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 US 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.

The 1904 Chicago Stockyards Strike.

"Men on horseback herding cattle on a street, while other men and boys watch in the background, during the 1904 Stockyards Strike, Chicago, Illinois. The stockyards owned by the Union Stock Yard & Transit Company were located in the New City community area." (Getty Images)

Sunday, October 13, 2019

USS Chicago - Four United States Navy Ships have been named Chicago, after the city of Chicago, Illinois.

USS CHICAGO (1885)
The first USS Chicago was a protected cruiser[1] of the United States Navy, the largest of the original three authorized by Congress for the "New Navy". She was launched on December 5, 1885, by John Roach & Sons of Chester, Pennsylvania, sponsored by Edith Cleborne (daughter of Navy Medical Director Cuthbert J. Cleborne) and commissioned on April 17, 1889, Captain Henry Bellows Robeson in command.
On December 7, 1889, Chicago departed Boston for Lisbon, Portugal, arriving on December 21st. The cruiser served in European and Mediterranean waters as the flagship of the Squadron of Evolution until May 31, 1890, when she sailed from Funchal, Madeira to call at Brazilian and West Indian ports before returning to New York on July 29th.

The Chicago operated along the east coasts of North and South America and in the Caribbean as the flagship of the Squadron of Evolution—and later as the flagship of the North Atlantic Squadron—until 1893. After taking part in the International Naval Review in Hampton Roads in April, she left New York on June 18, 1893, to cruise in European and Mediterranean waters as the flagship of the European station. During this period the ship was commanded by Alfred Thayer Mahan, already famous as a naval strategist. Chicago returned to New York on March 20, 1895, and was placed out of commission there on May 1st.

Recommissioned on December 1, 1898, Chicago made a short cruise in the Caribbean before sailing for the European Station on 18 April. She returned to New York on September 27th and participated in the naval parade and Dewey celebration of October 2, 1899. Chicago sailed from New York on November 25th for an extended cruise, as the flagship of the South Atlantic Station until early July of 1901, then as the flagship of the European Station. With the squadron, she cruised in northern European, Mediterranean, and Caribbean waters until August 1, 1903, when she proceeded to Oyster Bay, New York, and the Presidential Review.

From December 3, 1903, thru August 15, 1904, Chicago was out of commission at Boston undergoing repairs. After operating along the northeast coast, the cruiser departed Newport News on November 17th for Valparaíso, Chile, arriving on December 28th. There, on January 1, 1905, she relieved the armored cruiser New York as the flagship of the Pacific Squadron and for three years operated off the west coasts of North and South America, in the Caribbean, and to Hawaii. In 1906, she played a key role in the evacuation of San Francisco during the Great Earthquake and Fire. The removal of 20,000 refugees to Tiburon by this ship was unparalleled and unsurpassed until the 1940 evacuation of Dunkirk.

On January 8, 1908, Chicago departed San Diego for the east coast and in May joined the Naval Academy Practice Squadron for the summer cruise along the northeast coast until August 27th, when she went into reserve. Chicago was recommissioned the next summer (May 14th - August 28, 1909) to operate with the Practice Squadron along the east coast, then returned to Annapolis. On January 4, 1910, she left the Academy for Boston arriving on January 23rd. She then served reserve with the Massachusetts Naval Militia until April 12, 1916, and with the Pennsylvania Naval Militia from April 26, 1916, to April of 1917.

On April 6, 1917, Chicago was placed in full commission at Philadelphia and reported to Submarine Force, Atlantic (COMSUBLANT) as flagship, commanded by future Admiral Thomas C. Hart. On July 10, 1919, she departed New York to join Cruiser Division 2 (CruDiv 2), as flagship in the Pacific. She was reclassified CA-14 in 1920 and then CL-14 in 1921. From December 1919 to September 1923, she served with SubDiv 14 and as tender at the Submarine Base, Pearl Harbor.

Chicago was decommissioned at Pearl Harbor on September 30, 1923; served as a receiving ship there until 1935; renamed Alton on July 16, 1928, and reclassified IX-5 to free the name for USS Chicago (CA-29); and sold on May 15, 1936. Alton foundered in mid-Pacific in July while being towed from Honolulu to San Francisco.

USS CHICAGO (CA-29)
USS Chicago was a Northampton class heavy cruiser of the United States Navy that served in the Pacific Theater in the early years of World War II. She was the second US Navy ship to be named after the city of Chicago. After surviving a midget submarine attack at Sydney Harbour and serving in battle at the Coral Sea and Savo Island in 1942, she was sunk by Japanese aerial torpedoes in the Battle of Rennell Island, in the Solomon Islands, on 30 January 1943.
After a shakedown cruise to Honolulu, Tahiti, and American Samoa, Chicago departed Mare Island on July 27, 1931, and sailed to the east coast, arriving at Fort Pond Bay, New York, on 16 August. There, she became the flagship of Commander, Cruisers, Scouting Force, and operated with that force until 1940.

In February of 1932, Chicago conducted gunnery exercises with other ships of the Scouting Force preliminary to Fleet Problem XIII off the California coast. The Fleet was based on the West Coast thereafter and, until 1934, operated in the Pacific, from Alaska to the Panama Canal Zone and the Hawaiian Islands.

In October of 1933, Chicago collided with the British freighter Silver Palm in dense fog off Point Sur, California. Three officers aboard Chicago were killed in their quarters during the collision and an enlisted man's arm had to be amputated as well. Silver Palm penetrated around 18 feet into the cruiser's port bow, forward of the Number 1 gun mount. At the time of the incident, the damage was estimated to be around $200,000 ($3,924,000 today).

In 1934, the annual fleet exercises were held in the Caribbean, followed in May of 1934 by the Presidential Fleet Review in New York Harbor. The Scouting Force operated along the east coast and in the Caribbean until October and then returned to base at San Pedro, California. Chicago was one of six ships to receive the new RCA CXAM radar in 1940. Chicago continued to operate out of San Pedro until September 29, 1940, when she sailed to Pearl Harbor.

