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The Ferris Wheel Waltz-Polka, /893, published by \lalisi & Gim-gi.


CHICAGO HISTORY, The Magazine of the Chicago Historical Society Chicago Historical Society OFFICERS Bryan S. Reid ,Jr., Treasurer Stewart S. Dixon, Chairman Edward Hines, Secretary Philip W Hummer, Vice-Chairman Theodore Tieken, Immediate Past Chairman Philip D. Block III, Vice-Chairman Ellsworth H. Brown, President and Director

TRUSTEES Philip D. Block III Cyrus Colter Stewart S. Dixon William M. Drake James R. Getz Edward Hines Philip W Hummer Philip E. Kelley Mrs. Frank D. Mayer

Mrs. Brooks McCormick John T. McCutcheon,Jr. William J. McDonough Mrs. Newton N. Minow Richard H. Needham Potter Palmer Mrs. Edward S. Petersen Bryan S. Reid,Jr. Edward Byron Smith,Jr.

LIFE TRUSTEES Andrew McNally III Mrs. C. Phillip Miller Gardner H. Stern Theodore Tieken

HONORARY TRUSTEES Harold Washington, Mayor, City of Chicago John E. McHugh, President, Chicago Park District

The Chicago Historical Society is a privately endowed institution devoted to collecting, preserving, and interpreting the history of the city of Chicago, the state of Illinois, and selected areas of American history. It must look to its members and friends for continuing financial support. Contributions to the Society are tax-deductible, and appropriate recognition is accorded major gifts. Membership Membership is open to a nyone interested in the Society's activities and objectives. Classes of annual members~ip and dues are as follows: Individual, $25; Family, $30. Members receive the Society's quarterly magazine, Chicago History; a quarterly Calendar of Events listing Society programs; invitations to special programs; free admission to the building at all times; reserved seats at films and concerts in our auditorium; and a 10 perce nt discount on books and other merchandise purchased in the Museum Store. Hours Exhibition gall eries are open daily from 9:30 to 4:30; Sunday from 12:00 to 5:00. Research collections are open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 to 4:30. The Prints and Photographs Collection is open by appointment only. The Society is closed on New Year's, Thanksgiving, and Christmas days. Education and Public Programs Guided tours, assemblies, slide lectures, gallery talks, craft demonstrations, and a variety of special programs for all ages, from pre-school through senior citizen, are offered. Admission Fees for Non-members Adults, $1.50; Children (6-17), 50¢; Senior citizens, 50¢. Admission is free on Mondays.

Chicago Historical Society

Clark Street at North Avenue

Chicago, Illinois 60614

312-642-4600


In a.ddition to having a wonderful voice, Enrico Caruso was also a ta/.ented caricaturist. He frequently drew self-portraits like this examplÂŁ made during his 1906 visit to Chicago.


Cover: Gold Statue of St. Marti n, St. Martin's Church, 1983. Photograph lryjo:y Wolke.

Spring 1985 Volume xrv, Number 1

CHICAGO HISTORY The Magazine of the Chicago Historical Society

CONTENTS

EDITOR TIMOTHY

C. j ACOBSON

ASSOCIATE EDITOR

4

PAUL

R USSE LL LEWIS

20

DESIGNER

PHOTOGRAPHY

PA UL

w

W.

C.

NAGEL

Home at the Top: Domesticating Chicago's Tall Apartment Buildings CARROLL WILLIAM WEST FALL

LISA GrNZEL

WALTE R

Twice to the Fair

40

KR UTZ

Historical Exhibitions as History WIM DE WIT

PETRAITIS

DEPARTMENTS Copyright 1985 by th e Chicago Histori ca l Society Clark Street at North Avenue Chicago. Illino is 60614

50

Book Reviews/Arnold Hirsch , H. Wayne Morgan, Clay McShane, Robert Bray, Craig Buettinger

56

At the Society/The Dan Ryan Expressway

62

Yesterday's City/Caruso in Chicago

ISSN 0272-8540 Articles a ppearing in this magazin e a re abstracted and indexed in Historical Abstracts and America: History and Lift

ILLUSTRATIONS Cover, C HS, Prints and Photographs Collection; inside front cover, C HS, IC Hi-18870; 2, C HS. IC Hi-14576; 5, C HS, ICHi-I8758; 6, C HS, ICHi-1876~ 7. CHS. ICHi-18757; 8, CHS, !CHi-18755; 9 top. co urtesy of the Massachuserts His10rical Society; 9 bottom left, courtesy o f Mrs. Wilhemina S. Harris: 9 bottom right, cou rtesy o f the Nati onal Park Service. Adams Histo ric Site; 10, C HS, ICHi-18762; 11, CHS, ICHi-02255; 12, CHS. IC Hi-18763; 13. CHS, ICHi-18759; 14, CHS, ICHi-02431; 15, C HS, IC Hi-02446; 16, from Official Direcwry of the 1'\i,rldl Columbian Exposilion (1893); 17, CHS, !CHi-I8764; 18-19, CHS, ICHi-13686; 20-2L CHS, IC Hi-14143: 22, C HS, IC Hi-01209; 23, CHS, IC Hi-18769; 24, CHS, IC Hi-18768: 25, CHS, IC Hi-00417;26, CHS, IC Hi-19142; 27 top, from Beautiful H1JTT1eSandSociaL Cuswms of American ( 1902); 27 hottom, C HS, IC Hi-19034: 28. from Plan of Chicago ( 1909); 29 !Op, C HS, ICHi-18774; 29 bottom, from The FbUingtcn ApartrnenJs (n.d.); 30-3 1. CHS, IC Hi-18773; 31 top. C HS, IC Hi-01267: 31 bottom, C HS. Architectural Collection: 32, CHS. ICHi-18801: 33, from Notab1£ Men of Chicago and Their City ( 19 10); 34 top. CHS, IC Hi-18779; 34 bottom, fm m Notab/,e Men of Chicago a,ui Their City ( 1910); 36 top, from Direcwry /JJ Apmtrrumls ofthe &Uer Class on the Nm1h Side of Oucago (19 17); 36 bottom, from Direcwry /JJ Apartmenlsof the &UerClassonthe Nm1hSideo/Chicago( 1917); 36-37, C HS, ICHi-18767; 38 fro m A PvrtfOUJJ o/ Fme Apartmeni Houses ( 1928): 39 top, co wtesy of (',a,m ll William Westfall; 39 bottom, C HS, ICHi-18870; 4 I, CHS, Chicago Daily N/?IJ.6 photograph, DN-93,391; 42. CHS, ICHi-188I4; 43 top, CHS, Decorative and lnd usnial Arts Collection; 43 bottom, CHS, ICHi-14171; 44, top, C HS, IC Hi-18817; 44 bonom, CHS, ICHi-18816; 45, CHS, ICHi-18813; 46, C HS, ICHi-1880 1; 47, C HS, IC Hi-18815; 48, CHS, lCHi-18797; 49, CHS. Decorative and Industrial Arts Collection; 52, CHS, Oucagr, Daily New; photograph, DN-89,2 15; 55. C HS. IC Hi-15076; 56-61, Ptints and Photographs Collection; 63, from The Greai opera Slars in Hiswnc Plwwgraphs (1978). co uttesy of Dover Publications, Inc.: 64, CHS. IC Hi-14707; 65. C HS, IC Hi-09739; 66, C HS, IC Hi- 18868;_67. C HS, IC Hi-18760; 68, CHS, Library, 69, CHS, Library; 70, CHS, ICHi-18775; 71, from The Great opera Slars in Historic Plwtographs ( 1978), cou rtesy of Do ver Publications, Inc.; inside back over, CHS, ICHi-18869.


Twice to the Fair By Paul C. Nagel

Historian and philosopher Henry Adams traveled twice to Chicago in 1893 to visit the Worlds Columbian Exposition. What he learned there constitutes his own special Chicago education.

and again in October 1893 Henry Adams joined 28 million visitors who came that year to Chicago's Jackson Park to behold the magnificent City in White, the name given to what became the most successful world's fair ever. The fair had a significant effect upon this intriguing American historian and writer, and The Education of Henry Adams, Adams's greatest contribution to American literature, describes his impressions in a chapter called "Chicago (1893)." Perhaps better known for statements about the Paris exposition of 1900 in his essay "The Virgin and the Dynamo," Henry Adams has acknowledged that his thoughts about Paris began at Chicago's World's Columbian Exposition. Those planning the next great Chicago fair in 1992 would do well to recall Henry Adams's experiences of a century ago. The 1893 fair fulfilled Henry's need for new ideas that he might pursue as a writer. After 1885, when his wife Clover Hooper committed suicide, Henry had painfully completed what he hoped would be his masterpiece, a history of the United States during the presidencies of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. When the ninth and last volume was finished in 1890, he hastened toward the South Seas, returning via Europe to his Washington residence at the outset of 1892. There he continued to search for new ways to understand the world, since he wished to cease working as a historian. Henry found what he needed at the Chicago fair, for there, he said, were ideas enough "to fill a hundred years" of reflection. Henry had been tempted to drop plans for attending the fair and to return to Europe instead. But at the last moment he was persuaded by Pennsylvania's SenatorJ. Donald Cameron to join a party traveling by private railway car to Chicago. rN MAY

Paul C. Nagel is director of the Virginia Historical Society. 4

While Henry claimed it was the prospect of such elegant circumstances that persuaded him to go, a proper opportunity to be in the company of the senator's young wife surely did not discourage him. He and Mrs. Elizabeth Cameron had become close friends, but had chosen to keep their friendship on a correct basis. While the Cameron party remained only two days at the fair, it used every moment for sightseeing, and Henry soon began learning the lesson taught by the fair. The Chicago experience, he reported to a friend afterwards, left him with "more to say than you would care to read ." In fact, so overwhelmed was Henry that he claimed "I am not yet quite willing to trust myself to talk or write on the subject:' He was capable of issuing a hint of its importance, however; he confessed he had previously been convinced that his era was incapable of being creative in thinking and in art, only to find at the fair fresh artistic and intellectual achievement "in a form far more magnificent" than he would have dreamed possible. Henry was stunned and left Chicago, as he put it, babbling like an infant Those revealing two days at the fair made Henry want to atone for the many earlier sarcastic remarks he had made about Chicago. He now felt humble in Chicago's attainment Who could have foreseen , he asked, that Chicago, of all places, would produce something "that the Greeks might have delighted to see and Venice would have envied." In doing so, Henry asserted that Chicago had astounded him by proving that mankind really had not understood business or art. With this enigmatic comment he hinted at his discovery that cosmic forces would overpower the petty strivings of politicians and capitalists. The exhibits and architecture at the fair proclaimed a unity, a harnessing of energy which threatened the nineteenth century's liberal


Promenade along the south bank of the Main Basin. Thousands of visitors like the Adamses strolled the fairgrounds and sampled the form.al splendors of the classical-inspired White City. 5


The Administration Building (center) was flanked by the Electricity Building, whose exhibits inspired Henry Adams to think about the world in a new way.

6


Iiuice to the fair

Grmdola rides, shown here in the Main Basin, added to the classical aura of thefair and were a popular tourist attraction. The Electricity Building and the Columbian Fountain are in the background.

ideals concerning economic behavior and progress. Proposing to spend the summer considering these revelaLions, Henry went to Europe in June 1893, proclaiming himself "a wiser and a gladder man." Henry planned to return to the fair for the ent.ire month of October; "I would crawl back on my venerable legs," he assured friends, "rather than not see again the only work my age has produced truly worthy of it:' To acquaintances who might heed him , he recommended the Chicago experience. He reported to one of his wife's nieces that he got "very drunk" on the fair, and that she must "go, and go soon!" Henry's descriptions of gondola rides, drinking beer by the barrel, and eating ice cream and German cooking, however, could not tempt his older brother Charles to attend. In June 1893 Charles Francis Adams II scoffed at a trip to Chicago: "Hell! I would exactly as soon take a season ticket to a circus." There was better luck for Henry in persuading his best friend John Hay to make the

journey. Hay had been secretary to President Abraham Lincoln and would serve with distinction as a diplomat and as America's secretary of state under presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. Henry soon heard that Hay and his family were left speechless by the Chicago fair. Said Hay: "We were all knocked silly. It beats tl1e brag so far out of sight tl1at even Chicago is dumb:' Meanwhile, members of the American Historical Association met in Chicago in 1893 as part of the World's Congress Auxiliary and in Henry's absence elected him president. This honor, however, along with the rest of Henry's European trip, had to be put aside as he answered a summons from his brothers to return to America. His family, like many oLhers, was endangered by the terrible financial crash that rocked tl1e United States during the summer of 1893. Henry found himself spending August and September at his great-grandfather John Adams's fannhouse in Quincy, Massachusetts, where his brothers John , Charles, and Brooks 7


Chicago History, Spring 1985 gathered in worried consultation. While Henry's fiscal affairs appeared comparatively safe, since he had kept most of his assets apart from the Adams family's trust, he joined his kinsmen in contemplating their economic havoc. Touched by the desperate family mood, Henry proposed that the entire group attend the Chicago fair. He realized that he, as much as his brothers, needed such diversion. "My nerves are broken up. I see everything black," he reported to Elizabeth Cameron, adding that "I want desperately to change the scenery." Unfortunately, his eldest brother;John Quincy Adams II, could not join the family party to Chicago. The strain of the summer had been too much for this uncharacteristically gentle Adams, and he collapsed physically and emotionally as the Panic of '93 threatened to engulf the family fortune. John was dead within twelve months in spite of his family's efforts to comfort him. The other two brothers, Brooks and Charles, made of somewhat sterner stuff, accompanied Henry to the Chicago fair. It was a remarkable party Henry took to Chicago, leaving Boston on October I, 1893. The three Adams brothers were descended from two presidents, forebears whose careers in diplomacy and national affairs were brilliant. The brothers' father, Charles Francis Adams, had served the nation well as a historian, congressman, and United States minister to Great Britain during the dark years after 1861. (He had been instrumental in diverting England from aiding the Confederate cause.) The three brothers shared their father's interest in history, for Charles, Henry, and Brooks all have been ranked among the nation's most significant historians and writers. Of the trio, however, only Henry had the insight to be profoundly moved by the Chicago fair. So that his pleasure at the exposition should be unvexed, Henry gladly allowed his masterful brother Charles to manage the financial details of the trip. It was no small assignment, for the enthusiastic delegation included Charles's wife of nearly thirty years, Minnie Ogden, and their spinster daughter Elsie. Minnie's niece, Fanny Levering, a family favorite, and her father were part of the group, as was Louisa "Loolie" Hooper, one of the late Clover Adams's several nieces. Henry had also wished to bring along an old family friend, Lucy Baxter, who, at the last moment, withdrew from the expedition. Brooks Adams made the trip 8

without his wife Daisy, even though the excursion might have been a belated honeymoon since the pair had recently been married. Henry, of course, could not invite the person he most preferred as a companion, Elizabeth Cameron, although she and tJ,e senator were now all but openly estranged. The beginning of the adventure was hardly auspicious, for the group found Chicago to be, in Charles's words, "rude, muddy, and dreary" due lo heavy rains. They discovered that their quarters were unsatisfactory, having taken lodging at the Vendome Club since Charles had refused to engage larger quarters elsewhere in spite of Henry's recommendation. Charles, who rarely took advice from younger brothers, learned quickly from experience. Soon he moved his charges to the Hotel Windemere at the very gates of the fair. There they enjoyed six rooms with two baths for $60 per day, a price which shocked Charles, who at the outset of their stay was indignant over all aspects of Chicago, particularly the food and weather. It remained rainy tJ,rough the second day, hampering the group's first gaze at the exposition. And when Charles discovered that a meal worth five francs in Europe was going to cost $5 in Chicago, he grimly announced that th us far the experience "wasn't cheerful:' The Windemere Hotel, 56th Street and Com.ell Avenue, was one of hundreds of hotels hastily built to house fair visitors. ft was l1RadqU11 rters for the Adams Family du.ring their Chicago visit.


