Sunday, October 27, 2019

The 1960s-1970s Proposed Chicago Crosstown Expressway, designated Interstate 494.

The Crosstown Expressway (Interstate 494), was a proposed highway route in Chicago, Illinois. It was originally proposed through the 1960s and 1970s.
The Crosstown Expressway was to begin from a connection with the Kennedy Expressway and Edens Expressway (Interstates 90 & 94) near Montrose Avenue on the city's Northwest Side. It was to follow an alignment parallel, and adjacent to the Belt Railway of Chicago, approximately one-half mile east of Cicero Avenue and extend southerly over railroad right-of-way through the West Side of Chicago, and across the Sanitary and Ship Canal to a connection with the Stevenson Expressway (Interstate 55).
South of this confluence, the route would continue south in a reverse direction, split-arrangement with the northbound highway lanes depressed along Cicero Avenue and the southbound lanes depressed along the Belt Railway of Chicago tracks. Continuing south past the proposed traffic interchange at Chicago Midway International Airport, the expressway alignment was to turn southeasterly at 67th Street and continue over Belt Railway right-of-way to Lawndale Avenue then turn easterly towards the Dan Ryan Expressway along Norfolk Southern Railway right-of-way (now Metra-South West Service) and 75th Street to an interchange with the Dan Ryan Expressway (Interstate 94) north of 91st Street.
Model for Chicago... Where the Crosstown Expressway Would Be Built. View of Midway Airport in Corner.
Extra lanes were planned to extend north from the proposed Dan Ryan/Crosstown interchange to connect with the Chicago Skyway (Interstate 90) near 66th and State Streets.

Originally the I-494 number was to be used for a freeway upgrade of Lake Shore Drive that was also canceled; when the Crosstown Expressway inherited that number, the LSD proposal was then renumbered to I-694.

The origins of the Crosstown Expressway can be found in Burnham and Bennett's 1909 Plan of Chicago, which proposed a grand circumferential road to divert traffic around central Chicago. The route was incorporated in the Chicago Plan Commission's plans for post-war highway construction. The 1956 Federal-Aid Highways Act spurred extensive construction around Chicago, but by 1960, the Crosstown Expressway was the only route included in the region's postwar transportation plans yet to break ground. The State of Illinois, Cook County, and the City of Chicago formed the Crosstown Expressway Task Force in 1963. According to then Chicago Commissioner for Public Works, Milton Pikarsky, the Task Force aimed "to demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed expressway... in sufficient detail so that the need for an expressway could not be challenged". Public resentment over the experience of highway construction in the late 1950s and early 1960s, however, prompted a comprehensive re-evaluation of the Crosstown route.
On February 25, 1967, the federal government proposed the Crosstown Expressway be redesigned as a 'total development concept' that would integrate mass transit, high-rise apartment buildings, commercial and industrial zones, and green space. Mayor of Chicago Richard J. Daley stated the road would be "the most modern and beautiful expressway in the nation". By 1972, the Crosstown Expressway had emerged as the national testing ground for a new kind of urban expressway centered upon neighborhood integration rather than regional development. Community groups strongly opposed these plans; notably the Citizens Action Program (CAP) and the Anti-Crosstown Action Committee, who turned the proposed expressway into a pivotal issue in the 1972 local, state, and federal elections. Dan Walker, an independent Democrat defeated incumbent Illinois governor Richard Ogilvie 51% to 49% on a strong anti-Crosstown platform. Governor Walker appeared at the 1973 CAP annual convention to declare the Crosstown Expressway will not be built.

Political wrangling over the Crosstown Expressway continued between Walker and Mayor Daley until the latter's death in December 1976. Changing public opinion on urban highway construction, the mid-1970s energy crisis, and rapidly escalating costs (from the 'total development concept' additions and runaway inflation rates) ultimately undermined the Expressway. Restructured proposals for the southern leg of the Crosstown route were agreed by Chicago Mayor Michael Bilandic and Illinois Governor James R. Thompson in March 1977. However, in January 1979, the Crosstown Expressway project was finally canceled by then-Mayor of Chicago Jane M. Byrne and Governor Thompson. In the $2 billion in federal funds earmarked for the Crosstown Expressway and (never-built) Franklin Line Subway was then reallocated to Chicago's struggling regional transit agencies, and to other pressing road improvements across northeastern Illinois. These funds would eventually support the extension of the Blue Line to O'Hare International Airport and the construction of the Orange Line to Midway Airport.

In 2001, Mayor Richard M. Daley announced plans for a Mid-City Transitway, using the alignment of the Chicago Belt Line Railway that the Crosstown Expressway route was to have followed. The Mid-City project was placed in the Chicago Area Transportation Study's Destination 2020: Regional Transportation Plan and still awaits study and approval. Proposals for a Circle Line providing circumferential transit options closer to the Loop have been prioritized over-investment in the Transitway project by city officials and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP).

On February 21, 2007, Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives Michael Madigan proposed legislation that would make a future Crosstown Expressway a part of the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (ISTHA). However, the proposal was not previously looked at by the office of the mayor, governor, the ISTHA or the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Additional Reading: 
The Chicago Crosstown Expressway, by the Commissioner of Public Works, City of Chicago.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

The Photographer Who Claimed to Capture Abraham Lincoln’s Ghost.

William Mumler was a 19th-century photographer known for capturing the images of one particular kind of subject: ghosts. Mumler was described as a "spirit photographer," who would take portrait photos of ghosts alongside their loved ones. His talents were widely known in post-Civil War America. 

Mumler mostly retired from spirit photography in his final years, though he couldn’t resist one high-profile client: Mary Todd Lincoln. Initially pursuing mediums and spiritualists after the death of her son Willie Lincoln, Mary sought contact with the spirit of her dead husband.
Mary Todd Lincoln. Photograph by William H. Mumler, February of 1872.
Mumler’s grim portrait of the widowed First Lady depicted an ethereal Abe resting two comforting hands on her shoulders. The picture, ersatz but powerful, exemplifies the “peace and comfort to the weary soul” that Mumler trumpeted as his hallmark. 

