Inauguration date: April 20, 1967
This speech is recorded as it first appeared in print. Archaic spelling and misspellings in the original document have not been corrected.
I speak tonight to the people of Chicago with mingled feelings of humility and pride and with a renewed sense of confidence and challenge. Since my first inauguration as Mayor of Chicago, twelve years ago, I have asked nothing more of my fellow citizens than that I be judged by my performance as chief executive of this great city.
There could be no greater reward for me than the vote of confidence given the policies of our administration in the election of April 4th. For myself, for my good wife, and for the members of my family, I want to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to all of the people who voted for me, and to all the people of every political faith who worked so long and so hard to bring about the result. I know that City Clerk John C. Marcin and our new City Treasurer Marshall Korshak, are equally appreciative.
I ran as a Democratic candidate. I am proud to be a Democrat. However, as Mayor, I serve all the people of Chicago—Democrats, Independents, and Republicans—of every economic group, of every neighborhood. More than an election victory, it was a tremendously impressive expression of confidence and faith in the future of Chicago. To the fulfillment of that future, I pledge to the people of this city my best efforts and my wholehearted dedication.
Tonight, you who have been elected to the City Council, and I, as Mayor, begin the task of carrying out the mandate given us by our fellow citizens.
I am sure you all feel, as I do, that much more is expected of us than just the continuation of the programs initiated and carried on up to this hour. Many of you were members of the City Council during the past twelve years, and I know that you particularly, as well as the new members, recognize the very substantial progress that has been made in dealing with the pressing priorities of those years. Those priorities were primarily concerned with the basic housekeeping services—with the functions of the Police, Fire, Health, Sanitation, Building and Public Works Departments.
The standards of municipal services are now the highest in the history of our city, and among the highest in the nation. However, we know that they must continue to be improved and expanded to provide even better services for the people.
We now have the pre-requisites for making greater progress in other community priorities. Of these concerns, I would like to speak tonight.
As members of the City Council, you have been selected by the people of your respective wards to represent the majority will. As Aldermen, you know intimately the needs of the people in your communities. These people are your neighbors, and it is only natural that in representing your constituents you will be more concerned about some matters than others. You will be motivated to resist change in some areas, and to welcome change in others.
Representation by wards, which reflects the varying needs of communities, is inherent in City Council government. I believe in the effectiveness of this form of representation.
Today, the people are looking to us to carry out the objectives enunciated in the Comprehensive Plan for Chicago. Published last December, the Plan has the major objective of improving the quality of life. Its focus is directed to three related human concerns: the expansion of human opportunities; the improvement of the environment in which we live; the strengthening of the economy which sustains every man, woman and child in this city.
These concepts of human concern—the real substance of the Comprehensive Plan—bring with them a broader, more challenging responsibility to every member of the Council body.
To expand human opportunity, we must all be even more deeply concerned with employment and job training, housing, education, harmonious human relations, health care, youth welfare, senior citizens—and all of the other social programs we have under way.
All of these programs are inter-related. They can only succeed through a comprehensive—a city-wide, endeavor. They recognize no boundary lines. They affect the lives of all citizens, wherever they may live.
The problems they present will not be solved by demonstrations in the streets, but by demonstrations of understanding and compassion. In fact, the greatest peril to the success of these endeavors is the threat to the rights of others that lies in violence and intimidation. The greatest protection of the rights of all is the preservation of law and order—and as long as I am Mayor, law and order will prevail. The truth is that only a tiny minority of our citizens—a relative handful—are engaged in creating violence and dissension with calculated appeals to hatred and emotion. Unfortunately theirs are the loudest voices, theirs are the most vociferous and irresponsible claims and charges.
It is a challenge to all of us, as the elected representatives of the people—and a challenge to the communications media—to exercise leadership and demonstrate our courage in expressing the responsible, lawful, and peaceful views and desires of the overwhelming majority of the residents of every ward in Chicago. To meet the challenges of urban life, it is obvious that we must have goals and essential that we understand what goals we seek.
But goals are not programs. The pursuit of ends without the means is a meaningless commitment. The responsibility of this administration, and of the City Council, is plainly to initiate and carry out positive programs to achieve our goals.
In continuing the expansion of human opportunity in Chicago we will launch programs in the next few weeks which will make this summer a period of the greatest opportunity in our history … in the fields of employment and job training, health and education, youth welfare and recreation.
The Chicago Committee on Urban Opportunity has submitted an 80 million dollar long range program to the Office of Economic Opportunity and the Labor Department which relates industry … labor … government and private institutions and agencies to the overall manpower needs of the City.
