Mayor Richard J. Daley Inaugural Address, 1963

Richard J. Daley Biography

Inauguration date: April 17, 1963

This speech is recorded as it first appeared in print. Archaic spelling and misspellings in the original document have not been corrected.

The objectives, the policies, the goal of this administration are a matter of public record. In my Inaugural Address in 1955 I said, “We must take first things first, we must concentrate our efforts on city services which are essential to keep the people of Chicago the healthiest, best protected and most prosperous in the nation. “We want the finest police and fire departments in the nation. We can’t be satisfied with a school system in which 14,000 students must attend double-shift schools and where classes are overcrowded and school buildings are old and dangerous.

“We must provide the opportunity for every citizen to have decent housing. We must have slum clearance. While we are clearing the slums we must prevent the spread of blight into other neighborhoods.

I said then: “Community betterment programs will also include cleaner and safer streets, extension of sewers, the expansion of street lighting, and a bigger street cleaning department and a realistic human relations program. More recreation facilities are needed in the neighborhoods, more playgrounds and parks.

“There is no dispute among us that we need more police and a better police department; that we need more schools and more teachers; that government should be continuously streamlined and modernized; that there must be something done to improve our transportation system.

“There are great projects underway, slum clearance, new housing, school buildings, superhighways, street-lighting projects, neighborhood redevelopment, off-street parking in neighborhood communities, and many other improvements. I shall not only support these projects, I shall speed them vigorously and with energy. I will permit nothing to stand in the way of Chicago’s growing civic consciousness and civic integrity.”

This was my platform, my pledges in 1955 when I first took office.

During the past eight years I have endeavored to fulfill those pledges and for me there can be no greater reward than the vote of confidence expressed by the people at the polls on April 2nd.

Tonight, as we continue our task of carrying out the mandate given by the citizens of Chicago, I find it difficult to express my mingled feelings of challenge and confidence, of pride and humility.

I have lived in one neighborhood of Chicago all my life. The desires of my neighbors for a community which will enable them to give their families the best possible environment, is shared by all the residents of the neighborhoods of Chicago. Their needs and their wants have been and will continue to be my guide in the four years to come.

Police, fire, health, sanitation, building, education, and recreation are the every-day responsibilities of local government. The program, the new plans, that any municipality can carry forward are dependent on the high standards of these vital services and the effective performance of city departments in providing them to city residents.

These are the mainsprings of local government and the continual improvement of these services will by themselves cause an improvement in all services and stimulate and make possible the success of new programs and new plans. In programming for the next four years and in planning for the future, we must first appraise the quality and performance of essential services, the programs which are under way and the steps which must be taken to further improve them.

Your Chicago today has a police force which is rapidly becoming a truly professional police department. Since he has taken command, Superintendent O. W. Wilson has created a new image of the police department. The department enjoys the public respect and the public confidence. In the past seven years the appropriations for the Chicago Police Department have increased by $36-million dollars, of which more than $15-million was appropriated in the past two years. The Chicago Police Department now has the most modern communications system in the nation.

The record is clear that the police department is run without interference by outside influences, and it will continue to be completely administered by the Chicago Police Board and the Superintendent of Police.

The police department will increase its emphasis on patrol and crime prevention activities, with more foot patrolmen and squad cars assigned to areas of high crime incidence. More personnel will be assigned to the task force under-cover unit and to the canine section, which has proven to be a highly successful crime prevention operation.

Continued efforts will be made in the coming year to replace sworn personnel with civilians so that more police personnel can take part in crime prevention and crime fighting activities.

The 1963 budget provides $100 annual clothing allowance for all uniformed personnel and $50 annual uniform allowance for crossing guards.

Bringing the police force up to its present high professional standard has been costly. It will no longer be necessary to add 4,000 policemen, which we have done since 1956. Their salaries amount to approximately $26-million dollars a year. It will not be necessary to provide for a communications system, the remodeling of police headquarters, and the new equipment that was urgently needed. It is generally agreed that in the future the compensation of our police and fire departments should be increased.

Your Chicago today has a fire department that is the most completely equipped fire-fighting force in the world. With the new fire academy, adequate manpower, new stations, new equipment, snorkels, the fire department has made a record of reducing extra-alarm fires, while in other cities extra-alarm fires have increased. How many cities in the nation have emergency ambulance service within two to three minutes of every one of its residents?

