B12 Solipsism

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Archive for the ‘history’ tag

Replacement Of Division Street Bridge Begins Monday

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Division Street Bridge in need of repair
Division Street Bridge in need of repair

Per Chuck Sudo of the Chicagoist, the Division Street Bridge lost its race to collapse before being repaired…

Starting Monday crews will begin demolishing Division Street Bridge near Goose Island. The city will be replacing the 111-year-old Bascule Bridge with an interim span while building a permanent Bascule replacement. The bridge was originally built in 1903 and has served as an integral link across Goose Island for cars, bikes, pedestrians and trains over the years, but currently isn’t wide enough to accommodate the size and flow of modern traffic. The Division Street Bridge is one of several Bascule bridges that made the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois’ 2013 list of the 10 most endangered historic places in the state.

(click here to continue reading Replacement Of Division Street Bridge Begins Monday: Chicagoist.)

Per Historic Bridges, this bridge was last rehabbed in 1992, but as these photos demonstrate, the bridge is a little rickety.

Somebody's Lunch
Somebody’s Lunch

Division Street Bridge
Division Street Bridge

Division Street Bridge
Division Street Bridge

Circumstantial Evidence - Panatomic X

Circumstantial Evidence – Panatomic X

Division Street Bridge is still Standing
Division Street Bridge is still Standing

String and Steel Melodies
String and Steel Melodies

More history:

Crossing the North Branch Chicago River Canal onto or off of Goose Island, this is one of the very first highway bascule bridges built in Chicago, constructed just a couple years after Cortland Street. Given the influence that Chicago’s development of the bascule bridge had on bridge construction nationwide, this prototypical example of a Chicago type trunnion bascule bridge is nationally significant and its preservation should be given a paramount level of priority.

 Roemheld & Gallery of Chicago were both the designers and builders of the bridge. This bridge is similar to bridges like Cortland Street, but it has one very unusual and distinctive characteristic which sets it aside from these other bridges. The overhead sway/portal bracing for this bridge is composed of simple plate steel with decorative designs on them that includes an upside-down “Y” design with a circle around it that is used in Chicago to refer to the three branches of the Chicago River. The symbol became an officially designated symbol appearing in Chicago’s municipal code as the “Municipal Device.” Easy to miss unless you are looking for it, the symbol can be found on buildings and structures throughout the city including on a few other bridges. This Division Street Bridge however is the only bridge in the entire city that includes this design in its overhead bracing. The bridge is different from the other early bascule bridges including the bascule bridge in sight of this one also on Division Street, which have a more intricate network of built-up sections of v-laced and latticed steel for bracing. The plates with the Municipal Device symbol on this bridge are an interesting and decorative element that adds a lot to the bridge.

(click here to continue reading Division Street North Branch Canal Bridge (Division Street Eastern Bridge) – HistoricBridges.org.)

Written by Seth Anderson

June 27th, 2014 at 10:23 am

Posted in Chicago-esque

Tagged with , , ,

Planned Fulton Market district to get $42M from city

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 Fulton Market Lineup

Fulton Market Lineup

Update on the still-in-proposal-stage plan for making a Fulton Market Historical District…

The city plans to allocate more than $42 million to improve parts of the West Loop included in its proposed Fulton Market Innovation District, a plan being pushed by the mayor as a way to encourage yet corral the neighborhood’s explosive growth.

The investments will kick off with the construction of a $500,000 gateway arching over Fulton Market at Halsted Street to welcome visitors to a proposed historic market district honoring the meatpacking companies and food wholesalers that have been operating there for a century.

The bulk of the $42.6 million allocation of public money, about $16 million of which is still pending approval from the city’s Department of Transportation, would go to infrastructure improvements like street paving and sidewalk repairs along Kinzie, Fulton Market, Randolph and Lake streets. Most of the money will come from the existing tax increment financing district, set up in 1998, though an estimated $10 million proposed for rebuilding Lake Street would be a mix of local, state and federal funds.

 …

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who spearheaded the innovation district plan, said the driving force for it was the surge in real estate deals that followed the 2012 opening of the $38 million Morgan Street CTA station.

“When we make these investments, they spur a series of private-sector economic development and opportunities for the city and growth,” Emanuel said. “And here, which is unique, you’ve got to do it in a way that strikes a balance between the history, and the preservation of that, while you embrace the change that is occurring simultaneously. And I think we’ve come up with that equitable balance.”

