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Neil Gale (Ph.D.)

Photographs & History  - 
Arnold, Schwinn and Company, Chicago, IL

In the late 1880's Ignaz Schwinn was working in a machine shop making components for high-wheelers (also called Penny Farthings because of their giant front wheel and tiny rear wheel) in Germany. In 1889 he jumped on the diamond frame bandwagon and convinced local manufacturer Kleyer Bicycle Works to begin building Schwinn's own design of diamond frame. The Schwinn design was a success and Ignaz was put in charge of the planning and building of a new factory for the bike. He was 29. Two years later Ignaz Schwinn was on a boat for America.

The restless young Schwinn went to work on Fowler bicycles at Chicago's Hill Cycle Manufacturing Company. Then he spent two years building a bicycle factory for International Manufacturing Company. In 1894, Ignaz Schwinn met Adolph Frederick William Arnold, a German born investor who had made his fortune in the Chicago meat packing industry. Arnold knew a craze when he saw one and Chicago was ripe. By 1897, an estimated 1 in 7 Chicagoans owned a pair of wheels. America had 300 bicycle manufacturers, but as many as 2/3 of the bikes made in this country were being manufactured within 150 miles of Chicago. This was America's first bicycle boom.

Arnold, Schwinn & Company was incorporated in the fall of 1895 and located at the northwest corner of Lake and Peoria amidst a sea of competition just west of downtown Chicago. Schwinn wanted to produce the most advanced bikes possible. He wanted racing bikes and he wanted Schwinn teams to win all the most popular races. Arnold, Schwinn & Company made excellent racing bikes. But there was more. Schwinn quickly came out with a bike for every purpose and price range. Ignaz's knowledge of the market served the company well.

By 1898 Mass production and growing competition brought the price of a bicycle down to as little as $20. In 1902 the best racing bikes were priced around $150. At the turn of the century Americans were consuming about a million bikes per year. But it didn't last.

Unfortunately for bike manufacturers, the same innovations that brought the costs of bikes down also made the automobile increasingly accessible to the growing middle class. The first decade of the new century saw the car tear the bicycle industry to shreds. Bicycle sales fell to 250,000 by 1905. Bike makers, buoyed by improvements in manufacturing that continued to bring costs down, turned their attention to the kids' market as their parents bought more and more cars. Children were largely the focus of the bicycle industry for the next several DECADES. It wasn't until the advent of the Schwinn Varsity in 1960 that Schwinn really began to take seriously the adult market once again.

1907 saw Arnold, Schwinn & Company produce an impressive 50,000 bicycles, but the market was in tatters and profits were small. Adolph Arnold bailed in 1908. Ignaz Schwinn bought out his partner and continued to expand the company right through the decline. Schwinn's attention to quality had earned the company a solid reputation. As the number of American bicycle manufacturers reportedly dropped from a peak of 300 to around a dozen, Schwinn thrived.

Arnold, Schwinn & Company began experimenting with the horseless carriage (automobile) as early as 1896. They continued building prototypes through 1905, but nothing was ever put into production. Ignaz put his engineers to work designing motorcycles. Rumor has it that revolutionary designs were almost entirely complete when Excelsior Motor Manufacturing & Supply Company of Chicago declared bankruptcy. In 1911 Schwinn paid a half million dollars for the struggling Excelsior and started building motorcycles. The Excelsior did well and in 1914 Schwinn built the largest motorcycle factory in the world right in the middle of Chicago. In 1917 Schwinn purchased the ailing Henderson Motorcycle Company of Detroit and moved it to Chicago. Schwinn was suddenly ranked among Harley-Davidson and Indian in motorcycle manufacturing. They were the third largest motorcycle manufacturer in the country. Bicycle sales became an afterthought for Ignaz Schwinn.

The 1920s was not exactly the decade of the motorcycle, but Schwinn did well enough. Unfortunately he also did plenty of speculating on the stock market. Schwinn and company were hit hard by the crash of 1929 and by 1930 Schwinn had combined their R&D departments for bicycles and motorcycles. It didn't help. The Great Depression looked very bleak as the American economy came to a grinding halt. With shrinking margins and no prospective buyers in 1931, Excelsior-Henderson simply ceased production. Ignaz, 71, retired. Or rather, Ignaz Schwinn, German immigrant and bicycle mogul slowed down about as much as he was able to tolerate. His son Frank W. began running the daily operations as Vice President, but Mr. Schwinn continued to have final say on major investments. Ignaz was the public image of Schwinn and he retained the title of President for 17 more years.

Frank W. Schwinn, 36, turned his attention back to bicycles. Manufacturers had become little more than middlemen, assembling components as a bike made its way from parts makers to the big department stores. Most bikes carried the name of the retailer rather than the manufacturer. At one point, Schwinn was putting more than 100 different head badges on their bikes. Bicycles had become toys and the department stores selling these toys merely asked for lower costs. Moreover, children did not demand performance in the way that their parents had. Cost cutting became the rule, rather than innovation. Ignaz didn't make toys and Frank W. didn't want to. Besides, Schwinn had idle motorcycle engineers to put to work. They came up with a wider tire (actually, they borrowed it from Germany where the "balloon tire" was taking on cobblestone roads quite successfully).

As the bicycle industry crumbled under the weight of the Depression, Schwinn forged on ahead. Frank W. successfully played suppliers off of one another in order to get someone (Firestone) to make rims that would fit a wider tire. And he had to order enough tires (10,000) to make it worth Fisk Rubber's time to make a custom 2 1/8 inch wide balloon tire. Frank W. was determined. Schwinn released the first balloon tire bikes in 1933, a tire that could roll over broken glass without a thought. In 1934, the Schwinn Aero Cycle-designed after an airplane fuselage-had a tougher frame and cost double what the competition was charging. Furthermore, it was designed as a thing of beauty. Its styling (a word not used when discussing bicycles up to then) made bicycle esthetics as much of a selling point as performance. The department stores, where most bicycle sales took place, wanted nothing to do with the high-end ride. Schwinn got the Chicago Cycle Supply Company to distribute the new bicycle and told them not to sell to the department stores.

Frank W. was looking ahead. He had grand ideas for bicycles and he planned to lead the way. He gave the underdogs something exclusive. Schwinn gave the independent dealers-used to getting the scraps from the department stores-something the mass merchant sellers didn't have access to. And they returned the favor in spades. In 1932, the industry put out 194,000 bicycles into the U.S. In 1934, Schwinn sold 86,000 units by itself. In 1935 Schwinn put out 107,000 units. Schwinn broke 200,000 in 1936. Schwinn began fostering relationships with independent dealers, something that would bring impressive sales, but it would also help carry Schwinn through the lean times. And by the 1940s, production had reached almost 350,000 units annually. Schwinn had breathed new life into an old product.

