June 19, 2011

Belmont Yacht Harbor

Belmont Harbor Snippets
This post includes the 'Race to Mackinac'. This post is related to another post called Belmont Harbor Press
a 2020 video
Let's begin with ...
the Existing Lakefront in 1894
before Sheridan Road and Lake Shore Drive 
their was water and part of the lake

The 'Yacht' Harbor 
Approved in 1913
The Planned Development Maps
of both Diversey and Belmont harbors 
1913-1915from the seller of the maps to me ...
The Dredging of Belmont Yacht Harbor
an artist's depiction made on rice paper
 images from Ebay, now part of my collection
a typical dedger
Chicago History Museum 1922 above
Chicago Daily News photographer 
Chicago History Museum 1914 below
postcard - Ebay
A Survey Depiction 
by Illinois: 1939
a Descriptive and Historical Guide
versus a 1968 Survey Depiction

Opened by 1916
 a 1913-1916 report
(pdf p.18) opened a yacht harbor off the foot of Belmont Avenue to be called Belmont Yacht Harbor 
a 1914 image below - University of Chicago Digital Library
the park reached only to Cornelia at this time
The Build Out of the Shoreline

 with special attention to Type C & D
images - City of Chicago: History of Shoreline edited
There was once this harbor bridge  

probably late 1910's - Chuckman Collection
and a zoomed view of postcard below
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 view probably between the late 1910's and early 1920's
with a zoomed view below - part of my collection
a zoomed view of the bridge below
an artist depiction in 1936
The Harbor's Beach
Before Lake Shore Drive was widen by 1942 the harbor had a small beach at the foot of Belmont Avenue
1924 above; 1930 below
the beach as it looked by 1937 
before the beach was replaced by a wider Lake Shore Drive. The Belmont Underpass would be constructed in 1942
Beach & Traffic in 1929

Other Scenes & Events from the 1920's

 These scanned black & white photos are from a publication called 'Dearborn Magazine' published in 1922 of the scenes along the lakefront from Diversey to Belmont Harbors. During this time period Lincoln Park was land-filled no further north than Cornelia Avenue. The pages of this magazine were scanned by Google making an impressionist view of each photo. 
 images - Jim Martin via Forgotten Chicago-Facebook
3314 Sheridan Road building in the background
In 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. 
an application booklet for the 1930's
Some History of the Club Houses
all images below are from a book called
'The Hundred Years 1875-1975'
Belmont Harbor was open to the public in 1913 and part of the Lincoln Park Yacht Club. By 1920 the Monroe Yacht Club and Lincoln merged. According to the author Vincent V. Glaviano of the book called The First Hundred Years 1875-1975: Afloat at Belmont Harbor the merger blended the history and experience of Monroe yacht membership with the ever increase youthful membership of Lincoln Park. During the time of the merger Lincoln Park, the park was land-filled only to Cornelia Street. Both harbors would have their own boathouses including all the facilities that warrant one.
The first boathouse was actually a once proud fairing vessel called the Carrier I that was purchased in 1915 tow years after the public opening of the harbor. At the time of the purchase the 177 ton vessel was 50 years old. 
There were plans by 1920 to move the boathouse on dry land - see image above. The Lincoln Park of Commissioners, an entity that governed the park and the roadways along the park vetoed the plan for a private building on public land.
The Fishfan inlet was also the location of Mayor Big Bill Thompson personal clubhouse - just sayin
The Carrier I got a full salute to its new location. 
It sank near Evanston Township.
The evolution of the new boathouse. The floating barge was completed in 1923 and dedicated on Thanksgiving Eve.
Captain MacMillan was one of the original members of the Lincoln Park Yacht Club and on that day messaged in from the Arctic Circle Expedition to his fiends in Chicago.