Designating the area an “innovation district,” a growing trend in cities, highlights the mix of traditional manufacturing, tech companies, social scene and transit access that has become important to attracting a young, creative workforce. Some of the employers coming to the area, including Google, SRAM, Uber, Brooklyn Bowl and Soho House, are expected to add 2,385 jobs, according to figures provided by the mayor’s office.

“It is and represents a new direction of the city’s economy,” said Andrew Mooney, commissioner of the city’s Department of Planning and Development. While the city has other emerging “innovation centers,” the restaurant-rich Fulton Market area is unique because of its historic and current connection to food, and the fact that it is not linked to a university.

(click here to continue reading Chicago Tribune – Top Business – Planned Fulton Market district to get $42M from city.)

Nothing Ever Stays The Same
Nothing Ever Stays The Same

Also, first time we’ve heard of this plan:

The city also announced a new public bike station it has planned for the lower level of an 83,000-square-foot former meatpacking building under redevelopment at 210 N. Green St., where New York-based WeWork plans to open a collaborative workspace next year.

The 3,100-square-foot bike station, which aims to accommodate bike commuters with locker rooms and showers as well as bike storage, will be privately operated by WeWork as a business and use no public funds, though the mayor brokered the arrangement, city officials said.

 Sounds good, more biking amenities is good news for the City, imo, especially when one of the options of becoming a WeWork member is “Free Beer”1

Fulton Market Food & Liquors - mural
Fulton Market Food & Liquors – mural

and still some current property owners are whining about not being able to sell their historic buildings to developers who will then raze the building, and replace the 19th century brick structure with a drab condo building with architecture inspired by Home Depot. Viva capitalism!

The land use plan, which will be adopted as policy by the planning department this summer, does not overtly change zoning but imposes guidelines for how parts of the proposed district — bordered by Halsted, Ogden, Randolph and Hubbard Streets — should be developed.

The most controversial part of the plan calls for portions of Fulton Market and Randolph Street to be given historic landmark status to preserve the character of storefronts that are the last remnants of the city’s food-manufacturing past. The neighborhood’s three major community groups — the Randolph/Fulton Market Association, the West Central Association and the West Loop Community Organization — have all formally opposed the landmark proposal, saying they’re concerned about the restrictions that would prevent demolition of some buildings and dictate the design of all.

Footnotes:
  1. I’m not kidding, look []

Written by Seth Anderson

June 23rd, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Fulton Market historic district

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I Think I Saw It On Fulton Street
I Think I Saw It On Fulton Street

We’ve mentioned this proposed historical district plan before, and we’re still enthused by it. However, not everyone is.

While it maintains the existing zoning, the plan provides guidelines for how the neighborhood should be developed so that officials deciding the fates of the many projects being proposed can follow a strategic vision, said Steven Valenziano, assistant zoning administrator with the Department of Planning.

The part of the plan that imposes historic landmark status on buildings within a section of the district — along Fulton Street between Racine Avenue and Green Street, along Randolph Street between Carpenter and Halsted streets, and the swath of Sangamon Street from Fulton to Randolph — is being met with staunch resistance from some Fulton Market business and property owners.

They worry the preservation restrictions will handcuff them to obsolete buildings, making it hard to do business if they need to make building improvements, or reduce the resale value if they decide to leave.

Holding My Life in My Hand
Holding My Life in My Hand

“It turns my business into an exhibit in this theme park,” said Melissa Otte, part of the family that owns the butter, cheese and egg distributor Meloney Cunningham & DeVic at 1114 W. Fulton St., which is one of the buildings that would be landmarked. “It’s really upsetting to hear that you’re history when you still work there.”

(click here to continue reading Fulton Market historic district could kill what it honors, critics say – chicagotribune.com.)

Eggs Cheese and Butter
Eggs Cheese and Butter

Seems like Melissa Otte’s long term plan was to raze her building, and sell it to developers to build generic condos on. So sorry.

Some more photos of Fulton Market are just a click away

 

Written by Seth Anderson

May 23rd, 2014 at 1:12 pm

George Solt, Ramen Historian

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Arami Ramen
Arami Ramen

Devouring a delicious bowl of ramen is one of life’s great pleasures. Luckily, the number of quality establishments serving good versions has proliferated in the last few years.

Twelve years ago, [Professor George ] Solt, who spent the first decade of his life in Tokyo, before moving to New England, began researching his dissertation at the University of California, San Diego. Entitled “Taking Ramen Seriously: Food, Labor, and Everyday Life in Modern Japan,” it delved into the food production, labor practices, foreign trade, and national identity wrapped up in Japan’s now famous noodle soup. He has published other noodle-related academic writings, including an article in the International Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies, “Shifting Perceptions of Instant Ramen in Japan during the High-Growth Era, 1958-1973.” But his most accessible piece of work on the topic is a book borne of his doctoral dissertation, “The Untold History of Ramen: How Political Crisis in Japan Spawned a Global Food Craze,” which was published in February.