Schwinn wanted to be the first quality. They used better steal and electric welding. They added 40 patents to their collection during the depression. The Schwinn brand began to stand for something in an industry where the manufacturers rarely got to put their own name on the bike. Customers began asking for Schwinns. And those that couldn't afford the high end models picked the more affordable Schwinns over competitive offerings because of the Schwinn name. The Schwinn brand carried weight that the department stores like Sears and Montgomery Wards could not give to their "toys."

Distributors were forbidden to sell to mass merchant department stores, but Schwinn never said it wouldn't do so directly. Schwinn had a good relationship with B.F. Goodrich for many years even though the auto parts retailer often sold the bikes at a loss in order to drive customer traffic into their stores.

In the late 1930s Schwinn took virtual control of one of its distributors who was going through a financial crisis. Schwinn streamlined the operation and got all of the distributor's bicycle dealers in order. By the time all of the issues had been worked out, Schwinn was reticent to let go of the arrangement. Dealing direct with retailers allowed Schwinn to cut prices while earning them (both) higher margins, but most important, it gave Schwinn a finger on the pulse of bicycling in America. Schwinn began to take every retailer that wanted to peddle bikes, even the ones that were still selling lawn mowers. When there was a problem, Schwinn quickly found out about it and corrected it. When the market shifted, the retailers demanded new products and Schwinn got them there first. Schwinn moved that much closer to the customer and it made all the difference.

Schwinn designed bikes that people would want to ride. There were fast followers to be sure. Huffman (Huffy) and Columbia were quick to jump on the balloon tire bandwagon, but the imitators were copying bikes that seemed to be selling well. Schwinn knew why their innovations were selling well and consequently Schwinn was better at promoting their bikes. Possibly the most important demonstration of Schwinn's commitment to customers was the 1939 introduction of the lifetime guarantee (industry standard was a single year). This move, more than any other, made retailers want to show off the Schwinn name. A bicycle with a Schwinn head badge sold better than the same bike with the retailer's own head badge.

In the midst of the 1930s, Frank W., enjoying the impressive success of his balloon tire bikes for kids, decided that he could get adults back on bicycles too. He employed famed bicycle racing mechanic Emil Wastyn and his son Oscar to design the ultimate racing bike. Sparing no expense, the Wastyns used the best materials and the best components to bring into being the Schwinn Paramount. Schwinn put the Paramount to work on the racetrack in 1938 and it quickly rose to the top of the sport. Frank W. released a number of other lightweights hoping to follow the path of his father, Ignaz, who had successfully sold bicycles through the promotion of racing.

Schwinn Paramounts won many races. On May 17, 1941, Alfred Letourneur went 108.92 miles per hour on a Schwinn. The bicycles were everything that Frank W. could have hoped for, but the touring craze was not to be. The Paramount was never a very profitable product and touring did not catch on the way it had in the gay 90s of the last century. Just as Schwinn was getting going, World War II put heavy strains on steel and rubber construction. Also, the automobile continued to take up more and more space in the garage. Americans just weren't ready to get back on a two-wheeler.

In the months before Pearl Harbor (Dec 7, 1941) the Schwinn factory was already working under military contract making items unrelated to cycling. In 1942 Schwinn ceased commercial bicycle production all together (though the military ordered some 10,000 bicycles per year). Their reputation for innovation continued as they brought lessons learned during the lean times of WWII back to the bicycle industry following the war. In 1947, Schwinn produced 400,000 bicycles.

Another innovation of import came along during WWII, but not through the efforts of Arnold, Schwinn & Company. A small engineering company in L.A. put a little four-stroke engine on a heavy duty bicycle frame and called it the Whizzer. The motorized bicycle got 125 miles to the gallon and quickly became a popular mode of transportation for the gas conscious country. And it just so happened that Schwinn's patented cantilever frames gave the motors exactly the space they needed. By 1948 the little Whizzer was selling 200,000 units, many of which used Schwinn frames. It also happened that a certain Ray Burch was Vice President of the growing company.

Ignaz Schwinn died in 1948 of a stroke at the age of 88. He had stood at the helm of the great American bicycle company for more than 50 years. As sole owner of Arnold, Schwinn, & Company he was able to bequeath a 1/3 share of the dividends to Frank W. and each of his two daughters. But he left all shareholder powers to his firstborn son and indicated that Frank should do likewise.

In many ways 1948 was one of Schwinn's best years. It was the last year the Schwinn manufactured a bike for someone else to label. The Schwinn name stood for quality. Department stores sold toys. Each Schwinn came with a lifetime guarantee unlike anything else in the industry. Schwinn finally had the clout to walk away from the department stores entirely and seek out quality bicycle retailers. The move only strengthened the brand.

In 1950 one in every four bicycles sold in the U.S. was a Schwinn. Almost every movie, set in the 1950s and containing a bicycle, features a Schwinn bicycle. And if the director is particularly nostalgic, it's a Schwinn Black Phantom. The legendary Black Phantom was released in 1949 and represented the height of the children's luxury bicycle. It was the Cadillac of the bike world, but built like a tank and ready for curb jumping. Schwinn was producing 400,000 bicycles per year. As a private company, Schwinn was not obliged to make public its balance sheet, but former executives estimated sales in the area of $25 million a year, making Schwinn a respectable mid-size company in the 1950s.

But it wasn't easy. Walking out on department store distribution meant hawking bikes out of every outlet Schwinn could find: auto dealerships, gas stations, pool halls, and funeral parlors. Such fragmented distribution meant that Schwinn still had almost no say in how their bikes were sold, how customer complaints were handled, or how many models a seller carried. With 15,000 outlets, monitored salesmanship was a pipedream...until George Garner got out of the Marines (more on Garner later).

Frank W. had been impressed by advertising strategies used by Whizzer and in 1950 hired Vice President, Ray Burch, away from the now struggling company and put him to work as Schwinn's sales promotions manager. Burch, in turn, put Bill Chambers, Dealer Relations Manager at Schwinn, to work wading through a mess of records from Schwinn's distribution network. Weeks of work showed that a mere 27 percent of Schwinn's retailers were responsible for 94 percent of sales. Chambers had discovered that Schwinn could afford to fire almost three quarters of their distribution network with only a small impact on the bottom line. Distribution costs would plummet. Chambers set out to find who was selling Schwinns and why.

While most of the bicycle "shops" in 1947 were dingy, greasy places operated in alleys and garages, George Garner's shops were clean and brightly lit. His employees wore clean white smocks. While many bicycle retailers on Schwinn's distribution lists were really hardware stores (or even barber shops) that also sold bicycles-just like the department stores that didn't have time to sell a Schwinn's finer points-Garner sold only bicycles. He went out of his way to fix customer problems. His Southern California bike shops stood out and so did sales. In 1950, Schwinn sold 510,000 bicycles and George Garner's shops were Schwinn's number 1 sellers. Garner held the spot for 17 consecutive years and it brought about one of Schwinn's most important innovations, the Authorized Dealer program, something Frank W. had set his sights on more than a decade previous.