As in the police department, bringing the fire department up to its high standards has been costly. It will not be necessary in the future to add nearly 1,000 firemen at an annual compensation of nearly $6,500,000, nor to provide for expensive equipment, and the construction of a new fire Academy. In the months ahead, the fire department will carry on its building program of relocating and consolidating apparatus from single fire stations into multiple fire stations, reducing both operating and maintenance costs.

With the facilities of the new fire academy available, the department is able to give a much finer course of training to probationary firemen.

As in the police and fire departments, all of the city departments have been greatly improved.

Today, the Chicago Board of Health’s leadership in preventative medicine is recognized throughout the world. Its programs of dental treatment, immunization, and inspection have been greatly increased. It is a pioneer in launching a chronic disease health program in such vital areas as heart, cancer, diabetes, and mental health. The City of Chicago is the only city in the state which gives physical examinations in our public and Parochial schools to protect the health of medically indigent children.

It has expanded its services of quarantine inspection at both the Port of Chicago and O’Hare Field. The City’s first District Health Center will be opened in Garfield Park in early June. It will provide a comprehensive health service directly to the community and will include pre-natal care, well-baby clinic, mental health program, dental health, chronic disease control program, and health education. In the future, we hope to provided for more of these Health Centers which work in full cooperation with the Medical Society and the local hospitals.

Chicago, which was once thought of as “A Dirty City”, has won first awards in the national contest in Washington for being the Cleanest Big City in the United States in 1959, in 1961 and again in 1962.

Actually, nothing is more important to civic pride and in creating an atmosphere in which the citizens will seek to maintain and improve their property than clean streets and alleys. It is not an easy task to keep a city of this size clean.

Making our big city clean and attractive has cost money, but it has been well worth it. The Government alone could not have achieved the goal of a much cleaner city. It has been only through the cooperation of industry, commerce, labor, churches, civic groups, all of our media of communications, and above all, the people of Chicago who gave this program their whole-hearted support.

The goal of a clean and beautiful city is a never-ending task, and we will continue not only to maintain but to expand this program.

The Building Department has been expanded and most modern techniques are being continually adopted to insure that the codes are strictly followed. Owners of property now are voluntarily repairing and rehabilitating their buildings rather than waiting to be taken into court.

One of the most effective programs that has been carried on by the Building and Law Departments is the demolition and vacation of dangerous and hazardous buildings which have long been eye-sores in the community.

The inspection activities of the Building Department are vitally important, but not only in terms of enforcement. This administration believes that the Building Department is essentially a service department that can aid and assist property owners in protection and increasing the value of their property. The Building Department will continue its program of demolishing hazardous and dangerous buildings from the neighborhoods of Chicago.

These five departments: Police, Fire, Health, Sanitation and Buildings, account for 75-percent of the total operating fund of the city. Eighty percent of all of the increases in the budget since 1955 have gone to improve these essential services.

In the 1963 Budget, the total appropriation for the city’s operating and capital improvement expenditures was reduced by more than $40-million. The 1963 property taxes for the operation of the city’s departments was reduced by more than $7-million. The most substantial reduction in the city’s tax levy for more than half a century. This reduction will be effective next year.

The appropriations for virtually all City Departments were reduced, but in no instance will there be a curtailment of their basic services.

The lightening of the tax burden for property owners, especially for the small home owners, was accomplished without diminishing the quality of vital city services. Services which are being maintained at standards which are the highest in the city’s history. These reductions were made possible by stringent economies in all operations involving contracts , personnel, commodities, equipment, and by improved supervision.

With few exceptions all of the Home Rule recommendations have been adopted. Also put into effect were: The Executive Performance Budget, The Classification and Compensation Plan, The consolidation of functions of The Chicago Park District and the City Police, the Consolidation of the Land Clearance Commission and the Community Conservation Board into the Department of Urban Renewal, the creation of the Departments of Aviation and the Port of Chicago, the program of coordinated Capital Improvement Budgeting, and the microfilming of records in all departments. These have all contributed to greater efficiency and superior service.

Nearly every department in the city has had surveys by expert municipal consultants, the consolidation of functions, the elimination of paper work, and the introduction of electronic office machinery. In some departments there were non-recurring costs. The modernization of equipment and the remodeling of offices has been virtually completed.

We can look forward to further benefits of this modernization program. We shall continue this program of efficiency and economy, to utilize the most modern business techniques, to streamline procedures, cut red tape, reduce over-lapping by consolidating functions and agencies wherever possible, and employ the best talent in the field. We shall continue to utilize outstanding consultants.

The objective is to continue to give the taxpayer the greatest value for his dollar.

