Saturday, June 16, 2018

The History of Lake Chicago; Today's Lake Michigan.

The city of Chicago lies in a broad plain which, hundreds of millions of years ago, was a great interior basin covered by warm, shallow seas. These seas covered portions of North America from the Arctic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. Evidence of these seas are found in the fossils of coral, such as those unearthed in Illinois quarries at Stony Island Avenue, Thornton and McCook Avenues, or at 18th Street and Damen Avenue, all in Chicago. Evidence may also be found in the fossils in the Niagara limestone bedrock found throughout the Chicago area and extending all the way to Niagara, New York.

Much later, the polar ice cap crept four times down across the continent, covering the region with ice to a depth of a mile or more. As the climate changed, the ice melted, the last great ice flow, the Wisconsin Glacier of the Pleistocene period, which covered much of the northern half of North America, retreated, and an outlet for the melting water developed through the Sag River and the Des Plaines River Valley around Mt. Forest, in the area known as the Palos.

The Kankakee Torrent poured through those valleys, eventually leaving behind the prehistoric Lake Chicago or Glacial Lake Chicago, the term used by geologists for a lake that preceded Lake Michigan when the Wisconsin Glacier retreated from the Chicago area, beginning about 14,000 years ago.
Lake Chicago's level, at its highest, was almost 60 feet higher than the level of present Lake Michigan and the lake completely covered the area now occupied by Chicago. Its northern outlet into the St. Lawrence River was still blocked by remnants of the glacier and it drained through the so-called Chicago outlet, a notch in the Valparaiso moraine[1], into the Mississippi system. Its western shores reached to where Oak Park and LaGrange now exist.
As the glacier shrank in stages, the major three of which are often referred to as the Glenwood phase (50 feet above the level of Lake Michigan; circa 12,000 years ago), the Calumet phase (35 feet; circa 10,000 years ago), and the Tolleston phase (20 feet; less than 8,000 years ago). After each stage, the next barrier remained solid, holding the lake stable and creating distinct sandy beaches. If the outlet was formed by a steady erosion of the barrier, it would have been less likely that the well defined beaches would have been created.
This undated marker is located in the southern portion of Lincoln Park, on the foot path paralleling the east side of Stockton Drive. A second identical marker is located on the same ancient beach ridge 485 feet East-North-East from the first one.
The lake's southern shores were dammed by the hills of the Tinley-Valparaiso terminal moraine systems. As the glacier retreated farther and cleared the northern outlet, the lake level fell further and Lake Chicago became Lake Michigan. Along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, the beaches of Lake Chicago were destroyed by erosion, except the highest beach. Much of this beach was also destroyed. The best remaining segments are along the southern tip of Lake Michigan, now known as the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

[1] Moraines are accumulations of dirt and rocks that have fallen onto the glacier surface or have been pushed along by the glacier as it moves.

Chicago's gay-rights protest in June of 1977 marked the turning point of Chicago's LGBT rights movement.

Highlights of the history of the development of the U.S. LGBT communities:

December 10, 1924-The first gay rights group in the United States is founded at 1710 Crilly Ct. in Chicago and receives an Illinois state charter. The organization, started by an itinerant preacher and laundry, railway and postal workers, publishes two issues of a journal before being shut down after the wife of one of the directors learns about the group and calls the Chicago police.

December, 1950-As part of the era of McCarthyism, gay men and lesbians are added to the list of people considered security risks, and a purge of government agencies and the military begins.

June, 1961-Illinois becomes the first state to decriminalize homosexual acts between consenting adults in private. The Motion Picture Association of America lifts its ban on gay themes in movies to allow "Advise and Consent" to be shown, but negative attitudes toward homosexuality are still evident since the story has the gay character in the movie commit suicide.

June, 28, 1969-New York City police raid the Stonewall, a gay bar on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, the sixth gay bar to be raided in Manhattan in three weeks. Gay men and lesbians fight back over four days in what has come to be called the Stonewall Rebellion and is seen as the watershed event that triggered the gay liberation movement.

June, 1977-The nation saw former Miss America Anita Bryant – the seemingly good-natured woman who tried to sell them orange juice in Tropicana commercials – initiate a hostile "anti-homosexual" media campaign across the country.
Bryant was outraged at a Dade County, Florida decision to protect sexual orientation as a civil right and vowed to aggressively pursue its repeal. She took to the airwaves with her newly founded Save Our Children organization, a coalition devoted to repealing the act that banned housing and employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. The coalition's efforts were successful, and on June 7, Miami area voters took a step backward, reversing the decision.

June 14, 1977-Anita Bryant landed in Chicago to perform at an event for Shriners Children’s Hospital. What transpired that day was an important moment for Chicago’s LGBT community – 5,000 individuals showed up at Medinah Temple (now a Bloomingdale's outlet store at Wabash and Ohio) to picket the event. The expression of solidarity inspired more and more Chicagoans to rally around the issue of gay rights and the next year’s PRIDE Parade saw a dramatic surge in attendance.
A demonstrator is arrested in front of the Medinah Temple on June 14, 1977, while anti-gay crusader Anita Bryant gives a concert inside.
The concert had been booked months earlier, before Bryant achieved a new national notoriety as leader of an anti-LGBT initiative in Dade County, Florida, where citizens voted to overturn an antidiscrimination ordinance that had been passed by the county commission earlier that year. The law prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment, public service, and accommodations. The vote to repeal the law happened on June 7, 1977.
So a group of Chicago LGBT activists decided to organize a picket of the June 14th concert in Chicago. They were warned by gay establishment leaders that it would be an embarrassing failure. Back then, it seemed, the only time LGBT people turned out en masse was for the Gay Pride Parade.