This comprehensive manpower program involves services on three different levels: the development of the abilities of people; the creation of jobs; the matching of people and jobs. The program includes a school drop-out and industrial training center, rehabilitation service for adults and other employment services.
The long-range program proposes to train 13,500 men and women for jobs in a twelve month period.
The first phase, to be carried on this summer will employ 2,000 to 2,500 persons. In addition, on-the-job training in the Neighborhood Youth Corps will offer opportunity for ten thousand young people, aged 16 to 21.
Last Monday there was a meeting held by the Summer Jobs for Youth Committee attended by hundreds of business, labor and religious leaders. They will contact 18,000 Chicago businesses to solicit their participation in the project. The goal is to provide at least 10,000 summer jobs for young people.
Operation Head Start, financed through the Chicago Committee on Urban Opportunity, will enroll a record 24,000 pre-school children this summer—the largest Headstart program in the nation.
Within the next month, comprehensive recreational and leisure time programs for all parts of the city will be developed. Over 200 neighborhood playlots will be staffed to provide programming and supervision for youngsters. All swimming pools will operate on extended hours, seven days a week. Most park facilities in congested areas will be opened from early morning to late at night. Several diamonds will be lighted for night baseball. Early this month we will initiate a pilot program for establishing portable swimming pools adjacent to fire stations.
We are determined to maintain active interest and vitality in Chicago neighborhoods. Not only in terms of their physical surroundings, but in terms of the activities available which benefit children and young adults. Young people need the assurance that the community in which they live cares about them.
The task of every large city to maintain safe streets and neighborhoods has in recent years become a national problem. We are expanding present programs to meet this problem. The continuing upgrading of the Police and Fire Departments, the increased facilities for detaining youth who get into difficulty, and additional services for families of youngsters who have behavior problems, will all contribute to improvement in the standards and respect for law and order. In the final analysis, this will depend on the cooperation of parents, of church leadership and youth serving agencies. We are anxious to give every youngster the opportunity to adjust to the required standards of community life and to behave properly. But at the same time, we will be firm with those youngsters, and with those families, who refuse to respect law and order.
To this end the Chicago Commission on Youth Welfare is employing neighborhood workers who will be based in your community to increase supervision of youth, to seek witnesses when crimes are committed by gangs, and to organize community volunteers to provide leadership for youngsters.
Certainly, one of the most positive steps we can take is to pass the Gun Responsibility Bill now before the Illinois General Assembly. This bill will help us get guns out of the hands of those who should not have them.
The distribution of health services is being greatly extended to make sure that families in every neighborhood of our city, who cannot afford a private physician, has access to doctors and clinics. Chicago is establishing neighborhood health facilities to bring comprehensive health services to all of our citizens. There is no reason why every family in the city should not have all the advantages of modern knowledge for better health.
There may be differences of opinion regarding the methods and specific steps that are used to bring these goals to reality, but everyone wants a city which is attempting to solve human problems. Certainly government cannot solve all the problems that people can create. There will always be children who fail to have parental guidance. Some youngsters will get into trouble. Medical science will save the lives of many children, but some youngsters will succumb to new diseases.
There are no panaceas—no simple solutions—to the existing and emerging problems of urban life. But we can use all of our resources to prevent the greatest tragedy to people and that is to let their vision die—the vision of what an urban society should be.
We can dedicate ourselves to the universal proposition that every child, regardless of race, creed, or financial standing, shall have an opportunity to be a somebody—his best somebody.
We must carry on programs to improve the environment and to make certain that Chicago continues to be a good place in which to live, as well as it is to make a living. The city must be attractive to families with growing children, to the youth and the aged. The Comprehensive Plan provides for expanded measures to improve the environment by bringing all city housing up to standard by conservation, rehabilitation and the renewal of our neighborhoods.
A most dramatic project for improving the environment in which we live will be the future-shaping proposal to the Board of the Department of Urban Renewal on April 28 for a $175 million community improvement program to be carried on in nineteen neighborhoods.
It is conservatively estimated that this will stimulate private investment amounting to $700 million dollars—or a total investment of private and public funds of $875 million dollars. The dimensions of this program approach the magnitude of all of the community improvement activities undertaken by the City in the past fifteen years. Of the $175 million dollars to be used for the acquisition, and clearance of the land, public facilities and rehabilitation, the local share will be approximately $58 million dollars and the federal share $117 million dollars. The local share will consist of an estimated $37.5 million dollars in available bond funds and $20.5 million dollars in local non-cash grants-in-aid.