Ray Burch stopped by one of Garner's shops in 1956 to see what made the little business so good at selling Schwinn's. Burch found clean shops with well displayed Schwinn bicycles and only Schwinn bicycles. That was it. That was all it took. Garner's employees/mechanics were well trained and polite, but they said very little. The bike and the shop were evidence enough to show off the quality and justify the prices. Garner let the bikes sell themselves.

Schwinn chopped its distribution network down to just a fraction of its previous total. Authorized Schwinn dealers had to dedicate at least half of their sales floor to Schwinns. Since Schwinn could decide who got their bikes and who didn't, the company rewarded the best sellers with location exclusivity. Schwinn mandated service standards and layouts. The company approved store locations. Schwinn began "managing" these sellers in much the same way that a corporation manages its franchises ...and got sued by the Department of Justice for price-fixing and restraint of trade in 1957. The case lasted for an entire decade. It went before the Supreme Court. It gobbled up time and resources. Frank W. kept right on purging his distributor network of costly retailers.

The purge took as long as the legal debacle. BF Goodrich's automotive and appliance stores were responsible for as much as 25% of Schwinn's sales at times throughout two decades that began in the Depression. But Goodrich sold Schwinns as a loss leader to get people into the store to buy appliances and car tires. Goodrich employees were not trained to properly assemble or display the bikes and the competition was hurting authorized dealers. Schwinn eliminated Goodrich's 1,700 locations from their retail network in 1962. From 15,000 possible retail outlets in the early 1950s, Schwinn was down to just 3,000 in 1967. The winnowing halted at around 1,700. At the end of the 60s, Schwinn had just 22 regional distributors to keep in line.

Schwinn sent George Garner (ex marine) on tour. The company was humble enough to learn from Garner's trench perspective and savvy enough to spread him around. Garner was Schwinn's leading PR tool in creating the "Total Concept Store." He was their example to the mom and pop operations on how to sell Schwinn bikes. But he wasn't their only piece of propaganda. The "Total Concept Store" had many converts. Dealers spent an average of $40,000 to overhaul their shops and Schwinn proudly showed off the success stories. In 1963, 48 dealers were members of Schwinn's 1,000 Club. These dealers had sold 1,000 Schwinns in a year. But as more and more bike shop owners joined the ranks of the middle class another 400 dealers joined the Club by 1968. The average Schwinn dealer was grossing $100,000 in sales.

Beyond building one of the highest quality rides around, Schwinn offered tons of support to their authorized dealers who adopted the "Total Concept Store." They were, of course, walked through the remodeling process, but dealers were also provided with unmatched training and assistance programs. Schwinn provided shops business analysis, group rate medical plans, and retirement investing.

Schwinn supported sales with strong advertising, using stars such as Bing Crosby, Rita Hayworth, and Ronald Reagan in the 40s and Georgia Governor Lester Maddox and actress Carol Channing through the 70s. Captain Kangaroo touted Schwinns to the under six crowd while the annual Playboy Playmate of the year drew attention from adults. Schwinn suggested scripts for local radio commercials.

In 1959, Schwinn was operating a traveling mechanics' workshop allowing their dealers to claim that a "factory trained mechanic" was on duty. This kind of work paid off greatly. Schwinn dealers were more qualified to sell Schwinns. They really knew what they were talking about and became adept at "selling" the benefits of Schwinn's latest offerings to the public. More than that, Schwinn's traveling sales school showed dealers how to close a sale and how to explain the differences between Schwinns and competitive offerings. They also taught about things like inventory management. By the late 1970s approximately 3/4 of Schwinn's authorized dealers were selling exclusively Schwinn bikes.

1960 saw the introduction of the first Schwinn road bikes, the Varsity and the Continental. This was an important moment for the cycling world, but its significance was slow to be realized.

Frank W. Schwinn died on April 19, 1963 at the age of 69 from prostate cancer. The third president of Arnold, Schwinn & Company was Frank Schwinn, Jr., or Frankie V. This was also the year that Schwinn introduced the incomparable Sting-Ray. West coast kids were putting "Texas longhorn handlebars" on old bikes in the style of the chopper motorcycle. Schwinn gave it smooth tires and a banana seat with a sissy bar. It was a grotesque distortion of the typical ride, even for a kids' bike. It was an immediate and unqualified success. When sales of 10,000 of a particular model was a big year, Schwinn sold 45,000 Sting-Rays by the end of 1963. They couldn't keep up with demand.

The Sting-Ray's smooth tires were perfect for skid outs. The smaller rims made wheelies easier. And the durable Schwinns could still take a curb or even a homemade jump. Copycats caught on quickly and "high-rise" bicycles accounted for more than half of all bicycle sales during the mid 60s.

In 1968, Schwinn sold 1 million bikes in a single year. Things looked good. Things looked amazing. But they weren't. Schwinn had lost part of their antitrust suit against the Department of Justice in 1967. The Supreme Court had ruled that Schwinn could not sell product to a distributor and then determine to whom the distributor could resell the product. Schwinn sidestepped the ruling. Within the week Schwinn was its own distributor and they kept right on going.

It was around this time that Frankie V. dropped the Arnold from the company's name. He cut back on research and development and gave the spoils to sales and marketing. The new distribution warehouses were taking up resources as well. While the numbers looked better than ever, Schwinn was no longer investing in the future.

Schwinn's "lightweight" road bikes finally began to make headway as the 60s became the 70s, lead by the Varsity and the Continental (both started life as 8-speeds). The original "ten-speed", the Varsity was targeted at 12-14 year olds and it was Schwinn's first derailleur bike that sold in significant numbers. Like the Sting-Ray before it and the balloon tire before that, the Varsity ushered in a new era in cycling. Rather, it marked a return to cycling as real transportation. The ten-speed's narrow wheels, drop handlebars, and hand brakes were designed for speed and distance. Adults, once again, had practical two-wheeled transportation, and the industry shifted again.

Maybe it was the fitness craze of the time. Maybe it was Sting-Ray riders growing up. Maybe it was the price of gasoline or the growing environmental movement. Whatever it was, the early 70s was host to an amazing bicycle boom. Everyone wanted back on the almost 200 year old invention. The bicycle outsold the car for the first (and last) time in decades. Everyone did well, including Schwinn. Almost 7 million bikes were sold across the country in 1970. In 1971 Schwinn sold 1.2 million bicycles by itself. At the height of the boom in 1973, the industry pumped more than 15 million new bicycles into America.

