June 19, 2011

Belmont Yacht Harbor

Belmont Harbor Snippets
and the Race to Mackinac
(Remember to click on articles/images to enlarge)
view from the sky
 the original shoreline 1894 
Lincoln Park ends at Diversey Parkway

1909 proposed planned development 
of the extension of Lincoln Park 
and establishment of the harbor
   Lincoln Park Board of Commissioners 
(pdf p.18) opened a yacht harbor off the foot of Belmont Avenue to be called Belmont Yacht Harbor 
The yacht harbor at Belmont Avenue was opened to the public in 1913. Moorings were laid out, and a lighthouse constructed. A dock 911 feet long was also built."
image - University of Chicago Digital Library

Lincoln Park extends to Montrose beginning by 1923
The Build Out of the Shoreline
 with special attention to Type C & D
images - City of Chicago: History of Shoreline edited
Read and view this Facebook album about the existing shore as of 1894 by my sister sight LakeView Historical-Facebook
A Depiction of the build-out at Belmont Harbor
 images from Ebay
The Harbor Opening in 1913
The Pedestrian Bridge in the Harbor
probably late 1910's - Chuckman Collection
a zoomed view of postcard above
There appears that the original lay-out of the harbor had a bridge to the northern end of it per the above postcard. I noticed this with another image shown below that was inserted in a 1925 advertisement.
 the insert below indicating the bridge
 the apparent location of the bridge below
image - Chicago Harbors/Belmont
a 1933 negative image 
via Kent Bartman, LakeView Historical-Facebook
the photo below indicates that the bridge was gone by 1938
Other Scenes
 Like Works of Art
These scanned black & white photos are from a publication called Dearborn Magazine in 1922 of the scenes along the lakefront from Diversey to Belmont Harbors. The pages of this magazine were scanned by Google making an impressionist view of each photo on your computer screen. I enhanced the image with PicMonkey editing tool.
During this time period Lincoln Park was land-filled no further north than Cornelia Avenue.
 images - Jim Martin via Forgotten Chicago-Facebook
3314 Sheridan Road building in the background
1920   Chicago Yacht Club and the Lincoln Park Yacht Club combined that included Diversey & Belmont Harbors to a united system. The next year a new clubhouse at Belmont Harbor replaces the lumber schooner Carrier, that had served as the Lincoln Park Yacht Club clubhouse since 1915. Almost every harbor has a club or boathouse to booked activities for the purpose of entertainment. Belmont Yacht Harbor was of no exception. The original boathouse like the one above was mobile and sailed from its perth into the lake - view above photo of craft. Sulzer Regional Library can not confirm nor deny that this is the original boathouse but only indicated that this is the type of craft that would have been used at the time. 
1920 A commercial freighter sank off Belmont Harbor 
Chicago Yacht & Lincoln Park Yacht Clubs merge in 1920

stereoview image unknown date - Ebay
1921 The Race to Mackinac moved to 
Belmont Yacht Harbor

1923  First Radio Message to the North Pole
Also in 1923
barge and clubhouse at Belmont Harbor replaces the lumber schooner Carrier that had served as the Lincoln Park Yacht Club clubhouse since 1915
Landfill continues Northward in 1923
Construction was underway for another harbor north of Belmont Yacht Harbor by Montrose Avenue. 
photo - Marty Swartz Living History of Illinois and Chicago
photo - Calumet412
1928 Dredging for a new harbor called Montrose 
and probably the same type of vessels to create Belmont 
A Mayoral Resident 
of Lake View & his harbor
Mayor Big Bill Thompson had a yacht in Belmont Yacht Harbor and lived on the northwest corner of Belmont Avenue and Sheridan Road - currently inner LSD.
This three termed mayor and his wife lived at 3202 Sheridan Road @ Belmont Avenue in the former elegant 32 apartment complex called Lochby Court Apartments. 
The mayor was known as 'turning a blind eye' on the activities of Al Capone. He a outspoken mayor who understood the politics of the city and his neighborhood. 
campaign button unknown year - Ebay
According the publication Hidden History of Ravenswood & Lake View by Patrick Butler, during his tenure as mayor and before WWI would publicly refer the emperor of Germany as 'Kaiser Bill'. Big Bill " clashed with (then) Illinois governor Frank Lowden over a permit the mayor had issued for an anti-war rally" in his city. "Lowden had threatened to call out the National Guard to break up the protest, and Thompson vowed to use Chicago cops to resist if necessary." Military nor civil action was not ever taken. 

