Remembering Richard J. Daley

City Beautiful, City Cultural

The mayor was very much involved, as is his son, in beautifying the city. So he created urban beautification awards. Every year, they would give plaques to different people who had won awards.

Jerome Butler, City Architect, interview excerpt, July 8,2002


A cleaner Chicago

We used to hand sweep the streets at night with a small crew in the downtown streets only. But it was a pretty wide area. Well, all of the visitors would come to Chicago. And these guys with the hand brooms would get between the cars. They’d get all the debris. If you went to New York, you’d see it all over. Well, people would come and they’d see all of this wonderful, cleaned up, downtown area. And they attributed it to being the same throughout it.

James McDonough, Commissioner of Department of Streets and Sanitation, interview excerpt, September 17, 2003

Silent footage (no sound) from a cleanup parade on State Street in Chicago:


Well, one man that had a big business on Michigan Avenue came to him and suggested that he’d like to donate money to the city for the beautification and did. So Dick turned to him and he said, “No, the city has the money. I’ll tell you what you can do. We have the flower boxes. The city will donate those to the merchants for the streets. During the four seasons of the year, you businessmen can donate the flowers. That’d be a project for you people.” And they were greatly impressed with that. He didn’t just want the money to do it. He wanted to let them do it. They felt that they were part of the operation….But he always wanted the best.

Eleanor Daley, wife of Richard J. Daley, interview excerpt, January 17, 2003

Public art

While Daley was mayor, the city commissioned famed artist Marc Chagall to create a public mosaic downtown. Chagall later wrote the mayor [translated]:

I have just received your letter of October 4. I thank you; and I must also express my emotion and gratitude for the warm greeting that you and your city gave me. I want to assure you that it is one of the best memories of my life. My wife joins me in sending to you and Mrs. Daley our most cordial sentiments.

Mayor Daley comments on the Picasso sculpture:

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