Twice to the Fair

Henry Adams (above) was overwhelmed by the fair during his first brief visit. Eager lo re/um, he convinced his brothers lo a/lend with him. Brooks (below left) went home early; Charles Francis I I (below right), begrudgingly came to admire what he saw in Chicago.

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Chicago History, Spring 1985

Co lumbus Taking Possession, Mary T Lawrence's sculpture depicting Columbus planting the Spanish flag in the New World, stood at the east entrance to the Administration Building.

10


Twice to the Fair

View west along the lagoon between the Electricity Building and the Manufacturers and Liberal Arts Building. l-lmry Adams was stunned that Chicago could have produced such a magnificent creation as the fi1i1; and it made a lasting impression on him.

'.._ nen, from everyone's perspective-even Charles's-life at the fair suddenly improved. Splendid weather was ushered in on October 4, and the group saw thatthe fair was as appealing as Henry had forecast. Everyone, that is, but Brooks Adams, for whom the first damp day of looking had been enough. He and Henry, with Charles listening in silence, had talked at length while they all tried to dry their feet after their wet introduction to the fair. The two philosopherhistorians spoke of what the fair taught concerning the future of the world. It was a subject u'iatdiverted both men, Henry from as far back as his first glimpse of the fair in May. He and Brooks had spent much time together in Quincy after that trip discussing what Brooks put into a book appropriately entitled The Law of Civiliullion and Decay, which he published two years later. Both men agreed that society mu t soon collapse and the fair in their judgment con-oborated this. The conversation must have tenified uninitiated listeners. The brothers' background in geopolitics

taught them that evolutionary laws were creating a global social and material powe1; a power which would, as the Chicago fair showed, produce an international capacity for greed capable of overwhelming exi ting institutions and customs. Charles recalled being very distressed by tl1ese bold ideas, although he tried to dismiss them at the time by saying that Henry and Brooks "drove me nearly wild by talking through their hats on things in general." After this night of talk, Brooks announced the next morning, October 4, that he wanted to go home at once. This abrupt decision is hard to explain, but Brooks may have felt that one day's gaze at the fair's wonders and the ensuing evening's talk with Henry had given him enough significant insight that he needed to rush back to Boston and write it all down. He may also have wished to see his bride, and he suffered from lumbago, which the Chicago rains doubtless inflamed. Whatever ilie reasons, Charles made no objection to tl1e plan and hastened into Chicago to change his ll


Chicago History, Spring 1985

The Great Britain Building (above) was one of many buildings on the fairgrounds homing national exhibits; a replica of the battleship Illinois is in the background. The Fimis Wheel (right), Chicago s answer to Pariss Eiffel Tower and the unofficial trademark of the fair; provided amusement and a bird's-eye-view of the fairgrounds from a height of 264 feet.

brother's booking. With Brooks gone, to Charles's evident relief, Henry became a mild companion whose conversation thereafter was mostly meant to amuse the ladies. These developments, along with the favorable change in the weather, gave tl1e Adamses' visit to Chicago a joyful quality. As if in illustration, the fairgrounds presented a magnificent display of fireworks late on October 4, and by the close of October 5, the wordly, wise Charles Adams announced that never had he enjoyed anything so much as seeing Chicago's exposition-although he still growled at the cost and the quality of the food. Watching his brother's outlook improve, Henry reported to Elizabeth Cameron that "surely the Fair is a seductive vanity." He told her that now Charles called for a lengthier stay in Chicago. "Would that you were here!" Henry chuckled to Mrs. Cameron, remembering how once he had urged Charles to plan on staying in Chicago for at least a full month. With less than a fortnight remaining to them, 12

Henry's companions arrived at tl1e fairgrounds early each morning-often at eight o'clock-eager to behold again and again everything from ilie splendid display of art to what Henry called the "lowest fakes" of the Midway. The group repeatedly rode the Ferris Wheel and spent every evening in gondolas on ilie water, struck by the unprecedented spectacle of the illumination of tl1e exposition buildings. All this was costly, howeve,~ and even Henry complained mildly. We have, he told Mrs. Cameron, "been robbed of our surviving dollar'.' Hard times notwithstanding, many friends and acquaintances were seen on the fairgrounds. Chicago's exposition, Henry said, was so successful iliat it became a kind of national Metropolitan Club where one could be certain of bumping into everyone who was anyone. This was particularly so, Henry contended, if one put in full days and nights at the fair, as his party gleefully kept doing. Only one attraction drew the group away from ilie Jackson Park grounds; on October 9 they made a pilgrimage to see Augustus Saint-Gaudens's


Chicago History, Spring 1985

\ The 1893 fair followed tradition sel by previous world's fairs by offering both enlightenment and eulerlainmenl. The Midway's Cairo St reel fJrovided some of each in its workshops, bazaars, mosques, and dancing theaters.

figure of Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln Park. They were especially interested because the famed sculptor had recently completed what became his widely acknowledged masterpiece, the monument Henry Adams had commissioned to stand at his wife's grave in Washington's Rock Creek Cemetery, where Henry joined her twenty-five years later. After this digression, it was back to the fair, with the party spending as little time as possible at the Hotel Windemere, which Charles considered a dreary place. Eventually, the fair's spell weakened and the crowds seemed to become pushier. On tl1e night of October 14, Charles took the rest of the group back to Boston while Henry traveled by himself to his home in Washington. The Adamses departed in the same gloom in which they arrived, the dismal weatl1er accompanying them home. There Charles promptly calculated the family's expenses for the hugely successful visit to Chicago. He concluded that aside from incidental costs, Henry's 14

bill for two weeks at the fair was $423. This total also included expenditures for Henry's niece, Loolie Hooper. In a few days, Charles put aside memo1¡ies of the Columbian Exposition. Among other distractions, he was moving from the family's ancestral town of Quincy, Massachusetts, to South Lincoln, a forested area near Lexington and Concord. Later, when he did recall the time spent in Chicago, he seemed mostly to remember how gloomy Brooks and Henry had been in their talk . Charles congratulated himself tl1at he had been resu¡ainecl "and listened in silence to Brooks' and Henry's confident prediction of untold disasters from which no reasonable avenue of escape could in any way be devised." The reasoning of his brothers' powerful minds was compelling, Charles acknowledged, but when he got away and rode horseback through his new wooded estate, he believed the world's future was not hopeless. Henry departed Chicago with quite a different


Iivice to thP fhir

View east from the west end of the Midway Plaisance looking toward the captive balloon and the Ferris Wheel. The Adamses found the "lowest fakes" of the Midway almost as captivating as the fitir's magnificent art and architecture.

view. He was determined, he said, to write books about the exposition. Indeed, the ideas he began forming at the fair did appear later in several settings, but there was no book devoted solely to the exposition. Instead, his two most famous works, Mont-Saint-Mich.el and Chartres and The Education of Henry Adams, clearly bear the inspiration Henry took from Chicago, and the ideas generated there. Henry sent his most direct statement about the fair in a letter to John Hay soon after the trip in October. First, however, he described for Hay the unalloyed pleasure he experienced strolling down the Midway: "I revelled in all it fakes and frauds, and its wickedness that seemed not to be understood by our innocent natives, and all its genuineness which was understood till less." There was much comfo11, Henry said, in realizing that the magnificent architecture , everywhere in evidence at the Chicago fair was, like himself, out of sympathy with the age. The classically inspired designs, and particularly the dynamos sheltered

beneath the white dome, spoke to Henry of an enduring and concerted power that contradicted the fragmented notions of 1893. But, Henry admitted, he must still learn whether the exposition's architects had been defying the gold-crazed 1890s, or whether they were only insulting civilization. For Henry, the majesty of the fair's eternal appearance challenged the individualism of his age and the greed basic to it. "I like to look upon it as an appeal to the human animal," he said, "the superstitious and ignorant savage within us, that has instincts and no reason, against the world as money has made it." It certainly rebuked the impulse behind what Henry considered to be contemporary tamperings with broad economic laws, such as the congressional effort to regulate the comparative value of gold and silve1~ Going twice to the fair in Chicago had an enduring effect upon Henry Adams. He found there the new proposition he sought at the beginning of 1893. As he told Hay, he had "looked 15


Chicago History, Spring 1985

From thefair, Henry Adams /,earned a lesson about power. Two fonns especially fascinated him: e/,ectric (dynamo, above) and steam (engine, right). The world's !.argest dynamo, located on the fairgrounds, supplied power to nm the Intramural Railroad.

like an owl at the dynamo and the steam engine." The idea of the energies at mankind's call impelling civilization soon shaped his philosophic outlook. Friends spoke of a change in him, of how he talked "quite wildly about the world in general," as Cecil Spring Rice, the British diplomat, observed. However, not until a dozen years later, in reconstructing the Chicago experience for his Education, did Henry seriously try to organize tl1e thinking he began along Lake Michigan. There, at the fair, he recalled that education "went mad," with new ideas running forth "like rabbits from every building." 16

He devoted many paragraphs of the Education to Chicago's architecture and exhibits, and particularly the dynamos. In a commentary which deserves to be reread by all those who look forward to Chicago's next great world's fair in 1992, Henry said that the scene had ovenvhelmed him, leaving but one certain lesson-that all familiar assumptions, expectations, and measures which had guided human thought were no help as one faced the role of energy in the twentieth century. "Chicago asked in 1893 for the first time the question whether the American people knew where they were d1iving:' Conceding that he, for one, was wholly


Twice to the Fair

uncertain, Henry said he left Chicago determined to find that direction. Henry's pilgrimage as self-appointed apostle of the Chicago experience soon took him to another faic Using the third person voice in the Education, Henry asserted that he attended the Paris exposition of 1900 only to pursue "the economics or developments of force since 1893, when he began the study at Chicago." (For sheer provocativeness, he said that the Paris expostion did not approach the Chicago fair.) At Chicago the vital disclosure had been tl1e significance of the atom and energy, so Henry announced that in the post-Chicago and

Paris world's fairs era mankind dwelt in a new universe, a supersensual one in which humanity "co uld measure nothing except by collisions of movement," making it evident that the trivia of individual and social activity were ultimately to be tried in the presence of energy or force. From Paris Henry's investigation led him back to the Midwest and the St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1903. He strove to complete what he variously called a dynamic theory of history, a law of acceleration, or the movement of unity into multiplicity. As historian he recalled how from time to time tl1e Church, the symbol of 17


Chicago History, Spring 1985

.itSTIIIGHous! CLECTRIC & MANIJfACTIJRl ~G ro.

TESLA f'OLYPHA":[ $(ST[ M

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18


Twice to the Fair lnteriar of the Electricity Building sMwing some of the latest applicatians of electricity to industry and the home.

the Virgin, sexual drive, and the dynamo had tended to become destructive. Th e thought shook H e nry profoundly; to him it meant that the lesson begun in Chicago taught that civilization's eventual end must come from energies men would be unable to govern. One wonders what Henry's conclusion would be if he saw the next Chicago fair proposed for 1992. And what, indeed, will be the perception of those who come a century later to the city where Henry Adams first glimpsed the awesome import of atomic energy? Henry frequently speculated whether somehow humanity in the twentieth century could learn more than he had about the implications of Chicago's revelations in 1893. He hoped so, and the possibility induced him to put aside for a moment his facade of pessimism. The closing lines of the Education anticipated that the generations following him might see a more hopeful side to the awesome energy that both humans and nature could produce. At that point, he predicted, "for the first time since man began his education a mong the carnivores, he would find a world that sensitive and timid natures could regard without a shudder." Dare we hope tl1at our conclusions can be as sanguine as Henry Adams thought possible? For Further Reading The Adams family bibliography is mammoth. Biographical studies of family member include Page Smith,John Adams (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1962); Charles Akers, Abigail Adams (Boston: Library of American Biography, 1980); Irving Stone, Those Who Love (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1965); Samuel Flagg Bemis. j ohn Quincy Adams & The Foundations of American Diplomacy ( 1941 reprinL ed., Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1981) and john Quincy Adams & the Union (1965 re print ed., Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1980); and Martin Duberman, Charles Francis Adams (1807-1886) (Standford: Standford Unive rsity Press, 1961). On Henry, see Ernest Samuels's three-volume biography, The l:vung H enry Adams (1948), The Middle }iiars (1958), and The Major Phase (1964) (Cambridge, Massac husetts: The Belknap Press of Han,ard University); on Brooks see Wilhelmina Harris, "The Brooks Adams I Knew," (Massachusetts Historical Society Proceedings 80, 1968, pp. 94-113); and on the family as th e family see the author's Descent From Glory: Four Generations of the john Adams Family (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983). 19


Home at the Top: Domesticating Chicago's Tall Apartment Buildings By Carroll William Westfall

Between 1880 and 1930, Chicago apartments became popular as domestic substitutes for houses. But over the last fifty years, declares architectural historian William Carroll Westfall, apartments have sheltered income better than people.