His talk traced ramen from its origins, as a distinctly Chinese soup that arrived in Japan with Chinese tradesmen in the nineteenth century, through the American occupation after the war, to the proliferation of instant ramen in Japan in the seventies; the national frenzy in the eighties and nineties that gave birth to ramen celebrities, ramen museums, and ramen video games; and, finally, America’s embrace of ramen and Japanese culture today, as exhibited by the cultlike craze surrounding the sixteen-dollar bowls of ramen served by the celebrity chef David Chang.

“Ramen is one of the most minutely documented foods in Japan,” Solt writes. A number of geopolitical and economic factors—the reindustrialization of Japan’s workforce during the Cold War, the redefining of national identity during twenty years of economic stagnation—all combined to elevate ramen from working-class sustenance to a dish that is internationally recognized, beloved, and iconic. His research involved reading everything from ramen graphic novels to government documents produced during the U.S. occupation. In what Solt describes as an “Aha!” moment, he discovered that when the U.S. occupied Japan it imported wheat as a way to contain Communism. “The more Japan experienced food shortages, the more people would gravitate towards the Communist Party,” he said. By providing the wheat needed to make ramen noodles, America won the Cold War, sort of.

(click here to continue reading George Solt, Ramen Historian : The New Yorker.)

Tampopo Ramen!
Tampopo Ramen!

and of course, you should watch the film, Tampopo, if you haven’t already seen it…

Tampopo (タンポポ , literally “dandelion”) is a 1985 Japanese comedy film by director Juzo Itami, starring Tsutomu Yamazaki, Nobuko Miyamoto, Kōji Yakusho and Ken Watanabe. The publicity for the film calls it the first ramen western, a play on the term Spaghetti Western

and Roger Ebert’s review seems appropriate:

“Tampopo” is one of those utterly original movies that seems to exist in no known category. Like the French comedies of Jacques Tati, it’s a bemused meditation on human nature in which one humorous situation flows into another offhandedly, as if life were a series of smiles.

As it opens, the film looks like some sort of Japanese satire of Clint Eastwood’s spaghetti Westerns. The hero is Goro (Tsutomu Yamazaki), a lone rider with a quizzical smile, who rides a semi instead of a horse. Along with some friends, he stages a search for the perfect noodle restaurant but cannot find it. Then he meets Tampopo (Nobuko Miyamoto), a sweet young woman who has her heart in the right place, but not her noodles.

The movie then turns into the fairly freestyle story of the efforts by Tampopo and her protector to research the perfect noodle and open the perfect noodle restaurant. Like most movies about single-minded obsessions, this one quickly becomes very funny. It might seem that American audiences would know little and care less about the search for the perfect Japanese noodle, but because the movie is so consumed and detailed, so completely submerged in noodleology, it takes on a kind of weird logic of its own.

Consider, for example, the tour de force of a scene near the beginning of the movie, where a noodle master explains the correct ritual for eating a bowl of noodle soup. He explains every ingredient. How to cut it, how to cook it, how to address it, how to think of it, how to regard it, how to approach it, how to smell it, how to eat it, how to thank it, how to remember it. It’s a kind of gastronomic religion, and director Juzo Itami creates a scene that makes noodles in this movie more interesting than sex and violence in many another.

(click here to continue reading Tampopo Movie Review & Film Summary (1987) | Roger Ebert.)

Written by Seth Anderson

May 22nd, 2014 at 12:03 pm

IL Museum Stands Up For Santa Anna’s leg

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Santa Anna Prosthetic Leg
Santa Anna’s Prosthetic Leg

Photo via http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/santa-anna-leg.htm

Good for the Illinois State Military Museum for standing up to self-important Texans. The funny thing is, the leg as an artifact has very little to do with Texas, as it was found by Illinois soldiers, near Veracruz, Mexico, in 1847 after the Battle of Cerro Gordo. I’m not sure why Texas thinks it has more of a right to the leg than Santa Anna’s family1 or a Mexican museum.

Illinois museum officials say their Lone Star State counterparts have no leg to stand on as they seek a prosthesis from Springfield.

The curator of the Illinois State Military Museum plans to keep Mexican Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s wooden leg despite a failed petition that sought to temporarily display the artifact in suburban Houston.