But a spontaneous, unexpected turnout of 5,000-plus people proved the naysayers wrong. Protesters chanted "pray for Anita" and sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," according to the Tribune's coverage of the event. (Attendees of the concert reportedly sang the same tune.)

According to historian John D'Emilio's account of the protest, demonstrators carried signs that read "Anita is McCarthy in drag,"—a reference to Communist scaremonger Joseph McCarthy—and "God drinks wine, not orange juice."

"The gays were noisy but peaceful," a police spokesman told the Tribune, though eight demonstrators were arrested.

It was the first large-scale LGBT political demonstration in Chicago.

After the three-hour protest, some of the marchers headed over to Pioneer Court outside Tribune Tower to protest a series of inflammatory, questionably sourced articles co-written by then a Tribune reporter Michael Sneed (now of the Sun-Times) that purported to link a child pornography ring to the gay community in Chicago.

Coverage of the anti-Bryant rally made the Tribune's front page. And though Bryant's "Save Our Children" campaign triggered a national conservative backlash movement to defeat gay rights laws around the country, it also helped fuel the growing LGBT rights movement.

Bryant’s views may have only succeeded in strengthening Chicago’s LGBT community by giving greater visibility to the discrimination and injustices they faced.

November 28, 1978-Harvey Milk, elected San Francisco's first openly gay supervisor in 1977, and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, are killed by a disgruntled former supervisor. Milk's death triggers protests, candle-light marches and new gay activism.

June 5, 1981-The federal Centers for Disease Control publishes its first report on the unusual occurrence of pneumocystis carinii pneumonia in five men in Los Angeles, the diagnosic sign that is to become one of the hallmarks of AIDS. No mention, however, is made of the fact that all of the men are homosexuals, for fear of offending the gay community or giving ammunition to anti-gay activists.

October 2, 1985-Rock Hudson dies of AIDS, and a disease that mainstream America thought it could ignore suddenly becomes a household word.

October 11, 1987-An estimated 500,000 gay men and lesbians march in Washington, D.C., for freedom from discrimination. The march is part of a week of activities that include the first unveiling of the Names Project, a huge quilt with each panel dedicated to a person who has died of AIDS, a ceremony in which 2,000 gay and lesbian couples exchanged marriage vows and a demonstration at the Supreme Court.

December 23, 1988-The Chicago City Council, by a 28-17 vote, passes a human rights ordinance that prohibits discrimination in housing, employment, education and accommodations based on sexual orientation as well as race, sex, age, religion and other categories. The ordinance was first introduced in the council on July 6, 1973.

June 5, 1989-San Francisco passes the most comprehensive domestic partners act in the nation. Non-married couples can register their relationship with City Hall. Partners and extended family members of city employees are eligible for health insurance benefits and partners have the bereavement leave and hospital visiting rights of married spouses. Seven other cities have such laws, and a similar bill is pending in Boston.

Progress always provokes backlash. Sometimes that backlash is vicious and violent, as in the case of the 1978 assassination of Harvey Milk, who had emerged as a national political figure by leading California's resistance to the Bryant campaign. Sometimes it's unimaginably tragic, as in Orlando. The struggle for justice—the struggle against hate—is unending, but relentless. It will not and it must not end. 

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Dymaxion Car - displayed at the 1933/34 Chicago World's Fair.

In the late 1920’s experiments were being undertaken to test the aerodynamics of automobiles. One result of these tests was three prototype Dymaxion 3-wheelers built by the 4D company in the USA. The term "DYMAXION" comes from the words: DYnamic, MAXimum, and tensION.

Richard Buckminster (Bucky) Fuller conducted wind-tunnel test on three-wheeled teardrop shapes with a V shaped groove running under the vehicle. A rudder was also added to the vehicles and Fuller intended that this would unfold from the upper side of the tail and provide stability.
Richard Buckminster (Bucky) Fuller
The 4D company of Bridgeport Connecticut built three prototype Dymaxion Cars, or "Omni-Medium Transport" vehicles.
In 1933 Fuller hired Starling Burgess, an naval architect and a crew of expert sheet metal workers, woodworkers, former coach builders and machinist and they designed and built Dymaxion Car Number One which was shown publicly in July 1933. As a result of enclosing all the chassis and wheels in a streamlined shape Fuller is reported to have driven at 120 mph with a 90 hp engine. A conventional 1933 car would have required, Fuller estimated, at least a 300 hp engine. Fuller also claimed that fuel consumption of the Dymaxion car Number One was 30% less than a conventional car at 30mph and 50% less at 50mph. The Dymaxion weighed in around 1600 lbs. It was extraordinary maneuverability and could U-turn within its own length.
The two front wheels of the Dymaxion Car One were driven by a Ford V-8 engine. The single wheel at the rear was steerable.
On Dymaxion Cars Number Two and Three an angled periscope was provided to help compensate for the lack of a rear window. Initially the car created vast attention where ever it went. However a British auto enthusiast flew to Chicargo to examine the Dymaxion car and when he was injured and his driver killed after the Dymaxion collided with another car the headlines in the press referred to the vehicle as a “freak car” and undermined its 3-wheeled design. Although an investigation exonerated the Dymaxion car the car received a bad reputation and the British group cancelled their order for Dymaxion Car Two.
The Dymaxion Car Three was featured in the finale of Edward Hungerford’s “Wings of a Century” exhibit at the Century of Progress Exposition. The "Wings Of A Century" production took place daily on an open air stage opposite the Travel & Transport Building which housed the displays.
The design of the Dymaxion cars was one of the biggest break throughs in automobile design since the car had originated some fifty years earlier. Only one car (Car Two) now remains and is kept at the National Auto Museum, Reno NV. 
2010 Working Replica of the Dymaxion.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Seven Surviving Structures of the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition 1893.

