Sunday, February 28, 2021

The Prehistoric Old Stone Fort, Saline County, Illinois.

The Stone Forts of Illinois.
One of the unique prehistoric phenomena of Southern Illinois is the ruins of stone walls which have traditionally been known as "stone forts." They appear in the rough east-west alignment across the hill country and appear to form a broken chain between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. These ruins have similar geographic site characteristics. They are generally located on bluffs, which are often finger-like promontories of land with steep cliffs on three sides and a gradual incline on the fourth. It was across these inclines leading to the top of the bluff that these stone walls are most generally located, hence the theory of a pound or game trap, has been advanced.

Many of the walls have long been torn down and removed for building purposes. Early settlers, in most instances, removed the better slab-like stones for building foundations, leaving only the rubble. These early white pioneers saw the walls and thought of them in terms of their own experiences, particularly from the standpoint of defense against the Indians. Though they called them stone forts, these sites would be very poor places to carry on prolonged fights.

If a small band took refuge behind the wall, they might be pushed over the cliff by a larger attacking force. Or a larger force could lay siege to the place, and the band would be cut off from both food and water and soon starve to death. Although they called them "forts," many people did not accept such a theory, and speculation continued.

Archaeologists believe that particularly in Ohio, the Hopewellian Indians probably were responsible for some of the walls, but the identity is not known. These walls represent a major accomplishment for a people who had only primitive digging implements and methods of carrying or moving heavy stones. These unknown builders piled rock completely across summits, leaving inside enclosures sometimes as large as 50 acres, depending upon the size of the bluff.
The Old Stone Fort in Southern Illinois lies between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.




Another fort built almost exactly as the Makanda Fort is the fort that lies southwest of Carrier Mills in Saline County. The old fort site is found four miles east of the present town of Stonefort in Williamson County and seven miles east of Creal Springs, Illinois. Its area is almost the same as Makanda's Fort and research into the Archivo General de Indias at Seville, Spain (the repository of extremely valuable archival documents illustrating the history of the Spanish Empire in the Americas) shows that such a fort was spoken of by DeSoto in 1542. 


This old fort is on top of a hill, which is almost inaccessible. The walls are constructed of large stones and the whole reminds one of the ruins of a once well-constructed fortification. It has gone to ruin more or less within the past one or two years. The first house in the vicinity was one built in 1831 by J. Robinson. The village of Stonefort is situated atop a ridge that rises above the South Fork Saline River valley to the north and the Little Saline River valley to the south. The village of Stonefort was established in late 1858 and was originally located about a mile to the southeast, near the edge of the bluff. There were houses there earlier. 
Some scholarly visitor named the ruins Cyclop Walls, but most people simply call it old Stone Fort.


When the Cairo and Vincennes Railroad was completed through the area in the 1870s, Stonefort's public buildings were dismantled and moved to the village's present location, which was adjacent to the railroad tracks. The former site of the village is now listed as "Oldtown" on maps which is 1.8 miles northwest of Stonefort.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

The Prehistoric Makanda Stone Fort, Jackson County, Illinois.

The Stone Forts of Illinois.
One of the unique prehistoric phenomena of Southern Illinois is the ruins of stone walls which have traditionally been known as "stone forts." They appear in the rough east-west alignment across the hill country and appear to form a broken chain between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. These ruins have similar geographic site characteristics. They are generally located on bluffs, which are often finger-like promontories of land with steep cliffs on three sides and a gradual incline on the fourth. It was across these inclines leading to the top of the bluff that these stone walls are most generally located, hence the theory of a pound or game trap, has been advanced.

Many of the walls have long been torn down and removed for building purposes. Early settlers, in most instances, removed the better slab-like stones for building foundations, leaving only the rubble. These early white pioneers saw the walls and thought of them in terms of their own experiences, particularly from the standpoint of defense against the Indians. Though they called them stone forts, these sites would be very poor places to carry on prolonged fights.

If a small band took refuge behind the wall, they might be pushed over the cliff by a larger attacking force. Or a larger force could lay siege to the place, and the band would be cut off from both food and water and soon starve to death. Although they called them "forts," many people did not accept such a theory, and speculation continued.

Archaeologists believe that particularly in Ohio, the Hopewellian Indians probably were responsible for some of the walls, but the identity is not known. These walls represent a major accomplishment for a people who had only primitive digging implements and methods of carrying or moving heavy stones. These unknown builders piled rock completely across summits, leaving inside enclosures sometimes as large as 50 acres, depending upon the size of the bluff.
The Makanda Township Stone Fort in Southern Illinois lies between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.











The Makanda Stone Fort is a quarter of a mile northeast of the village of Makanda, Jackson County, Illinois, and is a part of Giant City State Park.

About 1000 years ago, when Indian cultures were enjoying the area’s abundant resources (water, wildlife, nuts, berries, and roots) in the Shawnee National Forest, a stone fort was found. It is thought to have been built during the Late Woodland Period (1000 BC - 1000 AD), probably between 600 to 900 AD. 
A Shawnee National Forest Overlook.
These prehistoric forts were constructed on a raised mass of land known as a promontory (a point of high land that juts out into a large body of water), while some others were built on hilltops that provided an excellent overlook giving them a vantage point to see for miles across Illinois' premier forest.

The massive stone wall was at one time 285 feet long, six feet high, and nine feet thick on 1.4 acres of land. The appearance of a “stone fort” or stone wall located in Giant City State Park, which is part of the Shawnee National Forest, sits atop a sloped ridge
There are actually about ten of these old structures in the southern Illinois area, and they are believed to have been either a military fortification as a meeting place or a ceremonial temple.