For Texans, it seems to be a bit of a sore point that the artificial limb resides in a glass case 875 miles northeast of the Alamo.

But folks here say the fake leg, a battlefield trophy captured by soldiers from Illinois in 1847 in the Mexican-American War and then carried back to Illinois, is a piece of local military history that’s a big draw at the downstate museum.

“It’s not going anywhere,” said curator Bill Lear. “It’s going to stay.

“This is a centerpiece of the museum and a very important artifact to tell the story of Illinois soldiers and the sacrifice that they have made in service of this country.”

As eager as Texas is to display Santa Anna’s leg, Lear said it’s not clear that the prosthesis has even been in the Lone Star State. Santa Anna had both his legs while leading Mexican forces at the Alamo, more than a decade before Cerro Gordo. Lear said the prosthetic limb was captured in Mexico and apparently taken to Illinois via New Orleans.

(click here to continue reading Museum sticks to its guns over Santa Anna’s leg – chicagotribune.com.)

Come and Take It - Franks, Austin
Come and Take It – Frank, Austin

and yet the San Jacinto Museum of History seems to think the leg should be in their museum. Weird, even if after publicity, the museum claimed it was a light-hearted request…

“I cannot imagine a president from Illinois seriously trying to remove a piece of Illinois history and send it to Texas,” [San Jacinto museum president Larry Spasic] said this week.

Spasic said Texas feels the leg should be lent to the San Jacinto museum because it is part of the deeply shared history with Mexico and its leader.
“It’s all interrelated,” he said. “The history of Mexico and Texas is all one and the same, to a great extent. Does that give us a great latitude of claiming a large part of Mexico’s history as our own? Yes, I say.”

“No one had anything in mind for removing it by force,” he said. “And if the leg goes missing, we’ll just keep it between us.”

(click here to continue reading Illinois museum has Santa Anna’s leg, and Texas site wants it | Dallas Morning News.)

Yeah, sure buddy. The center of the universe is just outside of Houston, everything orbits around Texas.

Footnotes:
  1. if it still exists []

Written by Seth Anderson

May 10th, 2014 at 8:25 am

Posted in News-esque

Tagged with , , ,

Three Walls in Search of a Ball

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Ball and Hockey Playing Prohibited
Ball and Hockey Playing Prohibited

In re: the 20 photo slide show linked to below, I’ve often wondered about the signs restricting handball playing. In all my life, I’ve never witnessed anyone ever playing handball against a wall, but there are so many posted notices. I guess it was part of the anti-Irish sentiment of that time, and the signs simply remain. Or else, munchkins only come out early in the morning when I’m still asleep…

A century ago, handball was one of the most beloved sports in Ireland, its typical three-walled alley, or court, a fixture in villages and at crossroads. But these were “more than just places where people came to play handball,” says the photographer Kenneth O Halloran, who visited nearly a hundred abandoned courts in Ireland and Northern Ireland last year. “People came to socialize, to dance.”

After the game moved indoors around the 1950s, many courts that were not demolished became places for parking or storage. There is little nostalgia among the Irish for handball alleys, O Halloran says. “I don’t think people would value them the way they value a traditional cottage, old crosses or ancient ruins,” he says. “A lot of people see them as eyesores.” J

(click here to continue reading Three Walls in Search of a Ball – NYTimes.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

May 10th, 2014 at 7:45 am

Posted in News-esque,Sports

Tagged with , ,

Photo Republished at Gangsters & Speakeasies: Buildings of Historic Chicago

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Green Mill Daguerreotype
My photo was used to illustrate this post

Green Mill Jazz Club The speakeasy, 1920′s icon. When prohibition began, outlawing the sale of alcohol in the United States paved the way for criminals like Al Capone to come to fruition. And if you think prohibition stopped alcohol, well, then… the word naive comes to mind. Alcohol, if anything, was more rampant in the 1920′s. Want to make something that’s already fun even more popular?? Make it taboo. The “speakeasy” was the slang term for an establishment that illegally sold alcohol during these times. Some were seedy bars, others were extravagant nightclubs filled with the rich and famous. The Green Mill Jazz Club, still open today, was a popular speakeasy back during prohibition and at one point even owned by Jack McGurn, a right hand man of Al Capone.? photo credit:?swanksalot

click here to keep reading :
Gangsters & Speakeasies: Buildings of Historic Chicago

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Written by eggplant

April 8th, 2014 at 11:35 am

Fulton Randolph Market District Plan Presentation First Draft

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 Cleaning Up

Cleaning Up

There is a new proposal to turn the Fulton Market corridor into an historic district, meaning that real estate developers would not be able to tear down existing structures here willy-nilly to put up cookie-cutter condos or boring square box stores. No more McDonald’s, in other words, unless they are put in an existing structure.