The Palace of Fine Arts in 1893 - Today's Musemu of Science and Industry.
From the time the fair closed until 1920, the Palace of Fine Arts housed the Columbian Museum of Chicago. In 1933, the Palace building re-opened as the Museum of Science and Industry and a new building was built for the Field Museum of Natural History. The Museum of Science and Industry represents the only major building remaining from the World's Fair of 1893. Unlike the other structures that were destroyed after the fair, the Palace of Fine Arts (as it was known), which was built to showcase artworks, remained. The backside of the museum (over-looking Jackson Park Lagoon) was actually the front of the palace during the fair, and the color of the exterior was changed during renovations. But the building looks almost exactly the way it did in 1893. Some of the light posts from the fair still illuminate the museum campus.

World's Congress Building in 1893 - Today's Art Institute of Chicago
The second building, the World's Congress Building, was one of the few buildings not built in Jackson Park; instead it was built downtown in Grant Park. The World Congress Auxiliary of the World's Columbian Exposition occupied the new building from May 1 to October 31, 1893, after which the Art Institute took possession on November 1. The cost of construction of the World's Congress Building was shared with the Art Institute of Chicago, which, as planned, moved into the building (the museum's current home) after the close of the fair.

1893 Maine State Building as it Stands Today.
Each of the (then) 44 States of America constructed buildings on the World’s Fair grounds. The Maine State Building was designed by Charles Sumner Frost. The State of Maine had originally planned to make its State building a gift to Chicago and leave it in Jackson Park. However, at the close of the Fair, the Maine State Building was purchased by the Ricker Family, founders of the Poland Spring Resort and purveyors of Poland Spring water. The Maine State Building was dismantled and shipped on 16 freight cars to Poland Spring. It was reassembled and served as a library and gallery on the resort grounds. The Maine State Building went through many renovations over the years and, by the early 1970s, had fallen into disrepair. In 1977, the Poland Spring Preservation Society acquired the building. The Maine State Building is presently operated as a museum and may be found on the resort grounds.

The Dutch Cocoa House
The Dutch House is a historic multi-unit residential building at 20 Netherlands Road in Brookline, Massachusetts. This four-story brick building was originally built as an exhibition hall at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, where it served as the Dutch Cocoa House. It is a close copy of the Franeker City Hall in Franeker, Netherlands. The door frame, embellished with stone animals, is a replica of the Enkhuizen Orphanage. After the fair ended, the Dutch High Renaissance style building was dismantled brick by brick and reconstructed at its present location. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. The Dutch House was moved to Brookline, Massachusetts. The Dutch House was moved to Brookline, Massachusetts.

The Pabst Pavilion in 1893
Captain Frederick Pabst traveled from Milwaukee to the World’s Columbian Exposition to display his brewery’s products.  After the fair closed, he moved his Pabst Pavilion, which had resided inside the enormous Manufacturers and Liberal Arts Building, to his recently completed mansion in Milwaukee. The pavilion was attached to the east side of the home and used as a summer room. After Captain and Mrs. Pabst died, in the early 1900s, the Pabst heirs donated the mansion to the Catholic Archdiocese. Ironically, the Pabst Beer Pavilion was used as a private chapel for the Archbishop. In the 1970s, the Mansion was slated for demolition. It was saved from the wrecking ball and is currently being restored as a period museum. The Pabst Pavilion serves as the museum gift shop. When you tour the Pabst Mansion Museum, you will likely enter through the Pabst Pavilion that was visited by World’s Columbian Exposition Fair-goers 125 years ago.
A Ticket Booth From The 1893 World's Fair 
While most of the grand buildings and monuments were destroyed, smaller elements of the World's Fair have withstood the past century. One in particular is a ticket booth from the fair now stands in the side-yard shadows of a famous Oak Park home. The DeCaro House, 313 N. Forest Ave., designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1906, draws most of the attention from historians, but the unusual shack in the yard is a treasure. In its retirement from the ticket business, the structure has been used as a garden tool-shed, a rabbit hut and now a garden decoration.

The Building of Norway at the 1893 World's Fair
The Norway Building was first assembled near Trondheim, Norway, in early 1893. It was disassembled and shipped by freighter to Chicago, where it was reassembled in Jackson Park. When the Fair closed, the Norway Building was again taken apart and shipped by train to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and installed on the C. K. Billings summer estate. The Billings estate changed hands twice and was eventually owned by William Wrigley, Jr., who painted the Norway Building ochre yellow and used it as a home theatre. In 1935, the family owners of the Norwegian-American Museum known as Little Norway negotiated the acquisition of the Norway Building. The building was dismantled one final time and shipped by truck to Blue Mounds, where it can be toured as part of the outdoor Little Norway Museum. One of the features that undoubtedly made the Norway Building more portable than most structures is that it is constructed without a single nail. It is held together entirely by wooden pegs.

Norway Building from 1893 Chicago World's Fair heads home.
Olav Sigurd Kvaale walked up the old wooden stairs of the medieval-style church. He paused under the gabled portico and reached out to touch the intricate, 122-year-old carvings that surround the massive door.

"This," he said, his hand on carvings, "is my grandfather."