The Varsity sold extremely well throughout the 1970s bicycle boom, but what the masses really wanted were European racing bikes. The Europeans (and the Japanese) had been making high quality lightweight bicycles for years and had managed to develop some cache in the states. While the Schwinn Paramount was still a very high quality ride, it was American made and nothing American made was given much respect at the time.

George Garner sold 10,000 bikes in 1972. Schwinn was building 6,000 units every day. To say that Schwinn was stretched was an understatement. Most of the bikes they were making were already sold. Quality suffered in the rush to meet demand. And the market opened up to anyone that could get a bike into a retail shop. Foreign brands poured in-the English Raleigh, the French Peugeot, the Italian Bianchi-and began winning over the hearts and minds of the American consumer. Schwinn itself began importing bikes from Japan in 1972 and slapping the Schwinn name on them. The Le Tour was the first Schwinn road bike that stood a chance against the European competition and it sold well enough. But it sent a signal to Schwinn loyalists, if the Japanese could make a bike good enough for the Schwinn brand, perhaps the Fuji was a decent bike as well. And maybe these other foreign brands deserved a second look. The bike boom gave several brands a strong foothold in Schwinn territory.

At the height of the boom in 1973, 15 million bicycles were sold in the United States. In 1974, Schwinn sold 1.5 million bikes. In 1975, that number dropped to 900,000

Schwinn had spent decades building a reputation for quality, and in the kids' realm, quality meant durability. And durability meant heavy. And heavy meant slow. The Varsity was up to 40% heavier than its foreign competition, a huge difference. After all, it had been targeted at 12-14 year olds. As Schwinn kids grew up, they wanted an adult ride. So, while sales and profits continued to increase because of the industry wide boom, market share was dropping. At the start of the boom, as many as 30% of the 10-speeds sold in the U.S. were Schwinns. By the end Schwinn's share was less than 15%.

Construction of the Schwinn factory had begun around the turn of the century. New buildings had been created out of necessity and as new technologies were adopted. The result was a patchwork of inefficiencies. No continuous line of production existed at Schwinn. The result was that Schwinn could import bikes at lower costs than manufacturing them at home.

The market shift toward road bikes that Schwinn had helped engineer with the Varsity, left the American company behind. Schwinn was still building a bike to last while the lighter and faster competition was adopting new alloys and other modern technologies. Furthermore, Schwinn stuck with its vibrant red and blue color schemes while the rest of the industry moved on to more adult themes. The Schwinn brand, king of kids, did not translate into serious performance. The company had grown fat, complacent, and unwieldy.

In the midst of the 1970s bike boom, a new market was rising, bicycle motocross or BMX. Born of the Sting-Ray type high-rise cycles developed by Schwinn in the 60s and the motorized dirt bike, BMX was a "fad" that would last more than a decade and account for 1/3 of all bicycle sales in the U.S. in 1982, the year that ET was whisked to freedom through the suburban developments in the basket of Elliot's BMX (Trivia: Bob Haro donned the red hoodie as Elliot's stunt rider). Frankie V. thought BMX riding was a lawsuit waiting to happen. Schwinn waited until 1977 to build their first BMX bike, the Scrambler. It sold well enough, but was not well regarded among serious riders. The Schwinn Sting came soon afterward. The Sting featured a virtually handmade frame of chrome-moly. It was handmade because Schwinn did not have the manufacturing capability to produce chrome-moly frames in any other fashion. The company could put together only 1,000 Stings in a year.

Meanwhile, the 70s boom was good for everyone and Schwinn was doing fairly well with the Varsity, the European style LeTour, and their other road bikes. But they had left a gaping hole at the top end of the American made road bike market where the Paramount was languishing. Along came 23 year old African emigrant Bevil Hogg and partner Richard Burke. Burke bought Hogg's five store bicycle shop chain during the American bike boom, sold it soon after, and together the two started Trek in 1975 to fill the hole. Trek had a slow start as the boom years ended, but Schwinn left the little upstart alone for so long that by 1986, Trek was a respectable company that could demand discounts from suppliers who wanted to hold on to Trek as a customer. They started producing cheaper bikes and encroaching on Schwinn's territory.

The 70s was certainly a chaotic time for Schwinn. The American bike boom came on the heels of Schwinn's wild success with the Sting-Ray. The boom itself, while good for the whole industry, changed the way everyone looked at cycling. President Frankie V. had a heart attack in 1974 and that, coupled with his scars from the antitrust suit perhaps made the aging Schwinn more conservative. Schwinn let the BMX craze largely pass them by. At the same time, mountain bikes were evolving. Schwinn remained timid here too. Ed R. Schwinn, Jr. would become president of Schwinn in 1979. In the meantime he was taking over power from Frankie V. bit by bit. And where Frankie had merely favored the marketing department, Ed seemed to harbor an all out grudge against R&D and manufacturing. He saw the old crowd at Schwinn as a part of the problem and he set about cleaning house while mountain bikes took over America and the neglected high-end of road biking was filled by Trek.

Schwinn had begun selling a stationary bicycle in the 1960s in an attempt to flatten out a very seasonal sales curve. But not much happened on the exercise bike front until 1978. Al Fritz and Ray Burch had both been with Schwinn for decades and had largely taken on operations after Frankie V.'s heart attack. For one reason or another, Fritz managed to rub Ed, Jr. the wrong way. When Lindsay Hooper walked into Schwinn with an exerciser that got Fritz excited, Ed saw a way to rid himself of the old man. Schwinn created the Excelsior Exercise Company and made Fritz president. This effectively exiled the old timer to the Chicago suburbs. It destroyed Fritz's power base at the Chicago headquarters and sent a clear message to the rest of the suits. It helped Ed assume power the following year when Frankie retired.

Schwinn was selling more than a million bikes per year in the late 1970s, but these were children's bikes. The adult market was going to the competition. In 1980, Schwinn sold 900,000 bicycles (15% of the market). That was the year that the Schwinn workforce unionized. Management had lost touch with the factory floor. Before the end of the year, Schwinn's local 2153 was on strike. Management had stockpiled bikes after unionization and immediately stepped up foreign production when their workforce walked. The strike ended in four months with some modest gains for the workers, but a clear shift in strategy for the company as a whole. Production would not remain long in a place where it would be subject to union control. The new direction was clear when Schwinn called back only 65% of the strikers.

By the middle of 1981, Schwinn had a new plant open and operational in Greenville, Mississippi. Mississippi was a state that was less friendly to unions. This seemed the sole criteria for choosing the Greenville site. Skilled labor was scarce. It was a three hour drive from the Memphis airport. It was 75 miles from the nearest interstate. Parts from Asia took months to get in and out of the plant. Executives didn't want to relocate to Greenville.