Most of these sites were not habitation sites (villages) in the usual sense. There was only a modest amount of artifacts, which is common among places of sporadic use for short periods of time. Debris found on this site includes sherds of grit or grog-tempered cord-marked pottery and stone tools, like projectile points. Many Late Woodland tribes lived in large, intensively occupied villages located near major rivers and streams such as Cahokia and East St. Louis. They had a mixed economy of hunting, gathering, and cultivated a series of native plants like barley, sumpweed, maygrass, and squash.
For years archaeologists have wondered about the stone fort’s usage. Some say that these were “sacred spaces” reserved for periodic activity. Archaeological digs have located items that prove that the Indians of Southern Illinois were part of an extensive trading network. They believe the trading network followed the trails in Southern Illinois that became the early pioneer roads centuries later. Archaeologists suggest the possibility that stone forts were designated areas where different tribes or sub-tribes could meet, socialize, and trade on neutral ground.

The original wall was dismantled by European settlers, who used the stones in order to build their own structures; the stone base is all that remains of the original wall. It was reconstructed in 1934 by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp) workforce gathered the scattered stone and rebuilt the wall in its original location, but has since fallen into ruins again.
The location of this wall leads one to believe it was built for a fortification of some kind and as the building must have required a great deal of time and labor. It was surely built for more than just temporary use. The distance to the edge of the bluff in front is over 500 feet, thus affording room for quite a party taking refuge therein. The bluffs that form three sides of the enclosures are unscalable without the use of ropes and ladders except in two places, and these are easily protected from above for they are just narrow crevices up which one could, with difficulty, climb and then only by the aid of the jagged edges of the protruding rocks. One man could lie behind boulders at either place and easily protect it against a number of his enemies with crude stone-age weapons, traces of which were found everywhere in the vicinity and all through this section. Several pieces of flint and arrowheads have been picked up on the top of the bluff. 

Another reason for believing that this fortification was built as a defense against tribesmen is that it is at the upper end of the valley where the opposite bluff is not over 200 yards distant, and is higher, though not so precipitous. From this bluff, one with a rifle could easily shoot into the fort, but with bows and arrows, very little damage could be done. In fact, it is by far the best location in the valley. Water is easily accessible and flows from a little stream within 100 feet of the cliff where it is scalable and at several places in the brooks are springs. 

Ancient features more closely related to a seasonal hunting camp where hunters would take advantage of game resources, then move on.

Other theories included the notion it was actually early European explorers, such as DeSoto, who created the rock fortresses while making inroads to conquer the land. No such evidence of European construction exists, of course.

The oldest settlers in Jackson County say that the area was covered with bushes when they first came here. No one knows the early history of the fort as a certainty and there is little likelihood of it ever coming to light. Parts of the wall of this fort were standing as late as 1870 and were torn down by a Doctor CalIon in hunting for relics. None were found which is more strong evidence that the fort was built by someone other than Indians. George W. Owens, still living in 1931, who came to Makanda in 1862, tells of a small, one-pounder cannon that was found in the wall of the old fort. It was used in Fourth-of-July celebrations around Makanda for 50 years and finally sold to a junk dealer. The French Lieutenant Aubrey, passed this way from Kaskaskia in 1720 with 30 French and 300 Indians on his way to Fort Massac on the Ohio River to thwart the English, who were reported to be on their way down the Ohio River toward Kaskaskia. Aubrey had three brass cannons of this description. This may have been one of them. 
The first professional archaeological investigation of the fort site was conducted in 1956 by archaeologists from Southern Illinois University. An explanation for the large hole in the front of the wall is unknown, although it most likely represents the work of treasure hunters. The hole was there when the site was officially recorded as an archaeological site in 1956.
In the fall of 2000, archaeologists from Southern Illinois University Carbondale conducted an investigation of the Stone Fort site. Of the 153 shovel tests executed south of the wall, all were positive for prehistoric artifacts. This led the scientists to nominate Giant City’s Stone Fort for the National Register of Historic Places. The Giant City Stone Fort Site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 9, 2002
The Stone Fort Trail in Giant City State Park is a little-known path that leads to some truly intriguing ruins. It is less than half a mile in length and is a loop trail.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

The Seven Continents Rotunda Building and Restaurant at Chicago O'Hare International Airport.

In 1961, Gertrude Kerbis, with the architectural firm of Naeas & Murphy, later known as C.F. Murphy, designed the Seven Continents/ O'Hara Airport Rotunda Building as a multi-purpose structure housing several restaurants and airport functions. It served as a magnificent passenger link connecting two major airport terminals. The Rotunda Building is a Jet Age design that was once the centerpiece of Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and is an excellent example of Midcentury Modem airport architecture. 
Seven Continents Building / O'Hare Rotunda Building, exterior view.


Gertrude Kerbis was a groundbreaking architect and one of the first women at the forefront of Chicago architecture, working in the modern style in the 1960s. She studied with Walter Gropius at Harvard and with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe at IIT—Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. Kerbis worked with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), and later at Naeas & Murphy/C.F. Murphy. She opened her own architectural firm, Lempp Kerbis Architects, in 1967. Kerbis was one of the very few female architects working in a male-dominated profession. She worked on the original O'Hare Terminal structures and the Chicago Civic Center, now known as the Richard J. Daley Center, a designated Chicago Landmark.
Seven Continents Building / O'Hare Rotunda Building, exterior view.




Kerbis designed the Seven Continents Rotunda Building using an elaborate structural system consisting of one mile of heavy bridge cables spanning a 190-foot ceiling and measuring approximately five inches in thickness, considered by some to be a structural feat. This system resembles a sunburst pattern sheathed in concrete visible from the floor of this unique circular, public, two-story space. The Rotunda Building remains largely intact today but has faded from public use due to the closing of the original restaurants, the expansion of O'Hare Airport, and the difficulty of accessing the building beyond added security checkpoints. 

Preservation Chicago advocates for a greater appreciation, recognition, restoration, and Chicago Landmark status for this iconic building. As an extensive $8.5 billion O'Hare modernization effort is about to begin, the Seven Continents Rotunda Building should be retained end restored. 