In 1952,under a previous administration, the Mayor’s Commission on Revenue, which was not a political commission in any way, analyzed the needs of Chicago. Three years later, when I assumed office, I followed the recommendations of the Commission.

Last January I appointed a Citizens Committee on City Revenue and Expenditures. The purpose of the committee was to study the proposition to place limitations on the real estate tax levy and to study alternative proposals in relation to revenue resources and city expenditures.

The committee will present its recommendations shortly, and we will then present to the City Council a special message on taxes and revenue.

Our agencies dealing directly with the welfare of people have all been pioneers in new programs.

The Humans Relations Commission has made great strides in developing better understanding among all our people in recent years. The Commission has not only had great success in preventing racial stress but has also made great progress in increasing employment opportunities.

Our other commissions, Senior Citizens, Youth Welfare, newcomers, and the Alcoholic Treatment Center, are making steady progress in their fields, all of these activities contribute to the well-being of our people.

Because of the unavoidable neglect which had caused an accumulation of urgent needs, this administration established a policy of expediting all of its Public Works programs so as to bring the benefits of new facilities to the citizens as quickly as possible.

To determine the city’s needs and the needs of the many suburbs to which the city supplies water, we requested a survey to formulate plans for the next 25 years.

A few weeks ago, the Southwest Pumping Station was in full operation, and within a few months the largest filtration plant in the world will supply filtered water to millions of people residing on the central and north sides of the city and to 19 suburbs.

The Public Works improvements during the past eight years are evident everywhere. Included in this area of activity has been the construction of numerous new playlots and playgrounds, new sewers, new water mains, pumping stations, new filtration plant, bridges and viaducts, police and fire stations, new parks, beaches, and swimming pools, House of Correction improvements, fifty miles of Expressways to give this city the finest Expressway system of its kind in the country.

Chicago is the best-lighted city in the United States. We have rebuilt Navy Pier as a modern port. O’Hare Field is the busiest and more modern in the nation, without cost to the taxpayer.

The City of Chicago has carried on this tremendous public works and community improvement program while at the same time it has improved its national credit rating, which will result in the saving of hundreds of thousands of dollars to taxpayers. Chicago’s over-all per capita debt is the fourth lowest of the nation’s forty-two largest cities.

The city has underway 27 community improvement projects under the direction of the Department of Urban Renewal. Six projects have been completed. The total assessed value of these six projects after redevelopment has increased so that they produce a tax yield that is 147-percent higher than before development.

For all 27 redevelopment projects, which include construction for educational, medical, and other non-taxpaying institutions, the annual tax yield is expected to more than double. These community improvement programs, working with the Building and Law Departments are leading the way to the goal of eliminating blighted and dilapidated buildings from every neighborhood in the City of Chicago.

The United States Bureau of Census of Housing reported that in the period between 1950 and 1960 the number of dilapidated dwellings in Chicago was reduced by more than 50 percent, from 64,000 to 30,000. In the past two years the number of such dwellings has been further reduced by 5,000 to 6,000.

The fundamental principle behind all of our planning for community improvement is that there will be no program undertaken until the residents of the community have had every opportunity to participate in hearings and discussions, and to make their contributions to the plans for their neighborhoods.

Chicago’s Housing Program for the Aged is serving as a model for the nation. Our senior citizens are being given an opportunity to live in housing they can afford, in their own communities where they will continue to maintain their ties with their relatives, neighbors and churches.

The Department of Planning is developing the comprehensive general plan.

The position of the City of Chicago today is far different than it was in 1955. Then we were faced with the urgent program maintenance and inadequate revenues. Every property owner, every businessman, knows that if he permits his property or his plant to run down for many years the job of bringing it back is far more costly and difficult than if maintenance and service is kept on a day by day basis.

The city now has for most part brought its plant and its services to standards that are able to meet the present day needs of its citizens.

It has been making up this deferred maintenance which has made necessary substantial expenditures and increased taxes.

We are now on the threshold of making progress with much greater speed because we have the tools and the climate in which to do so.

It is to the credit of the members of the City Council and the people of Chicago that our city now is considered to have one of the finest administrative governments in the nation. We can now re-evaluate our program for the future from this new position of strength, rather than of weakness.

It must be understood that urban renewal are words that cover nearly all of the activities of government, for urban renewal is just one way of saying community improvement.

We are now in the position where we can properly re-evaluate the rebuilding of our communities taking under specific consideration:

Expanding and improving communication with the public and giving greater participation and a broader comprehension in what local government is doing to improve its neighborhoods, and reappraising what resources we have to finance a community improvement program which means much to all people of Chicago. The need for re-examination of our program is not because we have not made substantial progress but because we feel that under the new Chicago we can make much greater progress.

