Thursday, September 26, 2019

The sad demise of a 20-foot tall bronze statue of Christopher Columbus after Chicago's 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.

This $50,000 ($1,330,000 today) monument to Christopher Columbus was made for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition by sculptor Howard Kretschmar of Chicago. It was originally placed in Lake Front Park (today's Grant Park) at the "Gateway to the Exposition," which was at Michigan Avenue and Congress Street

The statue, in bronze, was twenty feet high, surmounting a granite pedestal thirty feet high. Columbus' left hand held to the chest, right hand extended at his side and legs astride. The monument forms the design for souvenirs of the Exposition which the profits of sales were to be used to pay back the $50,000 they borrowed.
This 1902 photo shows the Christopher Columbus statue laying on the ground waiting to be melted and reused.
Immediately, the reaction of the public was negative. There are numerous articles in the Chicago Tribune newspaper archives panning the statue. The concession never happened and no money was ever paid back.

The statue was removed and placed in storage in June of 1897. In September of 1902, it was proposed to recycle the statue and use the metal for a pending statue to honor President McKinley, who was assassinated in 1901. That, in fact, was done!

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

The De-Mil Putting Course was on the north-west corner of Devon and Milwaukee Avenues in Chicago.

The De-Mil Putting Course was located at 6422 North Milwaukee Avenue (north-west corner), at DEvon and MILwaukee Avenues, was owned by Mr. and Mrs. DolatowskiBefore the Kentucky Fried Chicken opened on the corner, there was a City Service gas station there. The golf course wrapped around the back of the business with land facing both Devon and Milwaukee Avenues.
This photo of the De-Mil Putting Course was shot in 1979.
This was a pretty simple layout for a putting. The course greens were topped with a very fine crushed stone rather than carpet or astroturf. The stone was hand-sifted to make sure the greens had the smallest/finest stone for covering the surface. They hosed-down the greens once or twice a day to keep them level and maintain dust control.

The trick to the lowest score on the course was playing the ball off of the sideboards. There were certain locations on the sideboards of each hole that when hit at the correct speed would generate a hole-in-one. 

The course had a small hot dog & refreshment stand that was run by Mrs. Dolatowski

It was known that Mr. and Mrs. Dolatowski’s teenage son, Bill, would regularly play the eighteen holes in 30 strokes or less.

The course was open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, 7-days a week. After Labor Day, it was open weekends until Halloween. In the winter Mr. Dolatowski, taught violin and sometimes drove a cab.

There’s an apartment building on the site today with a "Blaze-N-Grill" restaurant on the corner.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.
A special "Thank You" to Bob Rogan, for adding some details about De-Mil.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Chicagoan Marie Connolly Owens, America's First Female Police Officer.

Marie Connolly Owens joined the Chicago Police Department in 1891 with the title of Detective Sergeant, full arrest powers, and a badge. She was on the department payroll and received a police pension when she retired in 1923 after 32 years on the force.

Marie Connolly was born the daughter of Irish famine immigrants in Bytown (later renamed Ottawa), on December 21, 1853. She married gas fitter Thomas Owens in 1879, and they moved to Chicago soon thereafter. Together they had five children before Thomas died of typhoid fever in 1888. Marie was widowed with five mouths to feed; her youngest was just a couple of years old. As she told the Chicago Daily Tribune in 1904, up until this point she had never "earned a penny" in her life.

She entered the workforce with a bang the next year. In 1889, the city of Chicago passed an ordinance prohibiting the employment of children under 14 years old unless they had extraordinary circumstances requiring them to work. To enforce the ordinance, the city hired five women as sanitary inspectors to monitor conditions in stores, factories, and tenements. Women, all of them married or widowed mothers, got the jobs because dealing with children was deemed to be in their natural purview. Mrs. Owens, Mrs. Byford Leonard, Mrs. J.R. Doolittle, Mrs. Ada Sullivan, and Mrs. Glennon formed the first board of sanitary inspectors in the country to be given official authority by the city. They reported to the Commissioner of Health and were paid salaries of $50 a month ($1,410 today).
Sanitary inspector Marie Owens dove into her work with a passion, removing illegally employed children from their workplaces, helping them find other means of support and even paying out of her own pocket to help their destitute families. She soon earned a reputation for zeal and effectiveness tempered by a diplomatic approach to parents, children, and business owners that made her as popular as someone in her role could be.

