Remembering Richard J. Daley

Making the City Work

Basic city services

One of his top priorities as mayor was to improve the delivery of city services to all of the neighborhoods and to all of the people of Chicago. When you look at the city’s Capital Improvement Program during his administration and the emphasis that was placed on constructing new facilities for every city department, you get a clear picture of the mayor’s priorities. As the City Architect, I had the opportunity and responsibility for the design and construction of these new facilities. New Police, Fire, Health, Senior, Community Service, Library, Streets and Sanitation, and Transit facilities were completed in neighborhoods throughout the city. All designed to improve the delivery of city services.

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

William Daley, son of Richard J. Daley, explains his father's atttention to detail when it came to city services:

I think that you can see how development helps a community. That’s not only from providing amenities in that area that will serve the people long after it’s built, but also the jobs it creates to build that amenity.

Patrick Thompson, grandson of Richard J. Daley, interview excerpt, June 13, 2002

Watch footage (no sound) of waste management services:

Clean water

Those filtration plants are the lifeblood, not of the city, but of this region. Well, that wasn’t popular. It wasn’t popular at all. Build something in the lake? How could you do that? How could you even conceive that? But he knew that was right. He knew that we had to have clean water, if we were going to have cities in the surrounding areas. The foresight that he had was always, “What’s good for the city? And what’s good for its people?” Politically, at times, it was difficult.

Ed Bedore, City Budget Director, interview excerpt, May 18, 2009

Watch footage (no sound) of Mayor Daley inspecting water filtration plant:

Public safety

Daley expanded and professionalized police and fire services.

We re-did the headquarters. We built a communications center. We worked with O. W. Wilson in the reorganization of the Police Department and built a series of area headquarters, which were never built before, after Wilson came in. We started with the Area 4 Police Headquarters, then Area 6, and then the Police Training Academy. The city never had a police training academy until Wilson came in. Here’s the fire department. They never had a fire academy until Daley came in. They built a new fire academy.

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

Watch footage (no sound) of Chicago Police Department services: In 1967, 23 inches of snow fell within 35 hours — the largest single snowfall in the city’s history. Businesses closed, roofs collapsed, cars were abandoned, and many Chicagoans were stranded.

We didn’t have the power. We didn’t have the strength. We didn’t have a good plan. We didn’t have anything. And Mayor Daley pulled it off because of his charisma on television, telling everyone how good we were doing. We really weren’t doing so good.

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

Youth and community engagement

The city had a number of programs for youth.

Services for the neighborhoods and the wards.

I was Alderman of the Ninth Ward from 1971 to 1979—8 years.  The Ninth Ward, under the leadership of Mayor Richard J. Daley, received many important improvements including: a new library in West Pullman, a new grammar school in West Pullman, a new high school in Altgeld-Murray Homes, addition to Curtis Junior High School at 115th Street and State Street, building Chicago Police Department Area 2 Headquarters at 111th and the Calumet Expressway with a City of Chicago Court, City of Chicago Landmark status for Pullman in 1972, and a new roof for Hotel Florence in 1975.

Alexander A. Adduci, Alderman, interview excerpt, July 18, 2014

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