HISTORY
Before O'Hare Airport was built, Chicago's Midway Airport (originally called Chicago Municipal Airport) on the Southwest Side of Chicago was the busiest airport in the country. Midway Airport was suffering from overcrowding and a lack of space for expansion. Orchard Field, a site northwest of the city, had 10 times the land that Midway occupied and was chosen in 1945 as a site for a new airport to be built. The airport opened to commercial air traffic in 1966. In the 1960s, work began on two new terminals, infrastructure, and support buildings for what is now known as O'Hare International Airport. The architectural firm of Naess & Murphy/C.F. Murphy Associates was commissioned to design most of this early work, and it was completed in 1963. 
The grand concourse connecting Terminals1 and 2 with entry to the Seven Continents Restaurant on the mezzanine and the Tartan Tray Coffee Shop on ground level, circa 1963, with original oculus skylight and lighting before extensive modifications. Seven Continents Building / O'Hare Rotunda Building, interior view.


The Seven Continents Rotunda Building, designed by Gertrude Kerbis during her time at Naess & Murphy/C.F. Murphy Associates, was centrally located between the first two terminals at O'Hare Airport. The circular form of the Rotunda Building is covered by a shallow roof dome consisting of a concrete shell hung by metal cables from a steel support structure overhead. The circular two-story atrium, located at the building's central core, was also a terminal passageway in addition to being a grand space. It contains two floating sculptural staircases leading to a balcony on the mezzanine level above, which also wraps around the perimeter of the open atrium.

The building's interior perimeter also included restaurants and a bar. People were able to gather and watch airplanes, take-off & land, and board on the adjacent tarmacs visible through the expansive two-story windows. 

The first level of the building contained an informal dining room, coffee shop, lunch counter, pancake shop, and cocktail lounge, all of which conformed to the curved perimeter of the building's exterior. In a soaring, two-story space with a cantilevered mezzanine on the second level, the mezzanine level appears to float within the larger space. This was a brilliant use and program, which formed a universal space for two distinct dining establishments stacked upon one another, with one being a casual dining room and the other an elegant dining facility. 

The casual dining room and a coffee shop called 'The Tartan Tray,' which was a reference to the Scotsmen that had founded the Chicago-based Carson Pirie Scott & Company [1] department store. The Carson Pirie Scott & Co. store at 1 South State Street at the corner of East Madison Street in Chicago's Loop had the Tartan Tray Cafeteria on the basement level.

It was part of Carson's immense restaurant and foodservice division. Carson's operation provided food service to all of its regional stores, their cafes within the airport, and in-flight meals to airline passengers. Many of these meals were prepared on the ground floor/lower level of the building within the vast kitchens at the tarmac level. The ground floor also included a bakery, offices, storage, mechanical and electrical, and an employee cafeteria.
Seven Continents Rotunda Building, with a view of the skylight and lighting after extensive and insensitive modifications.


The mezzanine level, accessed in the two-story circular atrium core by the two floating staircases previously mentioned, was the location of the famed Seven Continents Restaurant and a second kitchen. It also included five private dining rooms that could be combined into one larger space. The Seven Continents Restaurant provided a fine dining experience where travelers from around the world could enjoy a meal in a very sophisticated setting overlooking the airfield and surrounded by works of art. They could also watch airplanes take off and land through expansive windows. The Seven Continents Restaurant became a destination for even elegant dining, even those not leaving the city on an airplane. It was dining at its best and was said to once rival restaurants elsewhere in the region. The building was known simply as "The Seven Continents," even though it really contained a vastly complex program of services and wide passages connecting two massive termini for airline customers.

During the 1960s, airports throughout the country were expanding and building modem, futuristic structures to reflect the excitement of the Jet Age. In 1960, Pan Am built the flying saucer-shaped Worldport at John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport, designed by Ives, Turano & Gardner Associated Architects, and Walther Prokosch ofTippets-AbbettMcDarthy- Stratton. Sadly Worldport was demolished in 2013. In 1962, Eero Saarinen's TWA Flight Center at JFK opened, and that same year Saarinen's terminal at Dulles International Airport outside of Washington D.C. was dedicated by President John F. Kennedy. While portions of the original TWA Flight Center have been reconfigured, the Saarinen-designed head house at JFK has been renovated and now serves as a destination hotel for travelers. Eero Saarinen's Dulles Main Terminal remains a well-known landmark. In 1961, the Los Angeles International Airport LAX opened its Theme Building by William Pereira and Charles Luckman. This iconic flying saucer on stilts design remains at  LAX.

Completed in 1963, the centerpiece of Chicago's new O'Hare International Airport was the Rotunda Building designed by Gertrude Kerbis. The Rotunda Building remains largely intact and is one of the few remaining elements of O'Hare's Jet Age design and C.F. Murphy's contributions t.o this important early airport design. O'Hare's Rotunda Building was not only notable for its design but also for its trail-blazing female architect who was at the forefront of Chicago architecture working in the modern style in the 1960s.
Seven Continents Building / O'Hare Rotunda Building, exterior rendering.
Seven Continents Building / O'Hare Rotunda Building, interior rendering.


Gertrude Kerbis was born in 1926 to German and Russian immigrant parents on Chicago's Northwest Side. She had been attending the University of Wisconsin when she became inspired by a Life magazine article on Frank Lloyd Wright. This prompted her t.o travel from Madison to Wright's Taliesin estate in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Gertrude became entranced by the interior rooms as she peered through the glass walls of Taliesin, and she managed to climb through a window to spend the night there. In a short film made about her life, Kerbis recalled that when she awoke, she knew she wanted to become an architect. 

The University of Wisconsin did not have an architecture school, so she transferred to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. graduating in 1948 with a bachelor of science in architectural engineering. She then went on to attend Harvard University's Graduate School of Design, where she studied with architect Walter Gropius. Gertrude left Harvard to attend Chicago's Illinois Institute of Technology, where she studied under Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. She graduated from IIT in 1954 with a master's degree in architecture and planning.
Seven Continents Building / O'Hare Rotunda Building, construction aerial view.