In the late 1970s, Schwinn took note of a subculture that was to become mountain biking growing in Northern California. These kids were taking the old steel balloon tire bikes and trashing them on mountain trails. The kids called their rides "clunkers." Schwinn put out the abysmal Klunker 5 that didn't even have the strength to handle a curb. It was discontinued before the end of the decade. 1980 saw the introduction of the Schwinn King Sting, based on their popular BMX Sting. It featured a stronger chrome-moly steel frame, but cheap brakes, poor geometry, and too few gears to be useful on the topography of Mount Tamalpais in Marin County. In 1982, Schwinn modified the Varsity to accommodate larger tires and called it the Sidewinder. Again, the geometry was wrong and it was too heavy to appeal to serious riders. Meanwhile, the Specialized Stumpjumper ($750) was priced at three times the Sidewinder and catapulted creator Michael Sinyard to the top of the market.

Schwinn's new Greenville factory, unlike the aging Chicago factory, could produce chrome-moly frames, but the factory was plagued with problems. It was managed from Chicago and the distance caused runs or surpluses of parts. Quality control was less than impressive. Dealers started canceling orders. The new factory never worked out its issues and never got out of the red. Greenville lost money every year that it produced bikes. Schwinn shifted most of its production to Taiwanese company, Giant, and closed the Chicago factory entirely in 1982. Nearly a century of American manufacturing came to a close. Another third of Schwinn's manufacturing went to Murray Ohio at their Nashville, Tennessee factory. Murray couldn't produce chrome-moly frames either and they turned out mountain bikes and antiquated road bikes that nobody wanted (they cost more than the competition also).

In 1983, the end seemed very near indeed. With a borrow, build, then repay strategy, Schwinn had amassed $60 million in debt since the end of the boom years and over production after unionization in 1980. Inventories were building and interest rates were hammering down on the struggling company. Three years of losses had seen Schwinn's net worth drop from $43.8 million in 1980, to less than $3 million in 1983. With the Chicago factory gone and the Greenville factory not quite pulling its own weight, Schwinn's lenders were getting nervous. With millions in write offs after the Chicago factory closing, Schwinn had almost no collateral. Never mind that its biggest liability, the outdated Chicago factory, had been cast overboard, Schwinn was facing bankruptcy. Weeks of negotiating resulted in a deal that listed the Schwinn name as a significant asset so that Schwinn could continue to borrow enough to purchase materials, parts, and bicycles. Things seemed to improve for a brief period.

Schwinn continued to outsource to Giant of Taiwan and, in so doing, began to stretch its design fingers once again. No longer saddled with the manufacturing limitations of antiquated in-house machinery, Schwinn began to put out competitive offerings and at lower prices because of the low costs of manufacturing in Taiwan.

After the poor showing of the Scrambler and Schwinn's inability to produce the popular Sting in large quantities, Schwinn finally introduced a BMX model that could compete with Mongoose. 1983's Predator (manufactured by Giant) was billed as "a track bike built for the streets," and it was just in time to see the decline of the BMX "fad" and the beginning of the next "flash in the pan," the mountain bike. Schwinn's failure to get in early on the era of the mountain bike was arguably the final nail in the Schwinn coffin.

Giant manufactured Schwinn's first chrome-moly mountain bikes in 1984, the Sierra and High Sierra. They were an instant success, if late to the market. Ned Overend even won the Pacific Suntour Series in 1984 on a stock High Sierra.

Schwinn's new Excelsior division had begun selling the Air-Dyne exercise bike in 1979 (also manufactured by Giant after 1982). The exiled Fritz, ever loyal to the Schwinn company, didn't go down without a fight. In 1986 Excelsior sold more than 65,000 units and was grossing almost $25 million per year. With near 50% margins, it was the most profitable division in the company (Schwinn bicycles were barely breaking even). Fritz couldn't keep up with demand. Ed Schwinn, Jr. was enraged. He continued to see Fritz as a challenger to his own power and he forced Al Fritz to retire in 1985. By 1989, Schwinn was selling almost 125,000 Air-Dynes, at which time the exercise bike was pretty much carrying the company.

In 1986, Schwinn was outsourcing 80% of its production to the growing Giant. In 1987, fearful of the potential competitor they had created, Schwinn, intending to protect themselves from a supplier that had grown too large, struck up a deal with China Bicycles. Schwinn purchased a third of the company and promised to divert most of its manufacturing away from Giant to the three year old company. China Bicycles, with Schwinn as part owner, knew that their biggest customer wasn't going anywhere. They did not go to the lengths that Giant had in wooing the Schwinn account. China Bicycles ramped up production slowly and could not meet Schwinn's demand or quality standards.

Meanwhile, Giant's feathers had been ruffled. The company had built enormous capacity to feed Schwinn and now needed to do something with the excess or drown under huge overhead costs. Giant put all of its force behind its own brand name and went head to head with Schwinn. By 1991, Giant was selling 300,000 bicycles under the Giant label every year in the U.S. alone. Schwinn was selling just over 500,000 units.

Next, Schwinn made the colossal error of acquiring a dilapidated bicycle factory in Budapest, Hungary. The cost for controlling interest was more than $1 million. This was a year after 1987’s record breaking $7 million profit. The plant needed to be overhauled. It was outdated in every way. The ceiling leaked. There was a lot of money to be saved on labor, but after that, it wasn’t even an improvement on the Chicago factory that Schwinn had closed. Hungarian labor proved to be lackadaisical in the crumbling former Eastern block. In 1988 the average Hungarian could make more money on the black market than as a legitimate worker for Schwinn. 1987 proved to be Schwinn’s best year. Without another banner year, the company couldn’t purchase the number of bikes from the Hungarian plant that it had projected.

Volume at the Budapest factory was too low to reap the benefits of economies of scale. Schwinn, the largest bike seller in America was juggling production from Giant, China Bicycles, the Hungarian plant, and its own Greenville factory in Mississippi. The company that should have been commanding the deepest discounts from materials and parts suppliers was losing money because it had splintered its manufacturing so poorly. In Europe for instance, the Budapest factory was a minor player and couldn’t command discounts from suppliers. Costs stayed high. Sales stayed low. Quality was never on par with Giant’s bikes. A recall from a faulty brake in 1991 cost Schwinn $1 million by itself. Schwinn would never recover.

Every problem that Schwinn had in manufacturing their bikes was felt by the dealers. If there were delays, the dealers had to scramble to get bikes from other brands. If the parts failed, the dealers had to handle the complaints even if Schwinn backed up the bikes with replacement parts. Higher costs for Schwinn went straight to the showroom floor and cut directly into dealer profits. Schwinn assumed that its reputation would allow retailers to collect higher prices, but with quality suffering Schwinn quickly lost its clout with those selling Schwinn bikes.