During the next 14 months, Chicago operated out of Pearl Harbor, exercising with various task forces to develop tactics and cruising formations, and cruising to Australia and to the west coast.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Chicago was at sea with Task Force 12 and the Force immediately began a five-day sweep in the Oahu-Johnston-Palmyra triangle in an effort to intercept the enemy. The Force returned to Pearl Harbor on December 12th; from December 14th to 27th, Chicago operated with Task Force 11 on patrol and search missions.

On February 2, 1942, Chicago departed Pearl Harbor for Suva Bay where she joined the newly formed ANZAC Squadron, later redesignated as Task Force 44. During March and April, the cruiser operated off the Louisiade Archipelago, covering the attacks on Lae and Salamaua, New Guinea. In a position to intercept enemy surface units that attempted to attack Port Moresby, Chicago also provided cover for the arrival of American troops on New Caledonia.

On May 1st, Chicago was ordered from Nouméa to join Commander, Southwest Pacific, and on the 4th she supported Yorktown in her strike against the Japanese on Tulagi, Solomon Islands during the Battle of the Coral Sea. On May 7th, she proceeded, with the Support Group, to intercept and attack the Japanese Port Moresby invasion group. The following day, the group underwent several Japanese air attacks, during which Chicago suffered several casualties from strafing, but drove off the planes and proceeded ahead until it was clear that the Japanese force had been turned back.

On the night of May 31st, while in port in Sydney Harbour, Australia, Chicago fired on an attacking Japanese midget submarine. Chicago's captain, Howard D. Bode, was ashore when his ship opened fire. After coming back aboard on his gig, he initially accused all the officers of being drunk. Shortly afterward, the presence of the submarine was confirmed. Three Japanese midget submarines had attacked Sydney Harbour. One became entangled in an anti-submarine boom net, and two were able to pass through. One was then disabled by depth charges, but the other managed to fire two torpedoes at Chicago. One torpedo passed near Chicago and destroyed another vessel nearby, while the second torpedo failed to detonate, and skidded ashore onto Garden Island.

During June and July of 1942, Chicago continued to operate in the Southwest Pacific. From August 7th to 9th, she supported the initial landings on Guadalcanal and others of the Solomon Islands, beginning the US counter-offensive against Japan. On August 9th, she engaged in the Battle of Savo Island. Early in the engagement, a hit from a Japanese destroyer's torpedo caused minor damage to the ship's bow. Hit by a Japanese destroyer torpedo, Chicago fought damage while continuing to engage until contact with the enemy was lost. Capt. Bode's actions during the engagement were questioned in a subsequent inquiry headed by Admiral Hepburn. Though the report was not intended to be made public, Bode himself learned of its implications and shot himself on April 19, 1943, dying the following day.

After Savo Island, Chicago was repaired at Nouméa, Sydney, and San Francisco, where she arrived on October 13th.

Early in January 1943, Chicago departed San Francisco, action-bound once more. On January 27th, she sailed from Nouméa to escort a Guadalcanal convoy. On the night of the 29th, as the ships approached that bitterly contested island, Japanese aircraft attacked the force and the Battle of Rennell Island was underway. During the attacks, two burning Japanese planes silhouetted Chicago, providing light for torpedo attacks; two hits caused severe flooding and loss of power. By the time the attack ended, fine work onboard had checked Chicago's list. Louisville took the disabled ship in tow and was relieved by the Navajo the following morning. During the afternoon, the Japanese attacked again and, despite heavy losses, managed to hit the disabled cruiser with four more torpedoes which sank her at 11°25′S 160°56′E.

The Japanese widely publicized the results of the engagement, claiming to have sunk a battleship and three cruisers, while only Chicago and a destroyer, USS De Haven (DD-469), were lost. The U.S. did not initially report the loss of Chicago to the public for some time, with Admiral Chester Nimitz—commander in chief of Allied Pacific forces—threatening to "shoot" any of his staff who leaked the loss to the press. Details of the battle emerged in US newspapers as early as February 16, 1943.

Chicago received three battle stars for World War II service.

USS CHICAGO (CA-136)
USS Chicago was a Baltimore class heavy cruiser laid down on July 28, 1943, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, by the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Launched on August 20, 1944, she was sponsored by Mrs. Edward J. Kelly, wife of the Mayor of Chicago, Illinois, and commissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on January 10, 1945, Captain Richard R. Hartung, USN, in command.
Chicago spent her first six weeks preparing for sea duty before departing on February 26th for Norfolk. After conducting training exercises, and calibrated her compasses in the Chesapeake Bay, the cruiser got underway on March 12th for the Gulf of Paria, Trinidad. Arriving on March 18th, the cruiser conducted shakedown training and shore bombardment exercises off Culebra, Puerto Rico, before returning to Norfolk on April 11th. Following inspections and battle problem training, the cruiser sailed to Philadelphia for post-shakedown repair availability on April 16th.

In company with Alfred A. Cunningham, the cruiser departed for the Caribbean on May 7th, en route to the Pacific Ocean. Designed to operate offensively with strike and amphibious forces, Chicago spent her transit time conducting various anti-air drills, gunnery exercises, and radar tracking training. After refueling at San Juan, Puerto Rico on May 11th, the ships spent three days conducting gunnery practice before departing for Colon, Canal Zone, on May 15th. With transit complete the next day, the ships arrived at Pearl Harbor on May 31st.

Following another period of gunnery, day battle, anti-aircraft, and shore bombardment exercises off Kahoolawe Island, the cruiser departed for Eniwetok, Marshall Islands, on June 28th. In company with North Carolina, Chicago arrived at the atoll on July 5th and immediately refueled from Pan American. Underway that same day, with Stockham, added for an anti-submarine screen, the ships joined Rear Admiral Radford's Task Group 38.4 north of the Mariana Islands on July 8th.

Added to the anti-aircraft screen, Chicago guarded the Task Group's carriers as they conducted airstrikes against the Tokyo Plains area, Honshū, Japan, on July 10th. After refueling on July 12th, the Task Group returned to the Japanese coast and launched airstrikes against airfields, shipping, and railways in the northern Honshū and Hokkaidō areas the next day.