20


"THE

FACT

IS

THOROUGHLY

ESTABLISHED,"

Everett

Chamberlain wrote in his 1874 guidebook, Chicago and its Suburbs, "that ninety-nine Chicago families in every hundred will go on an hour's drive into the country, or toward the country, rather than live under or over another family, as the average New Yorker or Parisian does." Multi-family dwellings, apartment and flat buildings, did not conform to nineteenth-century Chicagoan's cherished view of their town as a community of freestanding, single-family residences surrounded by fences protecting trees, gardens, and outbuildings. This image persisted long after Chicago had become a thriving commercial city and had ceased being merely a town. Chicago's prejudice against multi-family dwellings did not prevent the introduction of apartments and flats to the city. Between 1880 and 1930 Chicago experienced three major waves of apartment and flat building. But when this bias was joined with local land speculation practices, it did create a unique market that forced architects to modify and adapt apartment building designs to fit local needs. Rather than looking to models imported from New York or Paris for the design of the first proper apartment building, Chicago architects treated the tall apartment building as an intruder, disguising it as a house, a form already suitable to Chicago's image as a town. As apartment buildings increased in size, architects turned to parallel domestic forms, the club and the hotel, for models. The fastest way to make money in nineteenthcentury Chicago was to speculate in land. An 1872 Illinois statute that forbade the formation of corporations for the purpose of buying and improving land abetted this activity. The architects who designed most of Chicago's early flat and apartment buildings understood that their buildings were primarily instruments for making money. Flat buildings as well as the larger but not luxurious apartment and hotel buildings were built to gamer income to pay the cost of holding land while its price rose to a point that made selling highly profitable. Buildings too, in unfinished or finished form, could become instruments of speculation as if they were Chicago Board of Trade futures contracts, often representing value quite beyond worth in their own right. By forming corporations Carroll William Westfall is associate professor of history of architecture al The University of Virginia.

21


Chicago History, Spring 1985

Preceeding page: View north of Lah,, Shore Drive from 1111' Drake Hotel, 1926, slwwing 1111' mix of apartment buildings and houses typical of the period. Above: Martin Kimbell's residence, c. 1838, located at what is now Kimball Avenue and Altgeld Street, typified the fertced-in.Jree -standing house that gave Chicago a small touni image througlwut ¡111.1tch of the nin£teenth untury.

to build and run a hotel and then operating it as an apartment building, Chicagoans circumvented the statute. This practice may have contributed to the lack of clear distinctions between hotels, apartments, and French flats. Outsiders wishing to play this speculation game found it worthwhile to work closely with Chicagoans, who were more knowledgeable about the important factors governing the local real estate market. The first consideration was the builder's concern for his standing in the community. Because the 1872 statute prevented a builder from enjoying the limited liability that a corporation offered, each building became a high-risk personal undertaking. A builder could most easily secure financial success and protect his reputation by making his flatand apartment buildings fit as much as possible with what already existed. Because the personal risk was high, there was also a limit on the amount

22

of capital a builder was willing to put into any particular project, and so most projects were generally smaller than what a corporation could have undertaken. Chicago's residential districts thus were not overwhelmed by oversized buildings. The second governor was the special image that men had of their city. To fit that image, a multifamily residence had to borrow its forn1s from the residences of the fortunate. There was little to be learned by looking to ew York or Paris for models. The local monopoly on land speculation,buttressed by a local tradition valuing houses as residences, contributed to the largely independent development of Chicago's flat and apartment buildings. Everett Chamberlain correctly pointed out that the Chicagoan was unlike both the New Yorker and Parisian who took a flat or apart.men t because that was all there was. Chicago's first generation of apartment buildings began with the rebuilding of


Home at the the city after the Fire of 1871 and ran to the depression of 1893. Chicagoans who chose to live in the multi-family residences that became available often lived in what was called a "French flat," but buildings called French flats in Chicago are so diverse that the term cannot be tied to any particular building type. Generally it referred to the better buildings, both tall and low, accommodating more than a single family on some sort of long-term basis. During this period , flat and apartment buildings appealing to the middle cl asses began to appear in great numbers. They were especially profitable in residential districts with high land values and no controls to prevent their construction. By disguising these three- and four-story buildings ;is houses, architects could compete in the well-

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established single-family residence market. But the disguise no longer worked when the standard plan of a three- or four-story flat building was ganged in mirror image to produce a larger building, or when more stories were added and an elevator became necessary, as in the five-story Florence Flats, 12-27 E. Bellevue Place, c. 1888. The disguise also failed when the building was e nlarged to appeal to residents of a better class. A good example is the Houghton Flats, 1510 N. Dearborn Street,justsouth of North Avenue, built in 1888 by C. P. Thomas. Its broad porch was an essential element for the courting rituals of better families during the 1870s and 1880s. The single, rather than multiple , entry beyond the porch helped the building pass for a large residence, but

A common selling fo r nirieteenth-

crntury w urting ril:uLlls, /Ju,fron t parch, here 011 the Houghton Flats, 1510-12 N Dearbom Street, gave this multifami ly dwelling a distinct domestic air. Photograph by J ack Oppenheim.

23


unlike a single-family residence of the same size, its massing is unbroken and the tiers of windows remain unchanged from floor to floor. Nevertheless, buildings like d1is best satisfied the requirement of finding a way for flat buildings to fit the prevailing image of the city rather d1an stand apart from it. If the apartment building was to be large, it could imitate the largest of mansions, th e hotels. A hotel, after all, was made to appear as a public mansion; that is, as a place where the hotel keeper lived and took in paying guests. Potter Palmer had gone to Paris and other European cities to learn firsthand the latest hotel fashions before he began rebuilding the Palmer House, which was destroyed in the Fire of 1871. However, by the time highclass apartments were being built, the style of the Palmer House was no longer in fashion as a model for fine mansions, and architects looked to other hotels. Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler's Auditorium Building, that great cooperative enterprise of leading Chicagoans begun in 1886, offered a new model for apartment building

24

designs. We forget that within this building's massive bulk there was more than an auditorium. The Auditorium Hotel was the ne plus ultra of the period and an important center for social activity. Its top-floor dining room was a popular banqueting site, and the auditorium itself could be transformed into a banquet hall as it was for a visit by President McKinley in 1900. The club was another kind of domestic structure that apartment builders turned to for successful forms. Potter and Bertha Palmer had moved from the Palmer House to the Palmer mansion, designed by Cobb and Frost in the early 1880s. Its design was similar to Adler and Sullivan's Standard Club at Michigan Avenue and 24th Street from 1887. Such clubs, unlike the earlier hotel , were spread about in residential districts, as were mansions, and as the early apartment buildings soon would be. The first tall, high-class apartment building was built by Treat and Foltz at State and Ontario streets in 1880. The second, the Mentone Flats, only a few blocks away at Dearborn and Erie streets, was built


Chicago's architects tumed to the Atuiitariwn Building (left), which contained hotel accommodations in addition to a theate,; and men's clubs like the Standard Club (abOVP), Michigan Avenue and 24th Street, as models for their apartment buildings.

in 1882. The Chicago Tribune said that its design, by L. G. Hallberg, "is intended to be a modern treatment of the Gothic as near as may be to comport with harmony, which is the main point aimed at" Put another way, it is clear that its design is more indebted to residences than to any other building type of the period. In both its bulk and design , it was perched somewhere between the large hotels and the low but still pretentious clubs. Between 1885 and 1893 many new apartment buildings appeared along the fashionab le streets near the l_a kefront. They did not have the kind of individual apartment units we find today. They we re closer to what we would expect in a hotel (they were often called hotels), but they were not exactly hotels either. These French flats offered the status and service of hotels, but appea led to permanent guests; they were built near exclusive residential districts, but also at the center of important tra nsportation intersections. The high cost of land a t these prime locations was matched by a large capita l investm e nt in tl1e building.

Apartment buildings of this scale usually required the talents of the better architects of the period , such as Burnham and Root, who designed the Argyle Flats at the corner of Jackson Street and Michigan Avenue and the Pickwick Flats at 20th Street and Michigan Avenue, both in 1886. These buildings have some similarity to the overtly commercia l buildings that Burnham and Root and other Chicagoans were turning out for the Loop at this time, but they have more in common with the simple and direct exteriors of Sullivan's Auditorium Building and Standard Club. His use of projecting bays, ornament, and other variations in the composition helped reinforce the domestic character of these buildings, omething that Burnham and Root also translated into their apartment buildings. The success of these early apartment buildings led to even larger versions, such as the Virginia Hotel, wh ich set a standard of luxury for nearly a decade. A ten-story French flat building begun just as the Auditorium was being finished late in

25


Chicago History, Spring 1985

The Virginia Hotel (abave and abave right) and the Lexington Hotel (right), its South Side equivalent, were not actually hotels, but early forms of Chicago apartment buil.dings.

26


1888, the Virginia Hotel was built by Leander McCormi ck at Rush and Ohio streets next to the excl usive lower North Side residential precinct known as "McCorrnickville." The building's architect, Clinton J. Warren, practiced his great expertise in designing hotel buildings of this type until he retired to devote himself to managing one he owned, the Plaza Hotel , built in 1891 on the site

now occupied by the Latin School of Chicago. The Lexington Hotel, Warren's grandest building, survives, albeit in mutilated form. Designed in 1891 to house visitors to the World's Columbian Exposition, the Lexington was the Virginia's South Side equivalent, located near exclusive Prairie Avenue at Cermack Road and Michigan Avenue, then one of the premier residential streets in Chicago. More money was spent per room in its construction than for any other building put up to host visitors to the fair. The second great building boom of flats and apartments came after Chicago had successfully hosted the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, the single most important event in the urban and civic history of the city. Although a deep economic depression following the fair brought construction virtually to a standstill, when building resumed around the tum of the century Chicagoans were eager to let the lessons of the fair guide the growth of their city. A new image of Chicago-as a mature, wealthy city on the prairie-replacing its town image, was one legacy of the fair. Fully embodying this new vision was Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett's Plan of Chicago published in 1909. Here Chicagoans were first shown that there was a place in their city for all that made Chicago a thriving commercial metropolis. It was an orderly arrangement of lake parks and public buildings, of commercial and industrial districts, of inner city and of distant 27


Proposed l,velfth Street Boulevard at its Intersection with Michigan Avenue and Ashland Avenue.from Daniel Bumham and Edward Bennett's 1909 Plan of Chicago. The Plan embodied a vision of Chicago as a fJrosperous and mature city 011 the prairie.

suburbs, of formal parks and picturesque ones, of railroads and of roadways, all densely packed with buildings. The plan showed buildings that were all nearly alike, and none except the most important was freestanding. Here was the antithesis of the idyllic northeastern town. Gone was the freeholder's lot with its fence, trees, garden, and house. Instead, the individual building had become an essential part of a larger architectural unit that was more important than any of the constituent parts. Here indeed was a city, not an overgrown town. The other lesson of the fair, that traditional architectural styles had value, was already in evidence by the time Burnham and Bennett began preparing their Plan. The stylistic independence that Sullivan and Root had sponsored, an affirmation of Chicago's destiny to lead the West and America into a new, democratic era, was abandoned. A new generation of architects found the stoney Romanesque stemming from Richardson, and the other licentious styles, inappropriate for Chicago, and they embraced instead various forms of classical styles. These building styles, found in the mature cities of Europe, which Americans were coming to admire, guided America's leading architects and builders. In using them, Chicago's architects and builders would make of their city

28

what the fair had shown it could be. They would transform Porkopolis Chicago, raw boom town of the West, into Chicago, capital of a region, fullfledged city of America and the world. These two lessons, one urban, the other architectural, pervaded all important design and construction in Chicago between 1897 and 1927. When incorporated into flat and apartment buildings, they were tied to one more consequence of the fair: the aspiration for civic management and, one might almost say, for good citizenship. The depression following the fair was especially hard on builders of flat and apartments. They had put up hundreds of world 's fair flats which stood empty after the fair's workers and visitors had left. Many builders saw this housing surplus and other signs as an indication of changing land holding economics and concluded that land values had peaked. In 1895 architect Jeremiah Cady counseled: "In the past the rapid advance in values of the ground made it possible to consider a building something to be destroyed in fifteen or twenty years. Values have now reached such figure that in many cases we must regard their advance in the light of interest only, not speculation." Flat and apartment builders had to decide whether they would act as speculators or as


investors. Cady explained further that "Tenants have been tempted into flats by the glitter of bronze, the polish of marble and of hardwoods, a show of gri ll e work, or parquetry, sideboards, cabinets, min-ors and bevelled glass, but all these things will fail if the essentials of the home are lacking." "The wise man," he continued, "will study his plan [for a flat or apartment building] before he puts ground or money into buildings which may have in them the best of material and of workmanship but which lack those essentials which give 'sweetness and light' to the home." To build a flat with the "sweetness and light" of a home required the larger capital outlay associated with investing. The courtyard layout., which provided requisite light and air, was used frequently for th.e better apartment buildings. In a court building a larger site is required for a given number of units. Those with the cap ital for this kind of building tended to build for the fortunate. During the period between tl1e fair and World War I these larger buildings thus tended to have larger indi vidua l units. And because they were mean! as investments, they were generally beuer built and they helped establish a high standard for other flat and apartment buildings. In tl1e highly competitive real estate market of tl1e period, the trickle-down theory worked: flats built for the great mass of Chicagoans also tended to improve, espec ially under the prod of a new building code pas ed in

Above: The Pauington, Irving Park Road and Pine Grove Avenue, with seventy-two large apartments arranged around two matching courtyards, was the la,gest courtyard apartment in Chicago at the tum of the century. Below: Floor plan around one courtyard.

29


Chicago History, Spring 1985 1898 and its subsequent revision. An example of the new trend to better apartments is the Pattington, the largest flat building of the period. It was begun in 1902 on Irving Park Road near the lakefront as an investment for a Milwaukee grain speculator working with a Chicago builder. Its architect, the relatively unknown David Postle, spread seventy-two large apartments tl1rough four stories gathered around two broad courts. When new, the Pattington was a suburban outpost appealing to those who could afford an automobile. It therefore included a ramp leading to a large "automobile room" in the basement. Although they were more luxurious and spacious, the better apartments still had to substitute for a house to be successful. The high levels of lighting, ventilation, and other sanitary facilities found in a house needed to be worked into the plan of an apartment, as did a division of space into public rooms, private rooms, and service areas. By 1895 a commentator had already noted that the successful interior of a flat or apartment could not consist of"seven or eight rooms tl1rown together promiscuously, but [instead] there must be some kind of sense to their arrangement. They must have proper regard for what comprise tl1e public and private rooms of a flat and the use to which they will be put:' In a similar commentary, Cady had complained that in some apartments "bedrooms are sandwiched between public rooms and cut off from the bathroom in such a manner as to make it impossible to pass from one to the other except in full view of the parlors, front hall, or both." The plans of the better class of flats and apartments built in response to this market, such as Holabird & Roche's McConnell Apartments from 1897, honored these domestic requirements. Suites of public rooms-entrance hall, parlor, library, and dining room-dominate the front; bedrooms are separated and grouped where they can best receive light and air; and service roomskitchen, butler's pantry, and maids' rooms-are sealed away at the back. By the turn of the century, this plan was perfected and would remain largely the same until the Great Depression. Another revolution in conventional practice at the turn of the century altered the appearance of both flat and apartment buildings: they dropped their disguises as houses and ceased emulating hotels, although they remained more distinctly allied with residential buildings than with any 30

other forms . New Yorker Herbert Croly observed in 1907 that while New Yorkers turned to Paris for models, Chicagoans favored simple, even modest exteriors. "In Paris," he said, "a severely simple apartment house would look affected , whereas in Chicago an apartment house that sought to live up to the Parisian standard would look even more conscious of the impropriety of its appearance ." Among his examples Croly cited the Lessing(now the Commodore), located at the northeast corner of Surf and Broadway and designed in 1897 by Edmund Krause. An even better example is the McConnell Apartments, whose exterior clearly conveys its suitability for a family's domestic seclusion and its social activities. It has the starkness and directness of that firm's best commercial work of the same decade-for example, the Old Colony Building-but it is clearly domestic. This is achieved in part from its use of familiar conventions, but there is no ambiguity about whether it is a hotel or an apartment building. Its red walls and smaller windows help fit it into the surrounding residential district, although it is of course too large. Its entrance is its only embellishment, a design borrowed from the entrance to the great Italian palazzo imported to the upper end of Astor Street in 1892, Stanford White's Patterson mansion. This borrowing reinforces the McConnell's


Home at the

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The Lessing (below) and the McConnell Apartments (below right) had shed the domestic exteriors comm.on to earlier apartment buildings, but still featured s/1acious and wellventilated interiors that mar//ed them as homes. The Pallerson residmce (right), 20 E. Burton Place, was one of thR mansions that inspired new a/1artment styles.

