Chicago during the Daley years

Good morning, Chicago.

Few names are as synonymous with Chicago as Richard J. Daley, better known to some as Hizzoner or Da Mare. And perhaps no event embodies the way Chicago changed during the Boss years better than the 1968 Democratic National Convention, as Rick Kogan describes in his last piece. Daley was nothing but a builder, and the vast network of highways that Chicagoans still love to hate took shape during his reign. But that suburban building boom had its consequences, as Ron Grossman points out.

While we’ve been celebrating for a few weeks now, Friday was the official birthday of the Chicago Tribune. To mark the occasion, we invite you to read stories of former carriers who delivered the Tribune, also known as “Chicago’s Alarm Clock.” You can also read a selection of favorite columns chosen by some of our past authors and learn the story behind our hip 175th anniversary logo. And if you’re looking for something with that pile of papers piling up on the kitchen table, why not make a party hat?

Finally, don’t miss this vintage photo gallery of Tribune readers over the years – you might see some familiar faces. (Still not a Tribune subscriber? Take advantage of some vintage prizes and sign up today.)

– Jocelyn Allison, Marianne Mather and Kori Rumore

More anniversary coverage | Vintage voices | Pulitzer Prizes | Famous front pages | Vintage Tribune Newsletter | 175th merchandise

Four days after Colonel Robert R. McCormick, the longtime Tribune editor, died in 1955, Richard J. Daley was elected the 48th mayor of Chicago. That night, at a tavern on North Avenue, 43rd Ward Ald. Mathias “Paddy” Bauler, a famous city council clown since the 1930s, uttered a phrase that would reverberate for decades: “Chicago is not ready for reform.”

Chicago during the Daley years

The Edens Expressway, opened in 1951, and the highways that followed were more than a transportation network. They drastically reshaped Chicagoland’s human geography, determining who lived where and how well they lived. But the explosive post-war growth did not come without a cost, including deeper racial segregation and economic divisions as affluent white residents left the city.

Chicago during the Daley years

Sixteen-year-old Betty Johnson came home to find her mother frantically loading the station wagon with clothes and canned goods, and her father and brothers on the roof as they unsuccessfully pointed a garden hose at a neighboring building in flames. It was April 5, 1968, a day after Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had been murdered, and the West Side had exploded in commotion.

Chicago during the Daley years

While checking in at the Conrad Hilton Hotel, Democrats’ congressional headquarters, a reporter remarked, “I think this is going to be a week to remember.” He was farsighted. The phrase “’68 Convention” was about to join “Al Capone” as a mnemonic for the more infamous chapters of Chicago history.

Chicago during the Daley years

Already a city with more than its share of tragic fires, Chicago had one of its worst on December 1, 1958, when three nuns and 92 children died in a fire that broke out in the basement of Our Lady of the Angels Catholic school. Children jumped from windows and neighbors ran to the school with ladders and blankets. The fire led to massive revisions to fire codes and higher standards for building safety.

Chicago during the Daley years

Thousands of people were trapped. About 50,000 Chicago Transit Authority vehicles and 800 buses were abandoned. Expectant mothers were taken to hospitals by sled, bulldozer and snowplow. Twenty-six people died, including several from heart attacks while shoveling snow. The 1967 snowstorm caused the greatest disruption to Chicago’s trade and transportation since the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

Chicago during the Daley years

Before the doors of The Second City opened, the Tribune’s nightlife columnist wrote an obituary for the famed cabaret comedy theater. Will Leonard wrote that the earlier ventures of the theater’s founders, two theater companies and a comedy club, were “all fateful ventures,” and he recorded it for The Second City’s debut on December 16, 1959.

Chicago during the Daley years

While the Chicago-style hot dog may be the largest hot dog in the country, for most of the 20th century Tribune reporters and recipe writers usually behaved as if they were deeply ashamed of the dish.

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