Gertrude Kerbis began her career in the drafting room of the Chicago architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), where she was one of the very few women. While at SOM, she designed a futuristic cadet dining hall at the U.S. Air Force Academy campus in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The dining hall was designed to serve thousands of cadets a.t one time. Before leaving SOM, she designed the Skokie Public Library, which won national design honors from AI. A Working at Naess & Murphy/C.F. Murphy & Associates from 1959 to 1967, Kerbis designed the Rotunda Building at the newly built Chicago O'Hare International Airport. Starting her own firm in 1967, she took on the unusual role of simultaneously designing and developing her projects. These projects included the award-winning Green House Condominiums at 2131 N. Clark Street and a Highland Park tennis club for her second husband, tennis pro, Don Kerbis. She also taught architecture at Harper College in Palatine and helped found the group Chicago Women in Architecture. Kerbis was very supportive of women in architecture and strived to show by example what a woman can accomplish.
Seven Continents Building / O'Hare Rotunda Building original ceiling plan and staircase details.


Gertrude Kerbis's daughter, Kim, said: "Trailblazing Chicagoan Gertrude Lempp Kerbis became an architect at a time when most women in the field were either receptionists, secretaries, or relegated to the interior departments despite their qualifications. Inspired by and then studying and working with modern masters, she forged a unique career that merged her engineering passions with her modernist aesthetic; fierce independence with a desire to strengthen the architectural community (particularly for women); and her continued pursuit of individual architectural excellence with a desire to pass those skills on to the next generation of architects. Modern architecture made its mark on Gertrude Lempp Kerbis, and in return, she left her mark on it." 

THE SEVEN CONTINENTS RESTAURANT
Seven Continents restaurant opened in the Rotunda building in Terminal 3, in 1963, as a fine-dining restaurant in O'Hare International Airport. The waiters wore tuxedo jackets, busboys fill and refill water glasses from Sterling Silver pitchers, white-clothed tables were adorned with fresh-cut flowers and pretty glassware. Seven Continents was on the upper level of the rotunda that connects terminals 2 and 3. Once upon a time, that meant that Seven Continents' neighbors were United Airlines and American Airlines.
The dining room was done in burgundy and dark brown; the soft, low-backed booths closest to the windows afford views of several American gates and, on a good day, a couple of takeoffs. The restaurant's name suggests something of a global menu, but in fact, the selections were all-American. There was a lot of seafood among the selections, all of it fresh, flown in fresh daily. The Seven Continents restaurant's signature entree was, made from scratch, Chicken Kiev.

Because many of the diners had planes to catch, the kitchen tended to crank out the food quickly. The atmosphere was rather like a 'round-the-clock pre-theater hour.' Diners tend not to dawdle. On the plus side, the food hit the table hot; the waiters seem to know instinctively who's on a timetable and who isn't, and diners never feel rushed.

Seven Continents restaurant closed in November 1994.

THREATS TO THE ROTUNDA BUILDING
Planning called for a new global terminal to replace O'Hare's Terminal 2. The Rotunda Building is directly adjacent to the $8.5 billion expansion project. With the Seven Continents Restaurant, shops, and public gathering places closed or modified, the Rotunda Building now serves as a vestibule and throughway and houses TSA offices. It has been remodeled over time, with oversized advertising to Terminal 3's Concourse G. A new control tower built adjacent to the Rotunda Building blocks the visibility of this architectural gem. 

Preservation Chicago was concerned that the Rotunda Building won't be properly valued during the largest and most extensive expansion in the airport's recent history. The potential failure to recognize this important Midcentury Modern building by a trailblazing woman architect could result in an inappropriate treatment or possible demolition.

Preservation Chicago has submitted a Landmarks suggestion for the Seven Continents Rotunda Building to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, and Landmarks Illinois included Gertrude K.erbis' Rotunda Building on their Landmarks Illinois' Most Endangered List in 2017. These recommendations have been made, but to date, the Rotunda Building does not have a Landmark designation or any protections.

PRESERVATION RECOMMENDATIONS
Preservation Chicago supports a Chicago Landmark designation for the Seven Continents Rotunda Building and a full restoration of the building. The structure meets and fulfills four of the seven criteria set forth for Proposed Designation of Chicago Landmarks, and it also fulfills the ''integrity criterion" required for Landmark designation. Landmark status would protect the Rotunda Building from neglect or demolition as O'Hare Airport plans for the future. With the $8.5 million modernization effort and replacement of Terminal 2, it is our hope that the Rotunda Building will be restored and returned to become a lively center of activity. With new uses that both honor and restore the integrity of this remarkable structure and its complex and sophisticated spaces and finishes, it can be enjoyed by the public once again. If the positioning of the Rotunda Building will not allow for it to function as a public thoroughfare, it should be considered as a special lounge area with a fine dining option. 
Seven Continents Building / O'Hare Rotunda Building, interior view of stairs.




Seven Continents Restaurant on the mezzanine level of the Rotunda Building, Seven Continents Restaurant interior view.


There has been an effort at airports across the country to restore and reuse the Midcentury Modern airport buildings. The TWA Flight Center headhouse by Saarinen at JFK is being redeveloped as a hotel, and the Theme Building at LAX by Pereira and Luckman is anticipated to be preserved in the airport's master planning efforts. The Rotunda Building should be included in this group of Jet Age, Midcentury Modern airport architecture.
Expansive view of O'Hare airfield from the ground floor Tartan Tray Coffee Shop.


Gertrude Kerbis and this incredible structure should be honored in March 2019 for Women's History Month. Chicago Landmark designation would properly honor the Rotunda Building's place in women's 20th-century achievements in architecture and aviation, and it would protect it during current and future expansion plans at O'Hare. After years of additions and remodeling throughout O'Hare Airport, the Rotunda Building has endured, and it is as interesting, fresh, and relevant as ever.

Preservation Chicago was instrumental in working with the Kerbis family to facilitate a donation of drawings, photographs, papers, and other archival materials to the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Owned and operated by Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co., the Seven Continents Restaurant was the white-tablecloth "oasis of civility in busy O'Hare Airport" located on the mezzanine level above the Tartan Tray Coffee Shop on the ground floor below.






Kerbis, one of the first women architects working in the modern style, studied with Mies van der Rohe at IIT. In 1958, she designed the dining hall at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs while working at Skidmore Owings and Merrill (SOM). She later went on to teach and form her own practice. Kerbis was a founding member of Women in Architecture. She received the AIA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. A fascinating story told by an amazing woman.
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.


