Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Interpretive Digital Essay : The Plan of Chicago
The Plan of Chicago
Chicago in 1909
Planning Before the Plan
Antecedents and Inspirations
The City the Planners Saw
The Plan of Chicago
The Plan Comes Together
Creating the Plan
Reading the Plan
A Living Document
1909 Timeline
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Date Headline Details
Jan 3 Italy Shaken, Chicago Stirred Italian King Victor Emmanuel III returns to Rome after inspecting damage caused by the most powerful earthquake ever to strike Europe. He announces that he believes the worst is over. The quake struck Sicily and southern Italy on December 28, and some estimates of the dead run as high as 200,000. Since first hearing of the disaster, Chicagoans have raised $30,000 in relief assistance. They plan a midday rally at the YMCA Auditorium to raise more disaster aid, a midnight prayer gathering at the Coliseum, and an earthquake benefit performance at the Auditorium featuring musicians led by Chicago Symphony founding conductor Theodore Thomas.
Jan 7 The Adlais' Ups and Downs Illinois Governor Charles Deneen, a Republican, agrees to a recount in the previous November's gubernatorial election. Deneen had defeated Democrat and former vice president (under Grover Cleveland) Adlai E. Stevenson. The recount confirms the victory of Deneen, who serves his second and last term. Stevenson's grandson, also named Adlai, wins the governorship in 1948 by the biggest majority in Illinois history but loses to Dwight Eisenhower in the presidential elections of 1952 and 1956. His son, Adlai E. Stevenson III, is elected United States Senator from Illinois in 1970, but fails in his 1982 and 1986 bids for governor.
Jan 12 Chicago Men Stand Up for Chicago Women Thirty Chicago men organize what is believed to be the first male women's suffrage organization in the United States. The Chicago Men's Equal Suffrage League holds its initial meeting in the City Club. A week later, Anna Shaw, President of the National Woman Suffrage Association, addresses society women in New York City. Shaw assures her audience that females are as capable as males of being well informed and rational voters. "It has been said," she observes, "political disagreements of husbands and wives would make domestic discord, but I do not see any. I know a great deal of family life. I know that when husbands and wives want to quarrel they do not wait for a political question to find a cause."
Jan 12 Cub Marries Helen of Troy Marriage appears to hold no hazards for Helen FitzGibbons. She weds John Evers of the Chicago Cubs famed double-play trio Tinker to Evers to Chance. The quiet ceremony in her hometown of Troy, N.Y., catches Evers's friends by surprise.
Jan 20 Maroons Merit Magnate's Million Oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller donates another million dollars to the University of Chicago. This brings the total value of his gifts to the university to $24,515,322. Rockefeller, a great believer in fiscal discipline, decided to make this latest donation when he learned that the university was operating within its income. The university was founded in the early 1890s thanks to Rockefeller's original gift, and it was constructed on land given by Marshall Field. Rockefeller's latest generosity is announced by Martin A. Ryerson, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the University of Chicago. Ryerson, a member of the Commercial Club, served on the Plan of Chicago's Committee on Railway Terminals.
Jan 29 Bathhouse John's Pet Measure Alderman John J. "Bathhouse John" Coughlin of Chicago's First Ward introduces a resolution that would make Groundhog Day a legal city holiday. Coughlin, a saloonkeeper who earned his nickname from his days as a rubber in a bathhouse, deems the resolution his "pet measure." Coughlin praises the groundhog, saying its "prognostications are invariably correct, which cannot be said of the men whom the government pays big wages to dope out the weather for us."
Feb 1 Aldermen Make Hay as the Snow Falls A blizzard and bitter cold transform the Lake Shore Drive promenade into an arctic landscape. Braving temperatures in the teens, Chicagoans frolic in this winter wonderland. Meanwhile, in the warm fastness of City Hall, the Chicago City Council votes 57-6 to raise the pay of aldermen elected in the spring from $1,500 to $3,000. The council also approves wages of $1,500 for "secretaries" of those already in office. It is commonly understood that the purpose of this second vote is to equalize the pay of continuing aldermen with that of freshly elected ones by circumventing a statute forbidding officials in office from raising their own salaries.
Feb 12 Old Abe's Happy Hundredth The nation celebrates the centennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. Illinois declares the day a legal holiday in honor of its native son, and even the Chicago packinghouses halt production. Springfield, the state capital and Lincoln's long-time home, observes the occasion with multiple events. William Jennings Bryan, unsuccessful Democratic Party candidate for the presidency in 1896, 1900, and 1908, and future secretary of state under Woodrow Wilson, joins the ambassadors of France and England, as well as Senator Jonathan Dolliver of Iowa, in addressing a crowd of 9,000. African Americans, who are not invited to this commemoration, hold their own ceremony in a Springfield church. In Chicago, Wilson, who at this time is president of Princeton University but is about to begin his political career, speaks in the Auditorium as part of the Chicago observance of the Lincoln centennial. Two days later, Bryan will tell a group of ministers in Chicago that a group of natives from "the land of the heathen," if brought to Chicago and trained as missionaries and then sent back home to preach Christianity, would be more effective (and much more economical than the whole United States Navy in protecting the nation against "dangers from without." In April, President Taft, believing that the country requires new naval stations from which to protect its interests in the Pacific, orders the construction of a base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.