Later, the image has been dismissed as a fraudulent double exposure. In 1869, Mumler had been put on trial in New York for fraudulently producing his spirit photographs. Because the prosecution could not prove exactly how he did it, he was ultimately acquitted. 

How can a 'spirit' photograph, 7 years after the death of President Lincoln, be made with a double exposure?

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Elsah, Illinois... The Village Frozen In Time.

Unheard of by most, this tiny village of Elsah on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River is one of the loveliest places to visit. Preserved in its 19th-century condition, it was cut off from the rest of the state and is now like a time machine into the past. 
James Semple, a local lawyer, a prominent politician and United States Senator from Illinois, founded Elsah in 1853 and offered free lots to anyone who built a house with stone from his quarry. 
Hidden by a valley of bluffs and forests, Elsah was once a vibrant riverside town that lost popularity once the railroad came through this area, as tracks could not be built through these rock formations. Due to being cut off both physically and economically, the town never developed past its 19th-century roots and still maintains the original buildings that were built during the village's settlement. 
The village's beauty can be attributed to its founder who dictated that anyone who moved there build their residence out of stone, which today adds romantic charm to this riverside wonderland. It is beautiful at any time of year and will take you back to a simpler time. Elsah is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and contains many wonders including several inns and an old-fashioned general store. 
Illinois' best-kept secret is a village frozen in time that will show you what life was like over a century ago. Take your time meandering through the bluffs and enjoy the lovely scenery around Elsah.
By 1861, the village had grown to its current size, as geographic and economic limitations prevented further expansion.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

A brief history of Loree’s Snack Shop and Ice Cream Parlor at 3232 West Foster Avenue in Chicago.

In the 1960s and 70s, there were a lot of places to buy ice cream. Several businesses on Chicago’s Far North Side were famous for what was called “ice cream creations.” 

I’m not sure anyone still uses that phrase, but it meant more than a scoop or two on a sugar cone. Drama and excitement were dished out with over-the-top, imaginatively named sundaes, shakes and sodas at places like Buffalo’s on Irving Park, Lockwood Castle on Devon, Zephyr Café & Ice Cream Parlor on Wilson and Ravenswood Avenues, and, of course, Loree’s Snack Shop.

The original owners of Loree’s named the restaurant after their daughter. The Dickers kept the name and the menu but expanded the list of ice cream specialties.
Robert “Bob” Dicker behind the counter at Loree’s in 1962, the year he and his wife, Sybil Dicker, bought the snack shop and ice cream parlor.
Loree’s was a much-loved restaurant and ice cream parlor was in the North Park community, frequented by both North Park College (now University), Northeastern Illinois University, and Von Steuben High School students. 
Sybil Dicker at Loree’s, 1962.
Customer favorites include ice cream creations which were the big draw, but Loree’s was a full-service diner. Here are a few items from Loree’s menu that stood out as special for Loree's:
Pecan Roll - untoasted.
Pecan rolls (from Levinson's Bakery) - toasted, the Test Pilot Sundae had chocolate chips and two sugar wafers sticking out from the ice cream scoop's like the wings of an airplane, and their multicolored whipped cream which was made fresh, on-site, with food coloring, added to it
The Francheezie
Another very popular item was the Francheezie, a sliced hot dog with cheese and wrapped in bacon. 

As popular as Loree’s was, it was no gold mine. Robert "Bob" Dicker (1962 to 1972), the 2nd owner, put in long hours: breakfast through dinner added up to 15-hour days and Loree’s was open seven days a week. 

The business became even more family-run when Gayle Dicker started waitressing in eighth grade. She remembers the first time she worked a Saturday night and made $13 in tips. At the time, it seemed like a small fortune.

Despite the hardships of owning a restaurant, Bob Dicker loved his work. He enjoyed talking to students and being his own boss. Ultimately, however, the hours were too much for the family and they sold the business. The new owners tore down the wall separating the adjacent storefront to enlarge the restaurant and kept it open as Loree’s for many years. 
Today, Loree's location is Starbucks.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

General Samuel A. Whiteside, an Illinois pioneer.

Samuel A. Whiteside fought the British in the War of 1812 and Indians through the Blackhawk War (including in the Illinois Territory before statehood and later in the Wisconsin Territory).

Whiteside was born April 12, 1783, in Rutherford County, North Carolina, the son of John and Judith (Tolley) Whiteside. Sam's father and his uncle William, head of the Whiteside clan, served heroically in the Revolutionary War and won acclaim in the Battle of King's Mountain. The Whiteside family had strong ties to kin and friends, a spirited Irish character, enormous love of the new nation they fought to free, and also had a double portion of bravery and self-sufficiency.

In 1790 the Whitesides and a following of industrious families set out into the new frontier. They settled briefly in the Kentucky wilderness, then arrived at Hull's Landing, south of Columbia, Illinois, on January 1, 1793. They built Whiteside Station on the Kaskaskia-Cahokia Trail and often engaged the Indians in battle. The Kaskaskia–Cahokia Trail was the first road (by foot, horseback, and stagecoaches) in Illinois.
1778 map by Thomas Hutchins of the French settlements in the Illinois Country showing the "Road from Kaskaskias to Cahokia" highlighted in yellow.
When Samuel was a boy, he was playing outside with a brother and cousin under the supervision of his mother. Indians fell upon them, killed his brother and tomahawked his cousin. He and his mother escaped by jumping through some undergrowth and running into the forest. The memory of this event stayed with Sam his entire life.

In 1802 Samuel and his brother Joel purchased land from the government and built a cabin (survey 603 Claim 1601 Collinsville Twp). They were Maryville's first settlers. Samuel married Nancy Miller May 28, 1804, in Madison County and wasted no time in starting a family: Michael M., born 1805; Judith, born 1807; Nancy, born 1808; Sarah, born 1810; Joel, born 1811; William, born 1812; Thomas, born 1815; Samuel Ray, born 1820; John Perry, born 1822; Eliza Ann, born 1825; Mary Ann, born 1830.