Carson Pirie Scott & Co.
Tartan Tray Cafeteria, Chicago.
[1] Carson Pirie Scott & Co.
 (1854 -2007). The chain began in 1854 when Scotsmen Samuel Carson and John Pirie first clerked in Murray's dry goods store in Peru, Illinois - then opened their own store in LaSalle, Illinois, followed by one in Amboy, Illinois. The Great Chicago Fire destroyed 60% of the store's stock in 1871. John Edwin Scott operated a dry goods store in Ottawa, Illinois. He later moved up to Chicago and became the first partner of Samuel Carson and John T. Pirie in the ownership of a dry goods store, which became known as Carson Pirie Scott & Co.

In 1961, Carson Pirie Scott & Co. expanded in Illinois by purchasing the 20 unit Block & Kuhl chain headquartered in Peoria. In 1980, to diversify its business, Carson Pirie Scott & Co. borrowed $108 million to buy Dobbs Houses, Inc., an airline caterer and owner of the Toddle House and Steak 'n Egg Kitchen restaurant chains. These were sold in 1988, as was the County Seat clothing chain.

In 1989, Carson Pirie Scott & Co. was acquired by P.A. Bergner & Co. (founded in Peoria), who operated the Bergner's, Charles V. Weise, Myers Brothers, and Boston Store chains. In 1991, P.A. Bergner & Co. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy; upon emerging from bankruptcy in 1993, it became a NASDAQ publicly traded company, changing its operating name to Carson Pirie Scott & Co. One year later, the company commenced trading on the NYSE under the CRP symbol.

By 1998, Carson Pirie Scott & Co. ownership was held by Proffitt's, Inc. (later renamed Saks Incorporated to reflect the acquisition of Saks Fifth Avenue). The Carson Pirie Scott, Bergner's, and Boston Store chains, along with Younkers and Herberger's nameplates, eventually operated as Saks' Northern Department Store Group (NDSG), based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In late 2005, however, the group was put up for sale as Saks Incorporated tried to refocus itself primarily on its core Saks Fifth Avenue stores.

Carson's and its associated stores became part of The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. in a $1.1 billion deal completed on March 6, 2006. The group's merchandising and marketing base remained in Milwaukee. Bon-Ton converted Elder-Beerman stores in Indiana and Michigan to the newly shortened Carson's name in 2011 and 2012. The chain expanded into Metro Detroit in 2013 with the conversion of three Parisian stores. Bon-Ton announced on April 17, 2018, that they would cease operations and began liquidating all 267 stores after two liquidators, Great American Group and Tiger Capital Group, won an auction for the company. The bid was estimated to be worth $775.5 million. This included all remaining Carson's stores after 164 years of operation. According to national retail reporter Mitch Nolen, stores closed within 10 to 12 weeks.

The intellectual property of Bon-Ton, including Carson's, was quickly sold in bankruptcy to CSC Generation, and online retail was reopened. The new owners, based in Merrillville, Indiana, were also exploring opening new store locations. On October 29, 2018; Under this new ownership and using the same company and stores' names, Bon-Ton started announcing it would reopen the Evergreen Park, Illinois Carson's store on November 24 (Black Friday)–one of Bon-Ton's first brick-and-mortar stores to reopen. Bon-Ton had announced plans to open brick-and-mortar Carson's stores in Bloomingdale, Lombard, and Orland Park. The only location to open was in Evergreen Park. The company never followed through in opening Bloomingdale, Lombard, or Orland Park. The Evergreen Park location closed in October 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Mr. Submarine Chicago-Style Sub-Sandwiches for Over 45 Years.

Before Chicago was inundated with Sub Sandwich chain restaurants, Mr. Submarine stood alone, all the while offering value-priced sandwiches and garnering a loyal customer base, at its 24 locations scattered around the city and suburbs.
The family-owned business debuted in 1975 with a store in the Old Chicago Shopping Mall and Indoor Amusement Park in Bolingbrook, Illinois. Old Chicago closed in 1980 but their success inside the mall spread to a standalone Mr. Submarine location in Berwyn. During its heyday there were about 32 Mr. Submarine restaurants, said Nick Tzoumas, the chain's General Manager.
Mr. Submarine Store Front that was on Devon at Oakley, Chicago.
Tzoumas' father, Gus, used his non-stop energy and work ethic gained a cult following. Mr. Submarine subs provided a textbook example that defined the Chicago-style submarine sandwich. Starting with the bread, they use only the finest from the Turano bakery, and shredded lettuce, which Tzoumas called a "telltale sign" of a Chicago-style submarine sandwich. There's also a homemade vinaigrette with plenty of meat — definitely more than from the other Sub joints. "That's kind of our thumbprint on the sub-sandwich industry," Tzoumas said.
Obviously, with a name like "Mr. Submarine," the chain focused on sandwiches, and for the most part, the menu's remained consistent and simple — at least at city locations. But they expanded the menu in the suburbs, adding items like mozzarella sticks. It's an interesting time for the chain, as Tzoumas has hopes of sprucing some locations up, admitting the spots would benefit from an overhaul. He sees how larger chains like Wendy's have refreshed their locations with a new restaurant design, and while he's not suggesting Mr. Submarine go through a similar transformation, he sees opportunities to modernize.
But while they ponder renovations, they'll concentrate on keeping costs low to provide a better value for customers, with employees handing out coupons. "I think people who know good food will always know Mr. Submarine," Tzoumas says. "It's just a matter of people giving our food a chance, it will always be top-notch, and you have my word on it!"