Feb 14 Auto Show Runs Over Records The exhibition of the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers at the Coliseum closes, having attracted a record crowd of 200,000 and generated over $3,000,000 in business. It is the most successful auto show the country has witnessed to date. On a wall of the Coliseum is a large medallion featuring Mercury, the god of speed. The show attracts a great variety of people, from plain-spoken farmers to urban sophisticates, curious dowagers to confident millionaires, all seeking something suited to their needs, taste, and pocketbook. The manufacturers are eager to heighten demand for this young technology, and in some instances they do so with special features and gimmicks. One car has a built-in ice chest to keep beverages cold on motor trips.
Feb 20 Police K.O. Aldermanic Hopeful Police arrest 117 boxing fans during a raid on an illegal fight at the Algonquin Club, which is located at 312 E. 60th Street in Hyde Park on the city's South Side. The law appears on the scene just before a bout between Kid Clifford and Slats O'Malley. Some spectators escape by jumping out a window or sliding down a rope. Among those arrested is F. A. Harper, who is the opponent of University of Chicago political science professor Charles Merriam, a consultant on the Plan of Chicago, for the Republican nomination for Seventh Ward alderman.
Mar 4 Snow and Taft Hit Washington A snowstorm in the nation's capital causes many visitors to arrive too late for the inauguration of William Howard Taft as twenty-seventh President of the United States. Taft, who spent the night before his inauguration in the White House as the guest of President Theodore Roosevelt, tells his host, "Mr. President, even the elements protest" against the change in national leaders.
Mar 4 Serbia Retreats, for Now In international affairs, Serbia prepares a favorable response to a Russian appeal to withdraw Serbian claims to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Mar 8 Chicagoan MacVeagh Top U.S. Money Man Prominent Chicago businessman and former Commercial Club president Franklin MacVeagh arrives in Washington and takes the oath of office as Secretary of the Treasury at 3 p.m. MacVeagh, a stalwart advocate of the Plan of Chicago, hires an architectural firm to redesign the department's use of office space in order to make it more efficient.
Mar 13 Mrs. Field's Chauffeur Flies into Police Web Chicago police pull over thirteen "autoists" for exceeding the ten-miles-per-hour speed limit. Among the unlucky thirteen is David Wheeler, the chauffeur for the widow of Marshall Field. Mrs. Field is in the car at the time. In a related development, Patrolman M.E. Flynn nabs William Taylor after a chase in which a shot is fired. The police charge Taylor with alerting other drivers to the dragnet. The drivers are said to exceed the speed limit north of 22nd Street by ten and sometimes twenty miles per hour. The limit is fifteen miles per hour south of 22nd Street. A sergeant in the police auto squad remarks that some chauffeurs have become so reckless while driving on Michigan Avenue that pedestrians risk their lives if they attempt to cross the street at certain hours.
Mar 19 Cleaning Up the Schools The Chicago Board of Education supports Washburne School principal C.E. Thompson's request for six rubber bathing caps to facilitate the washing of the dirty faces of some female students. "The girls in the schools certainly need scrubbing about as much as the boys do," Thompson explains, "But the difficulty is that they have long hair, and there isn't time after the scrubbing operation to let them sit in the sun to dry it." The board also approves a proposition to install indoor plumbing in two other schools.
Mar 20 Subway Riders Face Extremely Long Wait A municipal report states that the construction of a $50,000,000 subway system in the downtown is an urgent priority. Suggested routes would connect the North, South, and West Sides with the Loop. The ground-breaking for a subway finally takes place on December 17, 1938, and the system finally opens on December 17, 1943.
Mar 30 Gray Wolves Howl in Vain The so-called "Gray Wolves," the ethically-challenged machine politicians on the Chicago City Council--including Johnny Powers, "Bathhouse John" Coughlin, and Mike "Hinky Dink" Kenna--lose by a vote of 40-19 in a showdown on procedural changes backed by the reformers of the Municipal Voters League. A vituperative speech against the changes by Alderman Mike McInerney, the self-proclaimed "big fellow from the stockyards," elicits grins and leers from members of "the pack" and brings blushes of shame to the faces of women in the galleries. In its recommendations for the upcoming election, the Municipal Voters League declares Powers, Coughlin, Kenna, and McInerney "totally unfit" for office.
Apr 5 Confronting the White Plague Health experts urge Chicagoans to vote in favor of a proposition in the upcoming election authorizing the construction of a public tuberculosis sanitarium. Its purpose is to combat the terrible human devastation caused by the "white plague," as tuberculosis is called. The disease takes the lives of 3,885 of the 31,296 people who die in Chicago in 1909. In both 1907 and 1915 it kills more than 4,000.
Apr 6 The People Speak Residents of the city of Chicago cast their ballots in favor of the annexation of Evanston and Cicero. Citizens in those communities turn the measure down, however, and both remain independent. Voters pass the referendum on the sanitarium, and the city acquires land bordered by Pulaski Road and Bryn Mawr, Peterson, and Central Park Avenues to build it. The area occupied by the sanitarium is transformed starting in the 1970s into North Park Village and Peterson Park. "Gray Wolf" candidates fail to stage a broad comeback, though Johnny Powers, John Coughlin, Mike Kenna, and Mike McInerney, who face only token opposition, are easily re-elected. In other election news, although the village of Gross Point votes 202-50 against it, Wilmette, Kenilworth, Winnetka, and Glencoe rack up a 2-1 majority in favor of prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages in New Trier Township. Since Evanston, Highland Park, and Lake Forest are already dry, prohibition is now effectively in force between Rogers Park and Waukegan.
