' " ' " " "-"""''"5"- - 5
GROSS CARELESSNESS CAUSED CAVE-IN OF
RANDOLPH STREET AT THE FIELD STORE
Building Commissioner Henry Ericcson, with his back tq the wall, is
fighting the charge of carelessness that has been aimed at him following
the cave-in of Randolph street, due to the excavation under the new Mar
shall Field building.
Yesterday Ericcson was perfectly certain that the accident was caused
by nature. Today, however, he changed his story and admitted that
carelessness in the erection of the steel retaining wall was responsible for
an accident that might have caused the loss of many lives.
"A new form of steel sheathing was used as a retaining wall," said
Ericcson, "and it was the haste and carelessness with which this was put
up that caused the sinking. It had not sufficient bracing."
George E. McGrath, acting superintendent of sewers, said the cave-in
was caused because the Marshall Field store would not spare the room to
erect a 21-foot foundation that would have been necessary had the retain
ing wall been of concrete, instead of steel.
"The contractors have given out the story that the sewer was re
sponsible for the sinking," said McGrath. "That is wrong. Those sewers
are the finest in the city. The fault rests entirely with the tjonstruction of
the steel sheathings, which was braced by girders of insufficient strength.
it tney nad used a concrete wall it
could not have happened. But a
concrete wall would have necessitat
ed the building of a 21-foot founda
tion, and it appears that Marshall
Field & Company thought this would
take away too much space that could
be used differently."
Aid. W. J. Healy of the 18th ward,
chairman of the streets and alleys
committee, paid a visit to the scene of
the accident this morning. His opin
ion coincided with that of McGrath as
to the cause of the accident.
"The streets and alleys commit
tee will take the matter up at its
meeting Monday afternoon," said
Aid. Healy. "By that time the inves
tigation ordered by Commissioner of
Public Works McGann will have been
completed. It appears to me that the
accident was caused entirely by the
weakness at the base of the steel
One city "official predicted that a
calamity that would stun the entire
world would result if any attempt
was made to build a subway under
some of the loop skyscrapers.
"The Masonic Temple is one "hor
rible example' of this condition,"
said this official. "In some places the
Temple has sunk 16 inches. Its
foundation is wretched. I shudder to
think what would happen if an effort
was made to run a subway tube be
neath that building. The entire struc
ture would crash to the street."
Building Commissioner Ericcson
admitted that the same conditions
that applied to the new Field build
ing were until recently to be found
at the Rothschild building, The Hub,
the McCormick building, the Rail
way Exchange and the Marshall Field
Annex. The mad desire for speed
and thrift in erecting skyscrapers is
given as the cause.
Com. Ericsson is coming in for
much criticsm for permitting the
mighty Marshall Field corporation to
build a skyscraper on such a kindling
wood foundation. It is Ericsson's
duty to see that all buildings are
The explanation given out by E. R.
Graham of D. H. Graham, architects,
that the cave-in was caused by the
leaking of the sewer pipe was laugh
ed at by all experts, who were not
afraid to express an opinion. It has
been clearly proven that the bursting
of the water main was an after effect,
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