Thursday, November 21, 2013

John F. Kennedy Visit October 24, 1960

Senator John F. Kennedy's Visit to Champaign-Urbana
October 24, 1960

I understand that my blog is primarily for the documentation of buildings and physical locations around Champaign however, with the 50th Anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination, I wanted to document his final visit to Champaign on the morning of Monday, October 24, 1960.  The Senator visited Champaign on a Midwestern swing shortly after the fourth and final debate with Vice President Richard Nixon and just 15 days before the election.  Given the razor thin margin of victory in Illinois, you can understand the importance of this trip. His itinerary that day included:

October 24, 1960
Travel by plane to Champaign, Illinois from Milwaukee, WI
Champaign-Urbana, IL - University of Illinois Campus
Moline, IL - New Fieldhouse
Peoria, IL - Courthouse Rally
East Peoria, IL - Street Rally at the Caterpillar Plant
Rock Island, IL
Rockford, IL - Coronado Theater Rally

Senator Kennedy's Convair 240 airplane named "Caroline" touched down at Willard Airport just before 9:00 AM.  The event was viewed by nearly 500 spectators who had gathered to catch a glimpse of the candidate.  On board was his sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Sen. Paul Douglas, Democratic Candidate for Governor Otto Kerner, and Lt. Governor Candidate Samuel Shapiro.  Two additional planes carried reporters and photographers along the campaign swing.

Sen Paul Douglas deplanes at Willard Airport
Photo Courtesy of the Champaign County Archives, Urbana Free Library

Senator Kennedy emerges from his campaign plane "Caroline"
Photo Courtesy of the Champaign County Archives, Urbana Free Library

Sen Kennedy and sister Eunice shake hands on the tarmac at Willard Airport
Photo Courtesy of the Champaign County Archives, Urbana Free Library

Sen Kennedy shakes hands on the tarmac at Willard Airport
Photo Courtesy of the Champaign County Archives, Urbana Free Library

Sen Kennedy's motorcade departs Willard Airport heading for University of Illinois Quad
Photo Courtesy of the Champaign County Archives, Urbana Free Library

Sen Kennedy's motorcade travels north on Neil Street before
turning east onto Green Street.  The car is seen here at the corner of
Neil and William Street, heading northbound.
Photo Courtesy of the Champaign County Archives, Urbana Free Library

Sen Kennedy's motorcade travels east on Green Street
 (Illinois Central Viaduct in the background)
Photo Courtesy of the Champaign County Archives, Urbana Free Library

Sen Kennedy's motorcade travels east on Green Street near the
intersection of Green and Second Street
Photo Courtesy of the Champaign County Archives, Urbana Free Library

Sen Kennedy's motorcade travels south on Wright Street toward the
Auditorium (Foellinger auditorium).  The English Building is seen in the
middle right of the photo
Photo Courtesy of the Champaign County Archives, Urbana Free Library

Sen Kennedy's motorcade travels south on Wright Street in front of
the University YMCA at Wright and Chalmers Streets
Photo Courtesy of the Champaign County Archives, Urbana Free Library

Sen Kennedy's motorcade travels south on Wright Street in front of
the University YMCA before turning into the parking lot for his speech.
Photo Courtesy of the Champaign County Archives, Urbana Free Library

An estimated 10,000 spectators packed the quad to hear Sen. Kennedy speak.
This speech marked the first political speech allowed on University property since the 1870s.
Photo Courtesy of the Champaign County Archives, Urbana Free Library

WCIA Channel 3 was covering the event and their footage is believed to
be the only video of the day.  You can watch their report below.
Photo Courtesy of the Champaign County Archives, Urbana Free Library


Sen. Kennedy addresses the crowd on the University of Illinois Quad.
Photo Courtesy of the Champaign County Archives, Urbana Free Library

Sen. Kennedy addresses the crowd on the University of Illinois Quad.
Photo Courtesy of the Champaign County Archives, Urbana Free Library