Apr 10 Leagues of Decency A federal statute banning the importation of "indecent" materials causes the seizure of a collection of Chinese artifacts collected for the Field Museum by Professor Berthold Laufer of Columbia University. Northwestern University law graduate and United States District Court Justice Kenesaw Mountain Landis (named for the Civil War battle in which his father severely injured his leg), after inspecting the collection, is sympathetic to the museum and critical of the wording of the ban. "If I had been passing this law," Landis states, "I would have insisted on a provision permitting the importation of such things as this for the purposes for which these no doubt were imported." A little more than a decade later, Landis becomes better known to Chicagoans and the nation when, as the first Commissioner of Baseball, he suspends for life eight members of the Chicago White Sox for their alleged role in fixing the 1919 World Series, even though they were acquitted of criminal charges.
Apr 18 Bread on the Rise Mathias Schmidinger, President of the Master Bakers' Association, predicts that the cost of bread will soon rise to seven cents a loaf. One reason is a city ordinance, currently under appeal, requiring every loaf to weigh sixteen ounces. But the major problem is the high price of wheat, which Schmidinger and others attribute to "Wheat King" James A. Patten of Evanston, whose speculation in the commodities market has driven up the cost of flour. Bakers call for an end to the twenty-five-cents-a-bushel tariff on Canadian wheat, which they say puts the interests of capitalists ahead of the bakers and their customers. The Rev. R.A. White of the People's Liberal Church declares, "The God of Get has favored high priests who serve in the inner sanctuary and stand before the presence of the God of Get day and night." White adds that "children must die and women must weep and worry that our high priest of the God of Get can add two or three millions to his fortune."
Apr 25 Reformers' Message: Change the Code A committee comprised of architects, builders, skilled workers, real estate experts, academics, neighborhood leaders, aldermen, and other public officials prepares to submit to the Chicago City Council Building Committee a group of amendments in the city building code that are intended to improve housing in Chicago. Several recommendations apply to basements used as living space. Proposals include a minimum ceiling height of eight feet six inches, with at least half of that height above street level; ample light and ventilation, with a window in every basement room that must be set back at least three feet from the sidewalk; and adequate drainage and waterproofing to eliminate dampness. The city comptroller refuses to reimburse the committee members $168.10 for dinners eaten during their meetings at the Bismarck Hotel, even though the members served without pay and often worked from the afternoon until late into the evening.
May 1 Last Call and Then Some Chicago police begin strict observance of the 1 a.m. closing rule for bars in the city. Their instructions read, "Every member of the department will see that the 1 o'clock closing ordinance is enforced absolutely." The orders continue, "No gambling shall be tolerated by any member of the department." Most saloons comply, but one notable exception is J.C. Murphy's at Clark and Division, where at 1:45 a.m. a dozen patrons are still at the bar, and beer and whiskey are flowing freely. "Little effort at concealment was made," a newspaper reports. "The front door had been locked and the shades half drawn, but the merriment within was easily heard thirty yards from the building."
May 3 Peace Breaks Out in Chicago The second National Peace Congress opens in Chicago. It is the subject of many sermons and speeches at church services and public meetings the day before. One meeting takes place at Orchestra Hall on Michigan Avenue, a building designed by D.H. Burnham and Company. Among those addressing the overflow crowd at this gathering is professor of Christian ethics and moral philosophy Jacob Gould Schurman, President of Cornell University. Schurman concedes that man is "a fighting animal." He then adds, "But if man be merely a higher animal and human history too be merely a struggle for life and the survival of the cunningest and the strongest, human life is not worth living."
May 8 Society Goes to the Dogs, and Vice Versa Bonnie Pink, a pedigreed Mexican fox terrier, is the "hostess" of a dinner party for Chicago's animal aristocracy held at 5010 South Prairie Avenue, the home of Mrs. L. Erb. The menu includes Columbia River salmon and ice cream. The evening is graced with music provided by a one-piece orchestra consisting of a gramophone. Sharing the hosting duties are Tootsie, Honey Boy, Helen Taft (who shares her name with the wife of President Taft), Dearie, Daisy Girl, Love of Mine, and Buff. Helen Taft is fetching in a pink ribbon, while Daisy Girl sports a darling brace of miniature sleigh bells. Buff commits a shocking faux pas, however. After bolting his salmon, he advances on the portion set before Violet Eyes, another guest. Buff's gauche behavior is attributed to the fact that he is, after all, part mongrel.
May 17 Norse Fourth of July, Both Wet and Dry A significant representation of Chicago's 50,000 Norwegian-Americans observe the ninety-fifth anniversary of the adoption of Norway's constitution on April 17, 1814, sometimes referred to as the Norse Fourth of July. They hold two separate celebrations, one serving alcohol, the other not. The former gathering, sponsored by the Norwegian National League, draws a larger crowd. Festivities for this group begin with a band concert at the Leif Ericson statue in Humboldt Park, followed by lectures and social and athletic events. Celebrants toast King Haakon VII and Norway with hearty cries of "skaal." Norway has had its own monarch only since 1905, when it ended its union with Sweden, which also dates to 1814.
