Closed School Biographies: Samuel Gompers

 

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Close up of Samuel Gompers statue

In a previous post I examined Anthony Overton Elementary school at 221 E. 49th street.  This “Closed School Biographies” post, written just before the Chicago Teachers Union “Day of Action” on April 1st, embraces the spirit of solidarity to focus upon Samuel Gompers of the renamed Gompers Elementary at 12302 S. State Street. The school was appropriately renamed after Jesse Owens which I examined in a previous post.

With that renaming, Gompers has by no means become forgotten figure, but with labor and unions in the news I wanted to tip my red cap to Mr. Gompers’s legacy.  Gompers still has a park dedicated to him on the north side of the city at Foster Avenue and Pulaski Avenue.  In fact, a statue of Gompers, dedicated in 2007, stands in the southwest corner of that intersection.  At the base of said statue sits a box of cigars which honors his election as president of the Cigarmaker’s Union in 1875.  Gompers rose through the union ranks and eventually founded the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and was president of that organization for decades.

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Gompers’s cigars

 

Interestingly, Gompers had a great many struggles organizing here in Chicago and had many conflicts with the Chicago Federation of Labor (CFL) during and after World War I.  “Reconfiguring many of the arguments of local Irish and radical groups, the CFL became a center of antiwar agitation after the outbreak of war in Europe.  Its opposition to the AFL’s preparedness and mobilization polices stimulated a critical controversy between local officials and Samuel Gompers.”1   This reminds me of how intensely labor was embraced not just in Chicago, but throughout the United States.  Unions had so many sub-factions split along isolationism, globalism, socialism, communism, immigration issues and ethnicities.  The fact that “AFL membership grew from 150,000 to 2,900,000,”2 alone shows his skill at uniting those factions, but also the country’s previous commitment to labor.
With the Chicago Teachers Union marching and rallying at places like the Juvenile Detention Center and the Cook County Courthouse and jail I am reminded of an oft repeated quote from Gompers’s 1893 What Does Labor Want? speech delivered here in Chicago, “We want more school houses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more constant work and less crime; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures, to make manhood more noble, womanhood more beautiful and childhood more happy and bright.”3

Such things aren’t just wanted, but needed in Chicago today and the rest of our nation.

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Chicago Teachers Union outside Cook County Courthouse on April 1st

 

 

1        McKillen, Elizabeth.   Chicago Labor and the Quest for a Democratic Diplomacy 1914-1924, Cornell University Press, 1995. Page 15.

2   Chicago Park District website: http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/parks/gompers-park/

3         Gompers, Samuel. What Does Labor Want? A Paper Read before the International Labor Congress, Chicago, IL. September, 1893.  http://www.gompers.umd.edu/1893%20more%20speech.htm

Closed School Biographies: Anthony Overton

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Black Metropolis Sign

In 2013 Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and Barbara Byrd-Bennett (the recently resigned CEO due to a federal investigation) closed about 50 Chicago Public Schools.  One of those schools was Jesse Owens Community Elementary School named after the African-American Olympian who famously won four track and field gold medals during the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.  A campaign began in the community to keep the Olympian’s name on a surviving school.  Gompers Elementary was then renamed Jesse Owens Elementary.  On hand at the board meeting for the renaming was Owens’ oldest daughter, Gloria Owens Hemphill.  In a Chicago Tribune article she was quoted as saying, “We were interested in the children knowing about the people in their culture and their accomplishments and to let them know they, too, can accomplish all of these things.” 1

This got me thinking about all of the other closed schools and the individuals they were named after.  After a quick scan of the CPS closing list I realized there were not many names I recognized.  Why was a school named after this person or that person?  It was time to do some research and maybe a series of posts on these individuals.

One of the first names to jump out at me was Anthony Overton Elementary School at 221 E. 49th Street.  When driving down State Street I often pass a large building near 36th with the name, “OVERTON” etched above its doors.  This building is part of the Black Metropolis Historic District which I’ve mentioned previously in this blog.  When researching this historic district I found a long document with a long name: the Black Metropolis historic district: preliminary Summary of Information submitted to the Commission on Chicago Historical and Architectural Landmarks from March 7th of 1984.