On July 14th, in company with South Dakota, Indiana, Massachusetts, Quincy, and nine destroyers of Rear Admiral Shafroth's bombardment unit, Chicago closed northern Honshū to bombard the Kamaishi industrial area. At 1212, the cruiser joined the battleships in firing on the ironworks and warehouses. Although heavy smoke obscured the target from the cruiser's spotting planes, the combination of pre-plotting the target through photo-reconnaissance and radar positioning data allowed Chicago 's guns to start fires in numerous buildings, several large warehouses, and among nearby oil tanks. At 1251, the cruiser's secondary battery guns began firing on a Japanese destroyer-escort type vessel. The escort was straddled and hit by 5 in shell fire, began smoking, and retired into the harbor. The Task Force retired at 1426, leaving the port under a pall of black smoke.

The following day, Chicago operated as "a temporary seaplane carrier" when Iowa transferred her SC Seahawk floatplanes to the cruiser. By hanging one plane over the side with the crane the crew was still able to launch a Seahawk from the catapult for spotting services. After replenishment operations on July 16th, the cruiser resumed screening the carriers as they launched airstrikes over the Tokyo Plains, northern Honshū and Hokkaidō, and the Kure-Kobe area over the next two weeks.

On July 29th, in company with King George V and several American battleships, Chicago participated in a night shore bombardment mission against the port of Hamamatsu. Using radar, and assisted by spotting planes dropping flares and rockets, the ships fired at bridges, factories, and the rail yard for about an hour. Rejoining the Task Group five hours later Chicago once again screened the carriers as they launched airstrikes against the Tokyo-Nagoya area.

Operations with the carriers, including a diversion to the south to avoid a typhoon, continued until August 9th when Rear Admiral Shafroth's bombardment unit returned to Kamaishi. The battleships, joined by Chicago, three more heavy cruisers and a Royal Navy light cruiser detachment, delivered another two-hour bombardment of the town before returning to the carrier task forces.

For the next six days, the cruiser screened the carriers as they launched continuous strikes against the Japanese Home Islands, until August 15th and the Japanese armistice. Chicago remained with the carriers until August 23rd, when she departed for Japan. Anchoring in Sagami Wan on August 27th, and then moving to Tokyo Bay on September 3rd, the cruiser supported the unloading of supplies and equipment for Third Fleet occupation forces.

After transferring 47 men and the Marine Detachment for duty at Yokosuka Naval Base, the cruiser remained in port until October 23, when she got underway for the demilitarization of the Izu Islands. Over the next twelve days, inspection teams helped the Japanese garrison on O Shima and Nii Shima demolish gun emplacements, artillery, ammunition and other military equipment on the islands. Three days later, on November 7th, the cruiser got underway for San Pedro, California.

After arrival on November, 23rd Chicago received an overhaul at the San Pedro Naval Shipyard, before returning to the Far East. Underway on January 24, 1946, the cruiser arrived in Shanghai on 18 February for occupation duty. She remained there until March 28th as the flagship of the Yangtze Patrol and then sailed to Sasebo, Japan, where she became the flagship of Naval Support Force, Japanese Empire Waters. The cruiser visited several other ports in Japan before clearing for the west coast on January 14, 1947. Moved to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, the heavy cruiser was placed out of commission in reserve on June 6, 1947.

On November 1, 1958, Chicago was reclassified CG-11 and towed to San Francisco Naval Shipyard to begin a five-year conversion to a guided-missile cruiser. Begun on July 1, 1959, the entire superstructure was removed and replaced with new aluminum compartments, modernized electronic systems, and an improved Naval Tactical Data System (NTDS) equipped combat information center. A representative of the new technological focus on guided missiles, Chicago was refitted with Tartar and Talos SAM stowage, loading, launching, and guidance systems. Two triple torpedo tubes, an ASROC launcher, two 5 in/38 cal guns, and two antisubmarine helicopters rounded out the cruisers’ modifications.

Designed to provide long-range air, surface, and sub-surface defense for task forces, Chicago was recommissioned at the San Francisco Naval Shipyard on May 2, 1964, and was assigned to Cruiser-Destroyer Flotilla Nine, Pacific Fleet. Preliminary acceptance trials were conducted throughout the summer until September 2nd when Chicago officially joined the 1st Fleet as an active unit. Following sonar calibration and deperming (broad scale adaptation of demagnetization of a ship) in Puget Sound, the cruiser arrived at her homeport of San Diego, California to begin weapons systems qualifications. Examination and evaluation of the new missile systems were completed by December 2nd, following successful trials at the Pacific Missile Range off southern California.

On January 4, 1965, the cruiser shifted to Long Beach, California to begin a series of shock tests off San Clemente Island. Equipment tests, as well as damage control exercises, were completed by mid-January. Chicago then departed the area for San Francisco for alterations, receiving upgraded Tartar missile systems and improved electronics. The warship returned to San Diego on April 17th.

For the next two months, Chicago continued shakedown training, engineering, navigation, and seamanship drills as well as missile and electronic exercises. In mid-June, the cruiser began Talos fire control developmental testing with the Naval Electronics Laboratory. This and later tests examined guidance improvements and experimented with missile replenishment at sea.

During fleet exercise "Hot Stove" in August–September, Chicago practiced anti-air and ASW operations, including firing ASROC and tube-launched torpedoes against submerged "enemy" submarines. Following an ECM exercise, Chicago participated in a competitive missile firing exercise and won a gold Missilery "E" for her Tartar battery. During the first week of October, the warship participated in another anti-air exercise, this time shooting down two high-speed, high-altitude drones with Talos and Tartar missiles.

After a cruise to Hawaii from October 19th to November 3rd, during which the cruiser practiced tactical data sharing training with Kitty Hawk and Mahan, the ship finished out the year conducting tests and exercises in the San Diego area. Local operations continued in the spring, including more missile evaluation tests through February 1966. Returning to San Diego on March 4th the ship underwent operational readiness, technical proficiency, boiler, electronics, and nuclear warfare acceptance inspections. In April, the warship participated in Exercise "Gray Ghost," where the cruiser operated as tactical flagship for the anti-air warfare commander, Rear Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr.