May 26 Lorimer Chosen Senator, Pro Tem Republican William Lorimer is elected by the Illinois General Assembly, as the two houses of the state legislature are collectively called, to the United States Senate. Lorimer was born in Manchester, England, and he was a packinghouse worker and a streetcar conductor in Chicago before he turned to politics. Lorimer's selection ends a deadlock that lasted four months. Three years later, an investigation by the Senate determines that "corrupt methods and practices" were involved in Lorimer's election, which is declared invalid. The 17th Amendment, ratified in 1913, requires that senators be henceforth elected by popular vote.
May 31 A Rousing Salute to the Blue, Now Gray 150,000 Chicagoans gather to witness the annual Memorial Day Parade along Michigan Avenue and nearby downtown streets. Among the 8,000 marchers who step to the stirring strains of fife and drum are veterans of the Spanish-American War, but the sentimental favorites of the crowd are the gray-haired contingent that defended the Union almost fifty years earlier. Among the ranks are regular active troops from Fort Sheridan. In the reviewing stand opposite the Auditorium are not only Mayor Busse and Governor Deneen, but also General Frederick Dent Grant, the son of Ulysses Grant. From the windows of the Congress Hotel, young women toss red carnations to the marchers.
Jun 5 Mass Transit Patrons Left Hanging An official report indicates that on an average day 136,861 passengers out of a total of 891,927 riders on Chicago's mass transit system do not find seats. These passengers are called "straphangers" because they must hold on to the leather straps suspended from the ceilings of the trolley and elevated cars on which they ride.
Jun 10 Watching What You Eat Drinks The company that runs the Union Stockyards admits that livestock destined for the world's dinner tables drink water drawn from "Bubbly Creek." "Bubbly Creek" is the popular name of the infamous portion of the Chicago River near the stockyards where untold tons of organic waste dumped into the river set off chemical reactions that cause the water to bubble ominously. Using such polluted sources is in violation of a health ordinance passed February 8. Tapping "Bubbly Creek" saves the Union Stockyards $15,000 a year that it would otherwise pay to purchase city water. The company claims that that the health department has up to now overlooked the apparent violation on the ground that, thanks to filtering, the water is clearer than that drawn by the city from Lake Michigan. The city employee in charge of testing the water is the son of a health department official, though his salary is paid by the company.
Jun 22 Smoke Gets in Your Ayes The Chicago Tribune runs a front page editorial cartoon by John McCutcheon declaring that there are only two things wrong with Chicago: Smoke and Tax Dodging. It argues, "We must Awaken the Civic Pride of the People and Remedy these two Obstacles to the City's Greatness." Excessive smoke puts cinders in everyone's eyes and enshrouds Chicago's wonderful architecture in "a Mantle of Murky Brown," driving visitors and Chicago's wealthy away. Chicagoans foolishly resist taking effective action because of the expense. The main smoke culprits, in the view of McCutcheon (and many others) are the railroads, especially the Illinois Central, which makes the dubious claim that the cost of converting to cleaner electric locomotives will ruin it financially.
Jun 26 Delano Nominates Roosevelt Frederic A. Delano, who is the uncle of future president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, head of the Wabash Railroad, and secretary of the Commercial Club Committee on the Plan of Chicago, proposes a new major transportation center in Chicago. The $100 million project, which is in keeping with the soon-to-be-released Plan of Chicago, includes building a new railroad station on an extended and widened Twelfth Street (now Roosevelt Road). Delano's proposals also entail centralizing much of the city's rail service along Twelfth Street, establishing wholesale and warehouse business facilities with convenient connections to the new railroad facilities, consolidating elevated railroads, straightening the Chicago River, and constructing a subway.
Jun 28 Blast Ignites Reward The Chicago City Council authorizes Mayor Busse to offer a reward of $3,000 to anyone who can furnish information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the explosion of dynamite the evening before in the Chicago Telephone Company central exchange behind the Chicago Title and Trust Company, which is located at 100 Washington Street. The bomb injured thirty people and caused an estimated $150,000 in damages. The leading theory is that the bomber is a radical participant in "industrial warfare" angered by the phone company's refusal to reinstate union electrical workers. This is the thirty-first mysterious explosion in Chicago since July of 1907. Most of these explosions are attributed not to disgruntled union supporters but to a feud between competing gambling operations. The city fire chief, describing the blast, comments, "It certainly was a 'peach.' Nearly every window pane in the block from Madison to Washington and from Clark to Dearborn was broken."
Jun 30 Cubs Raid Pirates' Party as Johnson is Boss of Ross 30,338 people, ninety-one more than the previous record for attendance at a baseball game, witness the Chicago Cubs' defeat of the Pittsburgh Pirates. This is the first game ever played in Pittsburgh's Forbes Field, which will host its last contest almost exactly sixty-one years later. The park gets rave reviews from the crowd, which includes women dressed as if for a great society event. Cub "Big Ed" Ruelbach out pitches Victor Willis, despite stretches of wildness by Ruelbach, two errors by John Evers, and two hits by Pirate immortal Honus Wagner. In Newcastle, Pennsylvania, not far from Pittsburgh, controversial African American heavyweight champion Jack Johnson defeats Tony Ross in six rounds, though the contest is officially called a draw because of a state law that prohibits announcing a decision in a boxing match. In mid-August, an approving Johnson sits in the front row as famed African American educator Booker T. Washington speaks to an audience of 2,000 in Chicago, urging urban blacks to live clean and temperate lives.