Senator John F. Kennedy’s Address
University of Illinois
October 24, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Otto Kerner, your next Governor of the State of Illinois, my friend and colleague in the Senate of the United States, your distinguished Senator who speaks for Illinois and the Nation, Senator Paul Douglas, Ed Nally, who I hope will be elected the Congressman from this district, ladies and gentlemen, I have been informed that this is a strong Republican center [response from the audience], but if this is the way we turn out in these strong Republican centers, what is happening to Mr. Nixon all over the United States? [Response from the audience; applause.]
This is an important campaign and these are important issues which face our country, and I appreciate your coming here. Prince Bismarck once said that one-third of the students - I guess maybe you better get down there a little - [applause], Prince Bismarck once said that one-third of the students of German universities broke down from overwork, another third broke down from dissipation, and the other third ruled Germany. I do not know which third of the student body of this university is here today, but I am confident I am talking to the rulers of America, in the sense that all educated men and women have the obligation to accept the discipline of self-government.
Mr. Nixon and I campaign for the most important office in the free world, but in my judgment this is more than a contest between Mr. Nixon and myself. It is more than a contest between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. It is a contest between the contented and the concerned, between those who wish to stand still and those who wish to move ahead. [Applause.]
Mr. Nixon runs on a slogan "We've never had it so good." I run on the slogan we are going to have to do much better. [Applause.] A good deal of unfavorable, a good deal of comparison and most of it unfavorable, is drawn between the Lincoln-Douglas debates and Mr. Nixon's and my weekly brief appearances on "What's Our Line" every Friday night. [Laughter.] I am not sure, however, that we realize how different, how numerous, how sophisticated, are the problems which face us as Americans, compared to the single significant crucial problem that faced Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Douglas a century ago.
Now, the next President of the United States and the Senate and the House deal with monetary and fiscal problems that dwarf in significance those that they dealt with a century ago. We deal with the problem of outer space; the problem of how a free society can successfully maintain itself over a long period of time in competition with a totalitarian society which is able to mobilize all of its resources both human and material for the service of the state. I cannot possibly predict what the great issues will be, the new great issues in the next 4 or 5 years, any more than in 1940 - when Wendell Willkie and Franklin Roosevelt ran against each other - anyone could predict that in 1941 and 1942 Franklin Roosevelt would be asked by Albert Einstein and others to support a tremendous expenditure of money in order to break the atom. We cannot predict what new problems will come across our desks in the next 4 years. We could not have predicted in 1952 - when President Eisenhower and Mr. Stevenson debated - that one of the great issues would be our recognition of the significance of space. Where Franklin Roosevelt broke the atom, this administration failed to recognize the changing nature of our times and we now see the Soviet first on the moon, and what is true of outer space is true of every area of national and international government. [Applause.]
I will itemize that charge. One month ago Mr. Nixon said that if we had considered a program of aid to Latin America in 1955, we might not have had a Castro. And why didn't we? Why does the United States today spend one-tenth as much on information programs and radio programs to Latin America as the Soviet Union, one-tenth as much? We are the 14th country of the world in radio programs to Africa today. We brought more students from around the world 10 years ago to study here under Federal auspices than we do today. We had more students offered to the Congo in the month of June for scholarships as a result of the explosion there than we offered to all of Africa the year before. Do you know last year we had more students from Thailand studying here than from Africa, south of the desert, from all of those new countries? More students from one country in Asia than we did from all of Africa. Do you know how many students came from Africa last year, all those countries? 155. We had more people stationed in Western Germany in the Embassy in 1957 than in all of Africa. I make the point because Africa is new, revolutionary. It contains one-fourth of all the members of the General Assembly and this administration has not known that Africa has existed until the Congo blew up in our face.