On May 12, 1966, Chicago got underway for her first Vietnam deployment. After stopping at Pearl Harbor and Yokosuka, where a new radar antenna was installed, the ship arrived at U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay on June 12th. Picking up her helicopter detachment the cruiser departed the next day for duty with Task Force 77 on Yankee Station in the Tonkin Gulf.

On June 15th, Chicago, call-sign "Red Crown," began evaluating the concept of radar surveillance of all U.S. Navy air operations over designated areas of the Gulf and North Vietnam. Known as PIRAZ, for "positive identification and radar advisory zone," the initial duties of tracking friendly aircraft was expanded to include Air Force planes, controlling barrier combat air patrols, advising support aircraft, and coordinating strike information with the Air Force reporting center at Da Nang, South Vietnam. On July 5th a Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King search and rescue helicopter operating from Chicago rescued an A-4E Skyhawk pilot from Constellation who had ejected off the coast of North Vietnam on July 4th. After a port visit to Hong Kong, where the ship had to avoid a typhoon on July 17th, the cruiser returned to Yankee Station on July 29th. One night on Yankee station Chicago came under attack by high-speed surface targets, patrol craft, and sent its escort destroyers to interdict. Chicago safely egressed at flank speed.

On her second PIRAZ tour, in early August, Chicago assumed the duties of an anti-air warfare commander for short periods of time and demonstrated the ability of a CG to track complex air operations. After a practice, Talos missile shot off Okinawa on August 27th, and a short visit to Keelung, Taiwan, the ship returned to her station on September 7th. The cruiser, expanding air duties once again, soon became the primary source for MIG warning information, and assumed surveillance responsibility for the North Vietnamese-Chinese border. On her fourth PIRAZ tour, from October 25th to November 12th, the cruiser helped improve these procedures, particularly in the area of joint Air Force-Navy cooperation.

En route to Sasebo, via Subic Bay, the cruiser stopped at the Okinawa Missile Range to fire two more practice missiles on November 18th. Arriving in Japan on November 19th, the ship visited Yokosuka before departing for home on November 27th. Sailing in rough seas, the ship completed the non-stop voyage on December 7th. The cruiser remained at San Diego for the remainder of the year.

Starting in January of 1967, the cruiser settled into the busy routine of training, exercises, and inspections. Underway for such widely divergent responsibilities as providing guest cruises for the Secretary of the Navy, serving as First Fleet flagship, and air warfare exercises with USS Constellation, the cruiser spent the first five months of the year off California's coast. In both April and May, Chicago conducted experimental Talos missile tests against surface targets to demonstrate missile versatility.

Following readiness inspections, the cruiser departed June 6th for an Alaskan cruise with Commander First Fleet. Arriving in Juneau, Alaska on June 10th, the ship paid an official visit to that city before returning to San Diego eleven days later. After another fleet exercise in July, where Chicago 's Talos battery scored a direct hit on a drone at a range of 96 miles, the cruiser spent August conducting official visits to Seattle, Washington, Vancouver, and Esquimalt, British Columbia.

Assigned to tender availability on September 1st, the ship received boiler and other repairs and inspections from Isle Royale before departing for another WestPac deployment on October 11, 1967. After departing Pearl Harbor on October 18th, the warship assisted in vectoring aircraft to the site of a Navy F-8 Crusader crash site, successfully rescuing the pilot. Arriving on station in the Gulf of Tonkin three weeks later, via Yokosuka, Okinawa, and Subic Bay, the ship relieved Belknap, beginning PIRAZ duties on November 12th. These responsibilities, improved over the past year, included radar surveillance, coordinating barrier CAP and rescue operations, providing MiG and border warnings, and a wide variety of communication and real-time data sharing services.

After a visit to Hong Kong from December 16th to 21st, the cruiser moved to Subic Bay for an import availability period completed on January 3, 1968. Chicago steamed to Singapore, for a short rest period, before returning to the PIRAZ station on January 13th. On January 28th, following the seizure of Pueblo by North Korea, the cruiser steamed to the Sea of Japan to help coordinate air activities for the carriers of Task Group 70.6. On February 7th, as the crisis eased, Chicago departed to resume PIRAZ duties in the Gulf of Tonkin.

Following two more PIRAZ cruises, Chicago departed Subic Bay on May1st and arrived in San Diego on May 15th, via Guam and Pearl Harbor. After a brief diversion to the Pacific Missile Range, to conduct experimental aircraft tracking and missile firings, the cruiser entered Long Beach Naval Shipyard on July 1st for a regular repair period followed by machinery and electronics sea trials and inspections for the remainder of 1968.

On January 31, 1969, Chicago concluded her missile systems qualifications tests, including a Talos test firing against a missile drone, before departing for her third cruise to the Western Pacific on February 13th. The cruiser underwent ten days of upkeep and type training at Subic Bay before assuming duties as PIRAZ ship on March 11th. Twelve days later, the ship began additional Search and Rescue (SAR) duty in the Gulf. This involved maintaining two helicopters on patrol station to provide rescue coverage for Naval aircraft reconnaissance missions.

On April 17th, Chicago was ordered to proceed to the Sea of Japan, off Korea, for duty with Task Force 71. In response to the shooting down of an EC-121 Warning Star by North Korean fighters on April 14th, which killed all 31 personnel on board, the Task Force patrolled the Sea of Japan during the crisis that followed. The cruiser provided PIRAZ and screening duties for the carriers, and their constant air patrols, until April 27th when the ship departed for upkeep at Sasebo, Japan.

Following repairs, Talos and Tartar missile tests at the Okinawa missile range, and picking up a group of midshipmen at Da Nang on May 23rd, Chicago conducted another long PIRAZ/SAR tour from May 23rd to July 1st. After upkeep at Yokosuka, a visit to Hong Kong, and a typhoon evasion, the cruiser returned to the Gulf of Tonkin on August 1st to continue radar surveillance, electronic countermeasures, and missile screen duties. Departing August 25th, the cruiser returned, via Subic Bay, Guam, and Pearl Harbor, to San Diego on September 17th.