Big Bill Thompson docked his schooner Valmore @ Belmont Yacht Harbor. The schooner was the first in its class to participated in the Race to Mackinac from the harbor in 1908.
1919  A reporter, a cop, and Big Bill's dog

In the background is Big Bill's apartment complex  
- just beyond the sails
photo source unknown
a zoomed view by Dan Crespo Forgotten Chicago-Facebook
The residence was located on the  northwest corner of Sheridan Road (inner LSD) and Belmont Avenue. The three-story building had 32 apartments with butler's pantries and large living rooms with wood-burning fireplaces.
 Big Bill Thompson in his living room parlor
Mayor Bill Thompson is credited in the creation of a 1915 commission that lead to the current Chicago flag.
Several views of the Lochby Court Apartments built in 1911. The building won a gold medal from the American Institute of Architects in 1912 as "best designed building of the year." and nothing was too good for Big Bill.
The Mayor's Speakeasy

The Fish Club speakeasy - photo 1925
This boathouse was the home of a club called The Fish that featured a cabaret and had the support by the Chicago Mayor Big Bill Thompson. The mayor had is racing craft docked in the harbor. This establishment was referred as a membership only speakeasy during the 'dry years' of Prohibition. According the publication Hidden History of Ravenswood & Lake View by Patrick Butler, Big Bill established the club in 1922 under using Illinois state law. The State was promoting the "propagation of fish in Illinois waterways to help feed poor children".  Thompson and his friends had other ideas in mind. According the publication Hidden History of Ravenswood & Lake View by Patrick Butler, the club members some how failed to pay their bills and in 1928 during Prohibition creditors impounded the craft and "scuttled in the middle of Lake Michigan". During this time period there was a court battle pending about property offshore and the jurisdiction of city ordinances regarding gambling and drink on any offshore property even if it was connected by a bridge. The Fish Club was regarded offshore and a 'Streeterville-like' problem. 
image - Chicago Daily News
On the auction blog - 1928
Beach vs Traffic in 1929
 Beach vs Traffic in 1934
Lake Michigan: Winds & Waves
unknown locations
above images are part of my personal collection
wind velocities 
image - Tales of the Chicago Mackinac Race
Buildings Along the Harbor

The Belmont Hotel along the harbor was completed by 1924

While this postcard has a date of 1940 most of the flats in this postcard were built during the 1920's with the Belmont Hotel in the distance to the left 

1942 postcard - Ebay
An Article from 
The Chicagoan

Before the Storms of 1929
Two storms hit along the lakefront that year 
one in April and the other in October. 
This was the same year of the Great Depression 
 1924 Daily News Archive

 1929 Daily News Archive

 1929 Daily News Archive

 1929 Daily News Archive
1929 Daily News Archive
The Great Midwest Storms of 1929
There were two of them one in Spring the other Autumn

photo - Daily News Archive

photo - Daily News Archive 
 photo - Daily News Archive
 photo of LSD - Daily News Archive
 photo - Daily News Archive
 photo - Daily News Archive
 photo - Daily News Archive
photo - Daily News Archive
The Damage at Belmont Yacht Harbor 1929
photos - Daily News photographer 
Chicago History Museum
This April storm and another October storm coupled with the Great Depression of October 1929 paused the expansion or extension of Lincoln Park northward until 1937 beyond Montrose Avenue. The city was granted federal monies to redevelop, extended the drive to Foster Avenue 1937- 1942.
1932  Mooring fees and the shiphouse (boathouse) removed
1933 - Illinois Digital Archives 
Chicago Tribune (Chicago Daily Tribune) (via the Chicago Library newspaper section) has been a great source of articles for me regarding my research on our subject of historical Lake View.
1937  Race to Mackinac had the largest participants to date
view of Belmont/Diversey by 1938 & 1939 respectfully
photo - Chicago Harbors-Facebook

 personal photo album 1942 - Ebay
1944 View with top of Temple Sholom
1945  The Boathouse 
1945 photo - Calumet412
There once was a path for horses 

1947 aerial view - Calumet 412

1947 press photo and text
1949 - Chuckman Collection
Yachting off the Harbor 1950

1953 aerial view - Calumet412
AND in 1953  
Trash piles up in the Harbor
Not a Pretty Sight in 1953

Taking Action Against Boat Owners 1953
1953 aerial view - Calumet412
 1955 - University of Chicago Collection via Explore Chicago
 1955 - University of Chicago Collection via Explore Chicago
 1955 - University of Chicago Collection via Explore Chicago
The Cold War @ Belmont Harbor 
Once the location for the Nike Missiles
1955ish Matthew Gallagher via Forgotten Chicago-Facebook
Join the conversation on Facebook 
1962 image - Historical Aerials via John Bayless 
A guided missile launcher is planned
 page 2

120mm gun of the 496th Anti Aircraft Gun Battalion - Ebay
1958  One missile launch site was at Chicago’s Belmont Harbor with radar control towers near Montrose. Another was at Burnham Park with radar towers at 37th Street, and the third was at Jackson Park with its radar towers at Promontory Point. According to a Chicago Tribune article from Aug. 30, 1958, the Belmont the first local site to receive the Hercules missiles upgrades.
1958  The following article tells the reader about the militarization of the harbor during the Cold War era.