Do you know the next countries that are going to try to be independent and will be? The Portuguese colonies. Do you know how many students are studying in the United States from the Portuguese to prepare for leadership? None. Guinea asked us for 500 teachers last year. Do you know how many teachers we sent them? One. Guinea got its independence from France 2 years ago. I took us 2 months to recognize that independence. It took us 8 months to send an Ambassador. The Ambassador from the Soviet Union arrived there the day Guinea was independent.
There are six countries in Africa which are members of the United Nations which do not have a single American diplomat in residence in them. We spent less than 5 percent of our development loan fund meant for underdeveloped countries last year in Africa. I could go on and itemize it and the result is that on the admission of Red China not one of the 16 new African countries voted with us. More countries in Asia voted against us than voted with us. We are second in outer space, but this administration has failed to recognize, has failed to recognize that in these changing times, with a revolution of rising expectation sweeping the globe, the United States has lost its image as a new, strong, vital, revolutionary society.
This administration will not release the poll which demonstrates that. What are we going to do, get them released next November or December? They show that our prestige has dropped around the world and prove that the Vice President is wrong when he says it is at an all time high. If Mr. Nixon believes that, if he believes that, he is misinformed. If he does not believe it, he should not run on it. [Applause.]
I run for the Presidency in the most series time in the life of our country and these issues involve the security of everybody here. In the next 10 years, this globe around us is going to move in the direction of freedom or going to move in the direction of slavery. The Communist system is militant, hopeful, confident, optimistic, and it has been able to identify itself all too successfully with the desire of these people in the underdeveloped world to live a better life. We have not done so. Cuba is only a phase of a great struggle which will take place in the next decade. We talk about Mr. Castro. The great issue is what is the rest of Latin America going to do, Mexico, Panama, Bolivia? Why should the President of Brazil in his campaign feel it necessary to make a trip not to Washington but to Havana in order to get Mr. Castro's blessing to be elected President of Brazil. Anyone who sits in this university and looks at the far reaches of the world, looks at the kind of competition which we are now undergoing, recognizes that every phase of our national and international life is being tested, our economic growth, the development of our resources, the science, the technology, and energy of our society. Ten years ago we produced twice as many scientists and engineers as the Russians, today one-half. In the last 9 months the United States had the lowest rate of economic growth almost in its history and the lowest rate of any industrialized society in the world. The question you have to decide is, Is this good enough? Has this administration demonstrated its awareness of the world around us? Has it brought men and women to Washington and sent them around the world, who recognize our changing times? Or have they sent ambassadors who could not speak the language or even pronounce the name of the head of the state to which they were accredited? [Response from the audience.]
We have failed in the Department of Defense with personnel who have averaged less than 18 months in office in this most technical world. I do not think that what was good enough in the administrations of Harding and Coolidge and McKinley is good enough for today. We are being tested as we have never been tested before, and if we fail, we fail not only ourselves, but we fail the cause of freedom.
I come to this university, which is a center of knowledge, which is a center of truth, and you cannot possibly tell me in 1960 that the American people are going to choose to sit still and give power and responsibility to those who in the last 8 years have demonstrated an unawareness of the basic nature of our times. [Applause.]
The kind of society we build here, the kind of country we develop here, that is the test of our ability to lead around the world. What we are speaks far louder than what we say.
I come here today and ask you to join in rebuilding the strength and image of the United States as progressive society. I want the people of the world to wake up in the morning and wonder what the United States is doing, not what Mr. Khrushchev is doing. [Applause.]
One hundred years ago in the campaign of 1860, Lincoln wrote to a friend:
I know there is a God, and I know He hates injustice. I see the storm coming and His hand is in it. But if He has a place and a part for me, I believe that I am ready.
Now, 100 years later, we know there is a God, and we know He hates injustice, and we see the storm coming. We see His hand in it. But if He has a place and a part for us, I believe we are ready. Thank you. [Applause.]Citation: John F. Kennedy: "Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, University of Illinois Campus, Champaign-Urbana, IL," October 24, 1960. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=74190.