A community improvement program must include better schools, libraries, beaches, and playgrounds.

We will continue our policy of non-interference with the Board of Education, but we will continue to join in every effort of giving all the young people of Chicago the finest educational opportunities.

All of us can take pride that Chicago is one of the few big cities in the nation where not a single student is on a double-shift in the public schools.

In 1965, a new branch of the University of Illinois will give unequaled opportunity to our young people in Chicago and in the surrounding area.

This administration and the people of Chicago will work hand in hand with University officials and the faculty to make this Urban University, a positive influence in serving the economic, the social and cultural life of our city.

As Mayor, I have felt that one of my great responsibilities was to present a true picture of our city, and to erase the unreal notion that many people had of Chicago and its people. Throughout the past eight years, Chicago has been visited by the highest representatives of nearly every nation. We have had many events that have drawn world wide attention to the beauty, the greatness, of our city and the warmth and friendliness of our people. Chicago now is a magnet for visitors from all over the world.

Work to completely upgrade the Outer Drive will begin this year with the construction of the grade separation to eliminate the bottleneck at Oak Street. The entire Drive will be repaved. Similar work will start at 57th Street and the Outer Drive repaved on the South side.

It is not our intention to make it a superhighway. The Lake Front drives are a showplace of the world and this administration will keep it that way. It will be my firm policy to reject any attempt to commercialize or to build any structure along the Lake Front unless it is directly concerned with public recreation or culture. We will do everything possible to further the enjoyment of this front yard of Chicago for its citizens with more landscaping, gardens, and additional recreational facilities.

In 1955 approximately 22,000 tons were handled at Navy Pier. Last year an all time high for import-export traffic of general merchandise was established with more than 257,000 tons. Approximately 22 dollars is added to the city’s economy from each ton crossing the docks. Thus the nine million dollars invested in the port improvement is being returned to the economy and will be returned several times over in the future. We will intensify our efforts to promote the Chicago Port and expand this trade. At Lake Calumet the city has one of the most modern ports in the world. We know that its full potential has yet to be realized. The completion of the Cal-Sag Project in 1965 will have a greater impact to Chicago than the opening of the Saint Lawrence Seaway. We will give all of our support and assistance to the growth of this great harbor.

Our goal is to open the Southwest Expressway in 1964. Studies are being made for a North-South Expressway near Cicero Avenue. In planning for new Expressways we must be extremely careful that we do not adversely affect any of our fine neighborhoods. Our transportation program will provide a balanced and coordinated transportation network which includes Expressways, major and preferential streets and mass transportation.

Again, looking into the future, there is a definite need for a Cultural Center and Central Sports Stadium convenient for all our residents. Studies are underway concerning these proposals.

The objective of our transportation program is not just to move vehicles but to move the greatest number of people safely and conveniently. This of necessity must involve the expansion and improvement of the mass transportation system. The utilization of the median strips in the Northwest Expressway and the Dan Ryan Expressway would provide a direct service to our neighborhoods and relieve congestion from the Expressways and arterial streets. It would be a great improvement to tear down the El structure around our Loop and extend the Wells Street subway.

Extending the State Street subway south of 19th Street, down Archer Avenue, to connect with the Dan Ryan Expressway would provide mass transportation for many thousands. However, the CTA cannot expand and improve its service from its own revenues. It must have the combined financial assistance of the Federal, State, County and City Governments.

Chicago has less unemployment than most big cities. However, there must be increased emphasis upon expanding job opportunities.

Essential cooperative programs between Universities and business have been formulated which will draw the proper attention to Chicago as a Research and Development Center. Positive assistance to business and labor to bring more contracts to Chicago and to make known the industrial capabilities of the many excellent companies and union in Chicago are being pursued.

In the area of Youth Welfare, Chicago has made important gains. But we must not be blind to the fact that we still confront serious problems. The problems of the out-of-school, out-of-work youth are serious.

One of the most crucial questions in the coming years will be youth employment opportunities. The greater proportion of the expansion in the labor force in the next ten years will be in young persons under twenty-four years of age. More and more of Chicago’s youth will be entering the labor force during the next four years and job opportunities and proper training must be provided for these youths.

We cannot permit the lack of opportunity to handicap the next generation. In the year ahead we will carry out a vigorous program consisting of:

  1. A maximum effort to attract to Chicago expanding industries.
  2. A canvass of every industrial and business complex in Chicago and its environs for full and part-time work opportunities for youth.
  3. We will take advantage of every federal and state resource for improving the skills of young people in order to make our youth eligible for employment opportunities.

