JFK's First Trip to Chicago - "Lost" 16mm Footage (1961)

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Not really TV related, but it's pretty incredible - and historically significant - "lost" footage (not known to have been publicly seen until now) of President John F. Kennedy on a trip to Chicago, his first as President, on April 28th 1961.

After a few seconds of dirty leader, the film starts off with Air Force One arriving at the airport, followed by Kennedy and his contingent stepping off and him being greeted by a crowd. The President then shakes hands with various officials and children. Mayor Richard J. Daley can be seen standing next to the President at one point.

He is then led off to a motorcade, after which we cut to a phalanx of automobiles driving down the road (while parts of the opposite side of the road is stuck in traffic).

We then see a part of the Chicago skyline including what looks like a gas tank. The motorcade was driving on the Northwest Expressway (to be renamed the Kennedy Expressway on November 29th 1963). You can also make out the Morton Salt Factory as well as a smokestack that says "Apex", which is likely "Apex Motor Fuel Co."

At a stop, the top of JFK's motorcade is then folded into the back and made open so he and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy could see passersby as they're riding (however, the woman in the motorcade is not the future "Jackie O," but JFK's sister Eunice Shriver) (as identified in the next day's edition of the Tribune)

We next see him riding down one of the major roads as confetti is thrown in his direction. Afterwards, we see a scuffle between police and some individuals in front of a building where the President was likely speaking. (or was that a secret service agent?) Next is a shot of banners for the Chicago Fire Department, followed by police in front of two cars near Grant Park(?).

After this, are Cuban exiles circling the sidewalk with signs reading, "Kennedy Is United States President, Not Cuba's," "Mr. President, Can YOU Accept Choice of the Cubans'," "Peace Corps NOT Marine Corp," "Be Fair - Hear Both Sides," and "Let's Bargain, Not Shoot" (this was in relation to the ultimately ill-fated Bay of Pigs insurrection against the Castro regime in Cuba).

The next shot, at night, is JFK in a tuxedo, surrounded by his contingent and about to step into the motorcade, followed by a crowd waving and greeting. The motorcade and other surrounding vehicles then go on their way, and are going down the road.

Next is JFK at an event located within McCormick Place, greeted by Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley, with shots of the Presidential seal on the dais (this was as he was about to speak at the Cook County Democratic Party Dinner). The last shot before the film ends is a wide shot of the hall, where the audience is applauding.





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After a few seconds of dirty leader, the film starts off with Air Force One arriving at the airport, followed by Kennedy and his contingent stepping off and him being greeted by a crowd. The President then shakes hands with various officials and children. Mayor Richard J. Daley can be seen standing next to the President at one point.

He is then led off to a motorcade, after which we cut to a phalanx of automobiles driving down the road (while parts of the opposite side of the road is stuck in traffic).

We then see a part of the Chicago skyline including what looks like a gas tank. The motorcade was driving on the Northwest Expressway (to be renamed the Kennedy Expressway on November 29th 1963). You can also make out the Morton Salt Factory as well as a smokestack that says "Apex", which is likely "Apex Motor Fuel Co."

At a stop, the top of JFK's motorcade is then folded into the back and made open so he and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy could see passersby as they're riding (however, the woman in the motorcade is not the future "Jackie O," but JFK's sister Eunice Shriver) (as identified in the next day's edition of the Tribune)

We next see him riding down one of the major roads as confetti is thrown in his direction. Afterwards, we see a scuffle between police and some individuals in front of a building where the President was likely speaking. (or was that a secret service agent?) Next is a shot of banners for the Chicago Fire Department, followed by police in front of two cars near Grant Park(?).

After this, are Cuban exiles circling the sidewalk with signs reading, "Kennedy Is United States President, Not Cuba's," "Mr. President, Can YOU Accept Choice of the Cubans'," "Peace Corps NOT Marine Corp," "Be Fair - Hear Both Sides," and "Let's Bargain, Not Shoot" (this was in relation to the ultimately ill-fated Bay of Pigs insurrection against the Castro regime in Cuba).

The next shot, at night, is JFK in a tuxedo, surrounded by his contingent and about to step into the motorcade, followed by a crowd waving and greeting. The motorcade and other surrounding vehicles then go on their way, and are going down the road.

Next is JFK at an event located within McCormick Place, greeted by Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley, with shots of the Presidential seal on the dais (this was as he was about to speak at the Cook County Democratic Party Dinner). The last shot before the film ends is a wide shot of the hall, where the audience is applauding." /> Share

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Smctopia 10/04/2016 Reply

Very interesting. Is this someone's home movie or raw news footage?

W.B. 10/05/2016 Reply

I would have thought this to be raw news footage. Remember, most of the time in those days, local TV news' film footage was mostly silent, with the anchor heard over it. Where this would have originated from is another question entirely.

ChrisBCritter 10/07/2016 Reply

Great footage! JFK is riding in the 1950 Lincoln Cosmopolitan limousine that was previously used by both Truman and Eisenhower; it had a bulletproof bubbletop rear canopy that could be used instead of the convertible top seen here. This car is now in the Henry Ford Museum.

Tommy33 10/10/2016 Reply

At 59 seconds as they are coming in on the (NW) Kennedy Expy, see the big tower in the forefront with the checkerboard pattern on top? Those are natural gas storage towers. They used to be all over the city. Scary looking when you were a little kid. They were huge up close.

This is really an awesome piece of JFK footage!

W.B. 10/10/2016 Reply

Natural gas storage towers were once major sights in many major cities. When growing up in NYC, I used to hear traffic reports on the radio where they would every so often mention traffic tie-ups "along the Elmhurst Gas Tanks" (reference to gas storage towers in Elmhurst, Queens, NY).