Building for Chicago's People

The City That Works

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We want to do three things here in Chicago. We want to make Chicago an international city. We want to bring headquarters for companies in here. And we want to build Chicago for its people.

Mayor Richard J. Daley, as quoted by A. Robert Abboud, First National Bank of Chicago, President, interview excerpt, December 3, 2009

 

Richard J. Daley operating a piece of construction equipment, ca. 1950s. RJD_04_01_0040_0005_007

Richard J. Daley operating a piece of construction equipment, ca. 1950s. RJD_04_01_0040_0005_007

I think he did a great job of building the city, turning it into a great city, and interacting with the federal government. It was building the city, getting the expressway systems built, getting O’Hare built, getting UIC built, and getting so many of the buildings downtown built. I think he did a great job of turning the city into a world class city.

Robert G. Vanecko, grandson of Richard J. Daley, interview excerpt, March 5, 2010

 

 

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A city engineer discusses building projects. Click on image to play video.

Video: Robert Christensen, Executive Director Public Building Commission, interview excerpt, September 8, 2003

He helped hospitals in their plans for expansion and ways to do things. I would only find out about it sometimes because some CEO of a hospital or someone like that would tell me. “Your father-in-law was very helpful to us, getting these people to come on our board and tell us to go ahead on this.”

Dr. Robert M. Vanecko, MD, son-in-law of Richard J. Daley, interview excerpt, March 8, 2010

 

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Richard J. Daley, Governor William G. Stratton, and unidentified man with shovels at McCormick Place groundbreaking. RJD_04_01_0014_0003_001

Richard J. Daley, Governor William G. Stratton, and unidentified man with shovels at McCormick Place groundbreaking. RJD_04_01_0014_0003_001

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Providing services and programs to Chicagoans was part of a larger plan to revitalize the city’s downtown “Loop” area and strengthen its infrastructure.

Richard J. Daley giving a speech at an outdoor podium in front of the Sears Tower (now known as the Willis Tower), ca. 1970s. RJD_04_01_0029_0008_010

Richard J. Daley giving a speech at an outdoor podium in front of the Sears Tower (now known as the Willis Tower), ca. 1970s. RJD_04_01_0029_0008_010

 

He always believed that if you kept the core of the apple strong, the apple would stay strong. So the downtown, even though he took a lot of heat for protecting the downtown and keeping that strong, and [was] told always he was ignoring the neighborhoods, he thought that if he didn’t keep that core strong, the Loop, then the apple would turn bad.

William Daley, son of Richard J. Daley, interview excerpt, January 12, 2009

 

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Both Mayor Richard J. Daley and later his son, Mayor Richard M. Daley (1989-2011) contributed to the city’s built environment.

Most of the downtown was developed under his dad. Most of the neighborhoods were developed under Rich. We’re lucky to have the Daleys because I wouldn’t want to be going through a new mayor every four years—things would never get done.

Vince Gavin, Daley Security Chief and Liquor Commissioner, interview excerpt, June 19, 2014

 

Richard J. Daley with two unidentified men at the groundbreaking ceremony for the 1000 Lake Shore Plaza building, ca. 1964. RJD_04_01_0023_0007_006

Richard J. Daley with two unidentified men at the groundbreaking ceremony for the 1000 Lake Shore Plaza building, ca. 1964. RJD_04_01_0023_0007_006

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Richard J. Daley with two unidentified men at the groundbreaking ceremony for the 1000 Lake Shore Plaza building, ca. 1964. RJD_04_01_0023_0007_006

Richard J. Daley with two unidentified men at the groundbreaking ceremony for the 1000 Lake Shore Plaza building, ca. 1964. RJD_04_01_0023_0007_006

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A former building commissioner reflects on the decision to build the Sears Tower. Click on image to play audio.

Audio: Joseph Fitzgerald, Chicago Building Commissioner, interview excerpt, July 24, 2014

 

Medallion--Sears Tower, 1973 [front]. RJD_06_01_0041_0008_001a

Medallion–Sears Tower, 1973 [front]. RJD_06_01_0041_0008_001a

Medallion--Sears Tower, 1973 [back]. RJD_06_01_0041_0008_001b

Medallion–Sears Tower, 1973 [back]. RJD_06_01_0041_0008_001b

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Richard J. Daley visits the 1500 block of West Jackson for an urban renewal project

Richard J. Daley visits the 1500 block of West Jackson for an urban renewal project, ca. 1970s. RJD_4_01_0031_0016_001

 

Richard J. Daley at new county jail site

Richard J. Daley at new county jail site, ca. 1960s. RJD_04_01_0017_0001_016

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Crawford Parker (Indiana's lieutenant governor), and Richard J. Daley lift the barricades to through traffic on the Calumet Skyway, April 16, 1958. RJD_04_01_0014_0004_003

Crawford Parker (Indiana’s lieutenant governor), and Richard J. Daley lift the barricades to through traffic on the Calumet Skyway, April 16, 1958. RJD_04_01_0014_0004_003

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Construction of the First National Bank Plaza (3 shots), 1971. RJD_04_01_0033_0002_016

Construction of the First National Bank Plaza (3 shots), 1971. RJD_04_01_0033_0002_016

 

Sometimes Mayor Daley found creative solutions to the city’s building challenges. Click on image of A. Robert Abboud to play video.

 Video: A. Robert Abboud, First National Bank of Chicago, President, interview excerpt, December 3, 2009

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To pay for Chicago’s services, Daley secured funds from a variety of sources. He used the city’s taxing authority when necessary, but he also wanted to ensure Chicago retained control of how that money was spent. That part of his job became easier when the new Illinois Constitution of 1970 granted home rule status to the city. Home rule meant that Chicago enjoyed greater discretion of when and how to tax, regulate, and perform certain services.

Richard J. Daley listening to a speaker at the Illinois General Assembly.

Richard J. Daley listening to a speaker at the Illinois General Assembly. This photo was likely taken in 1950, five years before he became mayor. RJD_04_01_0047_0006_026

 

So the mayor wanted to keep Chicago’s taxing authority and Chicago’s ability to regulate independent of the General Assembly. So rather than trying to pass off responsibility to suburban communities or to county government, he wanted to centralize control in the city of Chicago….He didn’t want municipal functions to be broadened out into the region or the county. He wasn’t trying to save taxpayers money by diverting responsibilities for the various city functions to the broader governmental agencies.

Ray Simon, Corporation Counsel City of Chicago, interview excerpt, June 30, 2010

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Federal aid was important. Daley worked with Illinois’s congressional delegation to ensure Chicago received its share of national revenue.

Richard J. Daley on his way to a congressional dinner, 1960. RJD_04_01_0019_0009_004

Richard J. Daley on his way to a congressional dinner, 1960. RJD_04_01_0019_0009_004

 

Richard J. Daley shaking hands with Congressman Dan Rostenkowski, ca. 1960s. RJD_04_01_0016_0001_012

Richard J. Daley shaking hands with Congressman Dan Rostenkowski, ca. 1960s. RJD_04_01_0016_0001_012

 

He was very shrewd in his relationship with Washington, D.C. He had a close relationship with Dan Rostenkowski, who was Chairman of Appropriations. Rostenkowski helped get him get the money to build the expressways, like the Dan Ryan and the improvements on the Kennedy. He was very much interested in transportation.

Burton Natarus, Attorney and Alderman from the 42nd Ward from 1971-2007. Interview excerpt, June 16, 2010