12/12/12 Significant for Chicago or not so much?

12/12/12 Significant for Chicago or not so much?

I don't really put much stock in numbers or statistics because lets face it, you can make them do just about anything you want them to do such as with Cook County real estate taxes which are supposedly heavily based on the value of your property but magically goes up even though property values go down.  That, however, is another blog for another time.

Many times history is a great predictor of the future and I thought maybe if I looked at the last time there was a 12/12/12 in Chicago, which obviously would have been 12/12/1912, maybe we could get some indication as to what we would be looking at on 12/12/2012.  Let's just say it didn't seem all that significant.  In fact, today we seem to be fascinated by the repeating dates like 12/12/12 and the fact that the next time the dates repeat themselves like that won't be until 01/01/2101 or 88 years and .7 months or 32,161 days from today.  When checking Chicago newspapers of the day they didn't even seem to mention that 12/12/1912 was significant in any way.

Granted the year itself was full of tragedy for boat lovers with the loss of the R.M.S. Titanic on April 14/15 of that year and the loss of the Rouse Simmons "Chicago's Christmas Tree Ship" on November 23rd of that year but the date 12/12/12 didn't seem all that significant.  In World news, December 12, 1912 marked the day of the death of Luitpold Karl Joseph Wilhelm Ludwig von Bayern, Prince-Regent of Bavaria who died at the age of 91.  Of course if you were living in Bavaria 100 years ago that would be pretty significant, however in Chicago...not so much.

In the city itself, 12/12/1912 wasn't a great date for you if you were walking on the sidewalk near Washington Street and Wabash Avenues.  It was a crowded afternoon in downtown Chicago and The Fisk Building (torn down three weeks later to make room for the new Marshall Field's Annex) decided it should start tearing itself down early and dropped a half-ton piece of steel coping from its second floor nearly killing three people.  Miss Anna Hill, Mr. George Willan and Miss A. Himmen sustained cuts and abrasions but no major injuries.

However, if you were a budding Houdini wannabee 12/12/12 was not such a good date.  In Oak Park, E.G. Mast who was the secretary of the Oak Park Y.M.C.A. was also an amateur escape artist.  More than likely an escape artist who probably decided to keep his day job.  During a swimming contest at the Y.M.C.A. pool on the evening of 12/12/1912, Mr. Mast announced to the crowd that there did not exist a pair of handcuffs that could restrain him.  He had his assistants handcuff him and then he climbed into a box that was secured by rope tied by twelve strong men.  The box was then lowered into the pool where it was submerged in eight feet of water.  Mast had promised that in less than a minute he would escape from the handcuffs and the box and emerge on the surface of the water.  Fifty seconds went by with no sign of Mast.  Within 10 seconds after that, the same twelve strong men who secured and lowered Mast into the water were diving into the water and raising the box to the surface.  When they opened the box they found Mast was only half conscious but had managed to slip the cuffs.  It seemed that the secret door on the box hadn't opened as planned.

So what can be learned from the past that might come in handy this Wednesday?  Well if your in the area of Marshall Field's (Now Macy's) be sure to be looking up, try to stay out of handcuffs (that's actually good advice for everyday) Oh...and skip the Bavarian Creme doughnut.

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