Samuel loved life in the wilds of the prairie. He wore buckskins and moccasins and was well known for his skill in tracking and hunting. He was often gone for many weeks and lived by his talents and the bounty of the land. It made no difference to him whether he was hunting a rabbit or a bear and when he once dispatched three panthers in a single outing, he thought nothing of his accomplishment.

Samuel served as a ranger in the War of 1812. When warring factions of Indians allied to the British attacked white settlements, Captain Sam Whiteside and his troops were often first on the scene, the first to take up the chase and the last to end the pursuit. In 1814 Samuel was put in charge of a group of fighting men based at Chilton's Fort, {{located about two miles west of the present town of St. Jacobs, Illinois. The Fort was built during the early days of the War of 1812 when British-allied Indians had begun a series of widespread brutal attacks in the region. The fort, never attacked, provided a haven for the area's pioneering families who had emigrated from Kentucky and Tennessee.}}

When a mother and her six children were killed by Indians at Wood River, Illinois, (Wood River MassacreCaptain Whiteside took up the chase immediately. Most of the natives who took part in that terrible act never lived to tell the tale.

On August 12, 1814, an expedition under the command of Major Zachary Taylor (later United States President), left St. Louis with several boats, one under the command of Captain Sam Whiteside. The British Army had built strong fortifications on the Mississippi and under fire from British artillery, Major Taylor sounded a retreat. The wind pushed their boats toward an embankment. One boat was blown to shore and almost encircled by a band of Indians allied to the British. Captain Whiteside came to the rescue. Through exhausting man-to-man combat and brave deeds in both boats, Whiteside managed to lash the embattled boat to his own and pull it from the river's edge. When recounted, this deed "contributed very greatly to Samuel Whiteside's credit for courage and good judgment in an emergency."

Samuel Whiteside rose steadily in rank during his tenure in the Illinois Militia: ensign (January 2, 1810), captain (August 22, 1812), major (February 26, 1817), colonel (May 22, 1817), and brigadier general (1819). 

In 1818 Sam became the first representative of Madison County in the state legislature. He helped choose Vandalia as the new state capital after Kaskaskia. Whiteside descendants said, "in matters of religion he sided with the Baptists, and in political affairs, he cooperated with the Democrats. He was an honest man and the only thing that he seemed to be afraid of was being in debt. He believed with all his power that what he believed was right and it was rather a hard task to convince him that the opposite side might seem to be right." In 1819, he was a member of the commission to select a new site for the Illinois State Capitol. He then served in the Illinois General Assembly from 1819 to 1821. He never sought reelection but continued to lead the Illinois Militia troops.

For a brief period of time, he resided in Galena and took part in the Winnebago War in 1827, then the Black Hawk War in 1831-32, where he served as brigadier general of the First Brigade, Illinois Militia.

During the Black Hawk War, the 'Indian fighter' commanded the Illinois militia. It was Samuel Whiteside who commissioned Abraham Lincoln into the militia, with Lincoln leading a company under Whiteside's command. When the regular U.S. Army troops arrived, General Whiteside chose to reenlist as a private in Capt. Synder's Co.

One of Sam's more colorful engagements was recounted by Senator John T. Kingston in his book Early Western Days:
"Whiteside was serving as a private in Capt. Adam Snyder's temporary company in June 1831 when a superior force of Indians attacked them in the Rock River country of northern Illinois. In a state of confusion, the Illinois Volunteers ignored the pleas of their officers and went into retreat at full gallop, heading for the nearest settlement.

"The Indians were in hot pursuit, crossing an open prairie when one of the volunteers suddenly reined in his horse and dismounted. It was the grizzled, white-haired Private Samuel Whiteside, late of the general staff and a man well into middle age. The Indians, taken aback by Whiteside's action, slowed the chase to take stock of the situation.

"They continued to ride forward. A chief wearing a feathered headdress was in the lead. He began to swerve his horse, left to right, right to left, and leaned low against the animal's withers. Private Whiteside, the leader in many successful fights again Indians, raised his one-shot rifle, took deliberate aim and killed the chief. As the leader tumbled from his horse, the Indians stopped, began milling around and uttering loud cries. The fleeing volunteers heard the commotion, took in the situation and ended the retreat. Shamed by Whiteside's stand, they raced their horses back toward the Indians and engaged them. The Indians seemed to have lost heart. They picked up the body of their chief and fled the assault. Several of the men later asked Whiteside why he had stopped to face almost certain death. "I have never yet run from an Indian," Samuel Whiteside said. "I never will."
Samuel's wife Nancy passed away July 1, 1851, and was buried in the Old Canteen Creekgrave Cemetery (now lost) near their home in Madison County. Samuel sold his Madison County farm about 1854 and moved to the northeast part of Christian County Illinois where several of his grown children were living. 
General Samuel A. Whiteside (1863)
Sam passed away on January 13, 1866, at age 83, while living with his daughter Eliza (Mrs. John Henderson). He is buried in the Hunter Cemetery in Mosquito Township, Christian County, Illinois.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Sergio Oliva; "The Myth" (1941-2012). World Cup 7x, Mr. Olympia 3x, Mr. Universe, Mr. World, and Chicago Policeman.

Sergio Oliva was born in Cuba on July 4, 1941. At 12, he worked with his father in the sugar cane fields of Guanabacoa. When Oliva was 16, his father suggested that he enlist in Fulgencio Batista's army. In the absence of a birth certificate, the recruiting officer took the senior Oliva's word that his son was old enough to enlist in the fight against communism.
After losing the war to Fidel Castro, Oliva stayed local and took to hanging out at the beach. There, he met a fellow sun worshipper, who invited him to the local weightlifting club. After just six months of training Oliva was doing clean and jerks with over 300 lb and totaling 1000 lb in the three Olympic lifts at a bodyweight of 195 lb, considered a middle-heavyweight.
In 1962, the National Weightlifting Championship for Cuba was won by Alberto Rey Games Hernandez; Sergio Oliva took second place. Because Alberto was injured, Oliva was chosen to represent Cuba at the 1962 Central American and Caribbean Games hosted in Kingston, Jamaica.