Jul 4 Independence Less Fatal than Usual, and the Commercial Club Issues Its Own Declaration Officials across the nation attribute a drop in deaths related to Independence Day celebrations to stricter laws and saner public behavior. The 1909 toll is forty-four, twelve fewer than the record set the year before. There is an increase in accidents and fire losses, however. Of the forty-four fatalities, twenty-one people are killed by fireworks and resulting fires, seven by toy pistols, and four apiece by cannons, firearms, gunpowder, and runaways. In Chicago, one person is killed and forty-seven are injured. Meanwhile, the Commercial Club of Chicago formally releases its long-anticipated Plan of Chicago, with extensive coverage of the Plan in the daily papers.
Jul 15 The Short Arm of the Law The discovery of a paper with answers to the Chicago Fire Department captain's exam proves that at least one applicant had seen a copy of the test in advance. Civil Service Commission President Elton Lower complains that under current law the only penalty for the discovery of a person with such an obviously improper advantage is confiscation of the crib sheet, even if he had already used it to answer questions. Lower vows better security measures for civil service exams. Famed Chicago attorney Clarence Darrow elsewhere expresses doubt that legislation is an effective way to fix social problems. "The belief of the people in the law-cure," Darrow remarks, "is past all understanding. It is only equaled by the faith of the old time invalid in medicine. If the patient is sick he should have medicine. It is not a matter of much consequence what kind of medicine he takes, so he gets enough. If one drug fails to cure, he should get another."
Jul 21 Milking an Issue Only six of the thirteen members of the City Council Health Committee are present for a discussion of Chicago's milk ordinance. They vote 4-2 to repeal the requirement that milk be pasteurized, declaring that the process is useless, if not dangerous. Outraged Chicago Health Commissioner W.A. Evans accuses these aldermen of "jamming through" their decision without a quorum, in the process jeopardizing public health and rewarding milk dealers. Evans nearly comes to blows with an alderman with whom he argues about how best to protect consumers.
Jul 25 Frenchman First to Conquer English Frenchman Louis Bleriot flies across the perilously windswept English Channel in his "Bleriot XI." He departs at 4:35 a.m. and lands thirty-seven minutes later. Bleriot claims the thousand-pound prize offered by the London Daily Mail to the first person to fly between England and France in either direction. Bleriot's triumph comes as a disappointment to Bleriot's rivals, especially Herbert Latham. Latham attempted the feat a week earlier in his "Antoinette" but was forced to "land" his plane in the Channel, from which he was rescued. Former Chicagoan and Marshall Field's executive Harry Selfridge, who recently opened Selfridge's department store in London, arranges to have Bleriot's plane put on display in the store. On July 19, Wilbur Wright had watched as his brother Orville made two flights totaling fifty-five minutes over a parade ground in Virginia. In August, American Glenn Curtiss will raise the world air speed record to 47.65 miles per hour. A few months later, race driver Barney Oldfield will drive an automobile 131.7 miles per hour.
Jul 30 Philadelphia Learns How to Play in Chicago Members of the Philadelphia Public Playgrounds Commission, on a fact-finding tour aimed at improving conditions in their own city, applaud Chicago's park system, especially its playgrounds and recreation centers. Commission Secretary Otto T. Mallery states, "So far as our experience goes, Chicago leads all American cities. Its system is magnificent." Mallery adds, "When all the other recreation center activities are taken into consideration, such as outdoor and indoor gymnasiums, wading pools for the children, sand piles, swings, rooms for dancing, libraries, and other neighborhood meetings, Chicago's plan seems true civic economy in health and good citizenship." He calls Chicago's recreational facilities evidence "of the 'get together' spirit which is pressing the city forward in such rapid civic progress."
Aug 5 In Defense of Protection Following a special session of Congress featuring often bitter political disagreements among legislators in the majority Republican party, President Taft signs into law the controversial Payne-Aldrich Act, the first significant tariff legislation since the Dingley Act of 1897. While it goes part way toward fulfilling the 1908 Republican platform pledge to lower the tariff, the Payne-Aldrich Act does not curb protectionism as much as many wanted. In a statement after signing the bill, Taft admits that while the new law is not ideal, it does considerable good.
Aug 9 Facing the Bills The Treasury Department and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing announce that they are considering a plan under which all paper currency of the same denomination will bear the same face and emblems. The visage of former president Grover Cleveland, who passed away in 1908, will adorn the new ten-dollar note. The government also considers abolishing the two-dollar bill (it is evidently too easily confused with the dollar bill), as well as reducing the size of paper currency. Among those discussing these changes are Secretary of the Treasury Franklin MacVeagh and his assistant secretary Charles D. Norton, recently arrived in Washington after leading the Commercial Club's Committee on the Plan of Chicago.
Aug 14 Rain of Tragedy One-year-old Michael Finney, Jr., and two-year-old Beatrice Rychlika drown as a result of the furious morning thunderstorm that deluges Chicago with 3.46 inches of rainfall in four hours. Michael had evidently rolled out of his bed in a basement on West Washington Street that was filled with two feet of water. Beatrice died while playing in a large puddle in her front yard on West Congress Street. The bodies of both children are discovered by their mothers.
