By Robert O’Connor.
Over the weekend, the Studs Terkel Memorial Bridge in Chicago was rededicated. It’s a run-down dingy bridge built in 1904 – eight years older than Studs. It’s one of many events that are taking place around the city to celebrate his 100th birthday this Wednesday.
Before the event, organizers sold copies of his books in a nearby tent (it was cloudy, windy and raining during the ceremony). They also sold a map of Chicago with places of interest related to Studs Terkel marked.
The bridge is Division Street when it crosses the Chicago River at Goose Island. There are thousands of those brown street signs around the city called vanity street signs that commemorate great Chicagoans. The Studs Terkel bridge was dedicated 20 years ago, when Studs was in his early 80s. He was confused about the dedication, but accepted it. The street sign was put up crudely and a few days later it was gone, never to be replaced. So for many years, people have driven or walked over it not knowing it was the Studs Terkel bridge.
On the sidewalk outside, people carried signs with pictures of Studs on them and people honked their horns in support. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn was supposed to speak, but couldn’t, but he did issue a proclamation about the ceremony, read by state senator Pat McGuire (Joliet, pictured on the right in the green shirt).
U. S. Congressman Mike Quigley (Illinois 5th district) also spoke, as did city alderman Peter Waguespack (above)
The re-dedication began and ended with a raucous performance by Mucca Pazza. The city council has also decided to tear down and replace the bridge, and there has been a contest to design a replacement bridge.
The event began with Chris Walz (above) singing “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” and ended with him leading the crowd in “This Land is Your Land.”
(photos by the author)
First posted: Tuesday, May 15th, 2012.