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

John Wilkes Booth Diary

The text of the surviving pages of John Wilkes Booth's diary is as follows:
John Wilkes Booth's diary is on display at Ford's Theatre, 511 10th Street NW, Washington, D.C. Call before visiting to verify if they are open due to COVID-19.  (202) 347-4833
"Until today nothing was ever thought of sacrificing to our country's wrongs. For six months we had worked to capture, but our cause being almost lost, something decisive and great must be done. But its failure was owing to others, who did not strike for their country with a heart. I struck boldly, and not as the papers say. I walked with a firm step through a thousand of his friends, was stopped, but pushed on. A colonel was at his side. I shouted Sic semper before I fired. In jumping broke my leg. I passed all his pickets, rode sixty miles that night with the bone of my leg tearing the flesh at every jump. I can never repent it, though we hated to kill. Our country owed all her troubles to him, and God simply made me the instrument of his punishment. The country is not what it was. This forced Union is not what I have loved. I care not what becomes of me. I have no desire to outlive my country. The night before the deed I wrote a long article and left it for one of the editors of the National Intelligencer, in which I fully set forth our reasons for our proceedings. He or the gov'r-

After being hunted like a dog through swamps, woods, and last night being chased by gunboats till I was forced to return wet, cold, and starving, with every man's hand against me, I am here in despair. And why? For doing what Brutus was honored for. What made Tell a hero? And yet I, for striking down a greater tyrant than they ever knew, am looked upon as a common cutthroat. My action was purer than either of theirs. One hoped to be great himself. The other had not only his country's but his own, wrongs to avenge. I hoped for no gain. I knew no private wrong. I struck for my country and that alone. A country that groaned beneath this tyranny, and prayed for this end, and yet now behold the cold hands they extend to me. God cannot pardon me if I have done wrong. Yet I cannot see my wrong, except in serving a degenerate people. The little, the very little, I left behind to clear my name, the Government will not allow to be printed. So ends all. For my country I have given up all that makes life sweet and holy, brought misery upon my family, and am sure there is no pardon in the Heaven for me, since man condemns me so. I have only heard of what has been done (except what I did myself), and it fills me with horror. God, try and forgive me, and bless my mother. Tonight I will once more try the river with the intent to cross. Though I have a greater desire and almost a mind to return to Washington, and in a measure clear my name - which I feel I can do. I do not repent the blow I struck. I may before my God, but not to man. I think I have done well. Though I am abandoned, with the curse of Cain upon me, when, if the world knew my heart, that one blow would have made me great, though I did desire no greatness. Tonight I try to escape these bloodhounds once more. Who, who can read his fate? God's will be done. I have too great a soul to die like a criminal. Oh, may He, may He spare me that, and let me die bravely. I bless the entire world. Have never hated or wronged anyone. This last was not a wrong, unless God deems it so, and it's with Him to damn or bless me. As for this brave boy with me, who often prays (yes, before and since) with a true and sincere heart - was it crime in him? If so, why can he pray the same?

I do not wish to shed a drop of blood, but 'I must fight the course.' Tis all that's left to me."
Chain of Custody for Booth's Diary
Mystery surrounds this diary. The little book was taken off Booth's body by Colonel Everton Conger. He took it to Washington and gave it to Lafayette C. Baker, chief of the War Department's National Detective Police. Baker in turn gave it to Edwin McMasters Stanton [1], Secretary of War (1862–1868). 
Edwin McMasters Stanton, 27th United States Secretary of War, (1862-1868).
The book was not produced as evidence in the 1865 Conspiracy Trial. In 1867 the diary was rediscovered in a "forgotten" War Department file with pages missing. Although most sources indicate, 9 separate sheets—18 pages of text were missing. Were all those pages missing since 1867?

Over the years there has been endless speculation on those missing pages including rumors that they had surfaced. Nevertheless, they remain officially missing. Two of the pages were torn out by Booth himself and used to write messages to Dr. Richard H. Stuart on April 24, 1865. To speculate on their contents makes for interesting reading, but it's essentially fruitless as no one knows for sure what the rest of the missing pages may or may not have contained.

John Wilkes Booth Missing Diary Pages
Booth's diary was a small book, which was actually an 1864 appointment book kept as a diary, was found on the body of John Wilkes Booth on April 26, 1865. The datebook was printed and sold by James M. Crawford, a St. Louis stationer. The book measured 6 by 3 1/2 inches with the pictures of 5 women found in the diary pockets. Booth's entries in the diary were probably written between April 17 and April 22, 1865. 

Mystery surrounds Booth’s diary. The little book was taken off Booth’s body by Colonel Everton Conger. He took it to Washington and gave it to Lafayette C. Baker, chief of the War Department’s National Detective Police. Baker in turn gave it to the Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton. Despite its obvious interest in the case, the book was not produced as evidence in the 1865 Conspiracy Trial.

In 1867 the diary was re-discovered in a forgotten War Department file with more than a dozen pages missing. Conspiracy theorists became convinced that the missing pages contained the key to who really was behind Lincoln’s assassination, and several fingers pointed toward Edwin Stanton. 
 
Support for this theory came about in 1975 when Joseph Lynch, a rare books dealer, claimed to have found the missing pages through one of Edwin Stanton’s descendants. Despite the apparent authenticity of Lynch’s claim, his story contained a few missing pages of its own. Over the years there has been endless speculation on those missing pages including rumors that they had surfaced. Nevertheless, they remain officially missing.

In 1977, yet another administrator with the National Park Service’s National Capital properties asked the FBI to examine this little book “in order to rest any question about the possibility of invisible writing in the diary.” (The concerns of the Park Service grew from the release that same year of The Lincoln Conspiracy, a film that alleged the secret involvement of Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton in the president’s death.) In addition, the Park Service hoped that the FBI would authenticate Booth’s handwriting by comparing the hand script in the diary with the handwriting in letters known to have been composed by Booth. The FBI did disclose they felt confident no one had added to or edited the diary entries. They also confirmed nothing was written with invisible ink.

The FBI exposed the historical artifact to a variety of light frequencies, including ultraviolet, fluorescence with ultraviolet excitation, infrared, and x-ray. No hidden notations appeared. The agency judged the handwriting to be that of John Wilkes Booth. FBI's forensic laboratory has examined the diary and stated that 43 separate sheets are missing. This means that 86 pages of text are missing. 