Aug 19 Streetcar Drivers Say No Go In a meeting at Schoenhofen's Hall at Milwaukee and Ashland Avenues, Members of the North and West Side Street Car Men's Union are nearly unanimous in rejecting a tentative agreement negotiated by their leaders with the Chicago Railway Company. Attorney Walter Fisher, who entered the negotiations in behalf of the city of Chicago, states that the only remaining option is arbitration. Fisher is the Commercial Club member who prepared the chapter on "Legal Aspects of the Plan of Chicago" that is an appendix to the Plan of Chicago. Union rank-and-file are particularly upset at the twenty-five-cents-per-hour starting wage and the length of the contract, which many would prefer to be three years rather than three-and-a-half. Members approve a revised contract a month later.
Aug 21 White Fight, Not Flight The Hyde Park Protective Association and the Hyde Park Improvement Association decide to join the Hyde Park Improvement Protective Club in its efforts to keep African Americans from moving into the South Side neighborhoods of Hyde Park, Woodlawn, and Kenwood, and to persuade blacks already living in the area to leave. W.H. Moore, vice president of the club, denies offering payments to encourage current African American residents to find housing elsewhere. "Our position in this controversy," Moore explains, "is simply that we are doing all in our power to get real estate owners in the large district in which our property lies to band together and keep negroes out." Speaking for African American clients who live on South Ellis Avenue, their attorney (also African American) comments, "We don't want to move out. We came here to live because we liked the house. It doesn't matter what those in the neighborhood think."
Aug 29 Bohemia Hailed, Parsons Jailed An estimated 20,000 people witness the quadrennial gymnastics competition hosted by the Bohemian Turners. The event was started three decades earlier, and it reflects continuing pride in their ancestry by immigrant groups from Central and Eastern Europe. The meet concludes with a parade that extends a full two miles along its route, which starts at Pilsen Hall at 18th Street and Ashland Avenue and ends at Lawndale Park located at 40th Street and Ogden. On the city's North Side, Lucy Parsons, widow of Haymarket martyr Albert Parsons, is arrested and jailed in the East Chicago Avenue station when she refuses a police order to end a speech she is making in front of the Newberry Library, on Walton Street between Clark and Dearborn. The police charge her with not having a permit. The subject of her speech is a new religion she claims to be founding. Parsons had applied for the permit, but it was reportedly denied even though she assured the police that she would not discuss the merits of anarchism.
Sep 1 Addresses Move, though Chicagoans Don't While fully three-quarters of some 2,000,000 pieces of mail that bear the old addresses create extra work for postal workers, Chicago's new rationalized street numbering system goes into effect with relative ease. Officials attribute the smooth transition to the fact that the city had fifteen months to prepare. The ordinance of June 22, 1908, amended a year later, divides the city east and west at State Street, and north and south at Madison. With some exceptions, numbers a mile from the intersection of State and Madison start at 800, numbers two miles away begin at 1600, and so on. Since Chicago's grid is laid out approximately eight blocks to the mile, numbers generally rise to the next hundred with each succeeding block. Even numbers are restricted to the north or west sides of streets, odd numbers to the south or east sides. This system replaces the previous arbitrary and inconsistent one.
Sep 7 Boys Tie Girls; Peary Beats Cook A tentative survey of Chicago's high school population on the first day of classes indicates that the students are almost equally divided between boys and girls. This is gratifying to those who fear that boys drop out before reaching high school at a higher rate than do girls. The two schools with the greatest male representation are Crane Tech and Lane Tech, where males outnumber females 2,411 to 0. On the world stage, Robert A. Peary, upon returning from his journey to the North Pole with companion Matthew Henson and four Eskimos, disputes the claim of his former associate Frederick A. Cook that Cook reached the Pole first. Cook's claim is subsequently discredited.
Sep 16 Hail from the Chief Half a million Chicagoans, including 165,000 children who line the route of his motorcade, meet President Taft during his visit to the city. Taft is in Chicago as part of a tour across America. His schedule includes luncheon at the Congress Hotel, a baseball game, a speech in Orchestra Hall, and a trip to the Art Institute to admire drawings prepared for the recently released Plan of Chicago, on display in the museum. Members of the Commercial Club decide not to send representatives to greet the President as he disembarks from his train on the city's South Side, but club president Theodore W. Robinson is one of the select few in the motorcade's lead car with Taft.
Sep 23 Wayman Waylays Crooked Cop Chicago police inspector Edward McCann is found guilty of extorting bribes from Halsted Street vice district saloon owners. McCann's trial is part of a larger effort by crusading state's attorney John E. Wayman to purge the city's police department of corruption.
Sep 25 A New Emancipation Proclamation Several leading Chicago civic improvement organizations, including the B'Nai B'rith and the Commercial Club, pledge $50,000 to fight white slavery. They hire former assistant state's attorney Clifford B. Roe to lead a campaign against the trafficking in women forced into prostitution. White slavers entrap their victims by luring them to Chicago with false promises or otherwise misleading them. They then resort to such tactics as taking away the women's clothes and telling them that they cannot go free until they work off bogus debts, which the women can only do at the cost of their virtue. Helpless and without alternatives in "respectable" society, the women are literally bought and sold by procurers. Roe states that the first white slave case tried involved Agnes Taylor, who was sold into a house of prostitution on Armour Avenue after being taken from a dance hall near 31st Street and Indiana Avenue.