A year earlier, Kvaale journeyed across the Atlantic from his home in Norway in a quest to learn more about his grandfather, Peder, a farmer and woodworker who in the 1800s was among a team of craftsmen in Norway who built the church, known as The Norway Building, for the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.

What Kvaale discovered was not just a valuable gem of family history but a larger story of a building that had traveled on an extraordinary journey of its own. Believed to be one of the last surviving structures from the fair, it had been moved from Chicago to an estate in Lake Geneva — where, painted bright yellow, it served for a time as a private movie house for the Wrigley family — before ending up at a small tourist attraction tucked into the rolling countryside 30 miles west of Madison.

By last year, the building was in danger of being lost. Water seeped through the wood-shingled roof, mice scurried along the floorboards, rot chewed at the foundation.

When Kvaale first saw the building, though, he looked past the signs of disrepair and marveled at the artistry: the chiseled faces of Norse kings and queens, the dragon's tail that swirled around the exterior entranceway. This, he had learned from relatives, was his grandfather's proudest creative achievement. He vowed to try somehow to save it.

Now, after rallying support in the region of Norway where the building was originally constructed, Kvaale has returned to Wisconsin, this time with a team of a dozen Norwegian craftsmen. The clang of hammers and chisels echoes across the verdant valley. Piece by piece, windows, wall panels and support beams are painstakingly removed, labeled and laid out on the surrounding lawn.

The Norway Building is going home.

A winding road cuts through the forest and leads to the now-shuttered tourist attraction known as Little Norway.

Operated by the same family since 1937, the quaint attraction had, over the years, drawn thousands of visitors, who came to walk in the gardens, peek into the small museum of Norwegian artifacts or take a tour led by guides in traditional Norwegian dress.

The half-dozen original log cabin buildings on the property had been erected in the mid-1800s by a Norwegian immigrant farmer, who built them, according to Norwegian tradition, on a south-facing slope to catch the warmth of the sun. Each building had been meticulously restored and furnished with Norwegian antiques and artwork.

The most striking feature of the property was no doubt The Norway Building, which stood on the hillside overlooking the valley. With its gabled roof topped by dragons, and ornate shingles crafted to look like reptilian scales, the building gave the secluded property a sense of enchantment, and made a visit feel like stepping into the pages of a fairy tale.

Commissioned by Norwegian officials for the World's Fair, it had been built as a symbol of cultural pride and patterned after the stave churches that, in the Middle Ages, dotted the rugged Norwegian landscape.

After the fair, The Norway Building was moved to Lake Geneva, where it was installed on a lakeside estate eventually owned by the Wrigleys. A wealthy Norwegian-American named Isak Dahle acquired it in 1935 and brought it to his summer retreat in Blue Mounds.

Almost as soon as Dahle had erected the ornate building on his rural property, neighbors began hopping a fence to come see it. So Dahle hired a caretaker and charged admission, 5 cents for adults and 3 cents for children.

In the era before Disneyland, people flocked to see the spectacle in the Wisconsin woods. It even attracted Norwegian royalty. Crown Prince Olav, who later became king of Norway, came for a tour in 1939, and his son, Crown Prince Harald, the current king, visited in 1965, according to the 1992 book "The Norway Building of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair."

Over the years, Dahle's descendants continued to run Little Norway, which was open from May to October. But as the world became more modern and entertainment options proliferated, attendance declined.

"We didn't have interactive things or movies or anything like that. Part of the goal at Little Norway was to stay the same," said Scott Winner, 55, a grand-nephew of Dahle who returned from college in 1982 thinking he'd help out for the summer but fell in love with place and decided to stay. "It was like the place that time forgot."

Winner lived in a large stone house his grandparents had built on the property. He raised his two children there, and thought of his work at Little Norway as "a labor of love." He rarely did more than break even, he said, and often lost money.

His wife worked in business development for the Wisconsin Department of Commerce. For years they kept Little Norway afloat in part by selling lumber from their surrounding 270-acre property. But rising insurance costs and taxes, Winner said, along with sparse attendance, forced them in 2012 to close the doors.

Every day for two years, Winner would look out his kitchen window at The Norway Building and wonder what would become of it. Several historical foundations explored a possible purchase. Negotiations with one continued for more than a year but eventually collapsed.

The future seemed bleak in the summer of 2014, when Winner began receiving phone messages from a man in Norway, who said he wanted to visit.

For weeks, Winner ignored the man's calls. He didn't want to waste time with tourists. He needed to find a buyer, or The Norway Building would undoubtedly fall into ruin.

Four thousand miles away, in Norway, Olav Sigurd Kvaale was plumbing his family's history.

As a Christmas gift, an uncle had given him a photo of The Norway Building, and a notation at the photo's edge explained that Kvaale's grandfather had worked on the building's carvings.

Kvaale Googled the Norway Building and immediately found the website for Little Norway. Excited to see his grandfather's handiwork, he arranged to travel to Wisconsin with a group of relatives.

After he booked the plane tickets, however, he learned that Little Norway had been shuttered.

He called the phone number on the Little Norway website, but no one answered. He emailed a local reporter who had written about the attraction in hopes of getting contact information for the owner but had no success. He even tried the local Rotary Club.

Finally, a distant relative of Kvaale's in Seattle reached Winner by phone, and convinced him of the importance of the visit. A date was set.

In the following weeks, Kvaale and his relatives worried about what they would find in Wisconsin. The Norway Building had, by then, endured three moves over its 120 years.

When they arrived at Little Norway on a crisp, clear afternoon in September 2014, they found themselves overcome with emotion. Kvaale's cousin, Sigrid Stenset, wept to see the carvings around the entranceway. They recognized the patterns as ones their grandfather had later repeated in furniture and cabinetry, two pieces of which sat in Kvaale's living room in Norway. They were certain their grandfather's hands had crafted the intricate designs.

