Skip to main content

Richard J. Daley

Photo credit: Chicago History Museum
The late Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley. Photo credit: Chicago History Museum
Photo credit: Chicago History Museum
Block 37 during demolition. Photo credit: Chicago History Museum

Although his son Richard M. Daley was the longest-serving mayor in Chicago’s history, Richard J. Daley was mayor from 1955 to 1976, reigning over the city during a period of broad change and efforts at so-called “urban renewal” that were often quite contentious.

As a shrewd party politician, Daley wielded enormous power. But fortunately for preservationists, he was not able to execute his biggest urban renewal plans for the north end of the Loop, including a 1970s plan to clear many blocks for redevelopment.

One block that was finally cleared under the reign of his son, Mayor Richard M. Daley — the infamous Block 37 — stood vacant and awaiting redevelopment for two decades. Meanwhile, the surrounding blocks saw reinvestment, restoration, and revitalization, often in the surviving structures.