During his stay in Jamaica, Oliva snuck out of his quarters while the guards were distracted. He ran at top speed until he was safely inside the American consulate. Arriving breathlessly, he demanded and received political asylum. Soon, 65 other Cuban nationals followed him, including Castro's entire weightlifting team and their security guards. Soon afterward, Oliva was living in Miami, Florida, working as a TV repairman.

In 1963 Oliva moved to Chicago, Illinois. There he worked at a local steel mill and began working out at the Duncan YMCA. Working 10-12 hour days at the steel mill and putting in another 2.5–3 hours at the gym gave Oliva very little time for anything else. Soon the bodybuilding grapevine was abuzz with gossip about a Cuban powerhouse who lifted more than any of the local Olympic champs. Oliva won his first bodybuilding competition the Mr. Chicagoland contest in 1963. Then he was successful again at Mr. Illinois in 1964 but he lost in 1965 at the AAU Jr. Mr. America winning 2nd place even though he won the trophy for "Most Muscular." In 1966, he won the AAU Jr. Mr. America and again he claimed the trophy for "Most Muscular". He then joined the International Federation of Body Builders IFBB in which he won both the professional Mr. World and Mr. Universe Contests. In 1967, he won the prestigious Mr. Olympia contest, making him the undisputed world champion of bodybuilding.
Oliva then went on to win the Mr. Olympia title three years in a row, at 5 feet 11 inches and at a contest weight that went from 225 lbs up to his most massive at 255 lbs. Oliva's 1968 Mr. Olympia win was uncontested. In 1969, he won his third consecutive Mr. Olympia by beating Mr. Europe, Mr. International, and four-time Mr. Universe winner Arnold Schwarzenegger. In his 1977 autobiography, 'Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder', Arnold tells of their first encounter: "Then for the first time, I saw Sergio Oliva in person. I understood why they called him the Myth. 
1972
It was as jarring as if I'd walked into a wall. He destroyed me. He was so huge, he was so fantastic, there was no way I could even think of beating him. I admitted my defeat and felt some of my 'pump' go away. I tried. But I'd been so taken back by my first sight of Sergio Oliva that I think I settled for 2nd place before we walked out on the stage... I never like to admit defeat, but I thought Sergio was better. There were no two ways about it."
However, Schwarzenegger won his first Mr. Olympia title by edging the Myth the following year with a score of 4-3 when Joe Weider switched judges at the last minute. Oliva was banned from competing in the 1971 IFBB Mr. Olympia because he competed in the 1971 NABBA Mr. Universe. This was extremely controversial because Schwarzenegger had competed for this very same contest the year before and without Sergio to challenge Arnold, many felt that the contest was fixed. "I'd coasted to my second title as Mr. Olympia, in Paris in 1971. The only possible challenger had been Sergio-nobody else was in my league-and he'd been barred from the contest, along with others, because of a dispute between federations." Oliva was permitted to simply guest pose at the 1971 Mr. Olympia. After this setback, Oliva was fiercely determined to beat Arnold Schwarzenegger and prove once and for all that he was the world's greatest bodybuilder.
In 1972, under the High-Intensity Training (HIT) of Arthur Jones, the designer of Nautilus training equipment, Oliva challenged Schwarzenegger for the 1972 Olympia in Essen Germany. 

By all accounts, Sergio was in his all-time greatest shape and completely confident he would regain the Mr. Olympia title showing up at his all-time best condition. "But in Essen, it seemed like all the top Bodybuilders turned up at their very best except for me. Sergio was back, even more, impressive than I remembered." Once again, Weider switched the judges at the last minute and Arnold was declared the winner in what is to this day the most controversial bodybuilding contest of all time. "Compared with all of the other Bodybuilders I've ever faced, Sergio really was in a class by himself. I was struck by that again the minute we were onstage. It was so hard to look impressive next to him with those incredible thighs, that impossibly tiny waist, those incredible triceps."

Sergio was a regular at the Chicago Bally Health Club on Ridge Avenue just north of Devon Avenue. Working very part-time for the Chicago Board of Education as a presence in many of the Northside schools, he quickly became a role model to so many neighborhood kids. 
After being disqualified from the 1973 IFBB Mr. International that Sergio actually won, he severed all ties with the Joe Weider controlled IFBB and continued competing for other world bodybuilding federations. He won the World Body Building Guild (WBBG) Mr. Galaxy in 1972 and 1973, the WBBG Mr. Olympus in 1975, 1976 and 1978, the WABBA Professional World Championships in 1977 and 1980, and the WABBA Professional World Cup in 1980 and 1981. After a 12-year hiatus from the IFBB, Oliva was invited back to the IFBB and came out of retirement to compete in 1984, Mr. Olympia. Finishing in a very controversial eighth place, "the Myth" still sported an extremely impressive physique and V-taper. Although he was not at his best, most bodybuilding experts and media at the time felt that he should have placed in the top five.

In 1985, at the age of 44, Oliva returned for an attempt at the famed Mr. Olympia title and would compete again in 1985. While being a favorite by many in the crowd he could manage just an 8th-place finish in each. "Anyone who loves the sport of bodybuilding knows the name of Sergio Oliva, known as 'the Myth'. I greatly admired him and consider him to be the all-time world's greatest physique. I saw him in competition many times, including his shows against Arnold. There is no doubt that with his wide shoulders and narrow hip structure he was superior to any other Bodybuilder of his generation. Sergio was not only the most aesthetic bodybuilder on stage but also the biggest... Sergio Oliva is considered by most to be the world's most genetically gifted bodybuilder... He set a whole new standard for competitive bodybuilding; loved by millions, revered by many and feared by some. He was so huge and extremely proportioned that he used to bring chills to his adversaries. This is how he acquired the name of the Myth."

