Wide Halsted Street Now Faces its Fate, November 25, 1906 (fragment)



Question May Be Settled Before Local Improvements [Today]


Property Owners Differ on Change -- Courts Are Likely to Get Controversy.


Present width of street -- 66 feet.

Proposed width -- 100 feet

Section to be widened -- Three miles, approximately, between Chicago avenue and Twenty-second street.

Estimated value of land to be taken -- $1,756,569.

Estimated value of the buildings to be torn down or changed -- $2,243,431.

Total estimated cost of improvement -- $4,000,000

Assessment to be levied as follows: One-sixth on the west side of the street; two-sixths on the east side of the street; three-sixths in a wide territory for indirect benifits.

The fate of Halsted street -- whether it shall be widened from 66 to 100 feet or remain a congested thoroughfare in which a wagon may block the street car service for hours probably will be settled this afternoon. The question will come up at 2 o'clock before the board of local improvements in the council chamber, and fierce word battles are expected in the course of the discussion.

Property owners on the west side of the street object to the widening plan because the extra thirty-four feet are to be sliced off that side of the thoroughfare. The members of the local improvement board look favorably on the project, and for that reason as well as because of the fact that there is such a divergence of opinion among the owners of the property along the street, the body may vote in favor of the change. [illegible words] into the courts for the main settlement. The judiciary would [illegible words] problem when the people [illegible words] individual piece of property.

"I believe the improvement will be welcome by most of the property owners along Halsted street. The improvement is needed and is advocated by the big property owners. There will be no confiscation of property or particular delay in business on the west side of the street. To cut slices off each side of the street would be absurd. Consequently the board has determined to assess the east siders more than those who will suffer inconvenience through the tearing out of the fronts of their stores."


John M. Smyth will appear before the board this afternoon to urge the widening proposition. He is an enthusiast because he believes his assessment for the cost of the improvements will be amply repaid later by increased business.

"Halsted street is not a West Side street," he declared. "It is one of the main arteries in the business center of Chicago. I am willing to pay the assessment for my property in Halsted street as well as for the indirect benefits I will receive for my store in Madison Street. Halsted street should be widened because the traffic simply cannot be cared for at present. If a wagon gets on a car track and the horse refuses to move the entire street is blocked under present conditions.

Of course, some of the small property owners believe they will lose their property. This will not be the case. The profit will be great after a while, and the value of the property will be enhanced immensely.

"Halsted is a better street than Clark, Dearborn, or State streets. Clark runs through railroad yards practically from Polk street to Twenty-second. Wentworth avenue is a hard street. Dearborn is a short street and State street is limited. Halsted street is a trunk line, and more side car lines give transfers to it than to any other street.

"Though there have been a lot of kickers I fail to see any extraordinary rush to sell any lots. It should not be a matter of inconvenience, but the question should be whether the widening of the street would be for the benefit of all Chicago."


George Beidler, 120 Washington street, who owns much property along Halsted street, and who is one of the most enthusiastic advocates of the proposed improvement, told his fellow property owners, and the members of the board of local improvements at the last meeting that the widening of the thoroughfare would be a great thing for the West Side.

From Attorney Sidney Adler, who will represent the protestants before the board came the statement last night that the cost for the widening would be $200 a front foot.

"The only argument put up by the friends of the proposition," he said, "is that the widening of the thoroughfare would mean more street cars. Must the property owners pay for the passage of street cars in front of their doors? If it could be shown that persons would get off the cars and buy goods instead of going downtown it would be a different matter entirely. Facilities to enable people to go downtown to get goods of all kinds will not appeal to the Halsted street property owners. If other West Side streets were opened up and two new bridges constructed there would be little congestion. The majority of the property owners do not want the improvement, as a widening which would mean cutting thirty-four feet off a building 100 feet deep would result in confiscation."

Among the protestants are J. [Alsfasser], director, and S.E.R. Harrington, secretary, of the Devoe & Reynolds Company, which has one of its factories at Superior and Halsted streets, and therefore comes within the opposed come within the proposed cut of thirty-four feet.

"To compel us to cut our building down," said Messrs Halsfasser and Harrington yesterday, "would mean that we would have to seek another location. We could not use the building if we had to chop off thirty-four feet. It would mean practical confiscation. The entire improvement is not good according to our way of thinking, but in our individual case it would mean an expenditure of $78,000. The switch track is work $[illegible],000 to us."