Sen. Kennedy addresses the crowd on the University of Illinois Quad.
Photo Courtesy of the Champaign County Archives, Urbana Free Library

Sen. Kennedy addresses the crowd on the University of Illinois Quad.
Photo Courtesy of the Champaign County Archives, Urbana Free Library

Sen. Kennedy addresses the crowd on the University of Illinois Quad.
Photo Courtesy of the Champaign County Archives, Urbana Free Library

Sen. Kennedy departs the Quad heading west on
Armory Street (UofI Armory on right)
Photo Courtesy of  Time Life




The speech went off with only minor interruptions from a small group of Nixon supporters.  It also appears that the pre-speeches might have struck a chord with some spectators as not befitting the honor of hosting a presidential candidate.  Additionally a few over zealous spectators prevented Sen. Kennedy from departing by blocking the car in the driveway trying to catch a glimpse or receive a handshake.  Two letters to the editor in the next days Daily Illini give insight into the crowds and their behavior.



One additional article from the October 25, 1960 Daily Illini explains the massive crowds of the day.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

320 North Chestnut Street - Illinois Central Passenger Depot

Illinois Central Railroad Passenger Depot
Constructed: 1899 (replaced the Doane House following fire)
Original Owner: Illinois Central Railroad
Current Owner: Dr. William Youngerman
Moved to its current location in 1923

This photo from 1903 shows the recently constructed Illinois Central Railroad
station located at the terminus of Main Street.
Photo courtesy of the Illinois Central Railroad
As noted in the sandborn map below, the depot was surrounded my meticulously
managed flower gardens.  These were maintained by Illinois Central Railroad.
Photo courtesy of the Illinois Central Railroad

A view of the depot as seen from University Avenue looking northwest
across the at-grade tracks.  The tracks were elevated until in 19234-24.  Note Oak
Street to the far right of the photo.  This street disappeared with the
raising of the tracks in 1924.
Photo courtesy of the Illinois Central Railroad

A view of the station looking north from University Avenue.
Photo courtesy of the Illinois Central Railroad 

An aerial view showing the original location of the depot.
Photo courtesy of the Champaign County Historical Archives

A view of the depot looking southeast toward First and University Avenue.
Photo courtesy of the Champaign County Historical Archives

This image shows depot as it appeared in its original location at the terminus
of Main Street.  The outline shows the current location of the depot.

The depot as it appeared from Main Street looking east from Market Street
circa 1915.
Photo courtesy of the Illinois Central Railroad

An aerial view of Downtown prior to 1924 showing the track configuration
around the depot.
Photo courtesy of the Champaign County Historical Archives

Crews prepare the depot for its move north.  The depot remained in service
during its short move.
Photo courtesy of the Illinois Central Railroad

The depot is pulled north by a series of rails and pulley's.
Photo courtesy of the Illinois Central Railroad

Another view of the rail system set up to move the station north.
Photo courtesy of the Illinois Central Railroad

A new foundation was set under the station at its new position.
Photo courtesy of the Illinois Central Railroad

This diagram illustrates the new track configuration and building layout for
the 1924 Illinois Central improvements.  The project costs approx.
$1,100,000 with the city of Champaign paying $165,000 toward the costs
of the subways.  The project was overseen by Illinois Central Chief
Engineer F.L. Thompson and O.T. Dunn, Assistant Engineer.

An aerial view of the raising of the Illinois Central Railroad tracks.  Roughly
100,000 cu. yd. of fill material was brought by train from Paxton, Illinois
(25 miles north of Champaign)  Note work beginning (far left) on the grand
passenger terminal.
Photo courtesy of the Illinois Central Railroad

Depot in its new and current position north of Main Street.
Photo courtesy of the Illinois Central Railroad

The newly moved depot now serving as the Illinois Central freight station.
Photo courtesy of the Illinois Central Railroad

Three loading platforms were eventually added between the depot and the
raised tracks.  This allowed for the loading of passengers in cars before
the cars were coupled with the engine.  This image show service men preparing
for departure circa 1950s.
Photo courtesy of the Champaign County Historical Archives