The dealers began turning to other brands. Schwinn attempted to throw its weight around, taking away dealer “authorization” and the benefits and protections that came with it. One dealer saw his sales drop 10% after he lost his Authorized Dealer status. The next year, sales were back because of other brands.

In the late 80s Schwinn had made it clear that it would be moving away from Giant. Giant, in turn had become a direct competitor. But Schwinn would never be able to fully rid itself of Giant manufactured bikes. In 1990, Ed announced that Schwinn would be aggressively severing all ties with the manufacturer. A year later Schwinn had to go back to Giant because their other factories couldn’t keep up. Schwinn just didn’t have access to the capacity they needed. Therefore, Giant continued to have access to Schwinn’s latest plans. Giant became less flexible on price and other services. They started calling Schwinn dealers and offering bikes almost identical to Schwinn’s models (produced at the same factory, even) at a lower cost. Giant made itself into a liability for Schwinn. Schwinn recognized the issue, but was powerless to do anything.

Managers started jumping ship in 1990 after a year of losing money. That same year, Schwinn lost a patent lawsuit related to the Air-Dyne, one of the company’s most important bread winners. Meanwhile, the Greenville factory lost $7.6 million dollars in 1990. The plant was closed in 1991. The banks to which Schwinn owed $64 million began to get nervous. They began to call in the loans as quickly but quietly as possible. All lenders were afraid of a rapid descent into the abyss, but hoped things would drop slowly enough for them to get their money out.

By the early 1990s, Michael Sinyard’s Specialized was grossing $170 million per year. More than Schwinn.

Schwinn filed bankruptcy in 1992 (just 3 years short of its centennial) and was purchased by the Scott Sports Group in 1993. By 1994 Schwinn had left 100 years of history behind, pulling out of Chicago and settling down in Boulder, Colorado. Scott took the company in a completely different direction. Almost all of the old lines were phased out within a couple years and Scott introduced a whole new type of Schwinn. The Homegrown mountain bike line was their new racing bike. Priced between $1200 and $3000 in 1995, these top-of-the-line stock racers featured the latest aluminum frames.

The Schwinn name lives on in the department stores the company abandoned in the 1960s. It is not much more than a discount brand today. Pacific owns the name and has relegated almost a century of innovation and history back to the toy department. Schwinn is a kids’ brand once again.

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Trainkid 456

Photographs & History  - 
Digital scan of a 1968 Grand Trunk Western steam excursion flyer for a trip between Chicago's Dearborn Station and South Bend, IN. The locomotive was Dick Jensen's 4-6-2 #5629, a 1924 ALCo product. 5629 was illegally scrapped in 1987 in Blue Island.
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Neil Gale (Ph.D.)

Photographs & History  - 
Statue of Diana the Hunter erected in front of the Art Institute on Michagan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois (1909). Where are the Lions you ask?

The two bronze lions that flank the Michigan Avenue entrance were made for the Art Institute's opening at its current location in 1893. They were a gift from Mrs. Henry Field, sister-in-law to Marshall Field. They have unofficial "names," given to them by their sculptor, Edward Kemeys, that are more like designations. You'll notice that the lions are not identical and thus are named for their poses: The south lion stands "In an Attitude of Defiance," while the north lion is "On the Prowl."

Statue of Diana the Hunter erected in front of the Art Institute on Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. (1909) closer to the museum. In 2000, the lion known as "standing in an attitude of defiance" was moved to make room for a reconstruction project that included renovating of the foundation under the lions' pedestals and of the museum's front staircase. It was gone for six months.
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Neil Gale (Ph.D.)

Photographs & History  - 
Modoc, Illinois - Mississippi River Ferry.

Locally referred to as The French Connection, the Sainte Genevieve - Modoc Ferry is a quick connection between Ste. Genevieve, Missouri and southern Illinois.

From Illinois, the ferry provides a direct access to the shops, restaurants and historic sites of French Colonial Sainte Genevieve. From Ste. Genevieve, the ferry offers a quick route to Fort de Chartres, Pierre Menard Home and Fort Kaskaskia State Historic Parks - as well as other interesting attractions in Southern Illinois.

The ferry also provides a direct route for area truckers, farmers and industries, and is the official crossing point for bicyclists enjoying the Great River Road or the Mississippi River Bicycle Trail. The ferry operates year-round, except when river conditions make ferry operation unsafe.

The ferry was owned by a guy named Ardell Curratt in the 1940s. His nickname was Snap who was the proprietor of the old tavern in Modoc, which was at that time was called Snap 'n Jules. Jules was Ardell's father-in-law. Snap later became the sheriff of Randolph County. The tavern was a local hot spot in the days of old cars with running boards and loose laws.

The ferry was owned by Orville Albert around 1965. He was a local man of French and Indian heritage born and raised in Prairie du Rocher. His mother, Mary (Pelate) spoke only French until she entered school. Orville was a business man with earth-moving machines. Randy Albert used to pilot the ferry to Ste. Gen on Sunday afternoons in the late 1960s, although he never was licensed as a riverboat pilot. Randy was a locally famous musician and one of the bands he formed was called Modoc Ferry. He stole all the road signs leading to the ferry for the band.

Orville used to tell the story of a former owner of the ferry, name untold, who took a car across the Mississippi on one late afternoon, the last trip to Missouri before docking for the night. A man and his wife stayed in the car once on the ferry. Halfway across the river the man started the car, crashed through the chains and both drowned at the bottom of the Mississippi, leaving seven orphans. A suicide note was later found declaring his intent because he had discovered his wife had been unfaithful.

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Neil Gale (Ph.D.)

Photographs & History  - 
Manning & Bowes Saloon after a bomb explosion showing the room near the bar in ruins with four men standing and sitting at one end of the bar. The saloon was located at 501 South State Street (formerly 321 State Street) in the Loop community area of Chicago. (1909)

Chicago Sunday Tribune - June 27, 1909

Although the police profess to have one man under suspicion as having caused bomb explosion No. 30 at Manning & Bowes Saloon, 321 State Street, no arrests were made yesterday (Saturday, June 26, 1909). There is a rumor that is gaining in strength that the man under suspicion has a strong political "pull," but the police deny that this is true of the person they are seeking.

Detectives from the headquarters and the Harrison street station house continued work throughout the day upon the case, but were unable or unwilling to report any progress when asked about the bomb throwers.

Assistant Chief of Police Schuettler declares that every means the department has at its command is being used in the pursuit of the man or men responsible for the repeated outrages.

"I wish I knew who the certain police official is who knows the persona responsible for the dynamite bombs in the so-called gamblers' war; I would give ten years of my life to know who is responsible for the outrages."

This was the statement made last evening by Assistant Chief Schuettler, in response to a published account said to have been made by persons who are said to be in touch with gambling situation.
"I don't believe there is any official attached to the Chicago police department who has information that would lead to the identity of the perpetrators of the bomb outrages," said the assistant chief.