Oct 2 Manufacturing Death An investigation by the U.S. Department of Commerce and Industry reveals that at least 600 workers died in industry-related accidents in Chicago between August 31, 1908, and September 1, 1909. Two weeks later, social activist attorney Raymond Robins calls Illinois "the most brutal industrial state in the nation." Robins deems the successful opposition in the courts by Illinois manufacturers to a law that would limit the hours of working women in factories to ten hours a day the cause of "race suicide," since such working conditions can render women sterile. Mrs. O. Hulburd, a delegate from Woodlawn to a meeting of the Illinois Federation of Women's Clubs, angrily remarks, "It is better that there be no children than to rear offspring in such terrible conditions" as exist in factories. The state hires future United States Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis to lead the appeal for the constitutionality of the law before the Supreme Court.
Oct 9 Watching the Watchdog Chicago mulls a massive overhaul of its inspection system, which experts agree is haphazard, redundant, sometimes corrupt, and always wasteful. One suggestion is to ask the police to conduct inspections now done by workers from several different city departments. By one estimate the inspectors, who earn about one hundred dollars a month, spend approximately thirty percent of their time actually doing their jobs. According to some reports, representatives of three or four different departments are on the same block at the same time, and then they adjourn to spend the remainder of the day playing pinochle in the rear of a saloon. As for the criticism that entrusting inspections to fewer people might lead to more bribery, defenders of streamlining respond, "It is easier to watch one man than it is to watch half a dozen."
Oct 15 Cubs Win the City but Not the World Mordecai Peter Centennial "Three-finger" Brown tosses a one-hit shutout, outdueling former dentist G. Harris "Doc" White in leading the Chicago Cubs to a 1-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox. The victory clinches the City Series for the Cubs, four games to one. The Sox have held the local crown since 1906, though the Cubs won the world championship in 1908. The 1909 City Series endured three postponements due to frigid weather. The winners' share is $717.32 per player, the losers' $455.44. The following day the Pittsburgh Pirates each earn $1,408.94 by defeating the Detroit Tigers 8-0 in the seventh game of the World Series.
Oct 18 It's Just the "Gipsy" in My Soul Controversial British evangelist Rodney "Gipsy" Smith, in Chicago for the month, leads an evening procession through the city's South Side "Levee" district, the heart of Chicago's vice industry. The demonstration concludes with an enormous midnight gathering in the Alhambra Theater. This is the most spectacular of many mass events staged by Smith, who divides the city's ministers with his sensational methods. Smith, whose nickname derives from his Gypsy father, attacks the wealthy and comfortable as tightwads and hypocrites when it comes to piety and the poor. Onlookers are flabbergasted by the parade, which even seasoned observers describe as the strangest event in the city's colorful history. "This could only happen in Chicago," says one such person, asking, "what's in the minds of all these people?" Though the parade is surprisingly orderly, saloonkeepers along the route report record business.
Oct 29 Field Must Yield The Supreme Court of Illinois rules in favor of Chicago mail-order tycoon Montgomery Ward's continuing efforts, dating back to 1890, to keep Grant Park free of new buildings. This blocks plans by the trustees of the Field Museum to build in the park. A new Field Museum is the centerpiece of the Plan of Chicago's vision of an improved downtown lakefront. The trustees consider more legal tactics, and they will not finally concede defeat for another two years. The museum will eventually open in its current location, just south of Grant Park, in 1921. Ward calls his legal victory "sweet," but he remains bemused by popular opposition to an effort whose goal is to preserve the lakefront for the general public. "Had I known in 1890 how long it would take me to preserve a park for the people against their will I doubt if I would have undertaken it," Ward remarks.
Nov 2 Yes to Plan and No to Ban Chicago Mayor Fred Busse appoints 328 local politicians, public officials, businessmen, and other community leaders to the Chicago Plan Commission, whose purpose is to advocate the implementation of the Plan of Chicago. Busse names Charles Wacker chairman of the commission. Other appointees include several individuals who, like Wacker, are members of the Commercial Club who helped produce the Plan of Chicago. Riders on the Oak Park El flout the new no smoking rule that eliminates the line's smoking cars. Management hopes that three-minute (as opposed to four-minute) service during rush hour will make smokers more amenable to the rule.
Nov 6 The Wrecked Homes of a Famous Architect The papers announce that architect Frank Lloyd Wright has abandoned his wife and six children, his life in Oak Park, and his successful practice by sailing to Europe with Mamah Borthwick Cheney, the wife of a Chicago businessman and client. Like Wright, Mrs. Cheney is an outspoken critic of social convention. Wright and Cheney will return to America and retreat to Taliesin, the famous house he designs for them near his boyhood home in Wisconsin. In 1914 a servant will murder Cheney, her two children, and four other people after setting Taliesin on fire.