After a leave and upkeep period, followed by a tender availability that installed Zuni chaff dispensers, the cruiser finished out the year conducting routine inspections, local training exercises, and operations at the missile test range. Author T. J. Jackson Lears was a communications officer aboard Chicago at this time. Chicago, still serving as the United States First Fleet flagship for Vice Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, Jr., began the new year quietly, with team training at the Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare school in San Diego. Several fleet exercises, two missile firing tests, and inspections filled the months until June 12, 1970, when the cruiser underwent a two-week repair and alteration period. All four Talos fire control systems were upgraded to include anti-ship targeting and an experimental video target tracker was installed. Communications security, nuclear safety, and operational readiness inspections, as well as final engineering checks, were completed by the end of August.

Despite cutbacks that had substantially lowered her crew component, the cruiser sailed for Vietnam on September 9, 1970. Arriving on station on October 3rd, Chicago conducted PIRAZ and search coordination duties with evasive maneuvering to avoid super typhoons Joan and Kate between October 14th and 26th. After an October 27th refueling accident injured several men, Chicago left the Gulf of Tonkin on November 1st and arrived in Yokosuka on November 7th. Chicago departed Yokosuka on November 17th and resumed PIRAZ station from November 20th to December 19th. Chicago spent Christmas of 1970 in Hong Kong and celebrated the new year in Subic Bay. Chicago left Subic Bay on January 11th and resumed PIRAZ station until February 18th. Chicago departed Subic Bay en route to San Diego on February 24th escorted by Knox. Knox rescued a Chicago sailor who jumped overboard on February 26th, he thought it would get him discharged. After refueling in Guam on February 27th, Knox suffering a loss of power due to a JP-5 fire in engineering on March 3rd. Chicago took Knox in tow until a fleet tug arrived at the scene from Pearl Harbor on March 5th.

Upon arrival in San Diego on March 11th, the cruiser began a post-deployment leave and upkeep period. Supply replenishment, inspections, and a midshipmen's cruise in June and July were followed by exercises, inspections, and a dependent-guest cruise into October.

After a final readiness test and embarking five guests of the Secretary of the Navy, Chicago departed for another deployment on November 6, 1971. After a weekend stop at Pearl Harbor, where the passengers were debarked, the ship stopped at Guam and Subic Bay before arriving in the Gulf of Tonkin PIRAZ station on December 6th. Chicago celebrated the new year in Singapore, and briefly crossed the equator on January 4th for a line-crossing ceremony at 105° 30′ east. Chicago then spent a week in Subic Bay before resuming PIRAZ station on January 18th. Chicago launched four RIM-8H Talos-ARM anti-radar homing missiles against North Vietnamese shore-based radar stations in February and March, but no hits were registered. Radar surveillance and air coordination continued, except for a few days in Subic Bay in late February, until a visit to Hong Kong in late March. The cruiser set course for San Diego before being recalled to PIRAZ station on April 3, 1972, in response to the North Vietnamese Army's invasion of the south.

The scale of U.S. air operations increased dramatically as strike and interdiction missions, designed to restrict the movement of men and supplies, were conducted throughout North Vietnam. The cruiser monitored all aircraft flying over the gulf, directed friendly CAP, and, despite intense electronic jamming, coordinated fighter escorts during the mid-April B-52 Stratofortress raids against the North Vietnamese. By maintaining a complete air picture, Chicago vectored damaged bombers around enemy missile sites, set up tanker rendezvous points for planes low on fuel, and directed helicopters on rescue operations. The cruiser also directed friendly fighters against North Vietnamese aircraft. In April and May, Chicago 's air intercept controllers directed Navy and Air Force aircraft on CAP missions that were credited with 14 MiGs shot down. Among these was the second MiG downed by Navy aces Randy Cunningham and William P. Driscoll.

Chicago 's forward Talos battery downed a MiG at long-range during the mining of Hai Phong harbor on May 9th. Chicago and USS Long Beach were given the unusual assignment of protecting A-6 Intruder and A-7 Corsair aircraft mining Hai Phong harbor at low altitude during Operation Pocket Money. To avoid exposing F-4 Phantom fighters to North Vietnamese ground-based anti-aircraft defenses, these ships patrolling offshore were given a free-fire zone for Talos missiles to engage defending MiG fighters approaching the coast from Phúc Yên and Kép airfields near Hanoi. Chicago came under fire from North Vietnamese coastal artillery batteries but was able to maintain missile envelope coverage while moving out of gun range before suffering any damage. After a month of surveillance and directing airstrikes against Hai Phong harbor traffic, Chicago finally departed for San Diego on June 21, 1972.

Arriving home on July 8th, the ship underwent a local availability before entering Long Beach Naval Shipyard on August 25th for a Complex Overhaul. During this refit, Chicago received new digital fire control systems, replacing the old analog computers, installed new missile launchers, and expanded her electronics equipment.

On May 15, 1973, Chicago began carrying out six months of sea trials, tests, and training evolutions. New equipment and combat coordination procedures were also implemented, extending the cruiser's operational readiness date to December 14th. Finally, after refresher training, fleet exercises, and weapons load-out, the cruiser departed for another WestPac deployment on May 21, 1974. After arrival at Subic Bay on June 15th, the ship prepared for an extended cruise with Fanning, George K. MacKenzie, and Passumpsic. Designed to counter the Soviet Navy's presence in Somalia and Aden on the Indian Ocean, the low-key port visits were intended to demonstrate that "the Indian Ocean is not a Russian lake".

Departing Subic Bay on June 25th, the squadron passed through the Straits of Molocca on July 2nd and arrived at Karachi, Pakistan six days later. Underway on July 13th, Chicago and her escorts began a month-long at-sea period, "showing the flag" in the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden, before arriving at Mombassa, Kenya on August 9th. A week later, in an effort to influence Russian negotiations for basing rights in the Mauritius Islands, the squadron conducted a diplomatic port visit to Port Louis. Toward this end, Chicago embarked several Mauritian government officials on August 21, for a two-day cruise to Rodrigues Island. Departing on August 23rd, the ships returned to Subic Bay, via Singapore, for upkeep on September 11th.