This 1967 aerial shows the newly painted roof of the deport along with the
track and platform configuration for both the depot and passenger terminal.
Photo courtesy of the Champaign County Historical Archives
The roof on the depot was painted in the 1960s to reflect the fast growth of
Champaign-Urbana to arriving travelers.  The tag line reads "Fastest Growing
Community in Downstate Illinois".  This phrase is once again true although the
population needs some updating!
Photo courtesy of T.J. Blakeman
The depot as it looks today (April 2013)
Photo courtesy of T.J. Blakeman
The Illinois Central Railroad logo embedded in the downspouts
Photo courtesy of T.J. Blakeman
The eastern facade (track side of the building). The platforms and spurs have
been removed and replaced by a parking lot.
Photo courtesy of T.J. Blakeman
The western facade of the building.
Photo courtesy of T.J. Blakeman
The former Illinois Central Rail yard area behind Jos. Kuhn and Company.
Photo courtesy of T.J. Blakeman
A current aerial view of the Illinois Central Passenger Terminal and depot.
Photo courtesy Google


Saturday, March 16, 2013

115 North Neil Street - Illinois Building

W. Lewis and Co. Department Store #1
Constructed: 1900 (cost $125,000/$3.6 million adj. to 2012)
Owner: Wolf Lewis
Destroyed by fire: March 15, 1915

A view of the newly completed Lewis & Co. Department store at the
southwest corner of Neil Street and Park Street.  This was the first permanent
home for the business with was started by polish immigrant Wolf Lewis in 1879
Photo Courtesy of Champaign County Historical Archives

Interior photo of Lewis Department Store circa 1900.
Photo Courtesy of  the Champaign County Historical Museum

This photo was taken around 1915.  Notice the small two store building
that shared the block with the Illinois Building.  This building was destroyed
in the blaze.
Photo Courtesy of Champaign County Historical Archives

View of the Lewis Department Store shortly before the St. Patrick's Day fire. 



St. Patrick's Day Fire
March 17, 1915 - 6:00 AM

On the morning of Wednesday, March 17, 1915 (St. Patrick's Day) around 6 o'clock in the morning motorman Chas. Dalenburg discovered a fire had begun in the northwest elevator shaft of the Lewis and Co. Department Store.  Within 45 minutes of this discovery, the building, containing over $150,000 ($2.6 million in 2012) worth of merchandise, was reduced to a pile of rubble.  The fire presented impossible challenges for young city and was hampered even more by low water pressure which prohibited a serious effort to stop the blaze.  The fire would spark action to improve this system to match the modern city Champaign was becoming. The fire was, at the time, the worse fire the twin-cities had seen since the 1871 Urbana fire which claimed most of the Downtown area.  This fire would not only claim the Illinois Building but also completely gut the Price/Dallenbach block directly east across Neil Street (buildings were repaired and still remain).   

This photo was taken early in the blaze before the building
collapsed.  The structure stood for only 45 minutes.
Photo Courtesy of Champaign County Historical Archives

The evening edition of the March 15, 1917 Urbana Courier.

View of Neil Street looking south from Main Street.  The fire
had jumped Neil Street by this time to engulf the Price
Building to the left of the photo.
Photo Courtesy of Champaign Fire Department

A view of the fire as seen from the convergence of University
Avenue and Chester Street looking west. The City Building
bell tower is seen to the left. Windows were broken in
surrounding buildings due to the intense heat.
Photo Courtesy of Champaign Fire Department
Fire apparatus were brought from Champaign, Urbana and all surrounding
communities.  A request was sent to Bloomington and Decatur.  A special
Illinois Traction train delivered a truck from Decatur but was never unloaded
since the fire was under control at the time.
Photo Courtesy of Champaign Fire Department

The crowd gathers on the easten end of the
City Building (Walnut St. in foreground).
You will notice the volunteers stationed on
top of surrounding buildings pouring water
in a effort to limit the spread. (see next photo)
Photo Courtesy of Champaign Fire Department
Photo Courtesy of Google


Price Building had only recently been constructed but was
gutted when the fire jumped Neil Street.  The building walls
were saved and the structure still stands today at
110-120 North Neil Street.
Photo Courtesy of Champaign Fire Department
Photo Courtesy of  Google

Crowds sifting through debris on Park Street.  Note City Building bell tower
in the background.
Photo Courtesy of Champaign Fire Department