Nov 13 The Fires This Time Kerosene torches used to replace the broken electrical lighting system ignite a horrific coal mine fire in Cherry, Illinois, near LaSalle. After seven days of desperate efforts to fight the fire--including sealing the mine--twenty-two men are rescued. The final death toll is 259, about as many as were estimated to have perished in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. In downstate Cairo, locals congratulate themselves on the lynching the previous day of William "Froggie" James, a black man who reportedly confessed to the robbery and murder of a white woman. The sheriff had tried unsuccessfully to smuggle James out of town in order to avoid such a lynching. Cheered on by several thousand men, a large group of women pull the rope that hangs James, whose body is also riddled with bullets and burned. Not satisfied, the rabid mob breaks into the Cairo jail to seize a white man accused of murder and then lynches him as well. Authorities send in heavily armed troops by train to rescue Jones's alleged accomplice, Arthur Alexander, from the mob by taking him to Champaign.
Nov 20 Land, Ho The Chicago Tribune Land Exposition opens to eager crowds at the Chicago Coliseum. The exposition features exhibits on irrigation, farm machinery, and crops in America's heartland and western states. It also promotes Chicago as an access point to places west and as the center of commodities trading. The fair includes lectures, such as that by Professor H.T. French of the University of Idaho on "Construction of an Irrigation System." The exposition officially opens with a banquet at the Congress Hotel hosted by Chicago Tribune publisher and Commercial Club member Medill McCormick, who was on the club's Committee on the Plan of Chicago. At the request of head zookeeper, Cy De Vry, the Tribune purchases ostriches on display at the land show for the Lincoln Park Zoo.
Nov 30 These Shows Really Stink Unknown persons attempt to sabotage the evening's performances in the Colonial, Grand, Cort, and LaSalle theaters by releasing substances that emit nauseating odors. The lead tenor in The Kissing Girl at the Cort barely makes it through a song, as the actors and audiences try to go on despite these untoward conditions. Members of the striking billposters union are suspected.
Dec 2 Something is Rotten in the City of Chicago The steering committee of the Municipal Expenditure Commission, led by Charles Merriam, is told by experts that more than half the lumber ordered by the city is below the specified grade, and much is rotten. In another of several related efforts, the commission hires what it believes are trustworthy accountants to inspect the books of the City Controller to see how money exits the city's coffers and whether Chicago is getting a fair return for funds deposited in local banks.
Dec 9 After the Ball is Over Bowing to pressure from Mayor Busse and the forces of moral righteousness, "Bathhouse" John Coughlin calls an end to the annual First Ward Ball, the raucous political fundraiser that drew an enormous crowd of the less respectable sort to what proper Chicagoans considered a shameful drunken brawl. With tongue in cheek, Coughlin concedes that perhaps the "goody-good" people who objected to the ball were right, though he still defends the affair as orderly. "Put 15,000 or 20,000 people into a dance hall and there is going to be some noise," he reasons. "The Bath" then waxes philosophical. "Chicago is growing better," he observes. "There's no doubt about it. And let me tell you that I'm just as glad to see the change in social conditions as any man in the city." Five days later Coughlin indirectly protests the demise of the First War Ball when he unsuccessfully attempts to stop the performance of modern dance pioneer Ruth St. Denis at a charity ball in the Auditorium promoted by the "goody-goods."
Dec 14 Mail Wagons and Hebrew Under Siege Postmasters from throughout the country meet in Washington to discuss the possibility of eliminating mail wagons in the crowded downtowns of Chicago and other large cities. The alternative proposal is a system of subterranean pneumatic tubes that, at thirty inches in diameter, are big enough to handle mailbags. Students at the McCormick Theological Seminary, then located where Halsted Street intersects with Lincoln and Fullerton Avenues, stage a midnight rally to protest the retention of Hebrew in the curriculum. They bang on lampposts, fences, and doors with barrel staves, broom handles, and canes outside the homes of faculty members. They hang and burn an effigy representing Professor G.L. Robinson, leader of the defense of Hebrew. Earlier in the day, Robinson had commented, "Of course Hebrew is hard. We make it hard and intend to make it hard. The training is better than we used to get from Latin and Greek. It is wrong to say that the men do not get a working knowledge of the language."
Dec 24 J.P. Morgan Gets Off Chicago Train New York financier J. Pierpont Morgan sells his controlling interest in the Chicago City Railway to local investors. This clears the way for consolidation of local service on the South Side of the city, a critical step in the unification of transit throughout Chicago. Among the new "home rule" investors are James B. Forgan, President of the First National Bank of Chicago, and John J. Mitchell, President of Illinois Trust and Savings Bank, both Commercial Club members who participated in the creation of the Plan of Chicago.
Dec 29 Amor et Ars Vincunt Omnia Lucene Goodenow and Kyohei Inukai, who met at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, announce that they will marry in two weeks at her family's home in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Goodenow is an American, while Inukai is Japanese. She admits that during the first year of their courtship they never spoke to each other while at the Art Institute because they "were too much troubled by the way other students gossiped." At the time of their engagement, Illinois was considering a law banning marriages between Caucasians and Asians. Of her determination to wed Inukai, Lucene says, "We both love art and are suited to each other." When they do marry, Kalamazoo police have to fend off a crowd who pelt the Goodenow home with snowballs, and the couple has to find a second minister when the first one is "unexpectedly" called out of town. Lucene's mother admits that members of the family were at first opposed to the union, but now have come to believe that it's "all right." The reaction of Kyohei's kin is not reported.

This timeline includes a selection of local, national, and international events that took place in 1909, the year the Plan of Chicago appeared.