In 1891, the newly appointed Chief of Police, Major Robert Wilson McClaughrey—a tireless reformer with a particular interest in the rehabilitation of juvenile offenders—took notice of Mrs. Owens's efforts in tracking down wife deserters—men we now call deadbeat dads. Owens saw first-hand how many children were forced to seek employment to keep the family from starving after the father abandoned them. She was relentless in ferreting these men out and turning them in to the police, so much so that McClaughrey decided to employ Owens in the detective bureau.

Marie Owens was now Sergeant No. 97, with the rank, salary, badge, and arrest powers of any detective (although she made infrequent use of the latter two). She was detailed to the Board of Education where her brief was enforcing child labor, truancy, and compulsory education laws. She wrote for the July 28, 1901, issue of the Chicago Daily Tribune, Owens described her early days on the job:

The sights to be seen in the slums today can in no way compare with those of ten years ago and the suffering due to the inability of the older members of the family to work is, indeed, pitiable. Children were found working in factories all over the city, the frail little things in many cases being under 7. The pittance of 75 cents or $1 a week, however, helped to buy food for a sick mother, though it was at the cost of health and education.

When the work was first begun a woman wearing a police sergeant's star was a novelty. Manufacturers in some cases were not inclined to admit me to their workshops, but armed with the strong arm of the law and the will to do good, I soon found that in most cases the merchants met me halfway and rendered me great assistance. As a result, the children were gradually thinned out, and the employers became accustomed to asking for affidavits required by law before work was given to children. Mothers had to depose as to the children's ages, and with these papers, the latter were enabled to get employment in the larger factories and stores.

Owens, like Baldwin and Wells after her, made a point of differentiating what she did from the work of male police officers. In almost every contemporary news article about her, her success in law enforcement was subsumed under her femininity, maternal instinct, charitable nature, and kind heart. A 1906 story in the Chicago Daily Tribune assured its readers that this lady police sergeant "has lost none of her womanly attributes and other detectives in the central office lift their hats when they chance to meet her." If that wasn't relief enough for anyone concerned about the dangers of masculinized womanhood, the words of Sergeant No. 97 herself were sure to soothe:

"I like to do police work," said Mrs. Owens. "It gives me a chance to help women and children who need help. Of course, I know little about the kind of work the men do. I never go out looking for robbers or highwaymen. That is left for the men. My work is just a woman's work. In my sixteen years of experience, I have come across more suffering than ever is seen by any man detective. Why it has kept me poor giving in little amounts to those in want. I have yet the time to come across a hungry family that they were not given food."

Her superior officer, Captain O'Brien, gave her more credit than she gave herself in that article. "Give me men like she is a woman," he said, "and we will have the model detective bureau of the whole world."

Despite Owens's effectiveness, a woman wearing a police sergeant's star was supposed to remain a novelty. In 1895, Chicago adopted new civil service rules requiring all cops to pass the civil service exam (Owens scored a 99 percent) and allowing for appointment of women as regular factory, tenement, or child labor inspectors independent of the police force. Had those rules been in effect in 1891, Mrs. Owens would probably have been made a government inspector rather than a police detective. Because she was so great at her job and had an unblemished service record, she was kept on the police force after the new rules were in place instead of being transferred. In an article in the August 7, 1904, Chicago Daily Tribune, the new rules were assumed to have made women police officers obsolete. The civil service rules "will forever prevent the appointment of more feminine patrolmen. Mrs. Owens will undoubtedly remain as she has been for fifteen years, the only woman police officer in the world."

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

The brief history of Chicago's 19th century public police force.

In 1825, prior to the creation of Cook County was in Putnam County. 
1825 Illinois County Map
Archibald Clybourn was appointed to be Constable of the area between the DuPage River and Lake Michigan. Clybourn went on to become an important citizen of the city, and the diagonal Clybourn Avenue is named after him. When the town of Chicago was incorporated to become a city in 1837, provisions were made to elect an officer called the High Constable. He, in turn, would appoint a Common Constable from each of the six city wards.