In general, I’m for this idea, I think it is intriguing, but the details are always key, of course. How heavy handed will the City be? Where is the money going to be coming from? Who will be the decision maker? How soon will the National Register of Historic Places act if asked? 

Dozens of buildings along major stretches of Randolph Street and Fulton Market — including ones that house some of the city’s best-known restaurants — would become part of a historic district under a city proposal that the Commission on Chicago Landmarks will consider Thursday.

The proposal — presented at a community meeting Tuesday night — calls for granting historic designation to a six-block stretch of buildings on Randolph between the Kennedy Expy. and a property just west of Carpenter Street and along Lake Street from Peoria to Morgan streets. An eight-block stretch on Fulton Market between Halsted Street and Racine Avenue would also be landmarked.

The 75 buildings that would be affected by the historic designation currently house restaurants including the Girl and the Goat and the Publican and multiple restaurant supply businesses and butchers.

The proposed historic district is part of a larger land-use plan that would regulate building construction and designs in the area and also bring streetscaping and other improvements to create a “distinct sense of place,” documents say.

The proposal stated the plan would help preserve “an area of historic buildings occupied by new and traditional food business that showcase Chicago as the culinary epicenter of the Midwest.”

It’s also an area that “has attracted innovative industries” — including Google — which the city believes will continue.

 

(click here to continue reading Randolph Street, Fulton Market to Become Historic Districts Under City Plan – West Loop – DNAinfo.com Chicago.)

I’ve taken a few photos of Fulton Market over the years, click here for some of them…

Technicolor Haze over West Loop
Technicolor Haze over West Loop

Fulton Street Wholesale
Fulton Street Wholesale

Fulton Street Nocturne
Fulton Street Nocturne

If you’ve ever visited Pike Place Market in Seattle, the River Market District in Kansas City, or the Gansevoort Market District (Meat Packing District) in New York, you’d have an idea of what the City of Chicago is thinking about.

Lets Make a Deal
Lets Make a Deal

Here’s the presentation itself if you are interested.

Fulton Randolph Market District Plan (Presented 4/1/14) from Neighbors of West Loop

(via Neighbors of West Loop – West Loop News: Fulton Randolph Market District Plan Presentation (April 1, 2014).)

The presentation mentions the transformation of the CCP Holden Building on W. Madison as an example of what could be done, and it is true, there are several older buildings left on Fulton Street that could use a little loving care and restoration after years of neglect.

Written by Seth Anderson

April 4th, 2014 at 9:06 am

On Boycotting Woody Allen’s Films, Hate the Artist, Love the Art

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9 great movies
9 great movies

For many years I’ve heard many variations of the question answered here by the New York Times Ethicist columnist, Chuck Klosterman; whether moral failings or even alleged moral failings are reason enough to avoid the work of certain offending artists.

I was discussing with a friend whether it is permissible to boycott Woody Allen’s films in the wake of the sexual-abuse allegations. We both thought it would be wrong to further empower someone who may have sexually abused a child. But our legal system is built on the principle that the accused are innocent until proved guilty, and preserving that value is important whether or not you believe the allegations. Is it permissible in this case to boycott, or should we presume innocence? J.K., NEW YORK

When news of Dylan Farrow’s accusation against Allen resurfaced earlier this year, I received many emails that were all different versions of the same question: “Is it acceptable to continue watching (and re-watching) Allen’s films if any part of me believes he may have molested his adopted daughter?” Your query is both similar and different; you’re wondering if it’s O.K. to stop watching his movies, even if he has been convicted of absolutely nothing and insists that he’s innocent.

My answer to both questions is yes.

There are many who find themselves wondering if they can still love “Manhattan” or “Crimes and Misdemeanors” if the allegations against Allen are true. It’s highly unlikely, however, that those same people would wonder if they needed to move out of a house if they discovered the carpenter who built it had been accused of the same offense. This is because of art’s exceptionalism — we view artistic endeavors as different from other works. But it’s this same exceptionalism that allows a person to consume art by people they see (rightly or wrongly) as monstrous: What you know about an artist can inform the experience you have with whatever they create. A film is not just a product that has one utility; it’s a collection of ideas that can be weighed and considered in concert with one another.

Watching a movie is not a tacit endorsement of the person who made it.

(click here to continue reading On Boycotting Woody Allen’s Films – NYTimes.com.)