And inside, they were pleasantly surprised at the building's condition.

Driving away, Kvaale and his relatives began to hatch a plan.

Back in Norway, Kvaale organized a coalition of friends and began to approach donors and politicians. He wrote about the building's plight for the local historical society, and a newspaper picked up the tale.

Stave churches are points of national pride in Norway. Built with wooden posts — "stave" in Norwegian — and featuring Viking motifs, they date to the Middle Ages. According to, there were once as many as 800 to 1,200, but only about 30 survive. Today they draw tourists from around the world.

Although The Norway Building is a technically a replica of a stave church, Kvaale and his allies felt confident that, if it were returned to Norway, it would attract visitors, and thus boost the local economy. The building's vagabond history, they believed, told a unique story.

With the effort gaining momentum, a Norwegian government official contacted Winner in October. "He said, 'Would you be willing to sell it?'" Winner recalled. "I said, 'If it goes back to its home, I think it would be a romantic idea. '"

A delegation from Norway came to inspect the building in April and, impressed with how well it had held up, decided it was strong enough to move. They agreed to pay the Winners $100,000, with the local Norwegian government and private donors kicking in an estimated $600,000 for dismantling and shipping. Their goal is to have the building restored, rebuilt and open to the public by next summer in Orkdal, the municipality where it was born.

"There are of course people (in Norway) who think this money should be spent another way," said Kai Roger Magnetun, the cultural director of Orkdal. "But I feel certain that when the building arrives in Orkdal, almost everyone will be proud."

The M. Thams & Co. factory, once located in the city of Orkanger, is gone, but many residents in the area are descendants of those who once worked there. Locals will be interested in the preservation, Magnetun said, and many are already following the disassembly on a Facebook page and a website,, which means "going home."

For Scott Winner, whose family has cared for The Norway Building for three generations, the sale has been bittersweet. On a Sunday not long ago, he climbed the hillside before dawn, sat down on the building steps and sobbed.

He and his wife, Jennifer, had their first kiss on those steps. They were married inside, beneath the St. Andrew's crosses. His parents were married there too.

But watching the Norwegians work over the last two weeks had provided reassurance.

"They're taking such great care taking it down. They want to save all these little trim pieces," he said. "They really are saving it."

On a recent day, scaffolding hugged The Norway Building, which had been stripped of sections of roof, several walls and many of its ornaments. The huge carved dragons, once displayed spewing fire from the gables, lay prone in the grass.

As Kvaale pulls up shingles and floorboards, he likes to think about his grandfather.

"I want my grandfather to know we are taking this building back to Norway," Kvaale said. "I like to think that maybe he is looking down on us."

The project is not only about moving a building, he said, but also about honoring the work of his ancestor. His grandfather and many others constructed the building over just three months in 1893 and had worked with such careful craftsmanship that the building has been able to survive a long, meandering journey across two continents.

"This is the last move," Kvaale said. "When it comes to Orkdal, it must stand there, and stay there."

It will, he said, finally be home.

VIDEO LINK: 1893 Chicago World's fair building returns to Norway. 

Since many of the other buildings at the fair were intended to be temporary, they were removed after the fair. Their facades were made not of stone, but of a mixture of plaster, cement, and jute fiber called staff, which was painted white, giving the buildings their "gleam". Architecture critics derided the structures as "decorated sheds". The White City, however, so impressed everyone who saw it (at least before air pollution began to darken the facades) that plans were considered to refinish the exteriors in marble or some other material.

On the afternoon of Monday, July 10, 1893, four Chicago firemen, eight firemen hired by the Columbian Exposition and three civilians lost their lives in a fiery inferno that leveled the cold storage building. It was the greatest loss of life in the Chicago Fire Department  up to that point.

In any case, these plans were abandoned in July 1894 when much of the fairgrounds was destroyed in a fire (rumored to have been started by squatters), thus assuring their temporary status.

Research by: 
Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

The History of the Chicago Historical Society.

Founded in 1856 and incorporated in 1857 by an act of the state legislature, the Chicago Historical Society and its collection grew and opened its first building at the NW corner of Dearborn and Ontario Streets.

Previous to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 there were but two libraries in Chicago open to the public. One of these was that of the Young Men’s Association, organized in 1841. The other was the Chicago Historical Society Library, founded in 1856, which may be said to have had a continuous existence of fifty years, for although the entire collection, amounting to 100,000 volumes, manuscripts, and pamphlets, was destroyed October 9, 1871, yet before the end of November of that year, active steps had been taken to resume the work.
The First Chicago Historical Society at the NW Corner of Ontario and Dearborn Streets, (1868-1871)
Sister societies in all parts of this country, and even abroad, contributed their publications and duplicates, and the New England Historic Genealogical Society, of Boston, placed a room in its new fire-proof building at the disposal of this Society, to which the various donations were sent until a safe place of deposit could be provided.

Very considerable collections were soon made and forwarded to Chicago, only to be consumed in the Chicago fire of July 14, 1874. Undismayed by this second calamity, a few enterprising and cultured men, true to the brave and sterling qualities for which Chicago has become famous, stood together and began again the work of the Society, at a time when men of less exalted ideals would have felt justified in turning their whole attention to the re-establishment of their own homes.