Northern wall (on Park Street) of the first floor remains standing.
Photo Courtesy of Champaign Fire Department

Final remnants of the Lewis Department Store.  This photo was taken looking
toward the intersection of Neil and Park Street.
Photo Courtesy of Champaign Fire Department
Ruins of the Illinois Building looking southwest from Neil and Park Street.
Photo Courtesy of Champaign County Historical Archives

Ruins of the Illinois Building looking southeast from Park
Street.  Note gutted Price Block in distance.
Photo Courtesy of Champaign Fire Department


DECATUR FIRE DEPARTMENT TO ASSISTANCE -- LEWIS AND COMPANY STORE DESTROYED.
Champaign, March 17. -- Fire which for a time threatened the entire business district of Champaign was brought under control at 11 o'clock Wednesday morning, after the flames had destroyed property estimated at $400,000 in value. The loss was well covered by insurance.
Burned To Ground.
The Illinois building, occupied by the WOLFE LEWIS department store, was burned to the ground with a loss estimated to exceed $200,000. The interior of the PRICE block, across the street, was swept by the fire, leaving only the walls standing. The Odd Fellows' temple, a large structure on Neil street, was saved by the firemen after a hard fight.
High winds carried blazing wreckage away from the fire and kept the firemen busy protecting nearby buildings. The Champaign firemen were given efficient aid by the Urbana and Decatur departments.
Started In Basement.
The fire started at 6:30 o'clock Wednesday morning in the basement of the LEWIS store at the southwest corner of Park and Neil streets. A tank of kerosene was kept near the freight elevator shaft and it is thought that spontaneous combustion might have caused the conflagration. When discovered, the flames were beyond control and the four-story structure was soon a mass of ruins.
On the south of the LEWIS store were the Illinois building annex, the FRANK CAMPBELL building and McFADDEN brothers' feed and grocery store. These made but a mouthful for the flames which had begun to assume large proportions.
Leaped Across Neil Street.
The fire then leaped across Neil street to the buildings of the PRICE estate. These were mostly two-story structures, containing small business firms, and they were practically wiped out. The flames burned buildings on both sides of Neil street, Chester to Taylor and Park streets.
Appeals were made in Bloomington, Decatur and Danville for assistance. Danville refused to send aid, but help was immediately dispatched from Bloomington and Decatur. The Decatur department, headed by Chief C. W. DEVORE, was the first to arrive, and it did some efficient work in helping check the flames. The Bloomington department was notified while on its way to turn back for the flames were then under control.
Firemen Overcome.
Practically no one was injured in any way by the fire. Fireman EARL PHIPPS of the local department was overcome in the smoke but he was soon revived.
The Daily Review Decatur Illinois 1915-03-17


W. Lewis and Co. Department Store #2
Constructed Between 1916
Owner: Wolf Lewis

The brand new Illinois Building at W. Lewis and Company
building was completed within a year of the fire.
Photo Courtesy of Champaign County Historical Archives



The brand new Illinois Building at W. Lewis and Company
building was completed within a year of the fire.
Photo Courtesy of Champaign County Historical Archives

In an interesting twist of fate, a faulty light fixture caused another fire in the second floor women's department on Wednesday, March 9, 1932.  However, the new building was equipped with a state of the art sprinkler system which put the fire down immediately causing only minor damage.   

View of the Lewis & Co. main entrance.

View of the Illinois Building looking south down Neil Street
sidewalks.  Note City Building to the left of the photo.
Photo Courtesy of Champaign County Historical Archives
1970s view of the Illinois Building looking southwest from
Neil and Taylor Streets.
Photo Courtesy of Champaign County Historical Archives

Lewis & Company continued to thrive through the 1960s and installed this new
blade sign with their "famous" clock.  The store closed for good in 1977.
1963 Urbana Courier advertisement featuring the new
blade sign.

Current view of the Illinois Building looking south on Neil Street.  The building
is now owned by Busey Bank and houses four floors of various offices.
Photo Courtesy of Google