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This Date in the History of Chicago's South Loop

Updated on July 13, 2016
Chess Records studio at 2120 S. Michigan Ave.
Chess Records studio at 2120 S. Michigan Ave.

Chicago's South Loop is a vibrant residential, cultural, educational and entertainment area with an amazing history. Situated just south of downtown Chicago-- roughly bounded by Congress Parkway on the north, the Chicago River South Branch on the west, the Stevenson Expressway on the south, and Lake Michigan on the east-- the area contains gleaming high-rises and reclaimed industrial spaces where sometimes unknown, but fascinating history occurred.

January

January 4, 1888
The Chicago and South Side Rapid Transit Company is incorporated under the general railroad laws of the State of Illinois
January 5, 1986
The Chicago Bears beat the New York Giants 21-0 at Soldier Field to advance to the NFC Championship game
January 6, 1958
Chuck Berry records "Johnny B. Goode" at Chess Records studios; a 2004 Rolling Stone magazine survey ranked it #7 best Rock and Roll song ever
January 10, 1964
Congress Expressway officially re-named to honor President Dwight D. Eisenhower
January 11, 1963
Blues legend Sonny Boy Williamson II records "Bring It On Home" at Chess Records studios at 2120 S. Michigan; part of song is used by Led Zeppelin on their second album, band settled lawsuit for not including songwriting credit
January 12, 1986
Chicago Bears defeat the Los Angeles Rams 24-0 before 63,522 at Soldier Field to advance to Superbowl XX
January 16, 1967
Fire destroys the first McCormick Place convention center, killing one worker
January 18, 1909
Theatrical manager William Morris opens The American Music Hall at 8th and Wabash to show independent vaudeville shows
January 19, 2002
Demolition begins on Soldier Field redevelopment following Bears playoff game
January 22, 1893
The South Side Elevated structure is completed to 63rd Street, allowing service from Congress to 61st Street station
January 22, 1957
Joffrey Ballet performs at the Eighth Street Theater, its first performance in a major city; several decades later the Joffrey makes its home in Chicago
The City of New Orleans leaving Chicago in the 1960s.
The City of New Orleans leaving Chicago in the 1960s.

February

February 6, 1956
The Chicago Defender begins daily publication
February 9, 2009
Polk Street entrance to CTA's Harrison Street subway station re-opened after nearly 41 years due to rapid neighborhood gentrification
February 17, 1917
12,000 peace activists assemble in Coliseum to adopt resolution urging national referendum vote of the people before entering World War I
February 17, 2003
21 people are trampled to death and more than 50 injured in stampede at Epitome Nightclub at 2347 South Michigan Avenue after pepper spray causes panic
February 22, 1897
John Alexander Dowie opens Tabernacle No. 3 on Michigan Ave. near 16th St. before 8,000 spectators
February 27, 1926
Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five demonstrates the musical recording process at “Okeh Race Record Artist’s Night” at the Chicago Coliseum
February 27, 1963
Malcolm X speaks to Black Muslims at Chicago Coliseum, proclaiming "There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his apostle."
February 29, 1940
Robert S. Abbott, publisher of The Chicago Defender, dies of Bright's Disease
Chicago Coliseum was the site of six national political conventions, sporting events, concerts, and trade shows
Chicago Coliseum was the site of six national political conventions, sporting events, concerts, and trade shows