"I have officials of a powder company at work trying to locate the place where the bomb throwers obtain the powder which is the explosive used in most of the bombs. I believe we are close upon the track of the bomb throwers, but cannot afford to make arrests upon suspicion. We have several persons under surveillance, but it is our business to catch them in the act in order to secure a conviction."

"It makes me feel mighty bad to know that no arrest has been made as yet, but we would be in a worse way if we made arrests upon suspicion and were unable to produce evidence against the suspects that would satisfy a court."

"We have followed up the movements of all the known gamblers, and we have obtained lists of men that are supposed to be their enemies within the gambling fraternity. I have heard rumors that there is someone who we are afraid to arrest. That is untrue."

"If we secure evidence against anyone, no matter how he may be connected, we will not hesitate to make arrests. This last outrage has made the detectives who have worked at times upon cases determined to land the men who are responsible."

San Francisco Call, Volume 106, Number 132, October 10, 1909 - WHO IS CHICAGO'S BOMB THROWER?
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Neil Gale (Ph.D.)

Photographs & History  - 
The Origins of Nude Swimming in Illinois Public Schools.
Swimming pools were introduced in the U.S. by the YMCA in the 1880s. In the following 25 years, those pools became major sources of sustainable revenue. Boys drowning was the second leading cause of death, before age 16, after disease. The Y offered both organized lessons and teaching the fastest stroke possible, verified by the Olympics, the crawl stroke. In that pre-TV era, being the fastest was a big part of social entertainment. 
However, in 1906 Edwin Foster, a Northwestern medical school graduate working at a YMCA, (a typical situation), tested the water and discovered it was contaminated. This was a major threat to the business income because cholera and typhoid were transmitted through water. These diseases were still causing widespread, fatal epidemics that closed down cities. 
In 1906, the standard YMCA pool procedure was to drain the pool and refill it once a week. (This actually continued into the 1920s. In one case, in Spartanburg, SC, the 45,000 gallon pool was emptied and refilled twice a week into the 1920s.) In most cases, the men and boys swam naked just as they had in rivers and farm ponds. 
The YMCA National Council recommended the use of sand filters, which were known to be effective. What's available in the literature shows that by 1910 the first pool recirculating pump was installed and by 1913, chlorine chemicals were being added to the water. (The Federal government was just beginning to require chlorination of public water.) 
In 1926, the American Public Health Association published the first guidelines for swimming pool management. These guidelines were updated every one to three years, as needed. Those guidelines recommended that males swimming separate, take a soap shower and swim nude. Unadorned, undyed tank suits were recommended for females. (Keep in mind that women seldom swam in pools since female athleticism was disdained. Even in the 1930s doctors were writing books claiming that athletic women gave birth to ugly babies.)
The APHA pool management guidelines were not written about nude swimming but about keeping pools sanitary and that meant keeping the water disinfected. Consequently, male nude swimming was recommended in every edition until 1962. When one studies the APHA guidelines and those issued by other states, such as by the State of Illinois in 1948, (where they flatly state that sanitation is best preserved if people are separated by gender and swim nude. That came from fourteen of the best swim coaches, sports physicians, sports professors and water sanitation specialists the State could put on a board.)
Chlorine was difficult to use effectively because pH had to be managed in addition to having enough chlorine to kill bacteria. It was not until 1939, what was called the break point in water chlorination was discovered. It was then possible to make chemical tests that pool managers could use. However, WW II intervened and the equipment to do automatic chlorination was not available until the late 1940s. 
A few months after the U.S. entered WW II, the L-85 Regulation was implemented. This mandated the minimum use of cloth for clothing since it was needed for munitions. It also stopped the sale of home sewing machines. During that time, it became patriotic for men and boys to swim nude. A review of camp archives shows that nude swimming at camp became virtually universal during WW II. However, the hygiene and convenience was recognized and nude swimming at camps continued into the 1960s, beginning to fade in the mid-1950s. 
In 1948 and 1956, the Boys Club Operations manual required and then recommended, respectively, boys swim nude. The YMCA and Boys Club Operations manual both stated it was incumbent upon the boards of directors to abide by the state and American Public Health Association guidelines. 
The public school boards responsible for schools with pools also had to abide by the state public health and APHA pool management guidelines. That's why we swam nude in school pools.
By the way, pool filters get clogged with fabric fibers even today. (Case-in-point: put a load of shirts in a clothes dryer after cleaning the lint filter. After they are dry, check how much lint is in the lint filter.) It wasn't until the late 60s or early 70s that nylon suits became widely available. However, the fibers clogging the pool filter was only part of the story. What the Public Health officials wanted to avoid was telling all swimmers that their swim suits were probably contaminated from polluted water from their last swim at the beach or outdoor bathing place. As corroboration, recall that they used to have laundry tubs of chemicals you were to drag your suit though and then rinse, when you swam at a co-ed city pool. 
The 1948 State of Illinois Public Health Association pool management guidelines states specifically that to preserve female modesty, they could wear unadorned, undyed tank suits, after they took a nude soap shower. That's why females wore suits. 
Now as for YMCAs and nude swimming. If one researches this Nation's newspapers, one will find that when YMCAs ran ads for learn-to-swim, it was stated in both the display ad and in the reporter's commentary that boys swam nude and only needed to bring a towel. In a few cases, the boys were photographed swimming nude and the photographs published in the town newspaper. It was a socially expected practice since they were men and boys and had nothing to be ashamed of. 
By 1962, most Americans lived in suburbs and most boys, (who did most of the swimming), did not swim in polluted outdoor water but swam in city pools. Automatic chlorination was controllable to adjust for the contamination in pools. Medicine had conquered Polio and the medical profession was confident curative medicines could stop outbreaks of any disease that might be transmitted by pool water. Also, in 1962, there was no public outcry to end male nude swimming and there was no feminist pressure. 
In 1962, the American Public Health Association dropped the nude swimming recommendation because it was no longer needed to preserve public health. This insight is important because it underscores why male nude swimming was recommended and required for more than 50 years. The Y and schools continued nude swimming into the 70s, and in a few schools, into the 80s.
So many people today do not know about the era of nude swimming. After mentioning swimming naked in High School to people in “you won’t believe me… but” conversations, people thought it was creepy or that the instructors were pedophiles. Records shows a few were but the vast majority of the thousands who worked with boys as swimming teachers, coaches, or life guards were good decent men. Naked swimming was just the way it was, it was seldom sprung on the class as a surprise. Typically the students knew from a year or two before that when they reached that point they would swim naked.
It wasn't urban legend; just a normal part of life in a different and much more self-confident time.
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Neil Gale (Ph.D.)