Overton Hygenic front door

Overton Hygenic front door

This summary speaks of Black owned businesses and buildings such as the Overton that I’ve wondered about.  It states, “The most important of these included the Overton Hygienic Building, a combination store, office, and manufacturing building commissioned by the diverse entrepreneur Anthony Overton in 1922…”2  Like Jesse Owens, Overton is name that should not be forgotten especially when considering what he meant to the Bronzeville community

Photograph of Anthony Overton from the Encyclopedia of Colored People

Photograph of Anthony Overton from the Encyclopedia of Colored People.

The Commission report provides a brief account of the obstacles he overcame and his many successes along the way to becoming a successful Chicago businessman:

Overton was born into slavery on March 21, 1865, at Monroe, Louisiana.  He was educated at Washburn College and at the University of Kansas where he received a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1888 and later served as Judge of the Municipal Court in Shawnee County, Kansas.  After a brief venture as proprietor of a general store in Oklahoma, Overton moved to Kansas City where in 1898 he established one of the pioneering firms to specialize in the black cosmetics market, the Overton Hygienic Company. 3

His list of accomplishments and enterprises in Chicago is stunning.  Not only did he create the Overton Hygienic Company, but he also branched out to begin the Victory Life Insurance Company, the Douglass National Bank, “the first black bank to be granted a national charter,”4 and he began the Chicago Bee, an African-American newspaper “to take on Robert S. Abbott’s popular Chicago Defender.”5  The unsaid fact behind Overton’s remarkable enterprises is that each one was a necessity for the community because African-Americans were unable to spend money freely in Chicago due to racist tactics such as redlining and restrictive covenants.

Overton Hygienic Building on State Street

Overton Hygienic Building on State Street

His two business buildings still stand today on State Street.  The original Overton Hygienic building was constructed in 1922 and sits at 3619-3627 State Street.  From those offices Overton ran his cosmetics empire as well as his bank and insurance firm.  The Chicago Bee building was completed in 1931 and sits a little further south along State Street at 3647-3655.  Eventually Overton moved his cosmetics company into the Bee building where “they continued to share the building until the early 1940s when the newspaper ceased publication.”6  The Chicago Bee building serves now as a Chicago Public Library.  Both buildings are now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Chicago Bee building

Chicago Bee building

In my research I found a booklet published by the Overton Hygienic Manufacturing Company in 1921 titled Encyclopedia of Colored People and Other Useful Information.  It is an odd publication comprised of many unusual headings.  As the title suggests one of the first sections is labeled “Our Race in History” on page 4.  There’s also a “Beauty Hints” section on page 38 along with numerous advertisements for Overton products, of course.  What makes it unusual in my opinion is the unique assortment of sections near the end with headings such as “Birthday Readings” and “Superstitions” and “Dream Dictionary”.  The most important thing, however, is that Overton, himself, sums up in that booklet the value his enterprises brought to the African-American community which could not get such services elsewhere in the city:

At the beginning Hygienic Pet Baking Powder was the only product. New articles have been added from time to time as resources would permit, until we now make 153 different articles – over one million dollars invested – employ 125 different people in our office and factory, and have many thousands of local agents who make a good living by the sale of our products.

All of our products are manufactured in our own factory.  Our firm is composed exclusively of Negroes, not a white person being employed in any capacity and not a dollar of white capital being used either directly or indirectly.7

If you have the opportunity, please take a chance to visit these two buildings in Bronzeville.  When I last visited the Chicago Bee library there was a fantastic painting by Gregg Spears called A Bronzeville Saturday depicting the energy, life, and culture around those buildings.  My photograph of it does not do it any justice, so please see it in person.  My next post will focus on another name from that list of closed CPS buildings.  Thank you for reading!

A Bronzeville Afternoon by Gregg Spears

A Bronzeville Afternoon by Gregg Spears

Overton Ency


Resources and Citations

1 Ahmed-Ullah, Noreen S.  Chicago Tribune.  CPS to restore Jesse Owens’ name to school.  October 24, 2013

2-6  Commission on Chicago Historical and Architectural Landmarks.  Black Metropolis historic district: preliminary Summary of Information submitted to the Commission on Chicago Historical and Architectural Landmarks  March 7, 1984

7  Overton-Hygienic Manufacturing Company.   Encyclopedia of Colored People and Other Useful Information  1921

Rube Foster and Schorling’s Park

South Side Park (later, Schorling Park) stood at 39th and Wentworth Ave.