BODYBUILDING TITLES
1963 Mr Chicago – 1st
1964 Mr Illinois – 1st
1964 Mr America / AAU – 7th
1965 Junior Mr America / AAU – 2nd + “Most Muscular” trophy
1965 Mr America / AAU – 4th + “Most Muscular” trophy
1966 Junior Mr America / AAU – 1st + “Most Muscular” trophy
1966 Mr America / AAU – 2nd + “Most Muscular” trophy
1966 Mr World / IFBB – 1st in the “Tall” category + Overall Winner
1966 Mr Universe / IFBB – 1st
1966 Mr. Olympia / IFBB – 4th
1967 Mr. Olympia / IFBB – 1st
1967 Universe / IFBB – 1st overall
1968 Mr. Olympia / IFBB – 1st (uncontested)
1969 Mr. Olympia / IFBB – 1st
1970 Mr World / AAU (Pro) – 2nd in the “Tall” category
1970 Mr. Olympia / IFBB – 2nd
1971 Universe / NABBA (Pro) – 2nd in the “Tall” category
1972 Mr. Olympia / IFBB – 2nd
1972 Mr Galaxy / WBBG – 1st
1973 Mr International, Mr Azteca / IFBB (Pro) – 1st
1973 Mr Galaxy / WBBG – 1st
1974 Mr International / WBBG (Pro) – 1st
1975 Mr Olympus / WBBG – 1st
1976 Mr Olympus / WBBG – 1st
1977 Pro World Championships / WABBA – 1st
1978 Mr Olympus / WBBG – 1st
1980 Pro World Championships / WABBA – 1st
1980 Professional World cup / WABBA – 1st
1981 Professional World Cup / WABBA – 1st
1984 Mr. Olympia / IFBB – 8th
1984 Professional Mid-States Championships / WABBA – 1st
1985 Mr. Olympia / IFBB – 8th


As an Actor (4 credits), Sergio Oliva used the name 'Black Power.'
1971 O Doce Esporte do Sexo (segment "O Filminho") (as Black Power)
1971 O Capitão Bandeira Contra o Dr. Moura Brasil Servant (as Black Power)
1975 Black Power
1977 Los Temibles (as Sergio Oliva 'Black Power')

Sergio Oliva died of kidney disease in 2012 at the age of 71. 
My Serg Story: I personally knew "Serg." He was a part-time employee of the Chicago Board of Education and would make an appearance at many of the Chicago Northside public schools. He spent alot of time at Mather High School, where I attended, as the head of security. Serg always wore a big smile. He was genuinely a happy person!
I ran into him many times in the summer as he patrolled the beaches in Rogers Park and Edgewater Beach. I'd run into Serg at Foster Avenue beach while biking on the path heading downtown. He always remembered my name. Even years later, I'd see him driving around in his vintage car on Devon Avenue or I'd see him in Bally's Health Club on Ridge and Devon. 
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Ex-Mr. Universe Turned Cop Shot In Quarrel With His Wife
Chicago Tribune, July 25, 1986.

Rogers Park District Patrol Officer Sergio Oliva, 45, an internationally recognized body-builder and former Mr. Universe, was in serious condition after being shot during an argument with his wife in their North Side home Thursday.


Investigators said preliminary reports indicated the shooting occurred after Oliva struck his wife twice. In a statement before undergoing surgery in St. Francis Hospital, Evanston, for a wound in the lower right abdomen, Oliva reportedly said the gun went off accidentally while he and his wife struggled in the bedroom.


Mrs. Oliva initially told investigators that she ran to the bedroom after Oliva struck her to get a .38 caliber revolver and that she shot him after he followed and struck her a second time. Mrs. Oliva is a body builder and operates a body-building clinic with her husband. Oliva was off duty at the time.

According to initial reports, his wife helped Oliva down the stairs from their third-floor apartment after the shooting, and they waited in the street for an ambulance, which neighbors had called.

Oliva has won every professional body-building title in the world. Because of his 23-inch biceps he was known as the "strong arm of the law."

He defected from Cuba in 1962, taking with him all 32 members of Cuba`s weight-lifting team at the Pan American Games in Kingston, Jamaica.

He came to Chicago two years later and studied English at Wells High School to qualify for citizenship.

Oliva worked as a foundry worker and meatpacker for several years before being hired as a YMCA physical education instructor. He became interested in police work while employed as a civilian physical education instructor at the Chicago Police Academy.

Because of his physical dimensions-- 60-inch chest, 27-inch waist and 32-inch thighs--his police uniforms must be specially made.

The titles he has won include Mr. World at Montreal in 1966; Mr. Universe at Munich in 1967, 1968 and 1969; Mr. America in 1970; and Mr. Europe in 1981. He defeated Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1968 and 1969 in body-building competitions, and he won the World Cup seven times, three times in a row.

He also appeared in three movies produced in Mexico.

Monday, October 21, 2019

The History of the Mary E. McDowell Settlement House in Chicago, Illinois.

Mary McDowell's abolitionist father, Malcolm McDowell, brought the family from Cincinnati to Chicago after the Civil War, arriving in Chicago in 1870. At the time of the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 (Mary was 17) her father, though ill himself, consented to her taking their horse and wagon out to help rescue fleeing citizens and some of their possessions.
Mary E. McDowell
The governor of Ohio, Rutherford B. Hayes, an old friend of the McDowells, was one of the first to rush aid to the stricken city and, of course, he sent it to the home of the McDowell’s for distribution. Mary worked unceasingly in those first days after the fire before central relief forces were organized and helped form the “Relief and Aid Society” from which later emerged United Charities of Chicago. Another organization was distributing, en masse, Chicago Shelter Cottages, kit houses (short-term housing) for 1871 Fire Victims, nearly days after the fire.
Mary McDowell with two unidentified individuals.
When Rutherford Hayes became president, Mary was invited to spend a month at the White House, and later spent a summer in California with her uncle, Major General McDowell. In the early 1880s, her family moved to Evanston, Illinois, a very Methodist suburb at the time.

There Mary became a friend and follower of Frances Willard, founder of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union which advocated the right of women to vote. After graduating from the National Kindergarten College, and teaching for a private family in New York, she returned to Evanston in 1890. 