March

March 4, 1837
Chicago is incorporated as a city with approximately 3600 residents; reaches 1 million inhabitants 53 years later and 3.4 million by 1930
March 5, 1972
Last passenger train leaves Illinois Central Station
March 8, 1971
Closed circuit broadcast of Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier championship fight fails in third round, patrons at the Chicago Coliseum initiate a brawl injuring a Chicago Fire Department captain
March 12, 1971
James Taylor and Carole King perform at the Chicago Coliseum, venue closed for multiple fire code violations the next day
March 14, 1933
Grammy award winning musician, producer and arranger Quincy Jones born at St. Luke's Hospital in South Loop
March 16, 1963
Zephyrs play their last game at Chicago Coliseum, losing to Cincinnati Royals 126-117; team moves to Baltimore the following season
March 23, 1901
First Chicago Auto Show opens for eight days at the Chicago Coliseum; one of nation's major annual auto shows held in Coliseum for next 35 years
March 23, 1967
Last NBA game at Chicago Coliseum when Chicago Bulls forced to move playoff game because of Stadium booking; Bulls lose to St. Louis Hawks 113-107 before 3739
March 24, 1956
Bo Diddley records "Who Do You Love?" for Chess Records; song was covered by dozens of artists and ranked #132 best rock song ever by Rolling Stone magazine
March 25, 1929
At welterweight boxing championship at the Chicago Coliseum between African-American Young Jack Thompson and hometown Jewish boxer Jackie Fields, balcony railing gives way when racial slurs lead to altercation, killing one person and injuring 35
March 25, 1967
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. says “we must combine the fervor of the Civil Rights movement with the peace movement” in a speech at the Chicago Coliseum
March 27, 1939
The Harlem Globetrotters and the New York Rens, two African-American basketball teams, play each other in front of 7,000 fans at the Chicago Coliseum; the Rens win 27-23
March 28, 1929
The Chicago Stadium opens to the public with a boxing match between Tommy Loughran and Mickey Walker, thus ending 30 years of the Chicago Coliseum serving as primary indoor venue in the city
March 30, 2003
Mayor Richard M. Daley orders closing and destruction of Meigs Field in the early morning hours
Geraldo Rivera in the basement of Al Capone's former headquarters at 2135 S. Michigan
Geraldo Rivera in the basement of Al Capone's former headquarters at 2135 S. Michigan

April

April 16, 1956
Chuck Berry records “Roll Over Beethoven” for Chess Records; covered by many other artists, Rolling Stone magazine ranked #97 on list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
April 19, 1924
First broadcast of the WLS Barn Dance, the show that spawned The Grand Ole Opry; the show would later have a 25-year run at the Eighth Street Theater beginning in 1932
April 21, 1986
Millions tune in to Geraldo Rivera's live syndicated TV special broadcast to open the "secret vault" of Al Capone in the basement of the abandoned Lexington Hotel at 2135 S. Michigan; nothing was found besides some empty bottles and unrelated artifacts
April 23, 1893
South Side Elevated service extended to Dorchester and 63rd, accessible by a walkway to the World's Fair
April 25, 1859
Chicago’s first street car line, drawn by horses, opens on State Street between Madison and Roosevelt
April 27, 1968
The Mothers of Invention (featuring Frank Zappa) open for Cream at the Chicago Coliseum
April 30, 1971
Last day of long distance passenger railroad service at Dearborn Station and Illinois Central Station as Amtrak begins service the following day with arrivals and departures consolidated at Union Station
Postcard of the 1933 World's Fair
Postcard of the 1933 World's Fair

May

May 2, 1921
The Field Museum opens as the first institution in what will become the Museum Campus
May 2, 1927
The Stevens Hotel (now the Chicago Hilton) opens as the World's Largest Hotel
May 5, 1905
Robert S. Abbott publishes the first edition of The Chicago Defender
May 6, 1933
Demolition begins on Bucklen Flats apartment building; prestigious address of the 1890s, demolished for taxes in the Depression
May 10, 1930
The Adler Planetarium, the first institution of its kind in the United States, officially opens on the lakefront on Northerly Island
May 10, 1968
Rock band The Doors perform at the Chicago Coliseum
May 11, 1920
Brothel and cafe owner Big Jim Colosimo killed by a gunman in Colosimo's nightclub at 2126 S. Wabash
May 12, 1893
South Side Elevated service extended to Jackson Park, site of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, almost two weeks after fair opening
May 15, 1917
The Chicago Defender proclaims this the date of the "Great Northern Drive," when African-American Southerners are urged to move North
May 17, 2000
The Field Museum unveils “Sue,” the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil ever discovered
May 21, 1955
Chuck Berry has his first recording session at Chess Records studios, including "Maybellene," which hits #1 on the R&B charts and #5 overall
May 27, 1933
Century of Progress World’s Fair opens on 427 acre lakefront site between 12th and 39th Streets
May 30, 1930
The John G. Shedd Aquarium officially opens on the lakefront at 12th Street
Newsboys stand outside the Armory at 7th and Wabash before Volunteers of America Picnic on June 26, 1902.
Newsboys stand outside the Armory at 7th and Wabash before Volunteers of America Picnic on June 26, 1902.