,T

-- -===- -31


Chicago History, Spring 1985

Benjamin Marshall introduced the Georgian or American Col.onia/ style to Chicago apartment buiulings in his Marshall Apartments ( 1905), Cedar Street at Lake Shore Drive. Photograph by Sigmund)- Osty.

32


Home "domestic aspect" and acknowledges that it intends to be a good neighbor within an established residential disu¡ict Croly complimented Chicago's flat and apanmem buildings for the way they handled their entrances. He especially liked the way entrances in court apartments provided for both the appearance of and actual privacy. His was not an isolated view; a local commentator said of the Pattington, that "This grand structure appears on the ground more like a group of large private mansions with beautiful private parks binding them together in one social circle." Entrances in Chicago, no matter the size of the bui lding, always suggest that beyond them is a house and not a large building. The McConnell and the Pattington, however, are not quite within the mainstream of Chicago practice as it would develop after the turn of the century. Neither one quite succeeded in absorbing the domesticity of a mansion into the great size of the building. Benjamin Marshall was the architect who was able to do th is first and best in the design of tall apartments in the classical style, thereby establishing the convention that would dominate

Benjamin Marshall brought to tall apartment design a durabil' dassical styli' tlwt endured into tllR /920s.

al

the Top

well into the 1920s. His first great success came with the design of the Marshall Apartments (now deso¡oyed), built in 1905 as an investment for his father al Cedar Street and Lake Shore Drive. IL was called Georgian or American Colonial, as was its model, Charles McKim's Lathrop mansion from 1892, which stood only a few blocks away. This classical Georgian model was taken up repeatedly by a number of architects who skillfully resolved the problems of tJ1e site, the plan, and tJ1e necessity of investing the exterior witJ1 an "air of domesticity:' These buildings illustrate Chicago's way of incorporating large apartment buildings into the classical style that became dominant after the 1893 fair. This model was brought from Paris, but its translation into a Chicago architectural idiom was essential to its uccess. A comparison of two buildings of the period , botJ1 seemingly French in origin, makes this clear. Fifteen-fifty North State Parkway, from 1911, designed and owned by Benjamin Marshall, i called French although its exterior is closer to a "severely simple apartmem house" than something living up "to the Parisian standard," which would have made it inappropriate for Chicago. Its plan possesses clarity and grace, each floor devoted lo one huge apartment. A unified suite of public rooms runs across the front overlooking Lincoln Park. The Bryson, which was designed by Solon S. Beman in 1902, offered smaller apartments, but they were arranged in pretentious suites of richly shaped rooms meant to evoke something French . Unlike the new, relatively chaste houses tJ1en being built in Chicago, the Bryson's exterior has a heaviness and fussiness associated with Paris. Marshall's building, on the other hand, seems at home in Chicago. Its steel frame supports a terracotta facade with extensive but controlled fenestration and ornament. Set back from the street and framed by grass and shrubs, it fits into the conventional practice of Chicago rather than the Parisian street or boulevard. Marshall's entrance is almost min iature and therefore domestic in scale, while Beman's, by comparison, looks very pompous. Entrances to Chicago's apartment buildings, even the very large ones, were scaled to the individual units within rather than to the building's exterior. All these differences may account for the popularity and profitabi lity of Marshall's building and the failure of Bryson's building as an investment. 33


The first decade of the new century also saw the establishment of new and lasting conventions for designing lesser Chicago flats. One of the most versatile flat designers within the classical idiom was Andrew Sandegren (1869-1922). His court plan building (523-33 Melrose, from 1904) uses a freewheeling classicism typical of this period, which appealoo to affluent classes. In a 1908 flat building at 5312-18 Hyde Park Boulevard, done in a kind of stripped-down classicism, Sandegren took liberties with more than classicism. In doing so, he produced the solarium, one of the most distinctive motifs of Chicago flats. The solarium evolved from the porch. An open porch projecting beyond the building line had always been legal, and at some point, perhaps first by Sandegren, the projecting porch was designed not as an entrance, but to be enclosed with glass. At first, a door between the sola1ium and the parlor was left in place to maintain the fiction that it was merely a porch, but within a few years the door disappeared and the solarium became an extension of the room behind it Samuel Crowen (1872-1935) was another specialist in flat designs, although less prolific than Sandegren. His entrance to a 1906flatatClarendon and Montrose streets shows liberties with design conventions approaching but still shy of the larger freedoms found in the works of Sullivan and some of the independent spirits in Europe. The full play of those larger freedoms, however, had

34

little appeal to builders putting their capital at risk . in flats and apartments. When a person witl1 credentials in the circle of Frank Lloyd Wright built something for himself as an investment, he adhered to the conservative T/11! solarium (above), shown on an apartment building at 68th Street and ClydR Avenue, evolved from the porch and quickly became a su:mdardfeaiure in lhausa11ds of Chicago apart11umls. Andrw Sandegren (below), one of Chicago's most prolific apartment buildi11g designers, was one of the first to use solariums in his buildi11gs.


Home at the conventions established by long-standing Chicago practice. The tall luxury apartment building at Sheridan Road and Roscoe Street from 1915, designed and owned by Hugh Garden, was done in a Gothic Tudor style, the other major idiom used for Chicago's flats and apartments. It was almost as popular as the various versions of the classical, and, as was the case with its sister idiom , Chicago's examples of the Gothic were liberally interpreted and carefully adapted to local conventions. Herbert Croly, who praised the way Chicago's architects handled it, included among his examples Sandegren's Alvah from 1905 (now destroyed). Its open court plan had been used in Chicago as early as 1893 in Treat and Foltz's Arizona Flats nearby, but Sandegren's design is more sophisticated. His use of the style resembles one of the first, if not the first, court buildings to be published in a national architectural periodical, the Richmond Court Apartments from 1898 located on a street in Boston's suburban Brookline similar to the Alvah's Drexel Boulevard site. It was designed by the firm that included Ralph Adams Cram, who later collaborated with Howard Van Doren Shaw in the design of Chicago's Fourth Presbyterian Church. Cram, who lived in the apartment building, championed the Gothic as the appropriate style for the Anglo-Saxon home, and his promotion of Ruskin's ideas may account in part for the style's rapid acceptance by Chicago architects, especially for domestic structures. The Gothic was not quite as popular as tJ1e classical for tall apartment buildings, although the second tall building to rise on N. Lake Shore Drive, a superb apartment building built in 1910 by Howard Van Doren Shaw for himself and seven others, used tJ1e Tudor version of the Gothic. These buildings by Sandegren and others like tJ,em, both GotJ1ic and classical, continued to be built until tl,e Great Depression halted almost all construction. As multi-family residences t11ey are possibly ,\S good as anyt11ing anywhere. As architecture, they represent a veritable golden age in flat design growing out of a set of circumstances and of architectural abilities unique to Chicago. Shaw's Lake Shore Drive apartment building, however, illustrates something invisible to the eye mat, when later exploited, changed me appearance of Chicago's large apartment buildings. Shaw and tl,e other residents wanted the kind of control over their building's design and future value that comes only through ownership. Forbidden by state

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law to form a corporation tl,at would allow the kind of cooperative scheme long common in New York, tJ1ey worked out a make-shift co-ownership arrangement Apartment ownership was still so unusual in Chicago, however, that eight years later when Shaw sold his apartment the weekly financial newspaper explained to its readers: "Selling an apartment in this building has been likened to selling a drawer in a bureau or a shelf in a series of shelves." Changes in the Illinois statutes in 1919 and 1922, which established a legal mechanism for constructing cooperative apartments, made easier for others what Shaw and his neighbors did. The new statute came in response to the changed economy following World War I with its shortage of building materials, inflation of interest and wages, and extensive shortage of dwelling units for all classes. Inflation cut deeply into tl,e budgets of the middle classes and resulted in smaller individual units for tl,e same money, but the effect on the wealtJ,y was minimal. Coincidental with the new cooperative apartment law, the city passed in 1923 its first comprehensive zoning and land use ordinance. Its effect was twofold: it reinforced the pattern ofland development already mapped out by tl,e market by reserving the broad sweep of tJ,e lakefront residential district for tall apartments, and it increased the bulk an apartment building could legally occupy. The new statute allowing limited liability cooperative building corporations and the new zoning ordinance ushered in the third great period of flat and apartment construction in Chicago, from the recovery following World War I to the Great Depression of tl,e 1930s. Buildings constructed during tJ,is tJ,ird period increased dramatically bod, in height and breadth. The works of Shaw, Marshall, and only a very few others demonstrate t11at a big building did not need to be banal or crude. It is entirely possible, however, that after a building reached a certain size, no architect could have done a properjob of contriving a design that worked well in Chicago. A few Chicagoans looked upon the new cooperative statute merely as a way to facilitate having an apartment in the city. When constructing cooperative buildings, they showed the same good civic sense tl,ey had used before the war by occupying only a small portion of the large envelope allowed by tl,e new zoning ordinance. An example of tJ,is

35


Nine forty-two N Lake Shore Drive (left and below) by William Walker, offered apartments with a s/Jaci0tl.l and 111>.wious two-story plan. J arvis Hunt'.r 900 N Michigan Avenue (above) from 192], mi.wd cooperative and rmlal units with street-level commercial space. Photograph by Glenn E. Dahlby.

is Jarvis Hunt's 900 orth Michigan Avenue from 1923 (recently destroyed ). It was unique in Chicago in combining huge cooperative apartments with generous rental units and commercial ground floor frontage. Hunt, who owned and lived in one of the units, enclosed all of tl1is within an e xterior worked up with a sophisticated Adamesque classicism that complemented the pieces already built at the north end of the new Michigan Avenue. Another example of restraint despite license to exceed civic scale is Howard Van Doren Shaw's thirteen-story, twelve-apartment cooperative at 2450 36


â&#x20AC;˘ Home at the

Lakeview, which he designed in 1922, and where he maintained an apartment. A note of cynicism, or a willingness to stretch the new financial system and zoning code allowances to the limit of civility and perhaps beyond, is seen in Benjamin Marshall 's privately owned corporate enterprise, 209 East Lake Shore Drive, begun in 1924. Although the eighteen-story building extends above its ten- to twelve-story neighbors, which obey the former height limit, the design was carefully contrived to do the least possible damage to the unified civic image fonned by those _e arlier buildings. Other builders were not so careful. Robert De Colyer, for example, was a very good architect within certain bounds. The Marlborough, a cooperative from 1922, with sixteen apartments facing Lincoln Park and the lake for the shareholders in the building corporation and many more rental units on the court opening onto Deming Place, is an example of his best work. His building at 1120 . Lake Shore Drive, however, lllrned out to be a monster relative to its neighbors, Marshall's Marshall Apartments and

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Stewart Apartment.Building from 1912, and Shaw's 1130 N. Lake Shore Drive building. Insofar as its design was part of the art of building cities, this building might as well have been entrusted to any number of architects eager to take on such commissions. De Golyer's 1120 N. Lake Shore Drive building was simply too large to play a civic role in the city, as good as it is as an isolated design. Buildings like these were so large that only the very best architects could contrive for them the high quality detail in either the classical or Gothic idiom, something that gave them a place within the longer history and the larger place that Chicago had striven for since the fair. The building at 1120 . Lake Shore Drive and even larger ones along the lakefront, like De Golyer's 3750 . Sheridan apartment building from 1926, were built as speculative undertakings. With increased capital enjoying limited liability at the disposal of builders and with the increased size of the building envelope made available under the new zoning code , shares in cooperative buildings joined land as instruments of speculation. When this occurred the character of Chicago's tall apartment buildings changed dramatically and so did the character of the city they were creating. This deterioration in quality and lack of concern for the building as a piece of a larger whole flowed from the fact that these large buildings were put up by building corporations and not by people who lived in and near what they built. They were, in other words, a dramatic departure from the tradition of having buildings built by citizens who wished to protect their place in the community and whose understanding of the roles buildings play in the city tempered their desire for profit. By the late 1920s, a new kind of city, one that grew from the merging of a liberal zoning code and corporate finance, was emerging. It also appeared in the designs of the better architects . An example is Holabird & Roche's 1927 design for an apartment building in Streeterville. It exemplifies designs that were meant to provide mere visual delight, to stand as soaring, isolated elements disregarding their neighbors and the city's future. The design of such buildings frequently exploited some transient, momentary trend, such as De Golyer's Powhatan, from 1927, a cooperative apartment building in the South Side's Indian Village, which he festooned with Indian

37


·- .

A PORTFOLIO OF rtNE APARTMENT HOMES

BAIRO & WARNER, Cl IICAGO

375°

SHERIDAN ROAD

T

HIRTY SEVEN-FIFTY ShcmJ.rn Rrn<l" most <lcltghtfully kx,1tc<l .1cro•..,; from the c~tcn s,on of Lincoln P.1rk, a ,hort <lnvc from Ch1c,1g, ,.,

downtown, dnsc to tr.im•porut1on, ~tmlbCmcnt:-. .,nJ shopping.

The bml<l1ng 1sscvcnti:cn stont:s in hc1~ht .,nJ .__.nn t.uns one hundred twcnty•c1ght ap,trtments. Thirty of the apartments t.:ons1st of mnc rooms ,mJ three baths. Fiftt.!cn h,1vc seven rooms ,m<l three h.tth.,. Forty-five h.,vc

SIX

rooms .tn<l three b.tth s. while

there arc thirty five-room ,1p,1rtmcnts, fiflccn w1tl, one h,th .tnd fifteen with two h,llhs.