Was Lincoln’s death part of a larger conspiracy? Did Booth write about working for the Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton? Were the missing pages torn out deliberately by Edwin Stanton, or was it someone else who had something to hide? We may never know.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.


[1] While the Congress was not in session, Johnson had suspended Edwin M. Stanton and appointed General Ulysses S. Grant as secretary of war. From August 12, 1867, until January 14, 1868, Stanton was suspended from office, and Ulysses S. Grant served as Acting Secretary of War.

The impeachment of President Andrew Johnson for violating the Tenure of Office Act by attempting to replace Edwin M. Stanton, the Secretary of War, while Congress was not in session and other abuses of presidential power from February 24, 1868, to May 26, 1868. 

The Senate voted 35 "guilty" and 19 "not guilty," resulting in acquittal. (36 "guilty" votes necessary for a conviction). 

NOTE: Six former Confederate states were also readmitted separately from the regular election, each electing two Republicans. This increased the Republicans' already overwhelming majority to the largest proportion of seats ever controlled by the party.

Majority Party: Republican (57); Minority Party: Democratic (9); Other Parties: (0); Vacant: (8); For a total of 74 seats. 25 of the 66 (8 vacant) total of 74 seats in the United States Senate (with special elections), 34 seats needed for a majority.

How Chinese Restaurants Nearly Became Extinct in Chicago.


In historical writing and analysis, PRESENTISM is the introduction of present-day ideas and perspectives into depictions or interpretations of the past. I believe presentism is a form of cultural bias, and it creates a distorted understanding of the subject matter. Reading modern notions of morality into the past is committing the error of presentism. I'm well aware that historical accounts are written by people and can be slanted, so I try my hardest to present articles that are fact-based and well researched, without interjecting any of my personal opinions.

NOTE: I present articles without regard to race, color, political party, religion, national origin, citizenship status, gender, age, disability, or military status. What I present are facts — NOT ALTERNATIVE FACTS — about the subject.
 What you won't find are rumors, lies, unfounded claims, character assassinations, hateful statements, insults, or attempts at being funny.
PLEASE PRACTICE HISTORICISM, WHICH IS THE
INTERPRETATION OF THE PAST IN ITS OWN CONTEXT.


In a country with over three times more Chinese restaurants than the 14,000 McDonald’s, it’s hard to believe that Chinese eateries almost became extinct over a century ago.
The threat came from legislation passed in Chicago — and other cities around the country — aimed, ostensibly, at protecting young white women from the supposed dangers of chop suey houses.

The folks leading this charge included an unexpected mix of restaurant labor unions, Chicago aldermen, and legislators across the nation. Strangely enough, it even included articles in the Chicago Tribune, including the following, that used a racial slur.
A 1910 Tribune investigation charged: “The laws of morality and health, police regulations, and practically all the other protective measures are being violated openly by many chop suey establishments... Young girls with braids down their backs are daily escorted into many of these oriental places by boys wearing their first long trousers and are being introduced to cigarette smoking, drinking, and other evils destined to make them the slave wives of Chinamen, or drag them down into lives of more open shame."

So how did this anti-chop suey hysteria start and how did it all simmer down? That’s chronicled in a recent paper, “The War Against Chinese Restaurants” by the University of California at Davis law scholar Gabriel “Jack” Chin. Chin says he got his first inkling of this history when he ran across “this bizarre 1911 case about a law in Massachusetts that prohibited white women from entering or working in Chinese restaurants.”

The law was eventually struck down as unconstitutional, but Chin found similar proposals across the country, including in Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, and Boston.
Guey Sam's Chinese Restaurant, on Wentworth Avenue in Chicago's Chinatown, is shown in 1928 during a celebration of the anniversary of the Republic of China. Chop Suey palaces like Guey Sam were targeted for closing earlier in the 1900s. 


Chin says the movement started with restaurant-worker labor unions that felt their livelihoods were being threatened by the explosion of (nonunionized) Chinese restaurants in the early decades of the 20th century. “The union members and their comrades in the labor movement didn’t want the competition, and so they came up with a range of ways to suppress them,” he says.

These ways included telling their members to boycott Chinese restaurants under threat of fines. But that fizzled when the union members kept eating at the restaurants anyway. “It turned out they couldn’t fight the lure of cheap, tasty food,” Chin said with a laugh. But then the movement turned legislative. 

In Chicago, this meant proposals for the following:
  • A 1906 proposal to restrict men under 21 and women under 18 from entering chop suey restaurants after 10 pm while also banning any live music from the establishments.
  • A 1906 rule requiring special licensing fees and additional taxes for chop suey restaurants
  • A 1906 measure to restrict restaurant licenses to only those with American citizenship — something people from China were not allowed to obtain.
  • A 1911 ordinance to refuse construction permits to any “Chinamen” in the vicinity of Wabash Avenue and 23rd Street
When Alderman Daniel Harkin (one of the 1906 citizenship ordinance’s supporters) was informed that the proposed legislation would effectively bar Chinese from the restaurant trade, he responded that the city “could get along without any chop suey places,” according to Tribune reports at the time.

It should be noted that many (but certainly not all) of Chicago’s early Chinese restaurants sprang up in Chinatowns that abutted the city’s red-light districts (first around Harrison Street and then Cermak Road). Many offered music, kept late hours, attracted a Bohemian clientele, and were connected to saloons or gambling houses.

“You could think of them as kind of underground rave or underground dance parties,” Chin says, reaching for a more modern analogy. “They were places of racial mixing, freer from the regulation of a traditional society at a time of cultural change when women were starting to vote and were headed toward national suffrage. And in the middle of this, emerged a chop suey craze.”

This all came together to produce the kind of fear illustrated in this excerpt from a 1910 Tribune editorial.

“More than 300 Chicago white girls have sacrificed themselves to the influence of chop suey joints during the last year, according to police statistics. Vanity and a desire for showy clothes led to their downfall, it is declared. It was accomplished only after they smoked and drank in the chop suey restaurants and permitted themselves to be hypnotized by the dreamy seductive music that is always on tap.”

So how close did these laws come to closing Chinese restaurants altogether?