In the preparation of these recommendations, the Department of Urban Renewal has worked closely with the Department of Development and Planning to make certain that these community improvements follow the recommendations of the Comprehensive Plan. What is particularly unique about this far flung proposal is that the recommendations were reviewed with neighborhood organizations and represent the needs and desires of the community. This is consistent with our policy that there will be no major programs affecting the lives of residents of any community until the people have had the opportunity to make general recommendations.
Implementation of this expanded community improvement involves two separate kinds of activities—Neighborhood Opportunity Programs and Community Planning Areas. In the group of Neighborhood Opportunity Programs are those projects which have been requested by community groups. They are designed to eliminate pockets of blight and deterioration in otherwise sound residential communities, and to provide modern convenient shopping centers and new parks and playgrounds. They are projects which will immediately serve to implement policies of the City’s Comprehensive Plan and which can be quickly started.
The Neighborhood Opportunity Programs are:
The 67th and Stony Island Project of 49 Acres at a public cost of five million dollars; The 63rd and Ashland Project of 56 acres, two million 100 thousand dollars; The 79th-Racine Project of 50 acres, two million 100 thousand dollars; The 45th-Ashland Project of 38 acres, three million dollars; The 25th -Bell Project of 5 acres, five hundred thousand dollars; The Austin Project of 30 acres, 2 million 500 thousand dollars; The Lawrence-Kedzie Project of 77 acres, 2 million 100 thousand dollars. A study will be proposed for the Pilsen area.
The proposals for the Community Planning Areas will involve the preparation of detailed plans and programs to be undertaken for an entire community. Within these larger projects are Neighborhood Opportunity Programs which can be undertaken quickly. Working in close cooperation with the Department of Urban Renewal will develop plans for review and discussion with community residents. As agreement is reached in each area, they will proceed as quickly as possible. The Planning Area projects are:
The 33rd-Michigan Project of 101 acres at a public cost of 4 million 500 thousand dollars; The Woodlawn Project of 473 acres, 10 million 500 thousand dollars;
The North Kenwood-Oakland Project of 355 acres, 21 million dollars;
The Central West Project (Bounded by West Madison St., Racine, Eisenhower Expressway and Western Avenue) of 337 acres, 21 million dollars;
The Lawndale Project of Nine Areas, 191 acres, 30 million dollars;
The West Garfield Project of 23 acres, 2 million 100 thousand dollars;
The East Garfield Project of 183 acres, 10 million 500 thousand dollars;
The East Humboldt Park-Near Northwest Project of 2 areas, 881 acres, 21 million dollars;
The Chicago-Orleans Project of 94 acres, 10 million 500 thousand dollars;
The Lincoln Park Project (Phase Two) of 783 acres, 15 million dollars;
The Lakeview Project of 244 acres, 3 million dollars;
The East Central Englewood Project of 116 acres, 8 million 400 thousand dollars;
Specific details on these studies will be released next week. The recommendations in these nineteen separate communities will involve a total land area of over 4,000 acres. It is anticipated that the activities to be undertaken will involve the clearance and redevelopment of approximately 1,500 acres of land and that over 2,500 acres will be the subject of a concentrated program of building rehabilitation and conservation.
This program will result in a very substantial contribution to the improvement of the city’s residential communities. It is expected that at least 10,000 new residential units will be constructed on sites made available for redevelopment, and an estimated 50,000 units will be improved to contemporary standards of living through the rehabilitation and renovation of older structures. Approximately 100 acres of land will be make available for much needed open space, for additions to school sites, playgrounds and neighborhood parks. The public and semi-public community facilities which serve vital functions in these residential communities will be improved and enlarged through the provision of additional space totalling an estimated 150 acres. The pattern of retail shopping will be improved through the consolidation of strip commercial areas which have become obsolete. It is estimated that 75 acres of land will be available for new shopping centers designed to better serve residential areas.
The City will continue unabated its activity of Code enforcement, Neighborhood Service Centers, and the rehabilitation and receivership actions of the Chicago Dwellings Association. Our goal of ridding the community of structures that are unfit for habitation and hazardous will be achieved by the end of this year. This vast community improvement will have a far-reaching impact in achieving the strategic goals of the Comprehensive Plan for the City. Implementation of these recommendations over the next few years will be a major first step in realizing an improved quality of life for all citizens in Chicago.