As the result of such heroic effort the Society met for the first time in its temporary building, October 16, 1877, with the nucleus of a third collection, and with a prestige heightened by these vicissitudes. It was even possible to reassemble the greater portion of the rare books and newspapers destroyed, for members of the Society contributed their personal copies of these works, and hundreds of volumes in the Library bear the autographs of pioneer citizens.

The Society has occupied successively the following locations: 
1856-68, Newberry Building, northeast corner Wells and Kinzie Streets; 
1868-71, Society’s Building (first), Dearborn and Ontario Streets; 
1872-74, Number 209 Michigan Avenue; 
1877-92, Society’s Building (second), Dearborn and Ontario Streets; 
1892-96, Collections stored in temoprary buildings until the third building is completed;
1896-1931, Society’s Building (third), Dearborn and Ontario Streets.
1932-Present, Current building at North Avenue and Clark Street, in Lincoln Park. 

In 1892 the Henry D. Gilpin fund, having by careful investment more than doubled itself, and the legacy under the will of John Crerar having become available, it was determined to solicit from its members subscriptions for the erection of a permanent fire-proof home for the Society, on the site at the corner of Dearborn Avenue and Ontario Street so long identified with its history. To this appeal the members responded with their unfailing liberality.

The temporary buildings being cleared away on the same site, the corner-stone of the new structure was laid with appropriate ceremonies, November 12, 1892. The organization built a massive stone edifice designed by Henry Ives Cobb, which housed the Gilpin Library and exhibition spaces. On the evening of December 15, 1896, in the presence of a brilliant and representative gathering, the formal dedication took place.
In the late 1920s, the trustees began planning a new $1 million museum to house its growing collection and to celebrate the city’s centennial. Designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, the Georgian colonial building opened in 1932 in Lincoln Park at Clark Street at North Avenue.
That building, with various additions, renovations, and improvements, has served as the organization’s home ever since. In 1972, the Society unveiled a modern limestone addition by Alfred Shaw and Associates. It was renamed the Chicago History Museum in September 2006.

Are you looking for the history of the Chicago Public Library?

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Clark and Madison Streets, Chicago. 1868

East side of Clark Street looking south from Madison Street, Chicago. 1868

Chicago in 1870, from the top of the Court House.

Chicago in 1870, from the top of the Court House.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

A Brief History of the Chicago Tribune.

The Chicago Tribune is a daily newspaper based in Chicago and owned by Tronc, Inc., formerly Tribune Publishing Company. Chicago incorporated as a town in 1833 and as a city in 1837, when its population reached 4,000. By the mid 1840s, Chicago had grown from a frontier settlement and was attracting attention as an up-and-coming city. In 1848 Chicago got its first telegraph and railroad.
LEFT: At the southwest corner of LaSalle and Lake streets stood this quite splendid building, the first home of The Tribune—one room on an upper floor in 1847.
CENTER: The Tribune’s second home was above Gray’s grocery store on the northwest corner of Lake and Clark streets in 1849.
RIGHT: The third Tribune home in the old post office building in May, 1850.
First published on June 10, 1847, the Chicago Daily Tribune was transformed by the arrival in 1855 of editor and co-owner Joseph Medill, who turned the paper into one of the leading voices of the new Republican Party.

Daily circulation grew from about 1,400 papers in 1855 to as high as 40,000 during the Civil War (1861-1865), when the paper was a strong supporter of President Lincoln and emancipation.

In July of 1847, 20,000 visitors from across the nation streamed into Chicago (population 16,000) for the Rivers and Harbors Convention, foreshadowing the city's future as a convention center. The visitors would leave impressed with Chicago's potential.

It was an opportune time to start a newspaper. But James Kelly, a leather merchant, and two newspapermen, John E. Wheeler and Joseph K.C. Forrest, almost certainly did not foresee Chicago's quick population growth. For them, opening the city's third newspaper, the Chicago Daily Tribune, gave them a source of ready-to-reuse news stories for their literary weekly, The Gem of the Prairie, begun in 1844 and folded in 1852.

The first issue of the Tribune (now lost) consisted of four pages. Four hundred copies were printed on a hand press in the paper's humble office on the third floor of a wooden building at La Salle and Lake Streets.

The content was largely literary. There was local news, but reports from the East came in the form of letters or dispatches from other newspapers. "Fresh" overseas news was more than a month old. "Our views, in all probability, will sometimes be coincident with the conservatives; sometimes we may be found in the ranks of the radicals; but we shall at all times be faithful to humanity -- to the whole of humanity -- without regard to race, sectional divisions, party lines, or parallels of latitude or longitude," the newspaper printed.

The city's first newspaper, the Chicago Democrat, founded in 1833, took no notice of the newcomer. However, the Chicago Journal welcomed the Tribune to "the stormy sea" of Chicago journalism.

Within six weeks of opening, the founding partners hit rough water. Kelly quit because of failing eyesight. Forrest pulled out in September of 1847, questioning the wisdom of his $600 investment. Wheeler, the editor, bowed out in 1851. But as the city grew, so did the Tribune's circulation, reaching 1,800 by 1851.

Ownership would change hands several times, but the paper's politics remained constant. The Tribune supported anybody who was not a Democrat; i.e., the Whigs, Free Soilers and even members of the short-lived Know-Nothing Party received the papers attention.

That stance differed dramatically from the first Chicago Tribune, A Democratic Weekly launched in 1840 to support a second term for President Martin Van Buren. It followed Van Buren's lead and the Democratic Weekly folded after a year. Like the first adhesive United States postage stamp, also introduced in 1847, the second Chicago Tribune Newspaper would stick. 