Read the conversation of this military sight on Facebook 

The area as of 1969 - photo Ebay 
The other sites locations via google maps 
... along with this article.
...back to the 1950's
1950's? postcard - Ebay
1955  A family day at the harbor
also that year -  Oil travels from Indiana to harbor
1955  Big Oil floats into the Harbor
photo - Lake View High School 1957 yearbook
1958  Koda-Chrome Views
from Ebay
Fish'in in the Harbor 1960


1960's Views of the Harbor

images - Ebay
When Spring Arrives 1959 to 1963 
1963  The following Chicago Tribune article tells a tale about a twin engine plane landing off shore from the harbor and the pilot swimming to shore.
1965 Press Photo 
Koda-Chrome Collection by Scott August
"My grandfather had his boat at Belmont Harbor in the 50's and 60's. The skyline has certainly changed over the years since then. Here's a group of 35mm slides taken in 1960's from the back of 'The Rogal' at its' slip in the harbor."
1960 - The Vicca, his grandfather's vessel 

1966 - Clean Up
all images above are from 'film cuts' by Scott August 1965
1970's - Ebay
The Liberation of a Military Base
1971  50 Native American protesters fled the abandoned Nike - Hercules missile site near Belmont Harbor after a police intervention. The general LakeView area had a large Native American population. This military area at the harbor area was called the C-03 Launch Area located between Montrose and Belmont Harbors from October 1955 - June 1965. 
The 1970's was the time of liberation groups who lack voice in their own communities. There was a large population of Native Americans who resided on the north-side. These articles tell a tale of protest and recognition. It began at Wrigley Field and then migrated to the harbor.
View the video (begin @ 7 minutes 30 seconds) on the movement that lead to the occupation of that military sight.

(click on article to enlarge)

Note: As of 2010 there were 13,337 Native Americans that resided in Chicago, primarily on the north-side.
The Seiche of Belmont Harbor
The most costly seiche occurred in 1954 with the most loss of life at North Avenue Beach when a 10 foot wave washed fisherman into the lake ... and then again in 1962
There was this Beer Can in the 1970's
edited photo - Lance Grey
 photo - Kevin Gumball O'Malley
Lance Grey, a contributor of LakeView Historical, mentioned “It was a late arrival to to 'Rocks' mural craze of the early/mid '70's. "Old Style" lasted well into the '80's.” And according to Wayne Folk, another contributor to my Facebook page, the Old Style Can was a place to hang-out and drink. “You would drink a can of old style and talk about what's on the can. Then you would tell people you see the hitchhiker? They would look at the can for a while. Then the buzz. They would come back and say. "I don't see a hitchhiker on the can at all." You would say to them. "He must had gotten picked up already. Just drinking fun.” Maribel Selva, another contributor to LakeView Historical mentioned the following “What always struck me was how detailed it was...just like the can from back then. We would have a permanent “meet at the old style can” day and time and when we showed up you never knew who would be there but always friends showed up. We always biked there with our backpacks filled with beer.”
photo - Lance Grey
Follow the conversation on Facebook on this one!
photo via Labyrinthina
There was a section of the 'rocks' - the shoreline made of limestone boulders that was to protect the storm episodes of the lake from the land - that were patronized by LBGTQ residents and friendly visitors of the area during the late 1970's until the anti-erosion project of the 2000's. The Belmont Harbor area of the rocks was a place to be safe from the anti-homophobia of that time. Patrons of the rocks would not only gather in a safe place to sunbath and express themselves freely but would create art on the limestone, now long removed but luckily the photo evidence remains to see. 
Besides clicking on the title link I posted some of the views from those days of the 'hanging out' on the rocks from a Facebook page called
 'A Place for Us: Life at the Belmont Rocks'
one of many artwork that was created on the rocks
Alewives in the Harbor 1971 
A small seiche (lake tidal wave) flooded the parking lot again leaving dead fish in the parking lot 
at Belmont Harbor 1973 photo - Ebay
1973    Establishment of the Belmont Harbor Yacht Club to serve the educational needs of new boaters.
1975   And again, a slick of 1000 gallons of oil meanders towards Belmont Harbor from a freighter. View the two images below.
1975  If not oil traveling upstream its now U.S. mail 
traveling downstream from harbor. 
        1980   Drugs at the Harbor Point 
1981  A second but private boathouse is discussed
Andrea Hollis stacks buoys retrieved from Belmont Harbor as crews clear them out for the winter. She was the only woman working with the Chicago Park District's Marine Department in November 1988. Photo by Carl Wagner (Vintage Tribune)
My source: Xavier Quintana via HIstorical Chicago-Facebook
1989 This Sun-Times article tells a tale of renewal for the harbor area of the neighborhood
page 2
Friends Forever!
page images - Lake View by Matthew Nickerson
1990 World Race 
 page 2
The Storage Buildings of the Harbor
by Jeff Wingstrom
2011  The 4th of July fireworks were 
held at the harbor for the first time.
The following are comments from social media site called Everyblock about the unofficial yet professionally done firework display north of the harbor.
The threads ...
Comment 1 - It was a group of renegade citizens concerned about the city failing 2 truly entertain us with their lame fireworks shows...these young robin hoods will keep bangin it out @ belmont every year 2 make sure everyone in the city gets a proper fireworks show 2 escape the dreary economic realities of city life.
Comment 2 - I want to be a renegade robin hood!! Let me know if there is a way to help out next year or if there are other fun projects planned at other times of the year.
Comment 3 - My friends plan on doing it every year for as long as possible...we keep it safe & super impressive since the city decided not 2 entertain us anymore...hopefully, other folks will get inspired 2 fight back & take everything into our own hands ... we'll just start building our own solar panels & wind mills block by block until we destroy the system.
The Belmont Opener