Her interest in the social experiment, which Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr were beginning in General Hull’s old mansion in Chicago led her to help found such an experiment in Evanston, the Northwestern University Settlement.
The University of Chicago - Mary McDowell Settlement House, 4655 Gross Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.
Soon thereafter she was living at Hull House as one of the first kindergarten workers until the illness of her mother called her back to her family (she was one of six children) in Evanston. In the meantime, a new University of Chicago was being established and members of its faculty transformed an association called the Christian Union, determined to learn the causes of this pervasive unrest and at the same time, to minister to the needs of a neighborhood in the mode of Hull House. It was agreed that the district called "Packingtown," just in the back of the Union Stock Yards (now the Back of the Yards neighborhood) which was the scene of bloodshed and rioting during the 1894 strike, was greatly in need of such a center. 

At the recommendation of Jane Addams, Mary McDowell, then 40 years old, was invited to take charge of the new house. In November 1894, she settled in a building in the heart of a most difficult, transient area, in four small rooms, in a tenement on Gross Avenue (now McDowell Avenue) and she began to live there as a neighbor to the workers of Packingtown.
From left: Mary K. Simkhovitch, Mary McDowell, Graham Taylor, and Jane Addams.
By 1906, the Settlement House had moved to a new building on the same block, which remained its home for some 60 years. By the 1930s, the site contained 45,000 square feet, much of it in a central, four-story building and included a boxing room, five club rooms, a game room, junior and senior girls rooms, a library, manual training and sewing areas, a music room, nursery, showers, and two play lots-one on the roof.
Eventually, there were two gymnasiums, one for boys and one for girls, and a visiting nurse program. The residents worked with those of all ages–from infants in the nursery to senior citizens. Most attention went to the children; having children at the Settlement house meant that parents would come too. The Mothers’ Club was an active organization for many years. Older children took classes in wood-working, manual training (for the boys), cooking and sewing (for the girls) and arts and crafts (for both). Some children had their own plots of land and learned to keep a garden. Once a week there was a show produced by the youngsters. Settlement house clubs participated in sports and other activities with the many ethnic, Parish-sponsored social and athletic clubs. 

In 1900, the city built the William Mavor Bathhouse (named after a Chicago alderman) at 4645 Gross (later McDowell) Avenue, under the prodding of Mary McDowell and the Settlement House Women’s Club. The alderman who finally was moved to facilitate its building was so convinced of the potential political power of Mary McDowell that he had to be dissuaded from naming it the “Mary McDowell Municipal Bathhouse.” 
Sometimes called the "Angel of the Stockyards," Mary McDowell preferred to think of herself as a concerned citizen. She reached out from that base to promote trade unionism and safer working conditions, woman suffrage, inter-racial understanding, and reforms in municipal waste disposal.
While representing the union at the 1903 American Federation of Labor convention, she joined with others to establish a National Women's Trade Union League which she was elected as its first president. As the first president of the Illinois branch of the WTUL, she recruited glove-maker Agnes Nestor, and boot and shoe worker, Mary Anderson into the battle for shorter hours for factory women in Illinois. McDowell was also instrumental in persuading President Theodore Roosevelt to authorize the first federal investigation of working conditions and wages for women and children in the industry.  President Theodore Roosevelt and the Congress to authorize $300,000 for a study of women in the workplace. This landmark study took four years and filled 19 volumes!

In 1923, reform Mayor William E. Dever appointed Mary McDowell Commissioner of the Department of Public Welfare (a department created in 1914, mainly through the efforts of Charles Merriam, alderman and UC professor), which consisted of a Bureau of Employment and a Bureau of Social Surveys. In 1921, the City Council had been ready to abolish the department saying it was ‘the most useless on the city payroll.’ The Chicago Tribune on June 27th, 1923, quoted an alderman, after some argument, as proposing: “Let’s give Miss McDowell this one opportunity to work out some of her plans, and if she fails, then we’ll repeal the act which created her position.” She was commissioned and the department really began to serve the city and its citizens. 
Mary McDowell had campaigned for Women’s Suffrage, for World Peace, for better schools, for improved health care, for honest government, for the day, as she wrote, “When wage-earners would have a decent American standard of living.” 

She had moved in prestigious circles too, and sought the help of those in power for her many causes-for those in need whom she considered her friends and neighbors. She had asked the questions and set up the procedures whereby accurate information could be assimilated and used. And she was years ahead of most of her fellow citizens regarding race relations. Her diligent work in the Settlement House, in Packingtown, in the city, and far beyond had bettered the life of countless people.
Medal Awarded to Mary McDowell by the Government of Lithuania.
Mary McDowell retired at the age of 75 in 1929 and died at 82 in 1936. The University Settlement was renamed The Mary McDowell Settlement in 1956 in her honor. It was put under the wing of Chicago Commons in 1967 and the old settlement house buildings were torn down in the early 1970s.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Lost Communities of Chicago - Hyde Park Township.

Hyde Park Township was founded by Paul Cornell, a real-estate speculator, and cousin of Cornell University founder Ezra Cornell. He paid for a topographical survey of the lakefront south of the city in 1852.
Paul Cornell, the founder of Hyde Park.
In 1853, following the advice of Senator Stephen Douglas, he bought 300 acres of speculative property between 51st Street and 55th Street. Cornell successfully negotiated land in exchange for a railroad station at 53rd Street setting in motion the development of the first Chicago railroad suburb. This area was 7 miles south of the mouth of the Chicago River and 6 miles south of downtown Chicago. In the 1850s, Chicago was still a walkable urban area well contained within a 2 miles radius of the center. 

He selected the name Hyde Park to associate the area with the elite neighborhood of Hyde Park in New York as well as the famous royal park in London. Hyde Park quickly became a popular suburban retreat for affluent Chicagoans who wanted to escape the noise and congestion of the rapidly growing city. By 1855 he began acquiring large land tracts, which he would subdivide into lots for sale in the 1870s.

The Hyde Park House, an upscale hotel, was built on the shore of Lake Michigan near the 53rd Street railroad station in 1857. For two decades, the Hyde Park House served as a focal point of Hyde Park's social life. During this period, it was visited or lived in by many prominent guests, including Mary Todd Lincoln, who lived there with her children for two and a half months in the summer of 1865; shortly after her husband, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. The Hyde Park House burned down in a fire in 1879. The Sisson Hotel was built on the site in 1918 and was eventually converted into a condominium building (the Hampton House which still stands).
Hyde Park House at 53rd Street and Lake Michigan, Chicago.
Hyde Park was incorporated in 1861 as an independent township (called Hyde Park Township). Its boundaries were Pershing Road (39th Street) on the north, 138th Street on the south, State Street on the west, and Lake Michigan and the Indiana state line on the east.

