Blasting off-A A +A
Monday, October 7, 2013
CHICAGO, Illinois--One can't say "Chicago" without conjuring dark images or evoking sunny memories.
There's the Great Fire of 1871 which burned down 10,000 buildings, left 90,000 homeless, claimed 300 lives and caused damage worth $2 billion in today's dollars. All because of a cow that, as legend has it, kicked over a kerosene lantern.
There's the notorious Al Capone who, at 26, became the major crime boss in Chicago.
There's the hero-turned-heel White Sox team, some of whose members were banished from
professional baseball. Corrupted by organized crime figures, they threw the game to the Cincinnati Reds during the 1919 World Series for the price of $ 10,000 each.
And as an amusing aside, there's the grand miscalculation of the Commercial Club of Chicago in 1909. The Chicago Plan projected a population of over 13 million by 1952, a four-fold exaggeration of its 1950 peak of over 3.5 million. Chicago's present population is 2.7 million.
These minuses don't, however, outweigh the pluses of Chicago. Basketball fans will never forget His Airness Michael Jordan who led the Chicago Bulls basketball team to six national championships and himself earned the NBA Most Valuable Player Award six times.
What's a carnival without the ferris wheel? It all began in 1893 when a bridge builder named George Ferris built the ride for Chicago's commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's landing in America.
Another Chicago creation is the Coliseum; in 1902, it opened a public skating rink where 7,000 people attended the opening night.
In the field of medical advancements, Chicago established the first blood bank in 1937 through its therapeutics director Bernard Fantus of Cook County Hospital. Here, too, was born the first computerized trauma database established in 1969.
His name may be nowhere in many medical history books, perhaps because he was black. But cardiologist Daniel Hale Williams performed 119 years ago, in 1893, the first successful open-heart surgery.
In the field of investigation, Chicago is credited for the lie detector test. Doctor Orlando Scott created the Thought Wave Detector. While tests via the lie detector were barred in 1923 as evidence in courtrooms, it remains used in factories, government offices, and banks.
The first skyscraper, the Home Insurance building, was built in Chicago in 1885. It was ten stories high and 138 feet tall. While this early structures worried people about the elevators' safety, the present ones are now flaunted for the speed at which they reach the desired floor.
Staff of the John Hancock Observatory, for instance, proudly told passengers yesterday that reaching the 94th story from the ground floor would take just 40 seconds. I don't think anyone bothered to time our ride 1,030 feet up. Like children, we silently urged, "Blast off!"
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 08, 2013.