  2015 photos - Chicago Yacht Club Belmont Harbor 
This annual event occurs during the first days of Spring. 
Read and view more about this event 
on their Facebook fan page or on the 
web page under the section Power Fleet.
A Trapeze School at the Harbor 
In 2011 they opened an outdoor location just south of Belmont Harbor in Chicago Park District's Lincoln Park. This school was an instant hit, and we added an indoor location at the Chicago Park District's Broadway Armory in spring 2012. This school continues to grow its community under the leadership of General Manager Steve Hammes, who discovered that teaching flying trapeze is just as much fun as performing juggling in the circus. 
photo - Lori K. Jones via Original Chicago-Facebook
TSNY Chicago hosts a number of summer camps for kids in collaboration with the Chicago Park District. Bonnie Miller manages our retail office in Chicago and is also our National Front Office Operations Manager. View some of the performance videos from their unofficial Facebook page!
Someone had a Thought
in 1926 about an 1933 event
William C. Bruckman Collection 1986
in the harbor adjacent to Hawthorne Place
from the harbor adjacent to Stratford Place
Inviting Harbor Views
photo - Pablo De Leon

photo - Anna Trivino 

 photo - Eldon Floon Gallery
Diane Bronstein - Esty 

photo - Etsy re4madoprints3
 photo - Etsy liamparkinson
 a winter scene - Etsy via re4madoprints2
a winter scene - Etsy re4madoprints2
& below photo - Craig Hagemeier
The Mackinac Race
1898 - present
Belmont Harbor was once the host for this race
with the current route
1957 image - Lake Michigan Yachting Association
 The Attraction to the Island
It was the Victorians (aristocrats of the 1800’s) who made Mackinac Island one of the nation's most favored summer resorts. In the post-Civil War industrial age and before automobiles, vacationers traveled by large lake excursion boats from Buffalo, Cleveland, Chicago and Detroit to the cooler climes of Mackinac Island. They danced to Strauss' waltzes, listened to Sousa's stirring marches, dined on whitefish and strolled along the broad decks. 
 Chicago Daily Tribune 1910 advertisement
a pinnacle point to the other lakes
and the St. Lawrence Seaway towards the Atlantic
The Town of Mackinac
 view of the town from the fort
view from the fort of the harbor below it
To accommodate overnight guests’ boat and railroad companies built summer hotels, such as the Grand Hotel in the late 19th century. Victorians, like travelers everywhere, shopped for souvenirs, and Mackinac shops supplied them.
In the 1890's wealthy Midwestern industrialists who wanted to spent more than a few nights on Mackinac built their own summer cottages on the east and west bluffs. Soon a social life [would include] tennis, hiking, bicycling, examining the local natural wonders, and at the turn of the century, golf at on the new Wawashkamo Golf Course.
The Race in Photos
image - Tales of the Chicago Mackinac Race
Starting in 1898 with a mere five boats, The Mac had evolved into a world-class sporting event. After the first race in 1898, the Race to Mackinac was not held for five years until the second race in 1904. By 1906, the race had developed a healthy following and in that year the original Mackinac trophy was purchased. - Wikipedia
photos below - Chicago Daily News Archives
 Big Bill Thompson craft before his mayoral election
images -Tale of the Chicago Mackinac Race
The Race Transitions 
to Belmont Yacht Harbor 1921
1957 map of the harbor 
image - Lake Michigan Yachting Association
image - Tales of the Chicago Mackinac Race
a personal narrative of the spirit of the race
Some Historical Moments
1957 image - Lake Michigan Yachting Association
Mackinac Island area map