This hu1l<lmg t.:nn t.1:n~ such fr.1turcs ,b

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mmg pool, hrynrna~nun, drcs.."m!.! ,tn<l ,:;howcr n.xnn:m the hascmcnt for h,tthc.rs. mc(h.11111.:~tl rdn~cr.1tum .tnJ vcnttl.1unn, S<ltlll<l <lc,u.kncr m t1oors and walls. filtered water and the hkc . The hu1khng from it-. v,trmu~ 1..'\ p<l.:.urcs ,lffnr<l.::: mo~t ..::h~trmmc v1e,,.,s of park, and dnve, and shordme . .Bcm~ (IT) Sh~nd.ln Rn,t<l ,tn<l 1mmc<l1.1tcly orr).:.ILC Lhc cxtcn~ion to Lmcoln Park msurcs th e pcm1a.ncncc of these visus. ROl1FRT S, D,GOI YFR & [

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After zoning codes changed in the 19 20s to Javor specuw.tive ventures, much larger apartment buildings became common. Robert De Golyer's building at 3750 N. Sheridan Road ( 1926) is one exampl.e.

38


ornament. Or they were meant to suggest a future city which would surpass the present one, rndely shedding the past. These designs provided the first clear indication that those who built in Chicago had decided that economic gain was once again the highest value binding Chicagoans together. Had the Great Depression not prevented their proliferation, buildings heralding a new age, such as Benjamin Marshall's 1931 design for an unbuilt project, unconnected with the deep roots in the past of Chicago and the larger and older world to which it belonged, would have buried the city built since the fair as completely as the post-fair buildings had replaced the overgrown town of freeholders that hosted the exposition. The depression, however, only delayed the city's destruction. During the delay the architectural idiom was changed, and this hiatus has obscured the continuity between the uncivil attitudes of the late 1920s and those that have prevailed since the 1950s. Beginning in the late 1920s, designers and builders no longer attempted to provide a domestic substitute for a house, and they no longer tried to make their buildings part of a larger city. The seemingly revolutionary attitude toward architecture and the city embodied in buildings like Ludwig Mies van der Robe's apartments, Sheridan Road at Diversey Avenue, is but an extension of trends already sixty years old and obviously difficult to change. It is sad but no surprise that the buildings now built as apartments can shelter income better than people, can produce housing but never a home, and can make money but not a city.

For Further Reading Two excellent guides to luxu1-y apartments are Directory to Apartments of the Better Class Along the North Side of Chicago (Chicago: A.J. Partridge & Harold Bradley, 1917) and A Portfolio of Fine Apartment Houses (Chicago: Baird & Wame1; Inc., 1928). A fine analysis of the apartment as middle class home is Wim de Wit, ''.Apartmelll Houses and Bungalows: Building the Flat City," (Chicago History 12, Winter 1983-84: pp. 18-29); see also the author's "The Golden Age of Chicago Aparunents," (Inland Architect 24, 1980, pp. 18-26). For a survey of Benjamin Marshall's work see the author's "Benjamin Marshall of Chicago," (The Chicago Architectural journal 2, 1982, pp. 9-27), and on Howard Van Doren Shaw consult Leonard K. Eaton, Two Chicago Architects and their Clients: Frank Lloyd Wright and Howard Van Doren Shaw (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1969).

Benjamin Marshall's unbuilt design from 1931 (above) fell victim to the Great Depression. Had it been constructed, it would have radically changed the scale of buildings on East Lakeshore Drive. Mies van der Rohe's apartment buildings (1957), Sheridan Road and Diversey Avenue, represent the total abandonment of the idea that apartment buildings should provide a recognizably domestic substitute for Liw house.

39


Historical Exhibitions as History By Wim de Wit

Exhibitions are an important part of the Chicago Historical Society's efforts to interpret the history of the city. Recently, the Society reevaluated its collecting policy and exhibition program. What follows is one curator's point of view.

inaugurating the Chicago Histo1-ical Society's new building in 1932, President Charles B. Pike provided a concise enumeration of what he considered to be the most important objects in the collection: "the hat [Lincoln] wore, the scarf he wrapped around his shoulders, the coat he was assassinated in , and many other personal effects. Lincoln belongs to the ages. So also do Columbus and Washington. Housed in this building are relics of all of them ...." Pike's choice of these particular items demonstrates very clearly that fifty years ago the trustees and staff believed that it was the Society's chief task to collect relics of the great and famous. Although Pike presumably intended to use the term "relics" in the sense of "fragmentary remains," his use of the word is telling. These were sacred objects, reflecting a view of history as a matter of celebrity and prominence. When the Society was founded in 1856, and even in Pike's day, it was the conventional wisdom that history was a sequence of important deeds accomplished by important men (rarely by women), and the Chicago Historical Society was no exception. More recently, this attitude has changed markedly, and now the average and the ordinary has taken a place of equal interest alongside that which is truly distinguished . By examining this change in attitude as it is reflected in museum exhibitions, I will point to a more useful position for a historical society in today's intellectual and cultural climate. During the nineteenth century, as Byron York has pointed out in an article on the Chicago Historical Society's early years (Chicago History, Fall 1981), the Society was essentially a private club, whose members were prominent citizens interested in collecting historical records. Their principal accomplishment was the establishment of a library, IN A SPEECII

Wim de Wit is curator of Architectural CoUections at the Society. 40

but they also had regular meetings in their own buildings. This club-like attitude slowly changed around the turn of the century when the public at large was allowed access to the Society's collections. From that moment on, the exhibition as a means of educating the public became a principal concern of the Society, whose collecting activity was consequently intensified. The intention was to build the collection around a core of precious objects-Lincoln's personal effects, a suit worn by George Washington, and an anchor said to be from the Santa Maria. The fact that these things were associated with historic figures was sufficient to endow them with a value infinitely higher than identical objects of tl1e same period used by the less exalted. Such objects, when displayed in an exhibition, were expected not only to command the viewer's respect, but also to teach a lesson about the history of America. And yet most people probably came no further than satisfying their curiosity about famous people's live and possessions. The period room occupied a special place in this conception of history and the function of exhibitions. Interio1-s filled with valuable furniture, paintings, and domestic objects were taken out of their original context and reinstalled in the museum. Other interiors were composed of diverse elements from a single period. The assumption behind this approach was that the visitor, by standing at the edge of the room and looking at the objects, could coajure up and relive the past. In the 1930s the Chicago Historical Society was praised for its innovative exhibition technique that showed the history of America in a series of period rooms which created a context for the objects displayed. Today, however, we admit more readily the difficulty of experiencing a historical period in the same way as those who lived it It


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41


Lincoln Gallery, featuring many of Lincoln'.5 personal belongings, 1956. Until recently, the Society saw its chief task as collecting relics of the great and famous.

takes more than just objects to constitute a complete experience of another age . An important partthe subconscious, emotional experience-is lost forever. To some degree we can suggest something of what an earlier period was like, but at the same time we also must acknowledge our more fundamental inability to retrieve from the past anything more than fragments. Given the breach opened up by time, the best we can do to reconstitute the past is to marshal our interpretive faculties and try to understand why people of a given period did the things they did. Period rooms alone do not accomplish this. As in paintings hanging in an art museum, they are expected to speak for themselves. Their selection, of course, constitutes an interpretation, but this is more often based on aesthetic judgements rather than a historical point of view. During the past decade many institutions, including the Chicago Historical Society, have modified this aesthetic orientation. We now hope to play a more active role in contemporary society by consciously interpreting the past in order to better understand our own time. We recognize that any interpretation is inextricably linked to the era in which it is made, because it proceeds from

42

hypotheses typical of that era. The conclusions drawn are, therefore, also a product of that era, and, because each period is characterized by the choice of different hypotheses, the conclusions will be different when a given period is studied again. Indeed, judgements about a particular period say as much about the period in which the study is made as about the one studied. The Chicago Hi tory Galleries, installed in the Chicago Historical Society in 1979, confirm this. The curators of this pennanent exhibition interpreted Chicago through its entreprenurial spirit, transportation facilities, cultural in titutions, physical systems, world's fairs, and people and popular culture. Now we feel that many other aspects of the city should be included as well-for example, the individuals responsible for Chicago's most important commercial firms, Chicago and its suburbs, or Chicago and its waterways. Years from now different topics will become important. Today, the Chicago Historical Society sees itself as a study center for the history of the metropolis of Chicago. It seeks to deal both broadly and specifically with the functions of the city (living, work, traffic, and recreation), with its formal


Historical Exhibitions

I

BED ON WHICH LINCOLN DIED AND LINCOLN FURNITURE IN LINCOLN ROOM AT CHICAGO HISTORICAL

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SOC IETY

BY C HI C AG O HISTO R IC AL S O Ct ET'I'

Above: Postcard of Lincoln Room with Lincoln deathbed. The Fort Dearborn exhibit (below) in t/1£ Society's old building included a birchbark canoe and a table-top model of the fort.

43


Chicago History, Spring 1985

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Historical Exhibitions

Dioramas, like the Thome Rooms (above !ÂŁft), which were later moved to The Art Institute of Chicago, and period rooms, like the Paul Revere Home Gallery (/,eft), once were considered innovative display techniqURs, and the Society's were jwlged among the best. The Society's Chicago GaliÂŁry included a display ofsilver baby cupsfrom the family ofJulian S. Rumsry, mayor of Chicago, 186 1-62.

45


Chicago History, Spring 1985

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During World War II the Society organized a National Defense Room, where exhibitions, like this one on the Red Cross, served the war effort on the home front.

46


aspects (urban planning and construction), as well as with diverse forms of cultural expression (costume, theater, and music). To explore these diverse areas, the staff develops thematic exhibitions marshaling resources from throughout the institution: photographs, drawings, furniture, books, films, and the like. As a result, the individual departments within the Society may not always be able to operate as independently as they once did, for the themes that are examined in its exhibitions are often too broad for only one collection. A thematic approach does not mean, however, that only very large subjects are called for. A theme such as "traffic in Chicago" can be narrowed down to "Chicago's waterways," or "Chicago's el system," or even "the streets." Such topics allow us to deal with a variety of issues, including traffic systems or varieties of vehicles, but above all with the effect of traffic on the development of Chicago, and vice versa. The monographic exhibition devoted to a single person (which may appear to be the opposite in conceptual terms of the thematic exhibition) can be maintained. One person often represents or interacts with so many aspects of society that through him and his work a whole period can be examined. For example, George Pullman can be treated as the summit of the paternalistic business manager, he can be looked at from the point of view of labor organization, or he can be seen as the man who most successfully answered the late-nineteenth century desire for faster and more comfortable travel. Much the same can be said of the exhibition about a single artist; the architectural work of Louis Sullivan provides an avenue of approach to general issues such as the relationship between architect and client, or the meaning of ornament. A frequently raised criticism is that, in trying to explain so much, thematic exhibitions are nothing more than books hung on the wall. This is not the case when a clear distinction is made between the functions and methods of communication appropriate for an exhibition, and those appropriate for a book. An exhibition is above all a medium that involves visual images, a book is generally composed of words. The book is the more flexible medium of the two: there is no subject that cannot be dealt with in a book. The same cannot be said of exhibitions. There are topics that may sound interesting as ideas for exhibitions, but which cannot be visualized because of a lack of images,

A youngfi,mily pauses to contemplate The Railsplitte1; afaoorite of Society visitors for years.

or because too many words would be needed to explain the point of view from which the images were chosen. Fortunately, we can occasionally make use of everyday objects whose visual and informative qualities provide an additional language to convey complex ideas clearly. For example, a recent Society exhibition devoted to apartments (twoand three-flats) and bungalows, tried to show why these two types of housing were so popular in Chicago during the 1910s and 1920s among the middle class. To explain this verbally would require a great many words. But in the real estate pamphlets, brochures, advertisements, and other ephemeral material from the Chicago Historical Society's

47


Chicago History, Spring 1985

ThR Chicago History Gal/mes ( 1976), which addressed all aspects of urban life and all classes of people, marked the Society sfirst vmture into truly modem integrative display techniques.

Library, we found a fount of eye-catching images that, together with only a few words, explained why these small houses were so attractive. The labels accompanying these images were necessary only for elucidating why the exhibited materials were placed in this context. Visitors' reactions showed us that, indeed, they could easily understand what the exhibition was about. One major consequence of the thematic exhibition is that the originality or uniqueness of the individual objects on display has become relatively unimportant. Thematic exhibition pieces are not chosen only because they are the first, or the best, or because, having been used by an important person, they have a higher market value. Instead, they are selected because they illustrate an idea. Of course, a unique lamp designed by Frank Lloyd Wright will continue to be shown in exhibitions, but for different reasons than a massproduced lamp. In other words, originality is just

48

one aspect of design, and thus one of the many reasons to exhibit or collect. The growing appreciation in the museum world for the mass-produced object reflects a change in scope also to include the study of popular taste, which informs the shape a given chair, lamp, or dress takes. As mentioned previously, today the Chicago Historical Society addresses it elf lo all aspects of urban life and all classes of people. It no longer restricts itself to wealthy or to important public figures. In orderto provide a well-rounded idea of our culture, the middle and the working classes also must be studied and their artifacts shown in exhibitions. We want to learn how to appreciate what these objects too can teach us about history from another perspective. One might well ask whether such changes in exhibition techniques simply satisfy curators' longing for some variation in their work. Or do they have a larger impact? I believe that the latter


Historical Exhibitions

Chicago Furniture: An, Craft, & lndustr)', 1833-1983, organiud by the Society in 1984, exemplified thP large thematic exhibition. The Palmer House Bridal Suite, restored to its original splend01; i.s shown lwre.

is true. These new kinds of exhibitions have brought the Chicago Historical Society closer to the stature of much larger museums in Chicago, such as The Art Institute or the Museum of Science and Industry, whose collections have always attracted large audiences. In times past at the Chicago Historical Society, exhibitions were changed less frequently, and few people were motivated to return after having been led through its halls by their grade school teachers. Now, however, a variety of temporary shows is regularly offered. Visitors can easily relate to the objects displayed, and indeed, tJ1ey recognize many of them from their own lives. This i confim1ed by one of the Chicago Historical Society's mostsucce ful exhibitions in recent years, Chicago Furniture: Art, Craft, & Industry, 1833-1983. This exhibition, concerning the production of furniture in Chicago, included mass-produced chairs and tables, some of which attracted attention becau e of the early date of their mechanical

production, others because they were familiar pieces in common use. Some unique examples and one-of-a-kind pieces of furniture allowed people to dream of how they would decorate their homes if they were wealthy. The visitor with a more scholarly orientation could at the same time study the history of an industry that has almost disappeared from Chicago. Through exhibitions of this type the Chicago Historical Society gains recognition outside its home city. Museums in New York and Washington, D.C., now host exhibitions that originate here, suggesting that Chicago is truly of interest to the whole country as a case study in urban history. Several of the ideas in this article originated in discussions of the Society's Exhibition Committee, on which the author served. He would like to thank the other committee members, Sharon Darling, Mary Janzen, and Carole Krucoff, for their cooperation and their help with this article. The views expressed are entirely his own.