South Side Park (later, Schorling Park) stood at 39th and Wentworth Ave.

Warm weather has arrived to stay (at least for a few months) and baseball season is heating up.  Much has been made in Chicago news recently about Wrigley Field and the commemorations for its 100th anniversary.  The ballpark began as home to the Chicago Whales, a Federal League team, in 1914 and it was originally called Weeghman Field for its owner, Charles Weeghman.  All of this has been covered, however, in honor of Wrigley Field’s centennial celebrations.

What I want to look into with today’s post is a relatively forgotten ballpark that housed many championship games on Chicago’s other side of town: South Side Park (and later Schorling Park).  This park stood at 39th and Wentworth Avenue from 1893 until it burned down on Christmas Day in 1940.  It was called South Side Park (and sometimes 39th Street Grounds) from 1900 to 1910 while the Chicago White Sox (then known as the White Stockings) played there.  According to Paula Lupkin of the Encyclopedia of Chicago, “The relocation of the White Stockings to Comiskey Park enabled Chicago’s Negro League team, the American Giants, to purchase their old facility, South Side Park, located at 39th and Wentworth. Rechristened Schorling Park, it stood until 1940 when it was destroyed by fire.”  Shortly after baseball began integration, the Negro League started to fade and was gone by the 1950s.

Today, near the spot you can find a Chicago Tribute marker (as seen in the photograph above) which commemorates Andrew “Rube” Foster.  We’ll look at him more in a moment.

No other ballpark went up on the 39th and Wentworth Avenue site after the fire in 1940.  What intrigues me, however, isn’t the park’s end, so much as its beginning in 1893.  As every Chicago history fan knows, 1893 was the year of the World’s Columbian Exposition.  In the excellent book When Chicago Ruled Baseball: The Cubs-White Sox World Series of 1906 author, Bernard A. Weisberger explains, “The park had opened in 1893 in time for the world’s fair for a professional cricket team known as the Chicago Wanderers, who played and drew their audience from recent immigrants from the British Isles.  There were not enough of these to make the Wanderers a success, however, and by 1900 the grounds were no more than a bumpy abandoned lot strewn with junk.  Yet Comiskey spotted the place as a choice location,” (62).  The thing I love about Weisberger’s book is that he takes plain facts like the dimensions of a ballpark and puts them fluidly into context.  Look at his description of South Side Park:

In 1900, Comiskey’s first task after cleaning up, leveling and seeding the deserted cricket field (a job in which he sometimes joined with his own hands) was to create seating.  The First National Bank of Chicago lent him the money for an enclosed wooden grandstand extending from first to third base, the roof supported by whitewashed posts.  The dimensions made it a tough place for right-handed hitters: the left-field foul line was 355 feet long, left center was 400 feet from home plate, and center field was a deep 450 feet (but only when not accommodating standees).  The distance to the right-field fence seems to have disappeared from available records, but given the fact that the White Sox’ regular-season lineup featured four left-handed hitters (and one who batted from either side of the plate), it seems likely that it was at least as short as and possibly shorter than the left-field line. 63-64.

The White Sox played in South Side Park until 1910 when Comiskey’s new park opened its gates on July 1st of 1910.  Before leaving however the White Sox would make a lot of memories there such as winning Chicago’s only crosstown World Series in 1906.  A fact that I need to research more involves whether or not Comiskey had owned or was leasing the land for South Side Park.  One of the most recent biographies on his life, Turning the Black Sox White: The Misunderstood Legacy of Charles A. Comiskey states, “…Comiskey was a man who treasured tradition and familiarity.  That being said, he initially discussed terms with the owner of the current South Side Park at 39th and Wentworth Avenue to buy or lease the land for twenty years.  A mutually satisfactory agreement could not be reached, so Comiskey moved on,” (171).  Another text, however, titled Chicago’s New Negroes: Modernity, The Great Migration, and Black Urban Life examines the uneasy transition from South Side Park to Schorling Park.  That author, Davarian L. Baldwin, states, “The major point of reported contention among race leaders was Foster’s partnership with John Schorling, a white saloon keeper and son-in-law of Charles Comiskey, who leased the old White Sox stadium on 39th and Wentworth to the American Giants,” (212).  Regardless of who owned it, after the White Sox moved out, Rube Foster and his Chicago American Giants moved in.