In 1837, the City of Chicago incorporated, and by the 1870s the surrounding townships had followed suit. After 1850, Cook County was divided into basic governmental entities, which were designated as townships as a result of the new Illinois Constitution. Illinois's permissive incorporation law empowered any community of 300 resident citizens to petition the Illinois legislature for incorporation as a municipality under a municipal charter with more extensive powers to provide services and tax local residents. Hyde Park Township was created by the Illinois General Assembly in 1861 within Cook County. This empowered the township to better govern the provision of services to its increasingly suburban residents.

Following the June 29, 1889 elections, several suburban townships voted to be annexed to the city, which offered better services, such as improved water supply, sewerage, and fire and police protection. Hyde Park Township, however, had installed new waterworks in 1883 just north of 87th Street. Nonetheless, the majority of township voters supported annexation. After annexation, the definition of Hyde Park as a Chicago neighborhood was restricted to the historic core of the former township, centered on Cornell's initial development between 51st and 55th streets near the lakefront.

Two years after Hyde Park was annexed to the city of Chicago (1891), the University of Chicago was established in Hyde Park through the philanthropy of John D. Rockefeller and the leadership of William Rainey Harper. The University of Chicago eventually grew into one of the world's most prestigious universities and is now associated with eighty-nine Nobel Prize laureates.

Hyde Park hosted the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. The World's Columbian Exposition brought fame to the neighborhood, which gave rise to an inflow of new residents and spurred new development that gradually started transforming Hyde Park into a more urban area.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Lost Towns of Illinois - Village of Benjaminville, Illinois

Benjaminville was founded in 1856 when three Quaker families, those of Joseph Marot, Isaac Clement and Timothy Benjamin, arrived in the area. A settlement followed and was closely tied to the Society of Friends and the local church. The town grew gradually. In 1859 the first Meeting House was erected at a cost of $1,000 and a burial ground was established soon after. Through the 1860s a slow but steady stream of Quakers moved to the area.
Quakers The Religious Society of Friends.
The Benjaminville Friends Meeting House and Burial Ground.
In 1859 the first Meeting House was erected at a cost of $1,000 and a burial ground was established soon after. Through the 1860s a slow but steady stream of Quakers moved to the area. In 1874 the Benjaminville Friends Meeting House was erected, the only structure still standing from the town of Benjaminville. Settlement continued through the 1870s and Benjaminville became a social, political and religious hub for Friends from Illinois. An 1879 history of McLean County called Benjaminville "one of the strongest settlements of Friends that is to be found anywhere in the state."

The Benjaminville Friends Meeting House was exclusive to the members of the Society of Friends who often took political stances on issues of the day. Among these were, peace, Indian affairs, women's suffrage, and the evils of boxing, lotteries, and gambling.

Throughout the 19th century, Benjaminville was home to a distinct local community of considerable political importance. Benjaminville never grew very large though it did contain at least two churches besides the meeting house and a few shops. By 1870 the town's fate was sealed when the Lake Erie Railroad opted to bypass the town because of the elevation of its terrain. The local churches eventually moved closer to the new railroad and the town's businesses shut down.
The cemetery was established soon after the original meeting house was built in 1859. Burial grounds were typical accompaniments to Friends meeting houses. While burial grounds were encouraged in the 1825 Quaker Rules of Discipline, the burial of non-Quakers in a Quaker cemetery was not. To satisfy this rule burials at Benjaminville were separated into two separate sections to allow an area for non-Quakers. A newer section contains a mix of Quaker and non-Quaker descendants of those originally buried there.
Non-Quaker burials were originally confined to the northern section of the cemetery, the portion directly behind the meeting house. Members of the Society of Friends were buried in the middle portion of the cemetery, today surrounded by a loop in the gravel road that traverses the site. The most recent burials are found in the southernmost section of the cemetery, furthest from the meeting house. The entire burial ground is approximately 160 by 200 ft, for a total area of 32,000 sq ft.
Burials are oriented east-west. The burial ground covers most of the site's land and is planted with grass and trees. The surrounding land is predominantly of agricultural use but there are some nearby residences. To the east there is a wind farm is under construction.

The village of Benjaminville was located near the present-day community of Holder, Illinois, east of the city of Bloomington. The town was founded on an elevated area of flat, treeless prairie. Today, much of the area is used as cropland. Near the site of Benjaminville is the present-day unincorporated community of Bentown, Illinois. The townsite lies in both Dawson Township and Oldtown Township.

In 1981 the only other remaining structure, an old wagon shop, was destroyed by fire, leaving the meeting house as the last remnant of the town. The Benjaminville Friends Meeting House and its burial ground were listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on December 13, 1983.

Illinois Historical Marker erected May 12, 1995, reads: "Benjaminville was founded in the 1850s by Quaker farmers looking for rich prairie soil on which to grow their wheat. The Friends Meeting House, built in 1874, has changed little since then. The adjacent Burial Ground is divided into two sections: one for Quakers and a second for non-Quakers. When the expected Lake Erie Railroad went elsewhere, the town eventually died. The Meeting House and Burial Ground are all that remain of Benjaminville. The site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984."

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Crawford vs. Pulaski. A Real Chicago Street Fight.

In 1913, as part of an effort to eliminate duplicate street names, the city council named the West Side 40th Street after Peter Crawford, an early Cicero Township landowner. In 1933, Mayor Edward Kelly sought to consolidate his ties to Polish voters by renaming Crawford Avenue to honor Count Casimir Pulaski, a Polish hero of the American Revolutionary War.
Business owners at the intersection of Crawford and Madison, one of the city's major shopping districts, protested. Pulaski's supporters countered that such objections masked anti-Polish prejudice. Crawford's proponents obtained a temporary injunction against the change, but in April 1935, the Illinois Supreme Court upheld the city council's right to select street names.