Between the 1910s and the 1950s, the Tribune prospered under the leadership of Medill's grandson Robert R. McCormick. Calling his operation "World’s Greatest Newspaper," McCormick succeeded in raising daily circulation from 230,000 in 1912 to 650,000 by 1925, when the Tribune stood as the city's most widely read paper. In 1925, when it moved into the Tribune Tower on North Michigan Avenue, the paper employed about two thousand men and women. During the 1930s and 1940s, McCormick used the Tribune's editorial pages to attack the New Deal and promote isolationism and anti-Communism. 

After McCormick died in 1955, the Tribune moved toward a more moderate (if still Republican) editorial stance, as it increasingly became the product less of individual personalities than of a large business corporation. Meanwhile, the Tribune's younger media cousins were growing faster than the newspaper itself. This development had begun under McCormick, who oversaw the founding of WGN (after “World's Greatest Newspaper”) radio in 1924 and WGN television in 1948. By the end of the twentieth century, when the newspaper's parent company (the Tribune Company) was a national media giant that employed close to six thousand Chicago-area residents, the future of traditional print dailies was uncertain. Nevertheless, the Tribune, now available in electronic form, continued to be Chicago's leading newspaper.
The Tribune Building, SE corner of Madison and Dearborn Streets, Chicago, 1869-1871.
The Tribune Tower was built in 1868, but was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire in 1871.

In 1922 the Chicago Tribune hosted an international interior and exterior design competition for its new headquarters to mark its 75th anniversary, and offered $100,000 in prize money with a $50,000 1st prize for "the most beautiful and distinctive office building in the world". The competition worked brilliantly for months as a publicity stunt, and the resulting entries still reveal a unique turning point in American architectural history. More than 260 entries were received.The winner was a neo-Gothic design by New York architects John Mead Howells and Raymond Hood, with buttresses near the top.
The Chicago Tribune Tower today.
Prior to the building of the Tribune Tower, correspondents for the Chicago Tribune brought back rocks and bricks from a variety of historically important sites throughout the world at the request of Colonel McCormick. Many of these reliefs have been incorporated into the lowest levels of the building and are labeled with their location of origin. Stones included in the wall are from such sites as the St. Stephen's Cathedral, Trondheim Cathedral, Taj Mahal, Clementine Hall, the Parthenon, Hagia Sophia, Corregidor Island, Palace of Westminster, petrified wood from the Redwood National and State Parks, the Great Pyramid, The Alamo, Notre Dame de Paris, Abraham Lincoln’s Tomb, the Great Wall of China, Independence Hall, Fort Santiago, Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, Wawel Castle, Banteay Srei, or Rouen Cathedral's Butter Tower, which inspired the shape of the building.

The Tribune Tower, built in 1923-25, is a neo-Gothic skyscraper located at 435 North Michigan Avenue in Chicago. It was the home of the Chicago Tribune, Tribune Media, and Tronc, Inc., formerly known as Tribune Publishing. WGN Radio broadcasts from the building, while the ground level houses the large restaurant Howells & Hood, named for the building's architects. It is listed as a Chicago Landmark on February 1, 1989, and is a contributing property to the Michigan–Wacker Historic District. 

WGN Radio Station (720 kHz AM) started when Colonel Robert McCormick transformed his fledgling radio station into WGN on June 1, 1924, inspired by the motto of his Chicago Tribune Newspaper as “World’s Greatest Newspaper.” The predecessor to WGN was WDAP, which signed on the air on May 19, 1922, and was founded by Thorne Donnelley and Elliott Jenkins.

Originally based in the Wrigley Building, the station moved its operations to the Drake Hotel in July. On May 12, 1923, the Zenith Radio Company signed on radio station WJAZ from the Edgewater Beach Hotel. However, after this brief period, the Tribune switched its operations to WDAP, and the Zenith station became WEBH, the license eventually being deleted on November 30, 1928. WGN's main studio in the Tribune Tower, 1930s -1940s which could seat 600 people.

WGN-Television was founded by the Chicago Tribune. WGN-TV began test broadcasts in February 1948 and began regular programming on April 5 with a two-hour special, "WGN-TV's Salute to Chicago," at 7:45 p.m. that evening.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Saturday, June 9, 2018

The History of the First and Second Fort Dearborn in Chicago.

Fort Dearborn was built in 1803 beside the Chicago River, in what is now Chicago, Illinois. It was constructed by troops under Captain John Whistler and named in honor of Henry Dearborn, then United States Secretary of War. The original fort was destroyed following the Battle of Fort Dearborn during the War of 1812, and a new fort was constructed on the same site in 1816.

A Jesuit mission, the Mission of the Guardian Angel, was founded somewhere in the vicinity in 1696, but was abandoned around 1700. The Fox Wars effectively closed the area to Europeans in the first part of the 18th century. The first non-native to resettle in the area may have been a trader named Guillory, who might have had a trading-post near Wolf Point on the Chicago River around 1778. Jean Baptiste Point du Sable and Choctaw (an indian from the Great Lakes) built a cabin and trading post near the mouth of the Chicago River in the 1780s. Du Sable is widely regarded as Chicago's first black and non-native settler.

Antoine Ouilmette is the next recorded resident of Chicago; he claimed to have settled at the mouth of the Chicago River in July 1790.