June

June 3, 1965
President Lyndon B. Johnson speaks at the Cook County Democratic Party Dinner at the first McCormick Place
June 6, 1892
First Chicago Elevated line opens to the public from State and Congress to 39th and State
June 7, 1916
1916 Republican National Convention opens at Chicago Coliseum, nominates Charles Evans Hughes of New York
June 10, 1964
The Rolling Stones begin their first recording session at Chess Records studios, 2120 S. Michigan Avenue
June 12, 1920
Republican Party leaders meet in a “smoke-filled room” at the Blackstone Hotel to nominate Warren G. Harding as their compromise candidate at the convention held at the Chicago Coliseum
June 12, 1926
Ten jazz bands perform at the Chicago Coliseum at the “Okeh Cabaret and Style Show” to benefit African-American Musician’s Local 208; Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five headlines the show
June 17, 1994
Opening ceremonies for soccer's 1994 World Cup held at Soldier Field, Oprah Winfrey is the emcee and Diana Ross performs
June 18, 1912
Republican National Convention of 1912 opens at Chicago Coliseum, re-nominates William Howard Taft over former President Theodore Roosevelt
June 18, 1969
Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) begins five-day national convention in Chicago Coliseum
June 19, 1977
Pink Floyd performs at Soldier Field
June 21, 1904
1904 Republican National Convention opens at Chicago Coliseum, nominates President Theodore Roosevelt
June 22, 1908
Chicago street numbering system revised to count blocks from the corner of State and Madison, with 800 address units per mile
June 22, 1991
The Grateful Dead perform the first of their yearly concerts at Soldier Field from 1991-95, the last of which was only one month before the death of founder and leader Jerry Garcia
June 25, 1959
Pentecostal evangelist A.A. Allen begins a one month "miracle revival" at the Chicago Coliseum with three services daily, promising "Signs! Wonders! Miracles!"
June 26, 1902
The Volunteers of America hold free picnic for thousands of Chicago newsboys at the 7th Regiment Amory (formerly the Gettysburg Cyclorama) at Wabash and 7th Street (Balbo)
June 27, 1919
Race riot breaks out when swimmers from African American beach at 25th street drift on raft to White beach at 29th Street; Violence lasts for 13 days resulting in 38 dead, 537 injured, and thousands made homeless
June 27, 1968
Polk Street entrance to Harrison Street subway station closed for safety concerns in rapidly declining neighborhood; re-opens nearly 41 years later after neighborhood experiences dramatic gentrification
June 27, 1997
Rock group U2 performs first concert of three consecutive nights at Soldier Field; band returns to the venue in 2009 and 2011
June 28, 1932
After suffering a loss of $1.5 million in 1931 and further losses in the first five months of 1932, creditors file suit against Chicago Rapid Transit (the elevated lines) to place it in receivership
Soldier Field has been the site of spectacles, sporting events, and concerts
Soldier Field has been the site of spectacles, sporting events, and concerts

July

July 4, 1909
Daniel Burnham issues his 164-page illustrated “Plan of Chicago,” calling for Northerly Island, the widening of Congress Parkway, the straightening of the Chicago River, and many other changes to Chicago and the South Loop
July 4, 1940
The American Negro Exposition, celebrating 75 years since American slaves were freed, opens at the Chicago Coliseum and will run through September 2
July 5, 1896
Hopkins Theater at 531 S. State Street shows films of New York's Herald Square, a boxing match, and "Picture of a Kiss," first confirmed commercial exhibition of films in Chicago
July 8, 1978
The Rolling Stones perform at sold out Soldier Field with warm-up acts Journey and Peter Tosh; The Stones return for six more concerts in 1994, 1997, 2005 and 2006
July 9, 1932
Former Congressman and U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld born at St. Luke's Hospital in South Loop
July 9, 1995
The Grateful Dead end their summer tour with a performance at Soldier Field; it would be the last performance of the group with founder Jerry Garcia, who died exactly one month later
July 12, 1994
Rock group Pink Floyd performs at Soldier Field
July 15, 1933
Fascist Italian aviator Italo Balbo and a squadron of flying boats arrive in Chicago from Rome for the Century of Progress World’s Fair; 7th Street is renamed in his honor
July 15, 1943
U.S. Army announces relinquishment of The Stevens Hotel and The Congress Hotel
July 16, 1908
1908 Republican National Convention opens at Chicago Coliseum, nominates William Howard Taft
July 18, 1970
The Stooges open for the MC5 in concert at Soldier Field
July 24, 1954
Perry Como, Nat "King" Cole, Patti Page and several other acts perform before 40,000 on "Star Night" at Soldier Field
July 29, 1990
Former Beatle Paul McCartney performs at a sold out show at Soldier Field
July 31, 1987
Singer Madonna performs at Soldier Field concert
The Democratic Convention in August 1968 resulted in violence and chants of "The whole world is watching!"
The Democratic Convention in August 1968 resulted in violence and chants of "The whole world is watching!"