49


BOOK REVIEWS Farewell to the Party of Lincoln

by Nancy J. Weiss

Princeton, ew Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1983. $32.50 12.50 paper.

cloth,

BLACKS into the Democratic party during the Great Depression constituted a political revol ulion of lasting consequence. In Farewell to the Part:y of Lincoln Nancy J. Weiss argues that the shift occu1Ted between 1932 and 1936, that blacks became FDR supporters before they became Democrats, and that it was all accomplished "in spite of the New Deal's lack of a substantive record on race." Economic benefits, Rooseveltian charm, and a few symbolic gestures brought blacks into the Democratic fold. In a well researched and clearly written essay that uses voting data from northern cities to trace the movement of blacks into the Democratic column, Weiss concludes that the New D路e al "too rarely escaped the racism typical of American society in Lhe 1930s ," but that blacks made a "realistic" choice in paradoxically supporting a president and a party that not only refused to embrace a "racial agenda" but tried desperately to avoid potenlially divisive racial issues. Weiss presents a forceful, but forced argument. The focus on national affairs necessarily overlooks local variants tJ1at would seriously qualify the thesis. In pinpointing me 1936 election as me watershed, Weiss dismisses New York's blacks who voted for Roosevelt in 1932 (and local Democrats befo1路e mat) and Chicago's, who denied FDR a majority until 1940. An argument based on northern urban electorates that holds New York and Chicago as exceptions is, at the least, difficult to sustain . Clearly, me level and skill of local political organizations must be taken into account-as is exemplified by Chicago's Ed Kelly, who won 80 percent of the black vote five years before the president was able to manage a ba1路e majority. Kelly, moreover, identified himself and the local party with the cause of racial justice. And if FDR was politically constrained on me national level, he did support Kelly and was willing-as E leanor Roosevelt's activities indicate-to work mrough surrogates at minimal political cost to himself. More troubling, the autJ10r rides me thesis so hard mat ambiguous evidence is always interpreted in me light least flattering to FDR, the accomplishments of the New Deal are consistently trivialized, and whatever achievements it is credited with seem almost accidental or mere by-products that cou ld hardly have been avoided. Thus Eleanor Rossevelt labors against the prevailing racial climate and shows genuine concern for blacks while being restrained by the president and used simply as a symbolic offering. Yet, if she was closely watched by FDR, and occasionall y held in check for political reasons, does mat not imply official acquienscence, if not

THE MOVEMENT OF

50

sanction, for those actions that succeeded in winning black support? Similarly, Weiss denigrates th e "Black Cabinet" as being merely a "limited departure" from past practice that failed to demonstrate a "genuin e commitment" to racial progress. Yet me politicizatio n of blacks and the creation of a vehicle in the Democratic party to put forth their demands are, as Weiss acknow ledges, inextricably linked to me civil rights revolution; they should not be minimized for failing to achieve in me 1930s what still eludes us in the 1980s. Such an interpretive pose leads me author to conclude mat th e Democrats "seemed purposefully to evade any important issue mat smacked of race," that the administration's "unprecedented gestures" were "trivial" com pared to its inaction on what the author contends was m e real racial agenda of the 1930s (lynching, disfranchisement, and discrimination in administering relief), and th at blacks voted Democratic in 1936 "in spite of' the party's record on race. Much of tl1e difficulty stems from Weiss's assertion tJ1at there was a clearly defined "racial agenda" during me depression mat existed apart from me economic crisis-one that articulated a clear standard against which FDR's failings could be charted. The autJ10r manufactures her "agenda" for black America out of a single Pittsburgh Courier ed itorial and mree private communications to the president; a process mat raises me question of how one measures a mass phenomenon (tJ1e movement of blacks into the Democratic party) wim an "e lite" yardstick mat had no demonstrable connection to tl1e masses themselves. Weiss herself states that there was "overwhelming agreement" among blacks that economic issues were paramount in me 1930s, mat the "principal concern" of me black masses was obtaining a share of ew Deal aid, and that tJ1e average black was "more concerned witJ1 getting a job than segregation." And she notes that the New Deal made a "critical difference" for millions, met the needs of the "average black," and, in the northern cities that form the bas is of her electoral analysis, saw its relief distributed "with a relatively even hand." In mis context, economic a istance was, by definition, a racial issue. Indeed, the author's contention that FDR subsumed black problems in his general approach to the poor brings the president in line wim the racial "militants" who "challenged the appropriateness" of the AACP's emphasis on political and civil rights. Yet her spurious separation of economic and "racial" concerns leads her to concludealways in contradiction to black contemporaries-tl1at FDR only "seemed to be" paying attention to blacks, that he merely "look[ed] like a benefactor," and mat they idolized him "in plain defiance of the facts." Weiss is certainly correct to document me persistence of discrimination in New Deal programs and FDR's refusal to take the point on controversial racial issues. But the criticism loses touch with reality when Roosevelt is taken to task for both employing symbolic gestures and refusing to do so (as in the battle over anti-lynching legislation-would "racial" concerns have been more directly addressed had the p1路esident plunged into that fight and jeopardized his relief program?);


when he is scorned for not exceeding the expeCLations and racial consciousness displayed by the majority of blacks themselves; and when the author concludes that the Democrats were able to win black votes "by the simple fact of not excluding them from the economic benefits" conferred on the poor generally. It is only in the post-civil rights era that such a fact could be taken for granted or regarded as "simple." In Farewell to the Party of Lincoln Franklin Roosevelt is being judged by the standard he helped make possible. And that raises the question of historical perspective. Weiss notes that the Republican pany, from Teddy Roosevelt on, had clone nothing for blacks, and that national Democrats, prior to FDR, pursued traditionally racist policies. FDR's interest was, in those circumstances, dramatic and compelling. It provided an escape from racial powerlessness. It should not be categorized as a mere "novelty." And the fact that the New Deal was "flawed" should not create-as Weiss argues-a "paradox" in need of resolution . In sum, it is true, as the author contends, that the Democrats' attraction for blacks rested in large part on their ability to deliver tangible economic rewards; that the provision of such massive assistance to non-whites in the context of the 1930s could be seen as being devoid of"racial" content is the only mystery remaining to be solved. AR 'OLD R. HIRSCH UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS

Confidence Men and Painted Women: A Study of Middle-Class Culture in America, 1830-1870 by Karen Halttunen ew Haven: Yale University Press, 1982.

19.95 cloth.

FOR MOST OF us the term "sentimental" connotes the unreal or even hypocritical in human affairs. Professor Halttunen makes a persuasive case that the opposite was true in the mind of some of the rising middle class who adopted a sentimental ideal of human conduct in the 1830s and 1840s. This was a reaction against the supposed ill-effects of the confidence man, gambler, and demagogue, a set of stereotypes-representing destructive tendencies in a rapidly developing capitalistic urban society that figured largely in the advice literature, fiction, and news reporting of those years. The confidence man, who supposedly lurked on every street corne1~ sought to ensnare the unwary inlO the corrupt ways of city life. This figure had an old lineage even then, and was most famous as the Satan of biblical injunction and the devil of the Faust legend. In the Ame1ican setting he threatened the nation's inhe1ited values of honesty in dealing with others in a new urban society that allegedly valued hypocritical or dishonest appearance and conduct. The gambler preyed on the honest and wasted society's resources twice, once at the tables and again in promoting indolence and speculation. The demagogue was a more complex image. He

exploited the irrationalities of an ignorant crowd and threatened the inherited republican ideals of an enlightened electorate. The psychological ambivalances in all three images said much of the era's temper. In the encl, the great fear beneath the cautionary advice was simply that the innocent person might become these stereotypes to the danger of himself or herself and society. The spirit of the social consensus based on honesty and civic ideals was weak. The flesh was all too prey to glamorous but dishonest ideals. What to do? The advice in manuals devoted to manners, letter-writing, and fashion opted Lo develop what Professor Halttunen calls the "genteel performance." This became a system of behavior including everything from dress lO posture to receiving guests that focused on presenting an honest pe1路sonality in attractive garb. This kind of "sentiment" would enhance the individual's characte1~ locate him or her in the new fluid society, and promote social cohesion without repudiating inhe1路ited values. This generation of arrivistes into the new middle class asked the dual questions: 'J'\m I doing the right thing?" "ls this honest?" Women's dress revealed some of these aspirations and changes . A relatively simple classicism of 1800-20, which emphasized the body, was followed by a cycle of romanticism, emphasizing makeup, bold colors, and fussy designs in clothing rather than the wearer's character. By the micl-1830s this fashion seemed false 10 the middle class. A sentimental style appeared in reaction that simplified clothing and focused attention on the face, which had to radiate the wearer's honesty and character. This was part of an elaborate effort to counter the alleged breakdown of virtue in the new fluid urban society. "The problem of hypocrisy, which had arisen in the streets and marketplaces of the world of strangers, would be confronted and 1路esolved in the parlor of the middle-class home." Professor Halttunen ca1Ties this analysis into a fascinating chapter on mourning. The sentimental style saw mourning the dead as a way of expressing true Christianity and concern for both living and dead . It also buttressed family solidarity in the face of urban anonymity. The rituals emphasized that society's goals were expressed in every individual, the deceased and the mourners. Funerals and mourning periods were occasions to remind the mourner of obligations to others and things beyond self. In sum, this was a powerful occasion to be honest. By mid-century, these obsequies had become ever more unsentimental. They emphasized the social stations of both dead and living, and were elaborately public in the hands of specialist morticians. This became the fate of the sentimental style in general, an end the advice literature spoke against but always feared . The pressures of a 1路ich market economy, city life, and the growing rootlessness of society in general turned people in other directions. "In the most fundamental sense, the criteria by which middle-class gentility was assessed had shifted from a sentimental demand for transparent sincerity to a worldly Victorian demand for a skillful social performance." 51


Chicago History, Spring 1985 The book is interesting but somewhat nan-ow, both in locale and chronology and depicts a short cycle of taste, albeit an important one. One wishes for more regional comparisons. Did city size and the local economy make any apparent difference in opting for t.he sentimental style? The book is also slow reading and often repetitious, especially in restating the author's theses. The constant intrusions of historians and quotations from seconda1-y sources are ahistorical and wearing. They make it difficult to follow any developing line of tJ1oughL But the book's insights remain challenging, and Professor Halttunen shows how to interpret an unusual body of literature to good effect. This book shows well how one generation of newcomers to modernism coped with challenge and change. The sentimental pe1-formance took them from a place they thought they wanted to leave to one they dreaded to inhabit, and tJws had its honest purpose in ironic ways. H. WAYNE MORGAN UNIVERSITY OF OKI..AI I0~IA

The Automobile and Urban Transit: The Formation of Public Policy in Chicago, 1900-1930 by Paul Barrett Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1983. $34.95.

study of Chicago transportation in the first third of the twentieth century is finally in print. The book, based on massive and impressive research into Chicago and transportation industry sources, is likely to be the final word on the subject. It is the best book that we have on urban transportation policy in the early twentieth century. The chapters on early automobile policy are the first comprehensive case study of that topic and for this reason, the most valuable parts of the book . Barrett is at his best when outlining the complex politics of Chicago's elevated and surface electric lines. He elaborates on the impossibility of developing a PAUL llARRETT'S LONG-AWAITED

View north of Michigan Avenue from Michigan Avenue Bridge, 1929. By the /930s, the automobile dominated city streets.

52


Book Reviews comprehensive transit system, including subways through the Loop for trolleys and rational routing of elevated ca1·s, because of that complex public policy. The public loved trnnsit because it enabled achievement of the suburban dream but detested the crowded, noisy cars which violated the suburban dream of p1·ivacy and quiet. Chicagoans also detested the private companies which operated the transit lines. The industry never recovered from the public relations disaster of Charles Yerkes's 1893 remark, usually misquoted, as Barrett points out: "The straphanger pays the dividends ." Both the public and the indust1·y (often controlled by those with suburban real estate interests) were obsessed with suburban extensions above al I else. There were major· battles ove1· fares, but neither the public nor the indust1·y challenged the principle of the flat fare in which short distance travelers subsidized long distance ones. The incl us try never perceived the threat of the automobile until it was too late and the public was per·haps too willing to turn the downtown over to them. Barrett has clone a fine job of explaining the complicated and unworkable regulatory processes of the em . The automobile sneaked up on the city. The first traffic jams appeared in 1914 and 1915. Only in 1923, when closed cars outsold open ones for the first time and transit ridership began to decline, was it evident that autos would be used heavily for commuting. Even through the 1930s the transit industry, commuters, and influential downtown groups dealt with this new phenomenon by the psychological process of denial. The auto was welcomed: it was owned by indi viduals, not suspect corporations, it served the emotional needs of American individualism, and it facilitated suburbanization. As Barrett brilliantly points out, the psychology of its regulation was completely different. Controlling individuals, rather than hated monopolies, is difficult in a democratic society. The city responded with temporary nostrums-traffic regulation, street widening, pa1·king bans, upgrading boulevards, and gutting the lakefront parks for parkways. No public body, state or local, had the vision, funds, or desire to limit the auto by regulation 01·, a lternatively, to build proper highways and redesign downtown. There are some difficulties with The Automobile and Urba11 Tra11sit, however. Barrett at times gets bogged down in the details of transit regulation. And a comparative context which would have been valuable is missing. T~e reader has little sense of what suburban towns or Cook County were doing about planning for automobiles. Nonetheless, this is the best book we have on this crucia l era in urban transportation policy and an essential reference for all historians of modern American cities. While Barrett does not focus primarily on politics, his study does a superb job of outlining the complex governance of twentieth-century metropolitan areas, with their political fragmentation and entrenched bureaucracies. CLAY MCSHANE NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY

Chicago's Public Wits: A Chapter in the American Comic Spirit edited by Kenny J. Williams and Bernard Duffey Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1983. 22.50.

The Mirth of a Nation: America's Great Dialect Humor edited by Walter Blair and Raven I. McDavid, Jr. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1983. Cloth 35.00, paper 12.95.