The city’s tribute marker remembers Foster and explains, “Andrew ‘Rube’ Foster dominated the Negro Leagues as a pitcher, manager, owner, and league organizer.”  Foster came to Chicago in 1906 to play for and manage the Leland Giants but, “In 1911, in partnership with white saloonkeeper John Schorling he founded the Chicago American Giants, which became one of the greatest teams in black baseball history…He led his team to Negro League championships in 1914, 1915, and 1917.”  In many ways Foster was the heart of the league and an excellent promoter of the sport.  In his book Chicago’s New Negroes Baldwin argues, “For the next decade, Foster’s Giants were among the most dominant black nine, and some would say baseball team more generally.  Foster’s disciplining and ‘scientific’ style of speedy play focused on pitching, targeted hitting, base stealing, and signaling,” (213).  Foster entered the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981, but I feel his legacy sadly needs greater prominence and emphasis in Chicago.

You can find his tribute marker on the northwest corner of 39th/Pershing and Wentworth Avenue just a few block south of where the White Sox currently play.  After games many baseball fans drive past it and the very spot where South Side/Schorling Park once stood when they attempt to get back onto the Dan Ryan expressway.

 

Rube Foster Tribute Marker

Rube Foster Tribute Marker

 

Resources and Citations

Baldwin, Davarian L.  Chicago’s New Negroes: Modernity, The Great Migration, and Black Urban Life.  2007.

Hornbaker, Tim.  Turning the Black Sox White: The Misunderstood Legacy of Charles A. Comiskey. 2014

Weisberger, Bernard A.  When Chicago Ruled Baseball: The Cubs-White Sox  World Series of 1906. 2006.

 

White Sox timeline
http://chicago.whitesox.mlb.com/cws/history/timeline01.jsp

Paul Healey’s Project Ballpark

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in Chicago

Timuel LBC

Timuel Black

Hello and welcome!

This past Saturday, January 18th, I had the unique opportunity to take a tour called “The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” through the University of Chicago Graham School and the Civic Knowledge Project.  The fact that historian, Timuel Black, was leading this tour  made it truly special.  Mr. Black, born in December of 1918, has carried many titles in his 95 years: historian, teacher, author, activist, and World War II veteran.  Hearing Mr. Black talk about his work and time with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was an opportunity I couldn’t miss.

We boarded our bus at the University of Chicago right near Rockefeller Chapel.   King delivered three speeches on this campus, two of which occurred at Rockefeller Chapel on April 13, 1956 and then again on October 25, 1959. 1  On our tour bus Mr. Black spoke about King’s first speech at Rockefeller Chapel in 1956 and how it was originally intended to be at the nearby First Unitarian Church.  Black and other organizers soon realized they’d need a bigger venue when they saw the interest King’s presence was garnering and so they moved the event to Rockefeller.

After this discussion our tour bus quickly made its way to the next stop on the tour, Liberty Baptist Church at 49th and King Drive.  At the church we were met by Associate Pastor Rev. Damon Smith who shared some of the church’s history with us.  Liberty Baptist Church originally began as a social group called the Olive Leaf Club in 1917, but would blossom into a church community.  The church’s current building on 49th and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive opened in 1956 under Rev. A.P. Jackson.

Liberty Baptist Church

Liberty Baptist Church

When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. began his work here in Chicago he focused on inequality, redlining, and poor housing on the city’s Westside, but headquartered at Liberty Baptist Church.  “Why headquarter on the Southside when you’re working on the Westside?” Rev. Damon Smith asked us.  “Well, it’s good to have friends,” he explained.  Dr. King, Jr. had gone to Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia at the same time as Rev. A.P. Jackson and the two men had been friends.  Rev. A.P. Jackson opened up his church to King, so that Dr. King would have a place to meet, organize, and hold his press conferences.  In fact, Dr. King would hold a weekly press conference every Friday and give the media updates on what he and the Chicago Freedom Movement had accomplished towards their goals of eliminating housing discrimination.  Progress about organizing tenants’ unions, rallies, or marches would be shared.  You can see a picture below of the basement room where Dr. King held his weekly press conferences.