Following a visit to Hong Kong in early October, the cruiser spent the next month conducting training and fleet exercises in the Philippines area until getting underway for Guam on November 17th. After a week at Apra Harbor, the ship departed on November 29th for San Diego. Arriving home on December 14th, the ship remained in port for leave, repairs, and upkeep into March of 1975. Technical inspections and equipment modifications, interspersed with a visit by a delegation of French officials, lasted until April when the ship conducted interim refresher training in the southern California operating areas.

Following a series of missile tests in late May, and fleet exercises with Pacific naval units, the cruiser visited Seattle for the Fourth of July celebrations. After a visit to Vancouver the following week, Chicago returned to San Diego to begin overhaul preparations. From September 9th to October 24th, the cruiser underwent a major restricted availability as repairs were conducted to fuel tanks, boiler casings, and the main propulsion plant. Additional upkeep, tender availability, and type training continued through the new year as the cruiser prepared for another deployment. In February of 1976, personnel in the Operations department underwent extensive team training in anti-air, anti-submarine, and electronic warfare in preparation for a fleet exercise in March. That operation, exercise "Valiant Heritage", took place from March 2nd to 11th with forces from Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and the United States.

Following a month in port, and several service inspections, Chicago left San Diego on April 13th to deploy to the Western Pacific. Sailing with an amphibious group the cruiser conducted multi-ship exercises, both before and after Pearl Harbor, and arrived at Yokosuka on May 3rd. Task group exercises with Midway, "Multiplex 2-76" from May 19th to 25th and "Multiplex 3-76" in the South China Sea from June 4th to the 7th and port visits to Subic Bay and Keelung occupied Chicago through June. After a midshipmen cruise from Yokosuka to the Philippines in early July, the cruiser began an import period lasting until August 2nd.

On August 4th, the cruiser participated in "Multiplex 1-7T", followed by a successful missile firing exercise off Poro Point, Luzon on August 7th. Returning to Subic Bay for two weeks of upkeep, the cruiser sailed for Hong Kong on August 22nd. Arriving three days later, after avoiding a third typhoon, the ship spent six days in that liberty port. Leaving Hong Kong on August 31st, Chicago joined rendezvous with Enterprise for a war-at-sea exercise lasting until September 8th, before returning to Subic for a lengthy upkeep period. Repainting the exterior, and interior improvements lasted until September 27th, when the cruiser got underway for home. Stopping at Guam on October 1st to refuel, and Pearl Harbor on October 9th for a dependents cruise, the ship finally returned to San Diego on October 16th.

The cruiser remained in port, receiving boiler repairs and equipment upgrades, until February 23rd when the ship began post-repair sea trials and crew training. Following inspections, and ordnance loadout at Seal Beach on March 3rd, Chicago began a regular schedule of training operations out of San Diego. These exercises, including helicopter pad training, simulated missile and torpedo attacks, and other similar drills, continued until September 6th, when the ship got underway for her eighth WestPac tour.

Chicago arrived in Subic Bay on September 30th, after multi-ship exercises that included four missile shots while underway, to begin a series of operations with the 7th Fleet. Missile shots and convoy exercises off Mindoro, a barrier exercise off Buckner Bay, and visits to Yokosuka, Keelung, and Hong Kong lasted until late November. On December 4th, after a rendezvous with Kitty Hawk, the cruiser began operations in the Sea of Japan. Helicopter and underway replenishments were interrupted two days later when the formation was circled by two Soviet Tupolev Tu-16 "Badgers", but exercises continued until December 8th. Departing the area, Chicago steamed south to Subic Bay, for sonar exercises with Queenfish, arriving at Singapore on December 23rd. After the holidays, the cruiser moved to Pattaya Bay, Thailand on December 30th.

Departing January 4, 1978, the cruiser visited Subic Bay and Hong Kong before starting a month of exercises in the Philippine Sea. Gunfire exercises, helicopter operations, unreps, and other drills, including a real man overboard, rescue on February 28th, lasted until March 4th, when Chicago moored at Manila. After repairs and upkeep, the ship steamed for Guam on March 16th, arriving five days later to refuel, before arriving in Pearl Harbor on March 31st.

After returning to San Diego on April 7th, the ship remained in an upkeep status until July 24, 1978, when the cruiser moved to Long Beach to start a regular overhaul. Repairs at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard lasted until October 18th, when the cruiser conducted two days of sea trials. Finishing work continued until October 25th, when Chicago departed the shipyard. After two days of operations with England and Darter, the cruiser moved back to San Diego to begin a regular schedule of training exercises. These short cruises, concentrating on gunnery and underway training, lasted through February of 1979. A number of propulsion and electronic service inspections were also conducted. On March 5th, during exercises off southern California, the cruiser also earned her eleventh consecutive Missile "E".

After a month-long pre-deployment period, the cruiser departed on May 30th for the cruiser's final cruise to the Western Pacific. Chicago escorted the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk and her battle group to Pearl Harbor, conducting exercises with Jouett, Lang, and Wabash along the way, before steaming on to Subic Bay on June 13th. Fleet exercises off Okinawa, and a port visit to Pusan, South Korea, at the end of July, were followed by refugee surveillance in the South China Sea. There, along with other 7th Fleet ships, she helped rescue Vietnamese refugees fleeing the mainland, picking up five herself.

Escort duties for Kitty Hawk continued through September when, on October 6th, she sailed for Australia. On October 15th, after memorial services for two cruisers lost in the Solomon Islands battles during World War II, Canberra and the earlier Chicago, the cruiser began two weeks of exercises in the Coral Sea. After the exercise, involving seven U.S. ships and twenty Australian and New Zealand vessels, the ship visited Sydney, Australia, for a week-long port visit. Returning to San Diego on December 17th, via Subic Bay and Pearl Harbor, the cruiser began preparations for inactivation.

A pre-decommissioning inspection classified the cruiser as unfit for further economical naval service, due to the high cost of modernization required, and on March 1, 1980, Chicago was decommissioned at San Diego. Towed to the Inactive Ship Facility at Bremerton, Washington, the ship was held in reserve until February 8, 1989. Stripped of equipment by August 11th, the hulk was sold for scrap to Southwest Recycling, Inc., Terminal Island, California on December 9, 1991. The anchor was saved and placed on display at Navy Pier on November 11, 1995.