1957 image - Lake Michigan Yachting Association
image - Tales of Chicago Mackinac Race 1898-1998
Vencedor won 1904 & 07; wrecked in 1911
 via Library of Congress
In 1898 the first race had only five participants. One of the crafts was a schooner owned and operated by Ben and John McConnell who both owned homes on Hawthorne Place. Their mansions still exist today.
The Hawthorne
the owners Ben and John McConnell lived on Hawthorne Place during this time. Their mansions remain as of 2016.
image - Tales of Chicago Mackinac Race 1898-1998
The Hawthorne
photo - Chicago History Museum
1905  First female skipper entered her schooner called the              Lady Eileen.
1908  The era of the large schooners begins when                           Bill Thompson of Chicago, later to be known as Mayor           Big Bill Thompson enters his schooner, The Valmore. 
          He would win in 1909 & 1910 as well.
image - Tales of Chicago Mackinac Race 1898-1998
image - Tales of Chicago Mackinac Race 1898-1998
1920  Lincoln Park Yacht Club including Belmont Harbor                   Station joined Chicago Yacht Club.  Also, that year                 Belmont Harbor Station is starting point in race.
1925  One of the challenging races to date. Only 8 out of the           21 entries finished.
image - Tales of Chicago Mackinac Race 1898-1998
In 1936 thirteen sailing clubs participated that included 
forty-three yachts while after the war in 1946 fifty-seven yachts participated the year.
image - Tales of Chicago Mackinac Race 1898-1998
image - Tales of Chicago Mackinac Race 1898-1998
1955  The most time consuming race took almost 78 hours.
1970  Ted Turner and his American Eagle encounters gales             exceeded 60 mph. Turner calls the lake a ‘mill pond’.
 image - Tales of Chicago Mackinac Race 1898-1998
image - Tales of Chicago Mackinac Race 1898-1998
2000  Sixty boats were equipped with GPS devices.
2008  The 100th anniversary of the race to Mackinac Island.
2011  storm to remember via YouTube.
2013  View a more placid ride to the island vial YouTube.
page 2
page 16 column 1
 column 2
Another participant
A Sample of Various Articles 
The Race of 1934
page 2
This is a sample of the many articles on the race located in the Chicago Library online newspaper section. Just type the keywords Belmont Harbor and Mackinac for articles exclusively for our harbor and the race from it. The researcher will need a library card number and zip code to enter the database of articles.
The Belmont Harbor Club House
 Belmont - Chicago Harbors
photo - Sid  Hamm
photo - Duane S. Chicago Yacht Club via Yelp
photo - Belmont Harbor Chicago Yacht Club
photo - Duane S. Chicago Yacht Club via Yelp
photo - Duane S. Chicago Yacht Club via Yelp
 photo - Duane S. Chicago Yacht Club via Yelp
photo - Duane S. Chicago Yacht Club via Yelp
photo - Everyday Life in Chicago 1950's?
a 1957 view looking 
photo - Tales of the Chicago Mackinac Race and ...
2017 photo - Kurt Thomas via Forgotten Chicago-Facebook
The Fishing 
photo - Skyline Fishing Charters via Yelp
photo - Skyline Fishing Charters via Yelp
 photo - Skyline Fishing Charters via Yelp
photo - Skyline Fishing Charters via Yelp
'the official legal limit'
photo - Steve K via Angler Charters via Yelp

Post Notes
Read the more on the historical timeline of events of this race. To review the results of the last race and the winners of that last race with this link. View a 44 minute WTTW journey via YouTube. Also, view more current photography via Flickr. 

Important Note:
These posts are exclusively used for educational purposes. I do not wish to gain monetary profit from this blog nor should anyone else without permission for the original source - thanks!
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