Johnny Depp and some psychoactive mushrooms
Johnny Depp and some psychoactive mushrooms

Can you separate the artist as an individual from their work? I settled this question long ago, for myself, by agreeing to let myself read and enjoy poetry written by Ezra Pound. Ezra Pound seems like he was a virulent anti-semite, a Nazi-sympathizer, and so on, and yet his poetry is intriguing. Roman Polanski admitted having drugged and screwed a 13 year old girl, and yet “Chinatown” is still a great film, as is “Knife in the Water”. John Lennon might have hit Yoko Ono a few times, does that mean I can never listen to “Working Class Hero” again? What about David Bowie’s Third Reich fixation during the time of the recording of some of his best albums? The list goes on and on: artists who were assholes, thugs, sexual deviants, or even worse, Scientologists! Does it matter if Henry Ford was a Nazi-sympathizer? Would you still drive a Ford car? Like Mr. Klosterman says, would you boycott your house if you discovered one of the carpenters who worked on your kitchen did some vile thing ten years ago? Where does it stop? 

It’s a variant of the old cliché: Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner, in this case, Hate the Artist, Love the Art. Or not, it’s your own choice, and your choice alone to make.  

Written by Seth Anderson

March 15th, 2014 at 11:04 am

Former Powerhouse of West Chicago Street Railroad was uploaded to Flickr

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Via Forgotten Chicago:
Much less well-known is the West Chicago Street Railroad’s (WCSR) former powerhouse, still standing in the West Loop at Washington Street and Jefferson Street. Equipment in this building drove two cables: one that pulled cable cars through the tunnel under the Chicago River along Washington Street and around the downtown and another shorter cable that pulled cars from Washington Street and Jefferson Street to Madison Street and DesPlaines Street.

This former WCSR powerhouse at Jefferson and Washington streets drove the cables that pulled West Side cable cars through the tunnel under the South Branch of the Chicago River and around two downtown loops. It is now the headquarters of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 134. The building was vacated in 1906, and for decades it housed the Chicago Surface Line’s Legal and Accident Investigation Department. Subsequently, it was modified—more substantially, perhaps unalterably, than the NCSR’s powerhouse on LaSalle Street. Several dormers were added at the roofline, the rear portion of the building was extended, and the smokestack was removed. Most significantly, a large stone wall covers much of the first floor. Today, the building serves as headquarters for Local 134 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which also hosts the monthly meeting of the 20th Century Railroad Club.


more:
http://ift.tt/XJs9ZP

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/dMy6NT

I took Former Powerhouse of West Chicago Street Railroad on January 16, 2013 at 01:10PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on January 18, 2013 at 04:39PM

Written by eggplant

March 14th, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Chicago alderman Ed Burke: Eliot Ness overhyped

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The Good Stuff
Templeton Rye: The Good Stuff, Al Capone’s favorite whiskey – and one of mine

Amusingly, since I recently sat through Kevin Costner’s portrayal of a root in’ tooting’ Eliot Ness with tough guy dialogue penned by David Mamet, there seems to be a mild controversy brewing whether or not to name a federal building after Ness who seems to have been quite a lot milder than the fictional version…

Far from the pistol toting, Al Capone-busting Chicago lawman of lore, Eliot Ness “was afraid of guns and he barely left the office,” according to a retired IRS agent who spoke out Friday against naming a federal law enforcement building in honor of the Prohibition-era leader of The Untouchables.

Ness was lionized thanks in part to oversimplified Chicago newspaper articles about the fight against Capone that downplayed the essential but less sensational role the Internal Revenue Service played in bringing the bootlegger to justice for tax evasion, said former agents at a City Hall hearing. Those early accounts were later conflated by authors and Hollywood producers into what they said was the legendary-but-inaccurate Ness character portrayed by Robert Stack on TV and Kevin Costner on film.

The testimony came as aldermen took a closer look at a notorious chapter in Chicago’s history with a movement afoot to rename after Ness the headquarters of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Washington, D.C. U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk are pushing for the name change, but veteran Southwest Side Ald. Ed Burke, a history buff, says Ness simply doesn’t deserve the honor.

Other Ness critics say his personal shortcomings contradict the strait-laced, incorruptible persona that brought him fame. By the end of his life, Ness was in debt, drinking heavily and had cheated on all three of his wives, according to several biographical accounts.

(click here to continue reading Chicago aldermen: Eliot Ness overhyped – chicagotribune.com.)