August

August 1, 1942
U.S. Army takes over Stevens Hotel, using the 3,000-room hotel for barracks, offices, and training for military recruits
August 5, 1912
1912 Progressive ("Bull Moose") Party convention begins at the Chicago Coliseum
August 5, 1933
Piccard-Compton Stratosphere Balloon is launched at the Century of Progress World’s Fair before 60,000 spectators at Soldier Field; the balloon crashes minutes later because of an open valve
August 6, 1912
Theodore Roosevelt addresses the 1912 Progressive Party convention at the Chicago Coliseum and accepts the new party's presidential nomination
August 9, 1922
Louis Armstrong arrives in Chicago for the first time at Illinois Central Station
August 9, 1985
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band perform at Soldier Field
August 9, 1991
African-American comedy club All Jokes Aside opens at 1000 S. Wabash and helps re-vitalize neighborhood while launching careers of Steve Harvey, Bernie Mac, and many other comics
August 10, 1956
The Congress Expressway, envisioned in Daniel Burnham's 1909 Plan of Chicago, opens from Ashland Avenue to Grant Park
August 12, 1833
The Town of Chicago was incorporated with a population of 350
August 12, 1933
“Negro Day” at the Century of Progress World’s Fair is boycotted by civil rights leaders and receives only 1/6 of expected visitors
August 13, 1927
Dinner is held to honor aviation hero Charles Lindburgh at The Stevens Hotel
August 13, 1935
The first roller derby is held at Chicago Coliseum
August 15, 1812
28 soldiers and 14 civilians were killed near what is now 18th Street and Prairie Avenue, in a War of 1812 skirmish with Native Americans known as the Fort Dearborn Massacre
August 15, 1942
U.S. Army announces acquisition of Chicago Coliseum, Hotel Stevens, and Eighth Street Theater for use in military training
August 15, 1964
Johnny Cash performs at Soldier Field
August 25, 1900
Chicago Coliseum dedicated in Saturday night gala before 10,000 with dignitaries and Grand Army encampment singing war songs
August 25, 1925
Ground is broken for The Stevens Hotel, which would hold the title of the Largest Hotel in the World for several decades
August 26, 1940
4000 people attend the Miss Bronze America contest at the American Negro Exposition in the Chicago Coliseum; Duke Ellington plays for the audience and crowns the winner, Miss Miriam Ali
August 26, 1968
1968 Democratic National Convention officially opens at the International Amphitheater; most delegates stay at the Conrad Hilton Hotel
August 27, 1968
Yippies hold “Unbirthday Party for LBJ” at Chicago Coliseum, half of the 4000 in attendance march to Grant Park
August 28, 1899
Twelve steel arches weighing 33 tons each collapse during construction of the Chicago Coliseum killing 11 workmen and injuring nearly a dozen others
August 28, 1968
Violence breaks out between police and demonstrators on national television at Michigan and Balbo during the 1968 Democratic National Convention as protesters chant, “The Whole World is Watching”
August 31, 1957
Final live performance of the WLS Barn Dance at the Eighth Street Theater
More than 104,000 people attended the Dempsey-Tunney "long count" fight at Soldier Field on September 25, 1927
More than 104,000 people attended the Dempsey-Tunney "long count" fight at Soldier Field on September 25, 1927