We will support and give assistance to every neighborhood-centered program for counseling and helping youth to fit into the world of work.

Closely related to the problem of youth employment is the problem of the school drop-out. We support the tremendous effort of the Board of Education to expand counseling and guidance services, their efforts to develop more vocational education programs geared to the work opportunities in the City of Chicago, the elimination of double-shifts for school children, the expansion and development of the Junior College program.

This year, the Commission on Youth Welfare, in cooperation with community groups and committees, is working with the schools to meet with every youth who is considering dropping out of school.

In the general area of youth welfare, we will continue community campaigns to build respect among youth for high standards of law and order, to control the availability of alcohol to youth, to eliminate the environmental hazards to the health and the welfare of children, to expand the child health program and improve the control of the diseases that particularly affect children, to eliminate discrimination, and to equalize opportunity.

These are goals which can be achieved only through a partnership between agencies and organizations of government and local community effort, including churches, schools, youth organizations and civic groups. This partnership is already working, and it will be expanded.

Our administration worked hard to bring about the consolidation of the railway terminals. This improvement, which will put precious land to its best use and provide free circulation to the south side, must be carried out. We are continuing to meet with the railroad presidents and will intensify our efforts to bring about this civic improvement.

In 1965, the new Civic Center and courthouse will be ready. It will make a genuine contribution to the better administration of justice, to providing needed space for government office, and will bring to our central areas a plaza and a modern building which will add to the attractiveness of that area.

One of the basic problems that faces Chicago and most metropolitan cities is the lack of equitable representation of the urban population in the state legislature. The people of our city, the residents of the entire metropolitan area, must insist that the laws which directly affect them are prepared and deliberated upon by representatives who understand their needs and their problems. It is not a question of political parties. It is basically a question of true representation for the greater majority of the people who live in the State of Illinois.

This does not mean that any one county or any one area should dominate our General Assembly, but it does mean that our urban population should have proper and fair treatment in determining their own destiny.

For all of us who are in city government, my running mates, City Clerk John C. Marcin; City Treasurer, William G. Milota; the members of the City Council, the heads of departments, city employees in all branches and agencies, this is a night of solemn rededication to the duties we are delegated to perform.

Uppermost in our minds is not the feeling of triumph nor of self-glorification, but rather the sense of gratitude and the devout wish to prove worthy of tremendous responsibility to our beloved Chicago.

I was elected on April 2 as a Democrat. I am proud that I had the support of my party. As in my previous terms as Mayor, I will serve all of the people of this city, Republicans, Independents, and Democrats alike. I am especially proud of the strong and indispensable support that was given to me by the many thousands of citizens, responding to Non-Partisan appeals, who put progress ahead of partisan considerations. As I have frequently said, I have tried always to conduct my public life in accordance with the principles that good government is good politics, and good politics is good government.

To the members of the City Council who have been re-elected, I extend my heartiest congratulations and my very deep appreciation of the fine cooperation my administration has had from them. To the newly elected members go equally hearty congratulations. I assure these men that they will have from me every consideration and assistance I can give. I am confident we can all work together, with diligence and with integrity, to make an even greater Chicago.

I would like to express my appreciation to all of the media of communications, the metropolitan press, the community press, the radio and TV stations, civic organizations, the clergy, labor organizations, all who have a part in shaping public sentiment, all who are truly concerned with promoting the physical, material, social and spiritual welfare of the millions of people, of every race, creed and color, who live and work and worship here in harmony.

Always we have to bear in mind that in Chicago, great among the greatest of industrial, commercial and cultural centers of the world, the greatest resource of all is the people themselves. It is from the people that our proud spirit of “I Will” springs. It is with the people that this spirit resides, spurring all of us to greater effort, impelling us to live up to the heritage we have from those who have gone before us.

There is no greater honor to me than to serve the people of Chicago as their Mayor. This is the city of my birth, this is the city of my upbringing and all that I am I owe to my mother and father, to my good wife and family, to my teachers and to my good neighbors and friends.

The goal of the metropolis is to offer to its citizens the widest possible variety of choice in all aspects of living and working, providing the greatest variety in choice of jobs, and the maximum variety of educational and cultural opportunities.

It is the destiny of Chicago to be a great metropolis.

With your cooperation and with the cooperation of the people of Chicago, and with God’s help, we shall not fail.


  • Chicago City Council. Journal of the Proceedings, April 17, 1963, p. 4–9.
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