The programs I have described are financed by bond issues and by Federal contributions and will cause no increase in present real estate taxes. In that connection we are deeply aware of the burden of real estate taxes borne by the small home owner. Pending before the Legislature is a series of non-property tax revenue bills. Their passage would not only provide for the employment of additional policemen, firemen, neighborhood youth workers and the strengthening of vital services for all cities, but would also make possible the substantial reduction of real estate taxes for the home owner in Chicago.
Since the non-property taxes are permissive and must be approved by City Councils and Village Boards, they are a genuine step towards furthering home rule. With eighty percent of the population of our State now living in urban centers there is no longer any reason why urban citizens should not be permitted to finance and manage their own local governments.
A dynamic local government must utilize many methods and techniques to expand its economy.
The Department of Urban Renewal has contributed directly to strengthening our economy by clearing blighted land which is being used for new industry and business and creating thousands of new jobs. Further expansion in this field of industrial and commercial development will be announced in the coming months. A very exciting project will contribute directly to the future development of the entire West Central area. This project will be financed entirely by private investment. The Department has completed a study of fifteen and one half acres bounded on the north by Washington and Madison … on the east by Canal and Kinzie Streets … on the south by Monroe Street … and on the west by the Kennedy Expressway. It will propose a building complex to house business and commercial offices as an extension of the Riverside Plaza and Gateway office buildings. Because of the relationship of the site to major transportation facilities the study suggests the possible inclusion of a bus or airline terminal. It is also proposed that the area include a hotel and motel complex and elevator apartments along the Kennedy Expressway. It would contain design elements that would make it one of the most beautiful projects in the nation.
It is estimated that acquisition of the area will cost $19 million dollars. No development will be undertaken, however, until a bonafide bid is made by private industry at a price sufficient to cover all project costs. This would permit the Department to proceed with the urban renewal project with the assurance that there would be a developer when the land is offered for sale. There has been a great interest shown by private investors in this project making us confident that this great development will become a reality in the near future. The investment by the private developer will be approximately $100 million. This project will undoubtedly lead to others of a similar nature, and could lead to the further conversion of non productive areas into vital economic use.
The concept of human concern is at the heart of all the City’s programs. Whether it be the development of the lakefront or the construction over air rights—the primary consideration in all our plans must be the health, convenience, and welfare of people. The paramount objective of this administration is to eliminate slum and blight from every neighborhood. Our goal is to be the first major city to provide “a decent home in a decent neighborhood for every family”.
We have made much progress in the past twelve years. There is much yet to be done. There is much to look forward to in the not so distant future: the elimination of the elevated tracks and the construction of a Loop subway … the extension of mass transit in the Kennedy and Dan Ryan Expressways … the construction of a greater McCormick Place … the completion of the Chicago Circle branch of the University of Illinois to accommodate 25,000 students … the completion of dredging and straightening of the Cal Sag Channel, which will make Chicago the greatest inland port in the nation … the building of a new Lake Shore Drive complex over the air rights of the Illinois Central Railroad, which under planned development will house thousands of families in an ideal urban setting … the progressive elimination of air pollution … the construction of an under-ground sewer system which will eliminate water pollution and flooding … the expansion of our recreational facilities with more parks and playgrounds, improved beaches and landfilled islands in the lake … the revival of Midway Airport, and the development of a third international airport located on an island five miles from the shore of Lake Michigan … the completion of the north-south Crosstown Expressway … the establishment of eight new junior colleges … a progressive development of our elementary and high schools to meet the great challenge of our times … a continuation of the greatest building boom in Chicago’s history … and above all, a greater climate of understanding, which will lead to more harmonious living among people of every race, religion and nationality.
The improvements we have made in city government could not have been possible without the hard work, the cooperation, and the dedication of the members of the City Council, the Department heads, the City employees, industry and labor, and the thousands of citizens who so willingly have given a helping hand. I am deeply grateful.
I want to take this opportunity to express my thanks for the help and understanding that has been given to me by the metropolitan and community press, by the radio and television stations.
To sum up, I think the goals of most of us in public service were stated by our late President John F. Kennedy, when he said:
I believe in an America where every family can live in a decent home, in a decent neighborhood, where children can play in parks and playgrounds, not the streets of slums; where no home is unsafe or unsanitary, where a good doctor and a good hospital are neither too far away nor too expensive, and where the water is clean and the air is pure and the streets are safe at night.
- Chicago City Council. Journal of Proceedings, April 20, 1967, p. 5–8.