September

September 1, 1940
Paul Robeson sings on the second to last day of the American Negro Exhibition at the Chicago Coliseum
September 1, 1965
Southwest Expressway officially re-named in honor of former Illinois Governor Adlai E. Stevenson shortly after his death; extension from Dan Ryan Expressway to Lake Shore Drive opens the following year
September 2, 1940
The American Negro Exposition at the Chicago Coliseum closes
September 8, 1954
An estimated 260,000 fill Soldier Field for Catholic Church Marian Year Tribute
September 8, 1956
Maurice Cheeks, 4-time NBA All Star and former NBA head coach, born at St. Luke's Hospital in South Loop
September 9, 1893
Fire on top floor at Bucklen Flats apartment building at 800 S. Michigan causes $10,000 damage; fire started in laboratory making patent medicine
September 9, 1977
Cermak Road elevated station, one of Chicago's 10 original elevated stations, closes due to neighborhood deterioration; leaves gap of 2 1/2 miles (between Roosevelt Road and 35th Street) without a rail station on city's first elevated line
September 19, 1970
The final boxing match is held at the Chicago Coliseum as middleweight Luis Galvan knocks out Bob Harrington in the 9th Round; 1947 was the peak year for boxing at the venue with over 50 bouts on 11 days
September 19, 1971
The Chicago Bears play their first game at Soldier Field, defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 17-15 before capacity crowd of 55,701
September 22, 1939
All-American Championship Walkathon begins at Chicago Coliseum with 40 couples competing for endurance prizes of "up to $1500"; competition broadcast nightly on WIND radio
September 25, 1927
Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney meet in controversial fight for the World’s heavyweight championship before 104,000 at Soldier Field
September 29, 2003
Bears return to redesigned Soldier Field in a Monday night game against arch-rival Green Bay
South Loop resident Al Capone in a 1925 mugshot.
South Loop resident Al Capone in a 1925 mugshot.

October

October 1, 1947
Chicago Transit Authority begins operation of the city's transit system
October 3, 1897
Official opening of the Chicago Loop elevated structure; facilitates transfers to other elevated lines serving North, Northwest, and West Sides of the city
October 4, 1924
First football game at Soldier Field (then known as Grant Park Municipal Stadium) between Louisville Male High School and Chicago Austin High
October 8, 1871
Great Chicago Fire destroys most of downtown and the Near North Side killing hundreds; South Loop is spared most of the damage but serves as refuge for victims
October 9, 1871
St. Mary's Church at 9th and Wabash is opened to shelter victims of the Great Chicago Fire
October 13, 1968
Rock band Cream performs at the Chicago Coliseum on their farewell tour
October 17, 1931
South Loop resident Al Capone is convicted of tax evasion and receives an 11-year sentence
October 17, 1943
State Street subway opens to the public
October 20, 1962
First NBA game at Coliseum as Chicago Zephyrs beat Oscar Robertson's Cincinnati Royals 113-109
October 22, 1883
The Gettysburg Cyclorama, a 42-foot high by 365-foot circumference painting in the round by artist Paul Dominique Philippoteaux, opens at 700 S. Wabash Avenue where it is shown for 12 years
October 23, 1904
Will Rogers makes his vaudeville debut at Cleveland's New Theater (formerly the Gettysburg Cyclorama) at Wabash Ave. and Hubbard Court (later known as 7th Street and Balbo Drive)
October 24, 2006
The Wirt Dexter Building (built 1887) at 630 S. Wabash, one of the oldest surviving Adler and Sullivan designed buildings, is destroyed by fire
October 26, 1933
German airship Graf Zeppelin visits Century of Progress World’s Fair
October 31, 1903
Cleveland's New Theater opens at 700 S. Wabash with a play called "Magda," featuring 21-year old John Barrymore in his stage debut
October 31, 1934
Century of Progress World’s Fair closes; the fair attracts 48.8 million visitors over its successful two-year run