End of Prohibition - Coq d'Or
End of Prohibition – Coq d’Or

from the original press release, January 10, 2014:

Illinois’ U.S. senators proposed today that a major federal law-enforcement building in the nation’s capital be named for Eliot Ness, the Prohibition-era crime fighter who helped bring down Chicago gangster Al Capone.

The headquarters of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, built in recent years, would be called the Eliot Ness ATF Building under the senators’ resolution.…

“America’s fight against dangerous drug gangs is far from over,” Kirk said in a statement with the two other senators, “but in honoring Eliot Ness’ public service and his tireless crime fighting we reaffirm our commitment to safe streets and ensure that justice is brought to the Illinois families who have suffered.”

Added Durbin: “Chicago gangster Al Capone believed that every man had his price. But for Eliot Ness and his legendary law enforcement team, ‘The Untouchables,’ no amount of money could buy their loyalty or sway their dedication to Chicago’s safety.”

(click here to continue reading ‘Untouchable’ idea — building named for Eliot Ness – Chicago Tribune.)

I don’t know much of the history myself, but I would not be surprised if notorious press manipulator J. Edgar Hoover did not have some involvement in the marketing of The Untouchables.

As an aside, do you have a good suggestion for a book on this topic?

Written by Seth Anderson

March 1st, 2014 at 10:38 am

Posted in government,News-esque

Tagged with ,

Stanley Kubrick Lenses was uploaded to Flickr

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Some of them anyway, at display at LACMA.

www.lacma.org/art/exhibition/stanley-kubrick

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/dZmrR5

I took Stanley Kubrick Lenses on February 01, 2013 at 02:41PM

Written by eggplant

January 13th, 2014 at 9:39 am

Who Made That Nigerian Scam?

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Max Ernst - Spanish Physician
Max Ernst – Spanish Physician

Speaking of spam, you probably have encountered the so-called Nigerian scam a few times. Maybe even your lawyer has…

The Nigerian scam may seem like a scourge of the Internet age, but it actually predates email. Before we started getting all-caps proposals in our inboxes, con men in West Africa plied their trade by fax and paper letter. Some of the first scams to make their way to Western Europe arrived by telex in 1989 and 1990, when businessmen in Britain started hearing that a wayward tanker of Nigerian crude could have its cargo claimed for bargain prices — in exchange, of course, for some cash upfront. Before then, Nigerian fraudsters aimed their grifts at locals. One scheme was the “wash-wash,” a literal money-laundering in which the mark is shown a valise of supposed bills blackened with Vaseline and iodine and promised a cut if he pays for an expensive cleaning agent.

(click here to continue reading Who Made That Nigerian Scam? – NYTimes.com.)

The scam is even older than that:

“Some of these guys came out and started perpetrating fraud,” says Andrew Apter, an Africa historian at U.C.L.A. “They used the language and insignias and letterhead of financial offices to lure people in.”

Apter has traced this sort of misuse of official iconography as far back as a century. When Nigeria was established as a colony under British rule in 1914, its first governor cracked down on scammers in fake uniforms who claimed to be collecting taxes on behalf of the empire. The advance-fee scam itself — whereby payments are extracted from a sucker who hopes to gain an enormous treasure — seems to have originated elsewhere. According to Robert Whitaker, a historian at the University of Texas, an earlier version of the con, known as the Spanish Swindle or the Spanish Prisoner trick, plagued Britain throughout the 19th century.

(click here to continue reading Who Made That Nigerian Scam? – NYTimes.com.)

Legal Tender
Legal Tender

From Wikipedia:

The Spanish Prisoner is a confidence trick originating in the late 16th century.

In its original form, the confidence trickster tells his victim (the mark) that he is (or is in correspondence with) a wealthy person of high estate who has been imprisoned in Spain under a false identity. Some versions had the imprisoned person being an unknown or remote relative of the mark.

Supposedly the prisoner cannot reveal his identity without serious repercussions, and is relying on a friend (the confidence trickster) to raise money to secure his release. The confidence trickster offers to let the mark put up some of the funds, with a promise that he will be financially rewarded when the prisoner returns, and perhaps also by gaining the hand of a beautiful woman represented to be the prisoner’s daughter. After the mark has turned over the funds, he is informed that further difficulties have arisen and more money is needed. With such explanations, the trickster continues to press for more money until the victim is cleaned out or declines to put up more funds.