THAT THE READING OF nineteenth-century American humor is clone today largely by academics wou ld have embarrassed many of the writers included in these two related but disparate collections. American humor used to be one of the most popular of our liternry enterp1·ises. It was the one kind of writing that could (and did) b1·idge the distance between high and low-brow in our culture. When Mark Twain invoked his demotic audience and claimed indifference to the critics, he could count on a huge readership both here and abroad to support him. And if there were those in the American genteel tradition who demurred, Twain needed on ly to point to his honorary degree from Oxford. Across the water they knew what was original in American literature, even if some of our own didn't: native American humor. Mark Twain, of course, has survived and flourished. But the tradition of native American humor on which he drew so freely for his own work has needed steady academic subsidies in the classroom to keep going. Both Chicago's Public Wits and The Mirth of a Nation attempt to restore parts of this tradition to its legitimate place in our civilization, though only the latter book aims squarely at the popular readership which nineteenth-century humorists could take for granted. Unfortunately, despite its obviously good intentions, Williams's and Duffey's Chicago's Public Wits turns out to be a book without a center. The problem is implied in the title: what is a "public wit?" In Pope's London or Washington Irving's New York no one would have had to ask. Public wits were simply topical satirists who used the medium of print-whether broadsides, pamphlets, quartedy reviews, or newspapers-to ridicule the mores and politics of their cities. At its highest the calling was honorable; more often it was pure hack-work. But in any case the prnfession was lively for both writer and audience: names were named (and call ed), the context was topical and local, and the quarrels were unrestrainedly personal and protracted . Its reputation as a brawling city notwithstanding, this sense of "public wit" doesn't fit Chicago. And Williams and Duffey, in tl1eir introduction, emphasize a more generally urban tone to what they have assembled: "The city's 'public wit' ... is one who speaks for and to an audience itself encountering tl1e unpredictability of an urban experience in the making:' But surely this characterization is too broad to be useful for literary history and has nothing distinctively "Chicago" in it. Chicago's Public Wits

53


Chicago History, Spring 1985 reaches back to the city's frontier origins for a blankverse "drama" on the campaign of 1840, and closes its pages with Bill Granger's "Talkin' Chicawgo" from 1973. In between is a miscellany of journalistic ephemera sparely punctuated with a few pieces that have lasted. Yet most of the reprinted material cannot meet even the loose definition of "public wit" the editors give, and as a result the book does not cohere. Yes, classics from Chicago's best columnists are included: the triumvirate of the 1890s-Eugene Field, George Ade, and Finley Peter Dunne-is well represented; names like Ring Lardner, Langston Hughes, and Nelson Algren are there to remind readers of the caliber of writers who got their start in Chicago and, sooner or later, left the city; and Mike Royko makes an appearance near the end of the book Lo demonstrate how well his inimitable voice compares with the generation of 1890. Yet this only accentuates the conceptual difficulty with Chicago's Public Wits: the best writers in the collection are still in print elsewhere, the rest wrote eminently forgettable feuilletons. And overall, whether two-column masterpieces or yellowing ephemera, Chicago's Public Wits contains too little Chicago. There's nothing wrong with reprinting another age's ephemera, if only to see how little it differs from our own. When George P. Upton (who is the book's most notable rediscovery) talks about the prudish hypocirsy of "Mrs. Grundy" in the pages of the Tribune in the late 1860s, and Floyd Dell attacks tl1e same subject a halfcentury later, we're not surprised, recognizing a hardy perennial that may spring up again in next Sunday's supplements: ephemera is ephemera. But it's not clear that this is Chicago public wit. And, again, while Ring Lardner undoubtedly enlivened the "In the Wake of the News" column at the Tribune during his years there (1913-19), Chicago's Public Wits offers not the column-pieces but selections from two of his early books, Gullib/,e's Travels (1917) and You Know Me, Al (1916). This may be vintage Lardner but it is not Chicago in the way the "Wake" was (and occasionally still is). Similarly, one can quarrel with the selection from Nelson Algren's The Neon Wi/,demess (1947). "How the Devil Came Down Division Street" may be a decent story, and let's grant tl1at Algren is a "wit" in some meaningful sense of the word. This doesn't change the fact that he was writing his short stories for national book and magazine publication and not speaking directly to the people of Chicago (though he emphatically thought he was speaking/or them). Dilemmas of selection abound in any anthology, but if short stories are legitimate in a collection like Chicago's Public Wits, then it is no quibble to say to the editors, why not Harry Mark Petrakis and samplings from the city's black writers of fiction? Nevertheless, the editors treat their material with scholarly care and affection. The commentaries, headnotes, and other annotations are valuable and to the point (though an index would have been helpful). There was one howler: the editors claim that by the time of the 1893 Columbian Exposition, Chicago covered 185,000 square miles. This would make the city three 54

--,,

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times as large as the entire state of Illinois-which we all know is only metaphorically true! The Mirth of a Nation is a much more satisfactory effort. Walter Blair and Raven McDavid-one a literary historian and folklorist, the other a linguist and dialectologist-probably know more about American humor tlian all other scholars combined. They have assembled a collection of what Blair in his introduction calls "outstanding comic works that have been unduly neglected." How outstanding is a matter of judgment, but how neglected is beyond dispute: even the very finest nineteenth-century native humor has languished, especially over the past fifty years. Bringing a generous sampling of"dialect humor" before the contemporary public is a task Blair and McDavid approach wit!, the passion of long lifetimes: both are emeritus professors from the University of Chicago who have spent an astonishing number of years with this subject, passing along their enthusiasm for American humor and its language to several generations of graduate students. Lest the comparison with Chicago's Public Wits seem individous, it must be noted that The Mirth of a Nation is an easier book to put into shape. There is no thesis beyond the assertion of "outstanding and neglected," no need for the editors to be inclusive or to dress meir selections in scholarly apparel (beyond a good general introduction and very briefheadnotes for each contributor). Blair and McDavid mostly let me pieces speak for memselves, which is precisely what these sketches, vignettes, oral tales, and stories do best. The result is an anmology mat would find its way not only into classrooms across me nation but into our personal libraries as well. The old complaint about reading American humor was always me dialect itself: it was too hard to follow or articulate, even if one were going slowly and trying to


Book Reviews sound out each cock-eyed syllable in one's head. Well, Raven McDavid has made things easier for us. In his deft hands even the dense Negro dialect of.Joel Chandler Harris's "The Wonderful Tar-Baby Story" is manageable, and one is tempted to regale family and friends with a recitation-after all, it's better than home movies and exactly the way this kind of humor was meant to be read: aloud and with gusto. There are too many excellent selections in The Mirth of a Nation to allow much singling out, including many classics of native American humor. If T.B. Thorpe's "The Big Bear of Arkansaw" isn't better than Faulkner's The Bear, it's certainly more fun. And George Washington HaiTis's "Sul Lovingood" yam about "Rare Ripe Garden Seeds" may be the most subtly comic cuckold story in English. Finally, The Mirth of a Nation shares one writer with Chicago's Public Wits-Finley Peter Dunne, which brings us back to Chicago and a humor that does social work. Let's give Mr. Dooley the last word: 1 said it wunst an' I sa-ay it again, I'd liefer be George M. Pullm an th in annyman this side iv Michigan City, I would so. ot, Jawn, d'ye mind that I invy him his job iv r-runnin' all th' push-cart lodgin'-houses iv the counthry or in day-viliopin th' whiskers iv a goat witho ut displayin' anny oLher iv th' good qualities iv th ' craythur or in savin' his tax list fr'm th ' assissor with th ' intintion iv layin' it before a mathrimo nyal age ncy. Sare a bit does l care fr thim honors. But,jawn. th ' la-ad that can go his way with his nose in th ' air an' pay no attition to th' sufferin' if women an' childher- dear, oh, dear; but this life must be as happy as th' da-ay is long.

This was WTitten in 1894 during the Pullman Strike. It was not funny then and isn't funny now, but it is splendid "Chicago public wit" and American humor. Whenever he speaks, Mr. Dooley gives eloquent reasons why we should take to heart tl1e tradition of which he was such an important part. It.LI OlS WESLEYA

RoBERTBRAv l UNIVERSITY

The Urban Establishment: Upper Strata in Boston, New York, Charleston, Chicago, and Los Angeles by Frederi.c Caple Jaher Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982. 25.00 pape1:

might have been entitled "The Rise and Fall of the Urban Aristocrat in America." According to Frederic .Jaher, when cities shot up in the nineteenth century the men who made the fir t fortunes were thoroughgoing entrepreneurs. For their efforts they gained not only wealth, but the esteem and support of their fellow townsmen. However, they lost both wealth and positions of civic leadership as they, and especially their offspring, gradually turned their backs on eno·epreneurship and began espousing the virtues of birth and breeding. These a1istocratic values were, according to .Jaher, unacceptable to the American people. New entrepreneurs arose to capitalize on the opportunities the Old Guard left unexploited, and the people withdrew THIS BOOK

tl1eir allegiance to the would-be paoicians . .Jahe1· no1es that many forces contributed to the failure of the urban paoiciates by the early 1900s, but he insists that, above all , their defection from America's tradition of liberal capitalism did them in. .Jaher's work is weighty (777 pages) but nevertl1eless superficial. His thinking relies too heavily on sociological concepts of the entrepreneur and the gentlemen. These tired abso·actions crumble in the face of hi torical reality. For example,.Jaher calls the men who rose to riches du1ing Chicago's first three decades (1830s-1850s) "plungers" and identifies audacity as their prime characteristic. Howeve1~ tracing their careers through city directories, land records, and obituaries clearly shows that their philosophy was to stay in business only long enough to afford downtown real estate, and then to retire to the life of a rentier. In this they were no different than the merchants of medieval London. Furtl1ermore,.Jaher describes these men as lacking "a contemplative outlook," so preoccupied were they with personal advancement. A little work with surviving manuscript collections (notably the Thomas B. Carter letters at the ewberry Library and the .John V. Farwell diary at the Chicago Historical Society) reveals that early Chicago tycoons were very reflective men indeed, who devoted an enormous amount of thought and effort to reconcile worldly success with godliness. In his effort Lo study a number of cities over a century or more .Jaher has understandably not probed as deeply into the sources as he might. But until more thorough and vigorous historical research takes us beyond the preconceived stereotypes of the nineteenth-century entrepreneur and gentlemen, our understanding of the past will suffer. In one matter no new research is necessary to know that.Jaher is advancing a dubious proposition. His insistent claim that the American people were thoroughly inbued with acquisitive impulses owes a heavy debt to Louis Hartz's out-dated The Liberal Tradition in America (1955), and ignores the great outpouring of social history since then. The thrust of recent work convincingly shows that at least up to 1900 many groups in American society were unenthusiastic if not hostile to individual aggrandizement and market relations . .Jaher's picture of an entrepreneurial people ousting the paoicians glosses over th is. My understanding of nineteenth-century economic elites is somewhat the reverse of Jaher's. In the early years of America's economic takeoff, the leading businessmen were not thoroughly modem entrepreneurs, but men who still retained the old-fashioned goal of a steady income from rents or other invesonents. In time, the mind of the men at the top became more, not less, acquisitive. Moreover, nineteenth-century social relations were informed not by an entrepreneurial people keeping a watchful eye out for patrician tendencies among the 1ich, but by attempts on the latter's part to instill the ethic of self-improvement throughout the population . CRAIG BUETTINGER .JACKSONV£LLE UNTVERSITY

55


AT THE SOCIETY Since its completion in 1962, the Dan Ryan Expressway has served as one of the main arteries to and from Chicago. On an average day a quarter of a million vehicles use it, making it one of the busiest highways in the world. Extending more than twenty miles from Chicago's central business district south and east to its southern suburbs and on into Indiana and soutJ1ern Illinois, its girth bulges from eight to fourteen lanes at some pointsthe widest of any superhighway. The swath this corridor cuts through the city has profoundly affected adjacent neighborhoods and the city's architectural landscape. Yet few Dan Ryan commuters ever really look closely at anything more than the other vehicles hurtling along with them down this concrete trajectory. Had they the opportunity and inclination, they might discover what photographer Jay Wolke has captw-ed and preserved. During the last four years Wolke has compiled a series of photographs taken along the entire length of the expressway with a four-by-five-inch view camera. Through these large format color photographs we see the Dan Ryan not simply as a roadway, but as a complex feature of our urban environment that both shelters and intrudes upon parts of the city. Viewed from road level, from high above, below, alongside, and from inside cars and homes, the Dan Ryan becomes in Wolke's photographs a narrative on the conditions of urban living. A series of smaller eight-by-ten-inch color photographs made with a 35mm camera, often from insid e a moving vehicle, capture a cross-section of people and vehicles on the Dan Ryan in typical situations: driving, breakdowns, and accidents. Wolke's stunning color photographs of the Dan Ryan Expressway will show Chicagoans a road that many have traveled but have seldom seen. Jay Wolke holds a Master of Science in Photography from the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology. When not "on the road" he teaches photography at Columbia College and is a commercial photographer. His photographs have been shown in numerous exhibitions and are in the collections of The Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Photography. Wolke's Dan Ryan photographs will be added to the Chicago Historical Society research collections.

56


Li, ing Under Number 2. 1983.

Lany Viskochil, curator r!f jJrints and photograjJhs, ojfers hi, insights into the .following photographs from the exhibition, The Dan Ryan Exr.r~~ยง.}yay: Photographs by Jay Wolke, now on view _at the. So.... ie

57


Chicago History, Spring 1985

58


Ni-Met Scrap Metal Yard, 1984.

Man oo Harley, 1984.

59


Chicago History, Spring 1985

Dead Car at End of Dan Ryan, 1982.

60


Al The Society

t

Fireman, Ca,; Spectators, 1984. Mangled Tra il e r, 1984.

61


YESTERDAY'S CITY Was Enrico Caruso the greatest tenor ever? Chicagoans thought he was. Here Dick Griffin and Liz Griffin tell of Chicago} musical love affair with the legendary opera star. on horseback kept order as thousands of Chicagoans jammed N. Wabash Avenue. Men in chesterfields and women in furs mingled with students and workers in rough garments as they shuffled into the onion-topped Medinah Temple. The program they had flocked to hear October 3, 1920, included a violinist, a soprano, and a tenor, but the tenor was the attraction. So many tickets had been sold-possibly as many as 6,000-that tern porary seating covered most of the stage, leaving room only for a tiny platform. The tenor was Enrico Caruso, and he gave the crowd what it wanted, a jubilant and lyrical performance of some of the music that had become his own: "O Paradiso" from L'Africaine, "Che gelida manina" from La Boheme, and "M'Appari" from Martha. That was all he was comm itted to sing, but the audience begged for more and he obliged with nine encores. The following day the Chicago critics remarked that while older and fatter; Caruso was still without peer. Karleton Hackett of the Evening Post wrote with unabashed awe: "He squares his shoulders and sends out a high B flat which sails up to the roof just the way that Babe Ruth can pound the ball over the fence-and you realize that there has to be about as much muscle back of the one as of the other:' It was an experience never to be repeated in Chicago, for only ten months later, at the age of forty-eight, Caruso was dead in Naples, the city of his birth, of pleurisy. Chicago's musical love affair with Caruso had begun sixteen years earlier, in 1905, with his first appearance in the city. The public wondered if he was as good as reported, and, no better informed, the critics wondered too. None of them had heard him in New York where he had been singing with the Metropolitan Opera for two seasons, nor were they likely to be familiar with the Pathe cylinders POLICEMEN

Dick Griffin and Liz Griffin are journalists.

