Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Historical Chicago History Post

Getting back to my summer vacation before it hits the month-ago mark... I spent the July 4 weekend in the city doing a few things I'd done before and seeing a whole lot more I'd managed to miss during the nine years I lived there.

First stop: the site of the Haymarket Riot of 1886. From the plaques at the base of the memorial, which depicts labor activists speaking from a wagon before the meeting turned ugly:
On the evening of May 4th, 1886, a tragedy of international significance unfolded on this site in Chicago's Haymarket produce district. An outdoor meeting had been hastily organized by anarchist activists to protest the violent death of workers during a labor lockout the previous day in another area of the city. Spectators gathered in the street as speakers addressed political, social, and labor issues from atop a wagon that stood at the location of this monument. When approximately 175 policemen approached with an order to disperse the meeting, a dynamite bomb was thrown into their ranks.

The Haymarket Memorial, 151 N. Desplaines St.

The short version of the aftermath is that 7 cops and 4 civilians were killed by the bomb, thrown from Crane's Alley, here:

Crane's Alley, east side of Desplaines.

The slightly longer version is that, despite the failure to identify the bomber by either name or affiliation, the organizers of the meeting and several other people with unpopular pro-labor political beliefs were arrested and imprisoned after sham trials. Two organizers and two speakers were executed; another was murdered in prison while awaiting trial. The Haymarket Affair ultimately became a rallying point for the modern labor movement.

From the memorial at Desplaines and Randolph, it was a decent walk down to the ultimate Chicago historical site: the origin point of the Great Fire. The O'Learys built their barn on DeKoven Street just east of Jefferson. October 8, 1871: cow, lantern, wind, history.


The red brick building behind the monument? The one that says "Chicago Fire..."? Yeah, the full sign reads "Chicago Fire Academy." Too fittingly, the original fire site was taken over by the fire department to build their training academy; the back of the brick building is lit up at regular intervals to teach cadet firefighters how to ameliorate the effects of modern day O'Learys.

Boltgirl demonstrates callous disregard. It wasn't me, honest!

From there, a stroll up to the south Loop, where Dearborn Station overlooks the south end of Printer's Row.

Dearborn Station's tower, somewhat shortened after a fire--what else?--destroyed its original high peaked roof.

Next time: fun architectural details from historic Loop buildings. For now, the Cubs won in Milwaukee and are sitting in first by four.

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