She was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for her efforts in developing the PIRAZ concept on her Western Pacific cruises in 1966 and 1967-68. In 1972, the cruiser was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for Vietnam Service, the Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy, and her seventh consecutive "E" for excellence in missilery.

USS CHICAGO (SSN-721)
USS Chicago is a Los Angeles-class submarine, the fourth ship of the United States Navy to be named for the city of Chicago, Illinois. The contract to build her was awarded to Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in Newport News, Virginia on August 13, 1981, and her keel was laid down on January 5, 1983. She was launched on October 13, 1984, sponsored by Mrs. Vicki Ann Paisley, wife of Melvyn R. Paisley, assistant Secretary of the Navy, and commissioned on September 27, 1986, with Commander Robert Avery in command.
Early in 1996, an RQ-1 Predator aerial reconnaissance drone was successfully controlled from Chicago. The drone reached altitudes up to 6000 meters (20,000 ft) and ranged up to 100 nautical miles from the submarine, which was operating at periscope depth.

In the summer of 2005, Chicago tested the Virtual Periscope, a system that would allow submerged submarines to observe the surface above them without having to come to a shallower depth, as is required by traditional periscopes. A small camera mounted on the sail of the submarine uses the surface of the ocean as a lens, collecting light from above the surface and refracting it below. High-speed signal processing software assembles an image of what is on the surface. The system's resolution does not allow ship identification, only indicating that something is on the surface. Objects 30 meters (100 feet) tall can be seen at about a distance of 1600 meters (one mile). Sufficient light is available when a camera is shallower than 30 to 60 meters (100 to 200 feet).

On March 15, 2010, the sub's Captain, Commander Jeff Cima, was relieved of command after facing an Admiral's Mast. The mast found that Cima had been drunk and had acted in an "unbecoming" manner during a visit with NROTC midshipmen at Cornell University on March 10, 2010. Cima was temporarily replaced by Captain James Horten.

After completing two-years of maintenance and upgrade period at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in October of 2011, Chicago arrived in April 2012 at her new homeport, assigned to Submarine Squadron 15, based at the Joint Region Marianas on the island of Guam.

The USS Chicago has earned multiple awards in its service life. Chicago has been awarded many unit awards, including the Navy Unit Commendation, three Meritorious Unit Commendations and four Navy "E" Ribbon Submarine Squadron Battle 'E's. Further, the Chicago has been awarded several campaign and service awards, including the Navy Expeditionary Medal, National Defense Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, two Southwest Asia Service Medals, three Sea Service Ribbons, Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia), and the Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait).

USS Chicago plays a prominent role in Tom Clancy's novel Red Storm Rising. USS Chicago is seen deploying elements of Task Force 141 in the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 mission "The Only Easy Day... Was Yesterday". USS Chicago is also featured prominently in the 2008 naval thriller, Black Sea Affair, by Don Brown.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.


[1] A protected cruiser is a type of naval cruiser of the late 19th century, so known because its armored deck offered protection for vital machine spaces from fragments caused by exploding shells above. Protected cruisers were an alternative to the armored cruisers, which also had a belt of armor along the sides.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Sandmaster, a river dredging vessel, struck 13 Chicago River bridges on 44 separate occasions.

On May 2, 1929 as The Chicago Tribune railed against the sand companies of the city and the boats they employed to ship sand for concrete into the city, the result of an accident on April 30, 1929 that saw the 251-foot-long sand-boat Sandmaster which collided with the Clark Street Bridge (#7) so strongly that the 600-ton bridge was knocked off its foundation and had to be condemned and rebuilt. 
The Sandmaster, a sand dredging vessel, entered service on May 6, 1926, bound for Chicago.
“The city council and the sand companies agree that this expensive and aggravating interruption of business is not unreasonable. They unite in rejecting less burdensome methods of bringing building sand into the city. It could be done by carriers that would not require bridge openings. It could be done at hours when a bridge opening would be of no consequence. A few sand-boats have the right of way in the council and thousands of trucks, cars, and pedestrians rate nothing,” the paper editorialized. [Chicago Tribune, May 2, 1929]

Mr. Ava Smith, the Captain of the Sandmaster, stated, “It wasn’t my fault. I had the port motor going full ahead and the starboard motor in reverse. There was plenty of room to pass through but just before we got to the bridge, the tender must have swung it back about ten feet right into the ship.” [Chicago Tribune, May 2,1929]
This aerial view was taken immediately after the barge Sandmaster collided with the bridge. April 30, 1929
In 1929 a large number of river bridges still sat on turntables that were located in the middle of the river. When boats approached, the bridges were swung so that they paralleled the shore, leaving close quarters for ships that had to pass on either side of the opened bridge on a very busy river. 

All Clark Street traffic, including a major north-south trolley car line, had to be rerouted after the accident. If there was any positive to the situation, a new Clark Street bascule bridge had been started, and it had been the hope that the old bridge could be kept going until the new bridge was finished sometime later in the year. That was not to be. It was a mess, especially for the first couple of days when almost nothing could move up or down the main stem of the river.

On the same day that the editorial ran, the Sandmaster was freed from the wreckage of the bridge while the city council went to work. Alderman William A. Rowan introduced a resolution to mandate fixed bridges on the river. The Commissioner of Public Works was also ordered to pursue, pending completion of his investigation, court action against the Materials Construction Company, the owner of the boat, as a result of the $50,000 worth of damage to the bridge and the blockage of the Clark Street entrance to the Loop.

The investigation moved ahead with speed. By May 9th a survey of the records had revealed that the Sandmaster had hit 13 bridges on the river in three years in 44 separate incidents. 