62

or the few Victor records of his voice, which were man-ed by distortion and surface noise. So in 1905, when the Metropolitan Opera made a oneweek visit to Chicago with popular artists such as Marcella Sembrich, Louise Homer, and Antonio Scotti, every eye was on the thirty-two-year-old tenor in the March 20 opening night performance of Lucia di Larnmermoor. "Signor Caruso's debut in Lucia tonight is expected to create nothing short of a sensation," said the journal. The Auditorium Theatre at Congress and Michigan had been sold out for days, and it filled up early on opening night. Students and workers, many of them Italian and other immigrants, crowded into the $1.50 seats in the galleries while the $50 boxes filled with gilded and bejeweled admirers like the Samuel Insulls and the Joseph Medill Pattersons. They were an exhi lerated audience, and Sembrich's first aria drew waves of applause. Caruso then appeared on stage, a short, stocky figure with an inky black moustache, dressed in black with white collar and cuffs and sporting a red scabbard. Applause filled the theater and drowned out his opening notes. The audience responded warmly to every high moment, and when the famous sextet ended they burst into hysterical applause, bringing smiles and repeated bows from the grateful singers. The ovation rolled on and Sembrich gave Caruso an assenting look. Caruso frowned and conductor Arturo Vigna, catching his dissent, ordered the next scene to begin. The audience grew silent, misinterpreting the decision, but when it realized there would be no encore, the din resumed. Then Caruso was willing and Sembrich was doubtful. Vigna shot glances at the packed house and looked helplessly at his singers. Caruso, smiling, walked to the footlights and motioned to the fat little conductor. With that, the theater grew quiet, the sextet was repeated, and the audience erupted in a new frenzy. The performance resumed, and after the final curtain Caruso was called back three


Chicago History, Spring 1985

Auditorium Theatre stage, c. 1895, where Caruso first sang in Chicago. Photograph by}- W Tayloi:

times by applause from the delighted audience. Two nights later Caruso sang in Pagliacci, but few Chicagoans saw him perform in what became his most famous role. Despite the tumultuous success of his debut, nearly half of the seats in the Auditorium Theatre were empty that Wednesday evening, and the program began inauspiciously with a forgettable Cavelleria Rusticana sung by Homer and Andreas Dippel. When Pa.gliacci began, however, Scotti swiftly changed the mood with a magnificent rendering of the Prologue. Then Caruso, with Bella Alten as Nedda, took charge and gave a matchless performance. His sweet voice and the broad touches of humor and pathos he brought to the role of Canio played on the emotions of the audience until near the end of the first act, when he stood alone on stage, head bowed. The orchestra played the familiar heavy chords as he walked toward the little theater on the stage, crying out in torment, "Recitar!" For the next two and a half minutes he sang incandescently, and, even before the final sobs of "Vesti la giubba," the enraptured audience ex-

64

ploded into howls of delight and delirious applause. Pandemonium reigned for the rest of the evening, and Caruso captured forever tl1e hearts of the fortunate few who had witnessed his stunning performance. The critics were as overwhelmed as the Italians in the rear seats. The Evening Post's Walton Perkins spoke for all when he wrote, "Seldom in the history of grand opera performances has there been such a production .... It could not be excelled, if indeed it could be equalled .... [Caruso's] art is absolute and his voice is so beautiful that it is difficult to give an adequate description .... It has everything in it that one can wish, or even think of:' No less moved by the magic of that night was the great tenor himself. Straining his meager English he said gratefully, "I have never achieved a greater success than in Chicago on Wednesday evening." Not until two days later did Chicagoans learn that Caruso had treated them to more than a Caruso enjoyed his visits to Chicago and was often seen dining in downtown restaurants and strolling down Michigan Avenue.


Chicago History, Spring 1985

66


Yesterday '.I' City

Chicago's socialites frequently filkd the Auditorium Theatre's boxes (kft) for o-pera. Gift of Arthur S. Cum rn ings. Some of the more lavishly dressed and bejewekd patrons, such as Mrs. Marshall Field (above) , attracted more attention than the performance. Gift of Chauncey McCormick.

67


Chicago History, Spring 1985

LOCJSE IIO~IEH

.\ lO:'\lL\ Y E\ l•: \lXU, APRIL 12, .\T 8 :00 O'CLOCK \'ERDl'S OPERA

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\ ENHl<'O CAHtiSt>

68

P>\Sl/L\L!•; .HIA'l'O


Yesterday '.s City

GRAND OPERA B Y T HE ENTIRE C OMPANY FROM THE

METROPOLITAN

OPERA HOUSE ,

NEW YORK

UNDER THE D I RE C T I ON OF

MR . HEINRICH CONRIED ONE WEEK , BEGINNING MONDAY, MARCH 20 , 1905

PROGRAM FRIDAY EVENING, MARCH 24TH, AT 7:45 O'CLOCK

La Gioconda OPERA IN

Right: Program fen· La Gioconda. Four days after his Chicago premiere in Lucia di Lammermoor, Caruso played the role of Enw Grimaldo in Ponchielli's La Gioconda. Left: Program for \krdi's Aida, with Caruso as Radames. Caruso

perfonned the opera in 1909 during his seccnid visit lo Chicago.

FovR

ACTS AND FIVE TABLEA U X

Mnia,c

BY PoNCHTET ,LI

(In ltalian ) LA GIOCONDA . . . . . . • L AURA ADORNO . . L A CIECA . • .. . . . . . E NZO GlllMALDO . BARNABA •• ' . ..

dazzling performance. He had also hoodwinked them. In the second act,just a few minutes after he had brought down the house with the famous lament, an undistinguished tenor named Albert Reiss was to sing from behind the scenes. Instead , Caruso secretly took his place. "O Colombina, ii tenero fido Arlecchin," sang Caruso, and for a minute and a quarter the glorious voice again filled the theater. But when he concluded the lilting serenade, the house remained silent. Impatient for Caruso to reappear, a critic down front suppressed a yawn, and in the upper gallery two music students turned to the next page of the score. Backstage, the compulsive prankster chuckled over the success of his little joke on Chicago's musical sophisticates-and on himself. Reports of his performance in Pagliacci swept Chicago, and the box office of the Auditorium was besieged with requests for tickets to his final appearance Friday evening. More than 1,000 persons were turned away and scalpers demanded up to $20 per ticket. The lu cky 4,000 got their money's worth. Caruso' Enzo in La Gioconda was superb, including a re ndering of "Cielo e mar" that left the audience breathless. In the next six years Camso returned to Chicago four times with tl1e Metropolitan Opera, and in 1911 he came to sing with the new Chicago Grand

. ... . .. . . • . . . ... . . . MME. NORDIC'A . MME. HOMER . . Miss EDYTH ALKER

w

. M.

. . . .. M.

CARFSO GmALDONI

Opera Company. In all, he appeared on the Aud itorium stage twenty-three times in grand opera, singing in Pagliacci six times and repeating his offstage prank in a 1908 performance. He performed in La Boheme three times and twice in Aida, Faust, and La Gioconda. Socia lites often put on as much of a show as the artists performing, and newspapers recounted their activities with relish . Every person seated in the thirty-four boxes was named, and the gowns and jewelry worn by each woman described in detail. In 1907 the Tribune devoted more space to Mrs. Marshall Field's black chiffon gown and inventory of jewels than to the performance. The next year the journal revealed that the galleries had divided their attention equally between tl1e opera in progress and Mrs. Field in her Copenhagen velvet gown, her diamond hair ornaments, and her "famous pearl eaJTings:' A glittering 1910 audience included Robert Todd Linco ln, son of Abraham Lincoln , and General Frederick Dent Grant, son of Ulysses S. Grant. At other times Caruso sang to empty seats, but most often he enjoyed a full house and audiences given to lusty displays of approval. A Tribune critic observed at one performance that "anything approaching a high tone was sigi1al for applause." "The Caruso audience is quite undiscriminating,"

69


Chicago History, Spring 1985

Above: The Medina Thnple was thr site of Caruso's last Chicago ap/1enrana, in 1920. Right: Caruso as /)(mjosl in Bizet's Cannen.

an Inter Ocean critic complained in 1908. "It is so liable to burst forth at any moment in the most inopportune applause." And the Evening Post groaned, "People go to hear him not as to listen to a mortal, but to witness the descent of a demigod ...." The critics found a few of his performances wanting, but as a rule they were as intoxicated by him as was the public. "He sang like a god," said one after a matinee of Martha. After Lucia another wrote: "He sang about as nearly like an angel in heaven as incarnated mortals are apt to hear:' After Girl of the Golden West: "There is neither the possibility nor the need of describing [his voice]; those who heard it know; those who did not, missed a perfect thing:' After Gioconda: "[His voice] is so beautiful that it is entirely indescribable. It must be heard to be appreciated." In the early years the critics were alanned because Caruso always sang "as though his very life depended on it," as one said, and season after season they wondered when such profligacy would destroy his voice. As they saw and heard more of him, however, they discerned only improvements. His voice deepened, assuming a baritonal coloring they liked. His acting, never great, gained something with experience, but it mattered for little. "Nobody expects a tenor to act," said the

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journal. "Caruso doesn't have to. He earns his money without it. He simply walks on and off the stage at the proper time, singing like an angel .... The opera was necessary because Caruso had to have something to sing." He grew fat on pasta, wine, bread, custard, and ice cream, but they agreed his stoutness didn't interfere with his artistry. As Caruso matured, his interpretations became increasingly sensitive, both musically and dramatically, and the critics finally admitted he was much more than a freakish bellower of high notes. "For so long," said one, "he has been considered as just a vocal show piece that it is hard for people to get it into their heads that he is a serious artist and a good musician, yet such is the fact:¡ Praising the "absolutely straightforward way in which he sings," another remarked , "It is this absence of all artificiality which has made so many people, while admitting his gifts of voice, seek to belittle his art. They do not know. His is that sincere art which reaches the apex because it seems not art." In the years between 1905 and 1911, staying at the Auditorium Annex or the Congress Hotel, Caruso became a familiar sight in Chicago, eating in downtown restaurants, motoring about the city, and promenading along Michigan Avenue in silk


Chicago Hi.story, Spring 1985 hat and chewing on a cigarette holder with one of the forty Egyptian cigarettes he smoked each day. Struggling along in English or speaking through an interpreter, he discoursed with Chicago newsmen on such subjects as maITiage ("I am a great singer because I have remained a bachelor"); American women (''Ah, always the same question. They are so original, so independent, so well dressed"); Chicago audiences ("as enthusiastic as Italians"); Wagnerian music ("If ten years from now I can no longer sing Italian opera, I wi ll sing Wagner"); and the Auditorium Theatre ("Beautiful. .. magnificent... but the acoustics are too accurate. Everything sound too loud and it is difficult to prevent a fortissimo from sounding too harsh "). After 1911 Chicago saw little of him. In 1918 he turned down the Chicago Grand Opera Company's offer of $5,000 for each of nine performances, double the Metropolitan's fee . He appeared in Chicago only twice more, for Sunday afternoon concerts in 1919 and 1920. In 1919, when the demand for tickets far exceeded expectations, Caruso's concert was moved l'rom the Auditorium to tl1e larger Medinah Temple, and it, too, sold out weeks in advance. On that Sunday in May, the Evening Post music critic complained that the jam at the gate was the worst he had seen since tl1e 1906 World Series between the White Sox and the Cubs. Caruso gave a rousing performance, singing popular arias and Neopolitan songs, and his "Vesti la giubba," as always, drew thunderous applause. He finished with his inimitable version of the national anthem, whose English words he had written down as his Italian mind understood them: And dhi rokets red gler dhi bombs burstin in er ghev pruf thru dhi nait that aur fleg was stil dher-o se doss dhet star spengled banner iet ueuf or dhi lend of dhi fri and dhi horn of dhi breuf. The critics loved Caruso' last performance in Chicago as much as his first ones. They noted that he had to work harder on the high notes and that some of the youthfu l timbre was gone, but said one, "It is still a voice of golden joy." Five days after Caruso's unexpected death on August 2, 1921, Chicagoans flocked to Ravinia for an impromptu concert, one of hundreds of musi72

cal tributes given in his memory around the world that summer Sunday. Every road leading to Ravinia was choked with automobiles, commuter trains were jammed, and the elevated was so crowded that children were passed through the train windows. At the park, the gates were locked when there was no more room. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and a chorus took their places on a stage in frontofa black backdrop with a large gold cross and a likeness of tl1e tenor wreathed in black and palm leaves. Chicago's farewell wou ld have appalled the fun-loving Caruso. The musicians peformed funereal music before a silent audience that had been asked not to applaud because of the solemnity of the occasion. That done, Caruso was left to the ages, survived by some 240 scratchy impressions of his voice and tl1e fading memories of thousands of admirers. More than sixty years after his deatl1 he remains the standard against which all singers are measured. The phonograph is responsible for his invulnerable fame and he, more than any other musician, is responsible for the early success of the recording industry. Because of tl1e primitive recording equipment in use in his day, some voices and musical instruments failed to register effectively on wax, opera house fortissimos caused a distort.ion called "blasting," soft notes couldn't be heard through surface noise, and the four-and-one-halfminute limit on 78 RPM acoustic discs meant an artist frequently had to sing faster than he or she would on stage. These conditions intimidated some singers and ruined the recordings of others. Caruso adapted to them and triumphed, and he remains so popular that RCA is reprocessing its entire collection of his work by the digital system and issuing it on fifteen new LPs. Once when asked what makes a great singer, Caruso replied , ''A big chest, a big mouth , ninety percent memory, ten percent intelligence, lots of hard work, and something in the heart." Along with his glorious voice it is that last quality that sets Caruso apart. Writing in 1921, five days after the tenor died , Tribune critic Edward C. Moore predicted the place Enrico Caruso would hold in the history of music: "Caruso was to the operatic stage what...John L. Sullivan was to the padded arena, a figure of supreme popularity. o one ever took Sullivan's place in popular esteem, and there is little chance that there will be another to fill Caruso's niche."


The World's Exposition Grand March , 1890, published by National Music Co.


Chicago History | Spring 1985  
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