“We came pretty close,” Chin says. “These laws passed legislatures in places like Pittsburg, Montana, and Massachusetts. But, in all of those cases, at the end of the day, cooler heads prevailed. In Montana, the U.S. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan communicated with the legislators that this didn’t make any sense and would make problems for us internationally.”

In Chicago’s case, most of these laws were eventually struck down by the City Hall lawyers who warned the aldermen they couldn’t single out individual types of restaurants for special rules. Still, in 1911, the City Council was able to pass the ordinance to refuse construction and remodeling permits to people of Chinese descent around 23rd and Wabash. The rationale? That “the Chinese of the city of Chicago are invading said neighborhood” and “if they are permitted to settle in the neighborhood it will materially affect and depreciate the value of the property.”

But just because much of the legislation stalled, it didn’t mean the larger movement was stopped. Chin notes that the anti-Chinese movement succeeded in its bigger goal to expand immigration restrictions to Japanese, Filipinos, and South Asians. And this goal was achieved with the passage of the Asian Exclusion act of 1924, clamping down on the immigration of all people from Asia.

So then how did Chinese restaurants continue their steady growth to become one of the most ubiquitous restaurant styles in the country?

Chinatowns first formed after the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed in 1882. The law barred Chinese laborers from immigrating to the U.S., though exceptions were made for students, teachers, diplomats, and merchants. The Chinese already living in America suffered violent racism and discrimination, and were unable to assimilate into the country's social or economic fabric. Without the means to return to China, they relied on urban clusters — Chinatowns — to survive.

A 1915 federal court decision was found that secured the standing of the “restaurateur” as someone who could qualify under the “merchant” category.

The act was repealed in 1943, though there was an annual quota of 105 new entry visas, and the ethnic Chinese were still banned from owning property or businesses. It wasn't until 1965, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Immigration and Nationality Act, that racial immigration restrictions were lifted. The country's Chinese population in America soared in the following decades, especially in Manhattan and San Francisco, ushered by the rise of communism in mainland China.

The number of Chinese restaurants in large American cities rose substantially. In some places, it was eightfold, in other places up to twentyfold. This status finally gave the restaurateurs the ability to travel back and forth to China and to bring over relatives who were crucial to their labor force. These were usually sons roughly between the ages of 12 and 17 who could go to (American) schools for a few years while working part-time in the restaurants. And when they were old enough, they became full-time employees.

But it’s not like the process was easy. Applicants had to prove they were operating a “high grade” restaurant, which required raising funds of $80,000 to $150,000 in today’s money. This may explain why many of Chicago’s early Chinese restaurants were built as chop suey palaces with lavish decor and live music.

Even after the applicants launched the restaurant, rules required that the merchant refrains from any menial labor (cooking or serving) for a year. And two white witnesses (often vendors to the restaurant) had to vouch for their claims. But the Chinese were very resourceful, inventive, and determined when it came to working the system. They had to be.

With the resulting economic growth of Chinatowns and boom in the Chinese restaurant industry, it wasn't long before Chinatowns began to be viewed as tourist destinations.

Why Chicago's Chinatown is booming, even as others across the country are fading away.
Most Chicago Chinatown businesses, restaurants, and agencies operate bilingually, since the majority of residents speak a Chinese dialect, and nearly 65 percent are foreign-born. At a time when traditional urban Chinatowns in Manhattan, San Francisco, Boston, and Philadelphia are fading due to gentrification and changing cultural landscapes, Chicago's Chinatown is growing larger — becoming what experts say could be a model for Chinatown survival in America. In Chicago, where several neighborhoods are no longer defined by the immigrant or ethnic groups that once occupied them, Chinatown is an exception, having anchored the area centered around Cermak Road and Wentworth Avenue since 1912.
Chinese people parade on Wentworth Avenue in Chinatown to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of China in 1956.
Local leaders say it has avoided gentrification because Chinese-Americans value a sense of belonging and choose to stay in the neighborhood. Few Chinese move-out, but if they do, they sell their homes to other Chinese people.

Between 2000 and 2010, Chinatown's population increased 24% and its Asian population increased 30%. Asians make up nearly 90% of the neighborhood's population. Experts also say that of all the foreign-born Asians living in Chicago's Chinatown, nearly 10 percent arrived in the last three years — a stark contrast to New York and San Francisco, where immigrants no longer fuel Chinatowns.

Walkthrough the Chinatown Gate and south on Wentworth, and you may see young Chinese professionals gathered at dim sum restaurants, clusters of Chinese children skipping to the playground for recess, or hear a Chinese drama echoing from a dated television at the back of a bakery. 

It's unlikely Chicago's Chinatown will succumb to national trends, experts say, and projections show the greater Chinatown area growing. Bordering neighborhoods have already seen an influx of Asian families moving in: Between 2009 and 2013, Bridgeport's Asian-American population grew from 26% to 35%, while McKinley Park's grew from just under 8% to 17%.

Recognizing the national decline of other Chinatowns, city planners and local organizations are committed to investing in it, which could be why the neighborhood is thriving. The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning executed its plan to preserve Chinatown's cultural identity by improving public education, elderly care, bolstering transportation infrastructure, and creating more public parks.

The city opened a two-story, $19.1 million branch of the Chicago Public Library on South Wentworth which attracts about 1,500 people a day. It caters to Chinese-speaking patrons, as many residents turn to the library for English classes.

Smaller Chinatowns, like that of Washington, D.C., have been diminishing for decades, and are now identifiable by just an ornate welcome gate or pocket of Chinese restaurants. And in the last few years, the large, traditional Chinatowns in San Francisco and Manhattan have decreased as well.

Chicago differs from Manhattan and San Francisco in that it doesn't have as high of demand nor as tight of a supply of rentable apartments. Experts and local leaders agree that Chicago's Chinatown could also be thriving because of its commitment to Chinese traditions, which makes it attractive to both Asians and non-Asian visitors. 

Some young people even live and work in Chinatown just to learn Chinese.
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Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.
Contributor Monica Eng
Contributor Marwa Eltagouri