Damages estimated at $250,000 dollars ($3,713,000 today):


1926
May 21: Fullerton Avenue (damage to bridge ladder)

May 27: Fullerton Avenue (damage to beams under walk)
June 20: Diversey Boulevard (sidewalk)
August 10: Diversey Boulevard (beams under walk)
August 10: Fullerton Avenue (ladder to pier lights)
November 30: Lake Street (sidewalk)
December 22: State Street (sidewalk)
December 27: Diversey Boulevard (channel lights)
December 27: Kinzie Street (protection rails)

1927
January 3: Diversey Boulevard (sidewalk)
January 9: Western Avenue (protection rails)
January 20: Cortland Street (bridge house – bridge tender hurt)
January 23: Fullerton Avenue (iron beam)
February 2: Diversey Boulevard (protection rails)
February 3: Western Avenue (cable)
March 9: Fullerton Avenue (iron walk support)
March 18: Halsted Street (bridge house door)
May 18: Diversey Boulevard (sidewalk)
June 2: Diversey Boulevard (pier light, ladder)

1928
January 15: Fullerton Avenue (sidewalk)
February 4: Diversey Boulevard (pier platform)
March 18: Erie Street (bridge house)
April 18: Fullerton Avenue (bracket stringer)
April 22: Fullerton Avenue (sidewalk bracket)
June 12: Fullerton avenue (sidewalk)June 15: Division Street (porch, pier lights)
July 13: Fullerton Avenue (sidewalk)
July 16: Diversey Boulevard (platform, pier lights)
September 27: Diversey Boulevard (protection rails, platform)
September 28: Diversey Boulevard (protection rails, platform)
October 16: Fullerton Avenue (sidewalk)
October 18: Fullerton Avenue (sidewalk)
October 27: Fullerton Avenue (bracket, stringer)
November 5: Fullerton Avenue (rail posts)
December 2: Fullerton Avenue (sidewalks)
December 4: Michigan Avenue (cables)
December 5: La Salle Street (cables)
December 8: Fullerton Avenue (sidewalk brackets)
December 10: Diversey Boulevard (sidewalk)
December 31: Fullerton Avenue (two iron brackets)

“The Sandmaster’s bridge-ramming career began on May 21, 1926,” The Tribune reported, “when it struck a ladder at the Fullerton avenue bridge and ended, so far as the present records are concerned when it knocked the 600 ton Clark street bridge seven feet from its foundation last week. [Chicago Tribune, May 9, 1929]

The Fullerton Avenue and the Diversey Boulevard spans were particularly unlucky. The ship had rammed the former bridge 18 times and the latter 13 times. The investigation also revealed that another six inches would have thrown the Clark Street Bridge, along with the six pedestrians standing on its turntable, into the river.

On the following day, May 10th, the president of the Construction Materials company, J. R. Sensibar, responded to all of the criticism. “The injuries to bridges were, in the main, trifling damages to wooden planks and ladders,” he said. “They were caused by the carelessness of the city, not the carelessness of the boat’s captain. The Sandmaster has made 1,300 trips on the river. The only two serious accidents were those at the Cortland Street bridge in January of 1927 and present damage to the Clark street bridge.” [Chicago Tribune, May 10, 1929].

On May 12th, Mr. Sensibar went into more detail, more lucid and far more illustrative of his legitimate cause for outrage at the fingers that were being pointed in his direction.

“The depth [of the river] is the cause of many of the accidents,” he began, “such as boats colliding with bridges and other boats. We load the Sandmaster so it will draw 15 feet, and it goes along throwing up a ridge of mud on each side of it, thus keeping the river dredged to 14 or 15 feet... Because of the present depth, we load the Sandmaster with only 1,500 tons, whereas its capacity is 3,500 tons... if we were able to load to capacity, the number of bridge openings would be reduced by one-half.”

Originally, the United States government had dredged the river to a depth of 22 feet, but when the Chicago Sanitary District took over the operation, things gradually changed. Over time the sewage that was dumped into the river had decreased its depth to 14 feet.

“It would be a saving of money to the city, in the long run, to restore the river to its proper depth and turn it back to the government,” Mr. Sensibar concluded.

A week later things had begun to grow really tense. Traffic across the bridge, of course, was non-existent... because the bridge was non-existent. Many businesses along the busy Clark Street corridor were facing extinction, store vacancies were occurring, and an appeal was made to the Commissioner of Public Works to ask the City Council for an additional $125,000 “to pay for overtime and other items necessary to place the new bridge in service for streetcars and pedestrians by July 1st.” [Chicago Tribune, May 19, 1929]

A day later Captain Smith was placed on trial for reckless navigation before United States Steam Vessel Inspectors. Electricians testified that one of the cables carrying power to the bridge had been broken for three hours before the accident. The bridge tender said that the other cable failed when the bridge was opening. Still, the city asserted that Captain Smith and the Sandmaster were far enough from the bridge to have reversed engines and avoided the crash. [Chicago Tribune, May 21, 1929]

Well, you can guess how that worked out. Captain Smith was found guilty of reckless navigation on May 29th and his master’s license was revoked for 30 days. The verdict stated that the accident that knocked the 600-ton bridge turntable seven feet from its foundation “might have been avoided” and that Captain Smith’s statement that he was proceeding at four miles an hour against a two-mile an hour current was “not to be taken seriously.” [Chicago Tribune, May 19, 1929]

In an amazing display of engineering, the new trunnion bascule bridge at Clark Street was opened in a formal dedication ceremony on July 10th of that same year. The river kept on flowing, the bridge started going up and down, and all was well... for a while anyway. 

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.


CLARK STREET BRIDGE HISTORY
Street
Opened
Closed
Type
Power
Cost
Clark #1
1840
1849
Wood, Pontoon Swing
Hand
$3,000
Clark #2
1849
1853
Wood, Pontoon Swing
Hand
$2,800
Clark #3
1854
1858
Wood, Pivot
Hand
$12,000
Clark #4
1858
1866
Wood, Swing
Hand
$14,200
Clark #5
1866
1871
Wood & Iron, Swing
Hand
$13,800
Clark #6
1872
1889
Wood & Iron, Swing
Hand
$32,000
Clark #7
1889
1929
Steal, Swing
Steam
$186,562
Clark #8
1929
NA
Steel, Chicago Double-Leaf Bascule
Electric
$1,529,492