Currently, Liberty Baptist Church is working on updates to its buildings and facilities in order to meet criteria for consideration by the National Register of Historic Places.  It also maintains its presence in the community as a source of change and empowerment.  According to the church’s website, “Liberty Baptist Church of Chicago along with The Interfaith Housing Development Corporation formed a not-for-profit corporation to assist those impacted with HIV/AIDS.  In 1997 Vision House was opened. Vision House provides housing for HIV/AIDS singles and families.” 2

LBC Pulpit

Inside Liberty Baptist Church of Chicago

After touring Liberty Baptist Church and appreciating their hospitality, we got back on the tour bus to head to the Westside.  Our next stop was the Dr. King Legacy Apartments at 16th and Hamlin.  When Dr. King moved into the city in 1966 he chose the North Lawndale neighborhood because it was one of the most racially segregated communities suffering under deplorable conditions.  King hoped that his presence would help shine light on those terrible conditions so that they would change.  The complex in which Dr. King had lived has long since been torn down, but a non-profit, Lawndale Christian Development Corp., helped create “a 45-unit, green, quality affordable residential and commercial property located at 1550 S. Hamlin, built in 2011, in the exact location where Dr. King resided…” 3  This housing unit is one of the many parts that the LCDC will use to create a 4 acre M.L.K. Historic District.  Other elements are the Roots Café, a restaurant that will feature healthy choices for the community, a wellness center and a history exhibit center.

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Where Dr. King, Jr. held press conferences

As part of the tour, we were able to get a sneak peek of that exhibit called the MLK Fair Housing Exhibit Center.  The inside featured maps, film clips, and a recreation of Dr. King’s own living room.  One of the highlights is a large mural by artist Phil Collins.  A crew was putting the finishing touches on the exhibit space getting ready for a VIP opening on January 20th and its official public opening on January 26th.  Many photographs were taken as we examined the exhibits and then we made our way back to the bus.

On our way back to Hyde Park we stopped briefly at Marquette Park.  In August of 1966 Dr. King led a march through Marquette park and infamously was met by a mob filled with venom and hate.  Someone threw a stone and struck Dr. King in the back of the head.  After this moment Dr. King leveled a strong indictment saying, “Well, this is a terrible thing.  I’ve been in many demonstrations all across the South, but I can say that I have never seen, even in Mississippi and Alabama, mobs as hostile and as hate-filled as I have seen here in Chicago.” 4

Legacy Apt.I’ve included a YouTube link below which shows this statement.  (Be aware, I believe it mislabeled the march site as Gage Park.)  The clip is less than ninety seconds long, but you get a strong sense of King’s peacefulness and inner calm when under pressure.

After stopping at Marquette Park to reflect on what King encountered, we then headed back to the University of Chicago.  For the entire tour Mr. Timuel Black was sharing anecdotes and stories about the neighborhoods and communities that have changed so much in his long lifetime.  At the end of the tour we applauded and thanked him for sharing his wisdom with us.  He was kind enough to sign my copy of his second oral history volume, Bridges of Memory: Chicago’s Second Generation of Black Migration too.  If you want to learn more about how communities like Bronzeville and North Lawndale grew and developed I highly recommend Mr. Black’s book.  We also thanked Professor Bart Schultz from the University of Chicago Graham School for organizing the tour and Larry Dixon from the CLDC for giving us early access to the MLK Fair Housing Exhibit Center.

Some critics view King’s time in Chicago as one of his less successful endeavors.  His work here though, with the Chicago Freedom Movement and other activists, helped lead to the Fair Housing Act.  Is there still discrimination, segregation and racism here in Chicago?  Yes, but the seeds of Reverend King’s time in Chicago are growing again in the North Lawndale community as organizations work to live up to his legacy.

Thank you for reading!

King Apartment

Putting up the finishing touches in the MLK Fair Housing Exhibit Center.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Allen, Susie & Drapa, Michael “When King Made History at UChicago.”
http://www.uchicago.edu/features/20120109_mlk/

2  Liberty Baptist Church website
http://www.lbcofchicago.org/History.html

3 Lawndale Christian Development Corporation website:
http://www.lcdc.net/mlk_historical_district.html

4 YouTube clip:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_pjbnMXM1o

End of DuSable Week

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DuSable Museum of African-American History

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Museum Entrance

We’ve reached the end of DuSable week in Chicago.  I have one last site that needs discussing, however, and that is the DuSable Museum of African-American History.  According to the museum guide, “Margaret Taylor-Burroughs (November 11, 1917 – November 21, 2010) was a prominent African-American artist, writer and founder of the DuSable Museum of African-American History.”  I also have to point out she was a teacher.  Dr. Burroughs founded the museum in 1961.  On the lower level of the museum a gallery displays some of her artwork.