November

November 2, 1927
Construction begins on the $3.25 million Shedd Aquarium on the lakefront at 12th Street
November 3, 1968
The Doors play a Sunday afternoon concert at the Chicago Coliseum without incident, in contrast to the near riot at the same venue only six months earlier
November 4, 2008
Minutes after being named the winner of the 2008 Presidential election, Barack Obama makes his victory speech on Hutchinson Field in Grant Park before an estimated crowd of 240,000
November 7, 2012
President Barack Obama delivers his 2012 election victory speech at McCormick Place just after midnight
November 8, 1964
The Rolling Stones record “Time is On My Side” at Chess Records studios, 2120 S. Michigan Ave.
November 8, 1969
Last passenger train leaves Grand Central Station
November 11, 1925
Grant Park Municipal Stadium officially changes its name to Soldier Field
November 16, 1929
Notre Dame beats USC 13-12 before 112,912 fans at Soldier Field, setting the all-time college football single game attendance record
November 17, 1926
Chicago Blackhawks play their first ever game at Chicago Coliseum, defeating Toronto St. Pats 4-1
November 18, 1960
First McCormick Place Convention Center opens at the Lakefront and 23rd Street; it would burn in January 1967, in part because of a lack of nearby fire hydrants
November 19, 1951
The Stevens Hotel is officially re-named The Conrad Hilton
November 22, 1903
15,000 striking Chicago City Railway workers and supporters converge at Tattersall's Hall (1600 S. Dearborn) to rally against streetcar and cable car owners
November 22, 1905
Marshall Field, Jr. suffers fatal gunshot, dies five days later at age 37; Official story claims self-inflicted wound while cleaning hunting gun, but rumors allege wound suffered at nearby Everleigh Club brothel
November 27, 1970
The Grateful Dead play at the Chicago Coliseum (known as “The Syndrome” for rock concerts)
November 28, 1895
First motor car race in the US held from Hyde Park to Evanston and back on a 50-mile course (including Michigan Avenue through the South Loop); only 6 of 89 cars finish race, won by Duryea gas engine car (Duryea sell most cars, 13, of US maker the following year)
November 30, 1934
Undefeated Joe Louis KOs Charley Massera in 3rd round of heavyweight bout at Chicago Coliseum to win his 11th professional fight
Fr. Augustus Tolton was America's first African-American Catholic priest
Fr. Augustus Tolton was America's first African-American Catholic priest

December

December 1, 1968
The Jimi Hendrix Experience performs at the Chicago Coliseum
December 3, 1926
Mickey Walker defeats African-American middleweight champ Tiger Flowers at Chicago Coliseum in controversial referee decision; boxing commission orders re-match, but Flowers dies during eye surgery several months later
December 7, 1949
Construction begins on Congress Expressway; the major east-west central thoroughfare was envisioned in Daniel Burnham's 1909 Plan of Chicago
December 8, 1890
Grand Central Station opens to passenger traffic
December 12, 1929
Blackhawks play last game at Chicago Coliseum, defeating Montreal Maroons 4-3; three days later team begins playing at Chicago Stadium for 65-year run
December 13, 1900
Terry McGovern knocks out boxing legend Joe Gans in the 2nd Round at Tattersall's Hall (1600 S. Dearborn), leading to allegations of a "fix" and a 25-year ban on professional boxing in Illinois
December 13, 1908
Chicago Coliseum bombed, believed in protest of First Ward Ball
December 13, 1942
The Stevens Hotel sold to the U.S. Army for $6 million; it was built in 1927 at a cost of $30 million
December 15, 1955
The Congress Expressway opens from Laramie Avenue to Ashland Avenue; remaining section to Grant Park opens eight months later
December 17, 1938
Ground is broken on the State Street subway; the outbreak of World War II delays its opening until October 1943
December 19, 1889
Fr. Augustus Tolton, first African-American Catholic priest, arrives in Chicago to begin his work at St. Mary's Catholic Church
December 21, 1898
Candy magnate and Alderman Charles Gunther announces plans to build new Chicago Coliseum on site of his Libby Prison Civil War Museum
December 31, 1910
The Blackstone Theater on Balbo at Wabash opens for the first time
December 31, 1988
Chicago Bears play Philadelphia Eagles in “Fog Bowl” NFC Championship game at Soldier Field

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