by Slater and other black players was not ironclad, however, and four other African-American players managed to draw salaries in the NFL during short careers interspersed from 1928 through 1933. Slater was once again the only black player in the league in 1929.

On November 28, 1929 Slater participated in an NFL record as a lineman in front of Ernie Nevers in a game in which he scored six rushing touchdowns in a 40-6 victory over the Chicago Bears. Slater played all 60 minutes of the contest, alternating between the offensive and defensive lines as well as participating on special teams.

By the time of his retirement in 1931, Slater had achieved All-Pro status a total of six times. During his NFL career Slater never missed a game because of injury, starting in a total of 96 of the 99 games he played between the AFL and NFL.

The Cardinals posted a winning record only twice in the twenty years after their 1925 championship (1931 and 1935); including 10 straight losing seasons from 1936 to 1945.

Dr. David Jones bought the team from O'Brien in 1929. In 1932 the team was purchased by Charles Bidwill, then a vice president of the Chicago Bears. The team has been under the ownership of the Bidwill family since then.

In 1944, owing to player shortages caused by World War II, the Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers merged for one year and were known as the "Card-Pitt", or derisively as the "Carpets" as they were winless that season. In 1945, the Cardinals snapped their long losing streak (an NFL record 29 games, dating back to the 1942 season and including their lone season as Card-Pitt) by beating the Bears 16-7. It was their only victory of the season. In 1946, the team finished 6-5 for the first winning season in eight years.

In 1947, the NFL standardized on a 12-game season. This would be the most celebrated year in Cardinals history as the team went 9-3, beating Philadelphia in the championship game 28–21 with their "Million Dollar Backfield", which included quarterback Paul Christman, halfback Charley Trippi, halfback Elmer Angsman, and fullback Pat Harder, piling up 282 rushing yards. However, Bidwill was not around to see it; he had died before the start of the season, leaving the team to his wife Violet. Prior to the season he had beaten the Chicago Rockets of the upstart All-America Football Conference for the rights to Trippi. This signing is generally acknowledged as the final piece in the championship puzzle. The next season saw the Cardinals finish 11-1 and again play in the championship game, but lost 7-0 in a rematch with the Eagles, played in a heavy snowstorm that almost completely obscured the field. This was the first NFL championship to be televised. The next year, Violet Bidwill married St. Louis businessman Walter Wolfner, and the Cardinals fell to 6-5-1.

The 1950s were a dismal period for the Cardinals, with records of 5-7 (1950), 3-9 (1951), 4-8 (1952), 1-10-1 (1953), 2-10 (1954), 4-7-1 (1955), 7-5 (1956; the best year of the decade), 3-9 (1957), 2-9-1 (1958), and 2-10 (1959). With just 33 wins in ten seasons, the Cardinals were nearly forgotten in Chicago, being completely overshadowed by the Bears. Attendance at Cardinals games was sparse. With the team almost bankrupt, the Bidwills were anxious to move the Cardinals to another city. However, the NFL demanded a hefty relocation fee which the Bidwills were unwilling and/or unable to pay. Needing cash, the Bidwills entertained offers from various out-of-town investors, including Lamar Hunt, Bud Adams, Bob Howsam and Max Winter. However, these negotiations came to nothing, probably because the Bidwills wanted to maintain control of the Cardinals and were only willing to sell a minority stake in the team.

Having failed in their separate efforts to buy the Cardinals, Hunt, Adams, Howsam and Winter joined forces to form the American Football League. Suddenly faced with a serious rival, the NFL quickly came to terms with the Bidwills, engineering a deal that sent the Cardinals to St. Louis, Missouri beginning with the 1960 season in a move which also blocked St. Louis as a potential market for the new AFL, which began play the same year. These are the home fields of the Chicago Cardinals from 1929-1959. Normal Park (1920–1921, 1926–1928) Comiskey Park (1922–1925, 1929–1930, 1939–1958) Wrigley Field (1931–1938) Soldier Field (1959, 4 games) Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota.

The NFL wanted to put a team in Minnesota, so 2 of the Cardinals games were moved there in 1959. Conversations were had with Violet Bidwill Wolfner, owner of the Chicago Cardinals, about moving her team to the stadium. The Cardinals moved two of their regular season home games against the Philadelphia Eagles (October 25) (att: 20,112) and New York Giants (November 22) (att: 26,625) to Bloomington for the 1959 NFL season. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The John Rawle Cut-Stone Contractor, Chicago, Illinois. 1872

John Rawle, cut-stone contractor (or quarryman), was born at Exford, Somersetshire, England, on May 3, 1843, and is a son of John and Mary (Poole) Rawle. He received a common school education in the vicinity of his birthplace, and then learned the trade of a stone cutter and carver, which he followed in his native country for several years; he was also a draughtsman in the office of Sir Charles Fox, who was the engineer of the first London World's Exposition, in 1851, and of a number of railroads in Russia, China, Japan, and South America.

In 1868, Mr. Rawle came to America, landing at Portland, Maine, in May. He there worked at his trade for a time, and subsequently removed to St. Louis, where he remained until the fall of 1868, when he came to Chicago. He shortly afterward went to New York, and from there to England, where he remained until the spring of 1869, and then returned to Chicago, of which city he has since been a resident, with the exception of a short time that he was engaged in business at Washington, Daviess County, Indiana
In the spring of 1872, he established himself in the business John Rawle Cut-Stone Contractors located at 570-598 South Morgan Street (today: Morgan & 14th Place), Chicago, and has since held a prominent position with the architects, builders, and contractors, having, in the course of his business, furnished cut-stone for many of the finest buildings in Chicago and throughout the United States. His extensive business occupied 377 feet on Morgan street and 215 feet on Henry street (today: 14th Place).

Mr. Rawle, like many others, sustained heavy losses, nearly losing his all in the great panic of 1873[1], and it was only by his indomitable energy, perseverance, tireless industry and the most rigid economy in the man agement of his business that he was able to weather the storm.

He purchased the Carbondale brownstone quarry and later the Southern Illinois brownstone quarry, both of which were located at Bosky Dell, Jackson County, Illinois.

He took an active part in the formation of the Carbondale Brown-Stone Company, of which he was president and treasurer. The product of this company is largely in demand from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from Lake Superior to the Gulf of Mexico. Its yards at present occupy Nos. 468-478 Fifth Avenue. Of the sixty-five firms which started in business in 1872, there are but two other firms besides his that have retained their existence until the present time, which is due to his attention to business and the superior quality of his workmanship. In 1884, he married Miss Augusta E. Zick, a native of this city and a daughter of Daniel and Augusta Zick and had three children.

Rawle also invented a unicycle which experts claimed would revolutionize the world of wheels.
Click for a full size image.

Click for a full size image.

SPECIFICATION forming part of Letters Patent No. 482,100, dated September 6, 1892.
Application filed August 30, 1891. Serial No. 404,333. (No model.)

[1] The Panic of 1873 was a financial crisis that triggered a depression in Europe and North America that lasted from 1873 until 1879, and even longer in some countries (France and Britain). The Panic of 1873 and the subsequent depression had several underlying causes, of which economic historians debate the relative importance. American post-Civil War inflation, rampant speculative investments (overwhelmingly in railroads), the demonetization of silver in Germany and the US, a large trade deficit, ripples from economic dislocation in Europe resulting from the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71), property losses in the Chicago (1871) and Boston (1872) fires, and other factors put a massive strain on bank reserves, which plummeted in New York City during September and October 1873 from $50 million to $17 million in US dollars.