On March 9, 1803, Henry Dearborn, the Secretary of War, wrote to Colonel Jean Hamtramck, the commandant of Detroit, instructing him to have an officer and six men survey the route from Detroit to Chicago, and to make a preliminary investigation of the situation at Chicago. Captain John Whistler was selected as commandant of the new post, and set out with six men to complete the survey. The survey completed, on July 14, 1803, a company of troops set out to make the overland journey from Detroit to Chicago.
The American Flag reportedly flown at Fort Dearborn. 1803-1812.
Whistler and his family made their way to Chicago on a schooner called the Tracy. The troops reached their destination on August 17, 1803. The Tracy was anchored about half a mile offshore, unable to enter the Chicago River due to a sandbar at its mouth. Julia Whistler, the wife of Captain Whistler's son, Lieutenant William Whistler, later related that 2000 Indians gathered to see the schooner Tracy.
The troops had completed the construction of the fort by the summer of 1804; it was a log-built fort enclosed in a double stockade, with two blockhouses. The fort was named Fort Dearborn, after U.S. Secretary of War Henry Dearborn, who had commissioned its construction.
Illustration of Fort Dearborn - 1804

The Chicago River before being straightened in 1855.

Model of the first Fort Dearborn (1803-1812) from a drawing made in 1808 by Captain John Whistler. Sculpted by A. L. Van Den Berghen, 1898.

Fur trader John Kinzie arrived in Chicago in 1804 where he purchased the former house and lands of Jean Baptiste Point du Sable. Kinzie rapidly became the civilian leader of the small settlement that grew around the fort. In 1810 Kinzie and Whistler became embroiled in a dispute over Kinzie supplying alcohol to the Indians. In April, Whistler and other senior officers at the fort were removed; Whistler was replaced as commandant of the fort by Captain Nathan Heald.
John Kinzie's land and cabin purchased from Jean Baptiste Point du Sable in 1804. 
During the War of 1812, General William Hull ordered the evacuation of Fort Dearborn in August 1812. Heald oversaw the evacuation, but on August 15 the evacuees were ambushed along the trail by about 500 Pottawattamie Indians in the Battle of Fort Dearborn. 
The Fort Dearborn Massacre on August 15, 1812. Painting by Samuel Page
The painting represents Mrs. Helms being rescued from her would-be slayer Naunongee by Black Partridge. To her left os Surgeon Van Voorhes falling mortally wounded. Other characters depicted are Capt. William Wells, Mrs. Heald on horseback, Ensign Ronan, Mrs. Ronan, Mrs. Holt, Mr. John Kinzie, and Chief Waubunsie. In the background are Indians, the wagons containing children, and off on the lake is the boat bearing Kinzie’s family to safety.
The Pottawattamie captured Heald and his wife, Rebekah, and ransomed them to the British. Of the 148 soldiers, women, and children who evacuated the fort, 86 were killed in the ambush. The Pottawattamie burned the fort to the ground the next day.
NOTE: The account by Susan Simmons Winans (1812-1900), the last known survivor of the Chicago Fort Dearborn massacre as told to her by her mother. (Printed in the Sunday, December 27, 1896 Chicago Tribune.)
Following the war, a second Fort Dearborn was built in 1816. This fort consisted of a double wall of wooden palisades, officer and enlisted barracks, a garden, and other buildings.
Fort Dearborn as Rebuilt in 1816.
The American forces garrisoned the fort until 1823, when peace with the Indians led the garrison to be deemed redundant. This temporary abandonment lasted until 1828, when it was re-garrisoned following the outbreak of war with the Winnebago Indians. In her 1856 memoir Wau Bun, Juliette Kinzie described the fort as it appeared on her arrival in Chicago in 1831:
The fort was inclosed by high pickets, with bastions at the alternate angles. Large gates opened to the north and south, and there were small portions here and there for the accommodation of the inmates. Beyond the parade-ground which extended south of the pickets, were the company gardens, well filled with currant-bushes and young fruit-trees. The fort stood at what might naturally be supposed to be the mouth of the river, yet it was not so, for in these days the latter took a turn, sweeping round the promontory on which the fort was built, towards the south, and joined the lake about half a mile below.
The fort was closed briefly before the Black Hawk War of 1832 and by 1837, the fort was being used by the Superintendent of Harbor Works. In 1837, the fort and its reserve, including part of the land that became Grant Park, was deeded to Chicago by the Federal Government.
Fort Dearborn in 1850.
In 1855 part of the fort was demolished so that the south bank of the Chicago River could be dredged, straightening the bend in the river and widening it at this point by about 150 feet.
Fort Dearborn photograph taken in 1856.
The Chicago Fire of 1857 destroyed nearly all the remaining buildings in the fort. 

By the time of the Civil War (1861-1865) Fort Dearborn's remaining blockhouse and few surviving outbuildings were being used by the Harbor Master of Chicago. 
Wood cut from a photo taken in 1855 by Alex. Hesler, from the U. S. Marine Hospital, looking north-west, correctly represents two of the principal buildings of the Fort—the Commandant’s Quarters, A (brick, about 25×50 ft.), and the Officers’ Quarters, B (wood, about 30×60 ft,), occupying the north-west corner of the enclosure. C is the parade-ground (80×200 ft.); D is the Sutler’s; E is the north gate. The figure in the foreground is J. D. Graham, U. S. Engineer, in charge of Govt. Works, and residing in the Fort, and to his right, Mr. and Mrs. John H. Kinzie. The vessel in the river in the right is the brig Maria Hillard. The Rush-St. Ferry was used to cross the river here, and landed on the South-side at a point, indicated in this view, under the west chimney of the Commandant’s quarters; the direction of the ferry from this point to the North-side was nearly north-west; width of the channel, 225 feet.
Fort Dearborn Blockhouse and Light House in 1857.
All was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

The site of Fort Dearborn is a Chicago Landmark by the Michigan–Wacker Historic District.
These are the brass markers indicating the Fort's footprint.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.