(click here to continue reading Spanish Prisoner – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Every deed and action that humans have done to each other has already been done in prior centuries…

Written by Seth Anderson

January 5th, 2014 at 10:14 am

Posted in humor

Tagged with , ,

Before Passing Judgement

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Before Passing Judgement
Before Passing Judgement

Former USPS building, now to be? Casino? who knows…

Bill Davies bought the site, but I don’t know if his plans have yet been finalized.

www.chicagogrid.com/news/dave-roeder-post-office-plans/

Bill Davies, the secretive British investor who wants to redevelop the old Chicago Main Post Office, is making a new bid for credibility with revised plans for the massive building that straddles Congress Parkway.

His latest proposal, which got its first airing at a community meeting Tuesday night, calls for making the federally landmarked building a mostly residential and parking complex and the centerpiece for surrounding hotel rooms, stores and offices.

Davies has hired Chicago architect Joseph Antunovich of Antunovich Associates to craft the plans for a first phase of 5.2 million square feet, more than what’s in Willis Tower. It would include a 1,000-foot-tall building east of the post office, and a later phase envisions a tower that would top Willis in height.

Written by Seth Anderson

December 4th, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Billy Goat proprietor wants to stay put amid planned development

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Billy Goat
Billy Goat

Everything changes eventually, but is there a good reason to kick out Sam Sianis from this location of the Billy Goat? Doubtful, just greedy real estate corporations…

No Pepsi. No fries. No desire to change things.

The Billy Goat Tavern has been a Chicago landmark for generations and a fixture underneath North Michigan Avenue for almost 50 years. And its owner wants to remain there, regardless of whatever redevelopment goes on above it.

Sam Sianis, who runs the tavern and is the nephew of the Billy Goat’s original owner, William Sianis, said Tuesday that he knew nothing of potential plans for a massive redevelopment disclosed Monday that would involve replacing the Realtor Building at 430 N. Michigan Ave. That project, on property located above the Goat, would at least temporarily displace the tavern from the subterranean location it has called home since 1964.

“I want to stay here,” Sianis said. “I’ve been here for almost 50 years. Like the Realtors, I’m part of Michigan Avenue.”

…”Nothing has changed since 1964,” Sianis said. “Nothing has changed from the time we opened up to now.”

Asked if he’d like a more modern, fancier new home as part of a new development, Sianis fell back on the cadence — No fries! Chips! No Pepsi! Coke! — immortalized by John Belushi in the “Saturday Night Live” skit that made the place famous.

“No fancy,” Sianis said. “I want it to be the same.”

Staying put wouldn’t be an option if the building above it is razed and redeveloped, but the National Association of Realtors thinks it has come up with the next best thing: Pick up the various pieces of the tavern, picture frame by picture frame and chair by chair, and move the Goat across the street.

 

(click here to continue reading Billy Goat proprietor wants to stay put amid planned development – chicagotribune.com.)

Moving to a location in the basement under the Wrigley Building would be ok, though I wonder how much the odor of the hamburgers, chips, Pepsi waft up to the floors above?

Billy Goat's Tavern & Grill
Billy Goat’s Tavern & Grill

Chuck Sudo of the Chicagoist describes the planned development thus:

An ambitious project to turn one of Michigan Avenue’s iconic buildings into a mixed-use “destination building” could have some short-term consequences for tourists and local media folk. The National Association of Realtors board unanimously approved a plan to raze its 13-story building at 430 N. Michigan Ave. and replace it with a new building including a high-end hotel, condominiums, office and retail space and an open plaza. The proposed new building would be mirrored after the NAR’s New York City-based project and could be as much as 93 stories high.

The NAR would also relocate its headquarters to Chicago which the Emanuel administration would surely tout in a press release as another sign the mayor is bringing jobs to Chicago if this project gets the green light. The NAR has an unnamed partner in the project. Pamela Monroe, chair of NAR’s Real Property Operations Committee, would only say the group is “a world-class partner with premium credentials” that is “very private” and “extremely well-capitalized.” The Realtor building is one of the few properties remaining on North Michigan Avenue that hasn’t been developed in recent years and the NAR bought the building behind it that houses 437 Rush restaurant.

(click here to continue reading Michigan Avenue Development Project Could Displace Billy Goat Tavern For A Spell: Chicagoist.)

Billy Goat Tavern Est 1934
Billy Goat Tavern Est 1934

I wonder if the “hex” on the Chicago Cubs would be broken if the Billy Goat was forced to move?

The Goat’s role in Chicago as a well-known bar goes back generations. It has been a hangout for journalists for decades and earned headlines regularly through owner William Sianis, an impresario as well as barkeeper. He’s the one who placed a hex on the Chicago Cubs in 1945 after his pet goat was kicked out of Wrigley Field during the World Series.

Written by Seth Anderson

November 13th, 2013 at 10:41 am

Posted in Business

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