Before Chicago ever became a city, the town of Chicago was authorized by the General Assembly of Illinois to establish its own police force, which was set up a constabulary. Men wore civilian clothes adorned with a leather badge. They carried heavy canes by day and batons by night and were provided with “creakers,” a noisemaker device, with which to call for assistance in case of distress. The first “officers” were unpaid citizen volunteers that would patrol the urban city streets looking for drunkards and watching for fires.
Chicago Constable Star (Replica). In-Service; 1828 to about 1900.
After the town was incorporated as a City in 1837, the city Charter authorized the hiring of two constables who were paid through a fee system that was based on the number of warrants served, but citizens were largely responsible for protecting their own property.  Constables had a variety of non-law enforcement functions that they performed, including lighting and extinguishing street lamps, serving as land surveyors, and verifying the accuracy of weights and measures.
Chicago Leather Police Star (Replica). In-Service; March 10, 1857, to March 1, 1858. Then police used a Chicago Plain Brass Star from March 2, 1858 – March 5, 1860. Back to the Chicago Leather Police Star used from  March 6, 1860, to March 25, 1861.
If a crime was committed, the citizen would notify the constable who would obtain a warrant from the magistrate or justice of the peace and serve the criminal with a summons to appear before the court to answer the citizen's complaint. There was no organized system of crime detection or prevention. A Sheriff was the officer in charge of the court’s business and responsible for enforcement of criminal laws. But the sheriff and his deputies did not patrol or serve as night watchmen.

In 1839, Chicago established a night watch system, and a marshal was appointed to oversee them.  Though the general duties of the watchman were straightforward: They preserved order, which was broadly defined, and raised the “hue and cry” [1] if they discovered criminal offenses or discovered a fire; and, on occasion, they detained suspicious and disorderly persons, the implementation of those duties often proved unsatisfactory. The whole constabulary watch system was viewed as fragmented, inefficient, incompetent and corrupted. Moreover, the public police lacked the training and ability to prevent disorder, particularly civil unrest and riots, or control crime.
Patrolman Star. In-Service; March 26, 1861, to 1904
In 1855, the newly elected city council passed ordinances to formally establish the Chicago Police Department. Chicago was divided into three police precincts, each served by a station house. Station No. 1 was located in a building on State Street between Lake and Randolph streets. Station No. 2 was on West Randolph Street near Des Plaines Street. Station No. 3 was on Michigan Street (since then renamed Hubbard Street) near Clark Street. Political connections were important to joining the force; formal requirements were few, until 1895. After 1856, the department hired many foreign-born recruits, especially unskilled, but English-speaking, Irish immigrants.

In 1860, the detective forces were established to investigate and solve crimes. In 1861, the Illinois General Assembly passed a law creating a police board to become an executive department of Chicago autonomous of the mayor. The mayor was effectively stripped of his power to control the Chicago Police Department. Authority was given to three police commissioners. The commissioners created the office of the superintendent to be the chief of police. The title is again in use today.

The first African American officer was appointed in 1872, but black police were assigned to duty in plain clothes only, mainly in largely black neighborhoods. In 1875, the Illinois General Assembly found that the police commissioners were unable to control rampant corruption within the Chicago Police Department. The legislature passed a new law returning power over the police to the mayor. The mayor was allowed to appoint a single police commissioner with the advice and consent of the city council.

In 1896, the Lumière Bros. filmed one of the first Chicago films ever shot in Chicago. (Watch this 45 second Film.)

Women entered the force in 1885, as matrons, caring for female prisoners. Marie Connolly Owens is believed to have been the first female police officer in the U.S., joining the Chicago Police Department in 1891, retiring in 1923. Holding the rank of Sergeant, Owens enforced child labor and welfare laws.

Despite centralized policies and practices, the captains who ran the precincts or districts were relatively independent of headquarters, owing their jobs to neighborhood politicians. Decentralization meant that police could respond to local concerns, but graft often determined which concerns got the most attention. In 1895, Chicago adopted civil service procedures, and written tests became the basis for hiring and promotion. Standards for recruits rose, though policing remained political.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.


[1] "Hue and cry" (adopted from England common law) is a process by which bystanders are summoned to assist in the apprehension of a criminal.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Big-T Burger, Devon and Milwaukee Avenues, Chicago.

Charles "Chuck" Nichols ran a Tastee Freeze franchise (still serving the "Big Tee Burger"), which closed every winter when ice cream lost its appeal. In order to operate year-round, Nichols renegotiated the lease with the building's owner and turned the space into a burger business. To attract teens from nearby Taft High School, he dubbed the restaurant "Big-T Burger." 
Looking North from Devon at Milwaukee from the southwest corner.
Nichols worked there seven days a week. He overcame competition from a nearby McDonald's and Burger King as well as Superdawg across the street. On the last day of business, before he was forced to close Big-T Burgers at Devon and Milwaukee, he told his sons to be at their "very best." That was his philosophy every day. 
Nichols gave more than his time to the business. Homeless men often wandered into Big-T Burger, and Nichols knew every one of them by name. He would give them a hot dog and a cup of coffee when they came in.

Mr. Nichols, 89, of Park Ridge, died on October 26, 2003.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.