The book where these images are from 
is part of my personal collection
By 1966 the old floating barge needed to be modernized and was rededicated that year. The 'floating' canopy was gone
a 1950's? photo - Everyday Life in Chicago 
a 1957 view looking 
photo - Tales of the Chicago Mackinac Race and ...
2017 photo - Kurt Thomas via Forgotten Chicago-Facebook

image - Lake Michigan Yachting Association

photo - Sid  Hamm
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
A Commercial Freighter sank off 
Belmont Harbor in 1920
Chicago Yacht & Lincoln Park Yacht Clubs merge in 1920

stereoview image unknown date - Ebay
1921 The Race to Mackinac moved to 
Belmont Yacht Harbor
images - Dearborn Magazine published in 1920
an article from 1921 below
A Mayoral Resident of Lake View 
& his Harbor
The move of the Race to Mackinac was probably 
attributed to this man...
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 at 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 was a outspoken mayor who understood the politics of the city and his neighborhood who was pro German and anti British where the prominent & dominate populations were German & Irish.
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

His Residences
Big Bill lived along the lakefront in two locations according to a book called 'Chicago in Seven Days' was at the Barry Apartments at 3100 Sheridan Road and the Lochby Apartments depicted below
In the background is Big Bill's apartment complex  
- just beyond the sails/photo source unknown
image - Esty
The three-story building had 32 apartments with butler's pantries and large living rooms with wood-burning fireplaces.
the mayor at home
 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" 
Big Bill'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 then 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.
The Fish Fan Club on auction block in 1928
A Cool Breeze in 1923
1923  First Radio Message to the North Pole
Kids at Sail in 1925
Fixing their yacht in 1926
Someone had a Thought
in 1926 about an event in 1933
Landfill Continues Northward by late 20's
Construction was underway for another harbor north of Belmont Yacht Harbor at Montrose Avenue. 
photo - Marty Swartz Living History of Illinois and Chicago
1928 photo - Calumet 412
Dredging for a new harbor called Montrose 
and probably the same type of vessels to create Belmont 
page 2 - click to enlarge
page 16 column 1
 column 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.
A Sample of Various Articles about the Race
The Race of 1934
page 2
Harbor Traffic & Street Jams 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 

The Chicagoan
an article from 1928 ...

Motoring in 1929
Belmont Yacht Harbor was the main harbor
 for Lincoln Park

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

 1929 Daily News Archive

 1929 Daily News Archive

 1929 Daily News Archive
1929 Daily News Archive
The After Photos

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. 
A Yacht Race in 1930
a Majestic View in 1930
Another View in 1930
Set the Sails in 1934
Lining Up for the Race in 1934
Private Clubs & Boathouses as of 1937
1937 Chicago Recreational Survey Vol 1
view of Belmont/Diversey by 1938 & 1939 respectfully
photo - Chicago Harbors-Facebook

 personal photo album 1942 - Ebay
a 1944 view with top of Temple Sholom
a 1945 of the second Boathouse 
1945 photo - Calumet412
There once was a path for horseback riding
The path ranged from the northern edge of Lincoln Park to Evanston

a 1947 aerial view - Calumet 412

a 1947 press photo and text
a 1949 view of inner LSD & harbor - Chuckman Collection
Yachting off the Harbor 1950
Fishing in 1952

a 1953 aerial view - Calumet 412
I have no idea what this building was - lower right corner.
It is also highlighted in the 1920's
 ALSO in 1953 
Trash piles up in the Harbor
Not a Pretty Sight in 1953

Taking Action Against Boat Owners in 1953
a 1953 aerial view - Calumet 412
Scenes in 1955
University of Chicago Collection via Explore Chicago

 The Cold War at Belmont Harbor 
Once the location for the Nike nuclear Missiles Site
as it looked in 1962
with a zoomed view below
photo - Matthew Gallagher via Forgotten Chicago-Facebook
Join the conversation on Facebook
A guided missile launcher is planned in 1955
 page 2

120mm gun of the 496th Anti Aircraft Gun Battalion - Ebay
1962 image - Historical Aerials via John Bayless 
The missile launch site was located at Belmont Harbor with radar control towers for it near Montrose Harbor. Another site 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 location was the first local site to receive the Hercules missiles upgrades.