The museum stands on 57th Street and South Cottage Grove Avenue in the Hyde Park neighborhood.  Upon entering the museum you will step into Founder’s Hall which features mosaics of Dr. Margaret Burroughs and, of course, DuSable standing in front of his cabin.  (Regrettably, but understandably, no photography is allowed in any part of the museum so if you’re local and have the opportunity, head out to see the mosaics and other galleries because my descriptions will not do them justice.  If you’re from out of town and unable to visit, I’m sorry, but my descriptions will have to do them justice.  Or just visit the museum’s website.)  Once in Founder’s Hall, turn right just past the ticket table and head down the hallway with the gift shop to see a large, bronze bust of DuSable.  It was sculpted by Robert Jones in 1979.

In another gallery called “Africa Speaks” there is a small theater showing a short film called Celebrating Chicago’s First Settler: Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable.  I didn’t officially time it, but the film appeared to be about 15 minutes long and reenacted important moments of DuSable’s life.

Currently at the museum there are multiple art shows displaying paintings by Charly Parker and also artists of the AfriCOBRA collective such as Wadsworth Jarrell.  One exhibit by artist James Pate is small, but contains powerful images titled Kin Killin’ Kin.  Please go visit the museum or go to their website for more information.

Before I finish discussing DuSable, I need to mention one last thing: his departure.  DuSable closed his successful trading post and left the mouth of the river in 1800.  He sold his property to Jean La Lime.  The violent facts story of Jean La Lime’s death and how the DuSable property eventually became the “Kinzie mansion” will be my next post in September.

As always, thanks for reading.

Other sources & further readings: Bessie Louise Pierce  The History of Chicago: The Beginning of a City 1673-1848, Volume One Christopher Robert Reed  Black Chicago’s First Century, Volume 1, 1833 to 1900

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Other Sources & Further Readings

50th Anniversary: DuSable week

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Looking west at the Michigan/DuSable bridge

Before I ever had an appreciation for its historical importance, I loved standing at the mouth of the Chicago River.  Many people do.  During the most beautiful afternoons of summer or under the most bruised-skies of winter people pause and pose for photos on the Michigan/DuSable bridge.

Looking west with your back to Lake Michigan, you can see the city unfurl itself along the banks of the river.  If you stand on the west side of the bridge with your belly against the rail and watch the reversed river flow west, you’ll understand.

Imagine that spot as the narthex of a cathedral.  A narthex is the vestibule or front porch before you enter the cathedral proper.  The river then becomes a nave, the center, dividing the skyscrapers into aisles along the north and south.  Cathedrals were built to inspire awe and the mouth of the river, our inadvertent cathedral, does exactly that.  Get there in the early morning before the chaos of the day begins and you’ll understand.

This is the city’s birthplace.

On the northeast corner of the bridge a statue stands commemorating Chicago’s first settler, Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable.  He gazes west down the length of the river too.

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DuSable Bust by sculptor Erik Blome 2009

Fifty years ago Richard J. Daley declared the week of August 18th to the 24th of 1963 as “DuSable Week” in acknowledgement of the city’s first resident.  The proclamation states, “…in the report of these British officers that there was first made mention of Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable, who the British found living in a trader’s hut along the Chicago River; NOW, THEREFORE, I, Richard J. Daley, Mayor of the City of Chicago, do hereby designate the period of August 18-24, 1963, as DU SABLE WEEK IN CHICAGO and urge that our people give recognition to the fact that DuSable was the first Chicago resident of record.”

Discussing DuSable feels like the most natural way to begin this project about Chicago and this 50th anniversary appears to me the best time to do so.

In honor of this early Chicagoan, take a day this week to go downtown and see the statue in person or take a trip to the DuSable Museum of African American History in Hyde Park.

Later this week I will post more about DuSable and include more photographs.  In future weeks I will examine the rich history of this specific spot, the river’s mouth, even more.  I hope you’ll keep exploring with me.

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DuSable Week proclamation dated 8/8/1963: courtesy of the Chicago History Museum

Know any longtime Chicagoans?  I’m looking to add interviews to future posts!