Crawford's backers did not give up. Angry residents tore down “Pulaski Road” signs, and the Postal Service continued to deliver mail addressed to Crawford Avenue. In 1937, Illinois passed a law that the city council must change a street name on the request of owners of 60 percent of its frontage. So in 1938, some property owners submitted petitions for the restoration of the name Crawford Avenue to Pulaski Road, while others asked that a small street, which was less than two blocks long, be renamed for Crawford. Neither petition had enough signatures to require city action.

In 1949, owners of businesses along Pulaski Road filed a final round of petitions for Crawford. Although these signatures were valid, the city council refused to act. Property owners sued city officials for dereliction of duty. The second Crawford Avenue lawsuit culminated in 1952 when the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in favor of the name Pulaski.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Monday, October 14, 2019

USS Illinois - Four United States Navy Ships have been named Illinois in honor of the 21st state.

USS Illinois (1864), was a screw sloop-of-war laid down in 1864 but was never completed and broken up for scrap in 1872.
In the 18th century and most of the 19th, a sloop-of-war in the Royal Navy was a warship with a single gun deck that carried up to eighteen guns. The rating system covered all vessels with 20 guns and above; thus, the term sloop-of-war encompassed all the unrated combat vessels, including the very small gun-brigs and cutters. A screw sloop is a propeller-driven sloop-of-war. In the 19th century, during the introduction of the steam engine, ships driven by propellers were differentiated from those driven by paddle-wheels by referring to the ship's screws (propellers).
USS Illinois (BB-7), was the lead ship of the Illinois-class of battleships, launched in 1898, renamed Prairie State in 1941 and sold for scrap in 1956
USS Illinois was a pre-dreadnought, Indiana-class battleship built for the United States Navy. She was the lead ship of the Illinois class and was the second ship of the U.S. Navy to be named for the 21st state. Her keel was laid in February 1897 at the Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company, and she was launched in October 1898. She was commissioned in September 1901. The ship was armed with a main battery of four 13-inch or 330 mm guns and she had a top speed of 16 knots (18 mph).

Illinois served with the European Squadron from 1902 to 1903, and with the North Atlantic Fleet until 1907, by which time it had been renamed the Atlantic Fleet. During this time, she accidentally collided with two other battleships. From December 1907 to February 1909, she circumnavigated the globe with the Great White Fleet. From November 1912, the ship was used as a training ship. She was lent to the state of New York in 1919 for use as a training vessel for the New York Naval Militia. The ship was converted into a floating armory in 1924 as a result of the Washington Naval Treaty, and it was as a floating armory, barracks and school that she served for the next thirty years. In January 1941 she was reclassified as IX-15 and renamed Prairie State so that her former name could be given to USS Illinois (BB-65), a new Iowa-class battleship. Prairie State was ultimately sold for scrap in 1956.
A replica of the battleship Illinois was a full-scale mockup of this Indiana-class battleship, created as an exhibit for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
USS Illinois (BB-65) would have been an Iowa-class battleship, but construction was canceled before launch
The keel of the fifth ship of the Iowa class, Illinois (BB-65), was laid down on January 15, 1945, at Philadelphia Navy Yard. By July 7th the construction had progressed this far and the ship was officially canceled a month later, on August 11, 1945, only about 22% complete. Nothing was done with the ship after that and the remains were finally scrapped in 1958.
USS Illinois was an uncompleted battleship originally intended to be the first ship of the Montana class. However, the urgent need for more warships at the outbreak of World War II and the U.S. Navy's experiences in the Pacific theater led it to conclude that rather than battleships larger and more heavily armed than the Iowa class, it quickly needed more fast battleships of that class to escort the new Essex-class aircraft carriers being built. As a result, hulls BB-65 and BB-66 were reordered and laid down as Iowa-class battleships in 1942. As such, she was intended to be the fifth member of the Iowa-class constructed, and the fourth navy ship to be named in honor of the 21st US state.

Compared to the Montana-class design which would have originally been ordered as BB-65, Illinois would have gained five knots in speed and the ability to transit the locks of the Panama Canal. However, the construction of BB-65 as an Iowa-class battleship also left her with a reduction in her main battery from twelve 16-inch (410 mm) guns to nine, and without the additional armor that she was planned for.

The keel of the fifth ship of the Iowa class, Illinois (BB-65), was laid down on January 15, 1945, at Philadelphia Navy Yard. By July 7th the construction had progressed this far and the ship was officially canceled a month later, on August 11, 1945, only about 22% complete. Nothing was done with the ship after that and the remains were finally scrapped, starting in September of 1958.

USS Illinois (SSN-786), is a Virginia-class submarine, commissioned on October 29, 2016
USS Illinois is a Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarine in the United States Navy. Named for the State of Illinois, she is the third vessel to actively serve with the name, the previous two being battleships BB-7 and BB-65. She was built by the Electric Boat division of General Dynamics, the third of their Block III variants which feature a revised bow and technology from the converted sub-class of Ohio guided-missile submarines (SSGN). The contract for the build was awarded on December 22, 2008, to Huntington Ingalls Industries in partnership with Electric Boat, and construction commenced with the keel-laying ceremony on June 2, 2014, at their yard in Groton, Connecticut. 

First Lady Michelle Obama served as the ship's sponsor and christened the boat with a bottle of Champagne on October 10, 2015. Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner was among the officials who spoke at the ceremony on October 10, 2015.
First Lady Michelle Obama christens the boat on October 10, 2015.
The $2.7 billion, 377-foot vessel carries a crew of more than 130 and is capable of missions including anti-submarine warfare, delivery of special forces, and surveillance. Illinois was launched on August 8, 2015, and completed sea trials on August 2, 2016. She was delivered to the Navy on August 27, 2016, and commissioned in a ceremony at Naval Submarine Base New London on October 29, 2016. Michelle Obama, as the sponsor, attended the ceremony and is considered to be an honorary member of the crew due to her support of military families and her involvement with the Illinois crew and their families.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.