The area as by 1969 - photo Ebay 
The other sites locations via google maps 
... along with this article.
A Depiction of it
While this video is NOT of Belmont Harbor it does give the viewer of what it MAY HAVE been like at the harbor
Back to the Other Views & News
1950's? postcard - Ebay
A family day at the harbor in 1955
also that year -  Oil travels from Indiana to harbor
An Article about the Big Oil in 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
by Ebay
This 1963 Chicago Tribune article tells a tale about a twin engine plane landing off shore by the harbor 
and the pilot swimming to shore
1965 Press Photo 
Koda-Chrome Photo 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
and a 1970's view - Ebay
The Seiche of Belmont Harbor
The most costly seiche occurred in 1954 with the most loss of human life at North Avenue Beach when a 10 foot wave washed fisherman into the lake ... and then again in 1962. 
A Boy on the Rocks in 1969
Labor Day Sils in 1969
There was this Large Beer Can in the 1970's
made of poured cement, so told
edited photo - Lance Grey
 photo via 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 above - Lance Grey
the artist, Mike Walker ... 
photos below via Michael Jennings  
This is the original artist, he painted it in the summer of 1974. Tara Marie told Original Chicago/Facebook mention he also painted many of the art work on the rocks. He was a good man, he passed away a couple years ago. Kay Connell told Original Chicago on Facebook the can itself was produced from poured cement.
'The Gay Bay'
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 above there are some other 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
(read & view from above link to my Facebook page)
photos - Chicago Sun-Times via Chicago History Museum
Dead 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
Oil Enters the Harbor
And again in 1975, a slick of 1000 gallons of oil meanders towards Belmont Harbor from a freighter. View the two images below.
Mail is Delivered to Belmont Harbor in 1975
 Time to Set Sail in 1976
  Drugs at the Harbor Point in 1980
A Second but Private Boathouse is Discussed 
College Students Set Sail in 1981
and again in 1983
'Working it' in 1988
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
This 1989 Sun-Times article tells a tale of renewal for the harbor area of the neighborhood
page 2
Friends Forever Because of the Harbor!
page images - Lake View by Matthew Nickerson
Fireworks in 2011
The 4th of July 2011 unofficial fireworks display 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.
A Belmont Harbor 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!
William C. Bruckman Collection 1986
the narrow section of the harbor below
from the harbor depicting 3150 Hawthorne building below
Artist & Photographer 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
A Book on the Mackinac Race
during the early 20th century the harbor was the staging area
 the book is part of my collection
below are some images from the book
 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
Mayor Big Bill Thompson's vessel before his mayoral election
images -Tale of the Chicago Mackinac Race
Belmont Harbor was open to the public by 1913. The current mayor of the time Big Bill Thompson was mayor and a resident of Lake View who resided across the street from the harbor. His  
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; still standing. 
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 - the owners lived on Hawthorne Place
photo - Chicago History Museum
 In 1905 the first female skipper entered her schooner called the           Lady Eileen. In 1908  The era of the large schooners begins when       William Hale Thompson of Chicago, later to be known as Mayor 'Big Bill' Thompson enters his schooner, the ValmoreHe won in 1909 & 1910. He would become mayor in 1915. 
image - Tales of Chicago Mackinac Race 1898-1998
image - Tales of Chicago Mackinac Race 1898-1998
In 1920 the Lincoln Park Yacht Club including Belmont Harbor      Station joined Chicago Yacht Club.  Also, that year harbor                was starting point in race. In 1925 was one of the challenging of the races with only 8 out of the 21 entries that would 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. No races occurred during the war.
image - Tales of Chicago Mackinac Race 1898-1998
image - Tales of Chicago Mackinac Race 1898-1998
In 1955  This race took almost 78 hours. In 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.
Fishing at the Harbor
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
A 2018 View
by photographer Chris Cullen 

Another 2018 View
by photographer Sven Brogen 

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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