Photographs & History  - 
LOST TOWNS OF ILLINOIS: Hardscrabble, Illinois & Unionville, Illinois
Hardscrabble, Illinois was in LaSalle County situated on the Vermilion River approximately 80 miles southwest of Chicago in the prairie and farm land of north-central Illinois.

The region around Streator was the development of the Illinois and Michigan Canal in 1821. This canal connected Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River, greatly increasing shipping traffic in the region. Land speculation in areas lining the canal and rivers ensued and towns sprouted quickly. Individual settlements in the Bruce Township region started as early as 1821.

In 1861, John O'Neil, a miner, established the first settlement in what was to become the city of Streator when he opened a small grocery and trading business. O'Neil is credited with giving today's town of Streator its first name, "Hardscrabble" after watching two teams labor to pull a loaded wagon up the hill from the landing on the Vermillion Rover. O'Neil remarked that it was a hard scrabble (hard struggle) and then stenciled "Hard Scrabble" on the front of his store.

The Civil War led to Streator's second name - Unionville. Stories vary as to whether the name represented simply the community's devotion to the Northern cause, or whether it symbolized the accord of Democrats and Republicans as soon as war actually broke out. Evidently many people regarded the change as merely symbolic, and continued to call the settlement by its original, more descriptive name of Hardscrabble.

Both Unionville and Otter Creek had bazaars and community meetings where they engaged in work similar to that done by the Red Cross volunteers during recent wars - picking lint and making bandages and underwear for the hospitals.

All during the war the post office (called "Eagle") was about two miles from Unionville. The school children usually went from school to Squire Painter's house for the mail. It came twice a week. And when the spring or fall rains came the road was full of water in places and you had to walk on rail fences to get to the post office. Overholt and Holmes had a general store at Reading, but when the Vermillion River was past fording you could not get to Reading and the road to Ottawa was nothing but mud and water, so supplies got quite limited.

The men who returned to Unionville after the Civil War found little change. There were probably a few new settlers and a few new shanties along the river where Water Street is now; the Springer and Painter store had opened for business, in 1864. But when the town was platted on April 27, 1865, scarcely six square blocks were encompassed by its boundaries: Main Street on the south, Bloomington on the east, Kent on the north, and the river on the west. James Campbell, John O. Dent, Clark S. Dey, and Isaac A. Rice signed as owners of the land.

In 1865 some coal samples from the area were sent to Worthy Stevens Streator, a prominent railroad promoter, physician, industrialist and entrepreneur from Cleveland, Ohio. Streator was immediately struck by the quality of the coal and financed the region's first mining operation, forming the Vermillion Coal Company. Streator approached his nephew Colonel Ralph Plumb at a railway station in December 1865 about overseeing the mining operation in central Illinois for him and several investors. Col. Plumb agreed and arrived in the town then called Unionville in January of 1866 with instructions to purchase and develop 4000 acres of coal lands, as acting secretary, treasurer, and resident manager of the Vermillion Coal Company. He wasted no time. Under his supervision, miners went to work and sank the shaft of the company's first mine, the "Old Slope." Located east of the river, at the foot of Adams Street and just north of Cedar, the mine reached a depth of fifty feet and eventually covered about sixty-five acres. (It never became a large operation, in its heyday employing only between fifty and a hundred men and averaging seventy tons of coal a day.)
While miners worked below ground, workmen above were laying track for the first railroad into Unionville, the fifteen-mile "Stub End Road" that led westward to Wenona and a junction with the Illinois Central line. (It later became part of the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio road.) Halfway between the two towns grew up a small community which Plumb named Garfield after his Civil War commander.

With the new mine and the new railroad, Unionville gained more settlers. A row of wooden shacks sprang up along the railway near the mine. Overholt and Holmes moved their store from Reading to Unionville and put up a two-story building at Main and Bloomington - a site later occupied by the Plumb Hotel. Just back of the store and fronting on Main Street was a three-story frame structure erected by Dr. E. E. Williams; its top floor was the chief place for entertainments prior to the construction of Oriental Hall. Zephaniah Schwartz, one of the earliest settlers in Livingston County, moved to the growing community and built a large rooming house, called Streator House, on the southwest corner of Main and Bloomington.

Unionville was obviously growing beyond the boundaries drawn for it in 1865, so Colonel Plumb and other residents arranged to have it replatted. In the meantime, they gave the town its third and present name, commemorating the efforts of the Ohio doctor who believed in its possibilities. Unionville officially became Streator on November 26, 1867. Less than three months later, on February 10, 1868, Ralph Plumb as secretary together with James Huggans, Albert McCormick, and William Rainey - signed the second plat, which extended Streator's boundaries south to Wilson Street, east to Wasson, and north to Morrell. In the spring a meeting was called "for the purpose of determining by vote the question of incorporating the town of Streator." On the night of April 9, a group of about seventy landowners and businessmen met above the Overholt and Holmes store. There they voted, 56 to 5, for incorporation, and later that month, the townspeople chose five trustees for the village council: H. R. Stout, R. P. Smith, Robert Hall, A. J. Baker, and George Temple. The new village was formally incorporated in 1870, with a population of 1486.

In 1870 the Vermillion Coal Company opened its Number 1 mine, with a shaft located just north of Grant and east of Vermillion Street. This mine, the largest in the entire Streator area, was in the thirtieth year of its operation to spread over about 930 acres at an average depth of 80 feet. With a vein of coal between 4 1/2 and 5 feet thick, the mine at its peak yielded more than 2500 tons a day, to make a total of approximately 5,000,000 tons. In 1871 the Vermillion Company united with the Chicago and Wilmington Coal Company to form the Chicago, Wilmington and Vermillion Coal Company - called simply the "Vee Cee" by local residents.

Worthy S. Streator served as an Ohio State Republican Senator from 1869 to 1873.

Note: The Streator High School yearbook is still named "The Hardscrabble."
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Neil Gale (Ph.D.)

Photographs & History  - 
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Neil Gale (Ph.D.)

Photographs & History  - 
S. Rosen's Baking Company, 5001 West Polk Street, Chicago, Illinois
S. Rosen’s was founded in Chicago in 1909 by Sam Rosen, who left his home in Poland at age 9 to become an apprentice baker in Germany. Rosen came to the U.S. at age 13, opened his own bakery in New York at 16, and helped organize the first bakers’ union in that city. That activity cost him the hearing in one ear when a strikebreaker hit him over the head.
He moved to Chicago in his early 20s, purchased a small bakery on Chicago’s Northwest side called the New York Baking Company, and introduced Rosen’s now-famous rye bread to the Windy City. The bread used to be delivered unwrapped before dawn by horse and buggy, and placed in wooden breadboxes that were situated outside grocery stores.
Rosen's has continues to be part of Chicago and the Rosen family. Don Rosen, the son of founder Sam Rosen, joined the company in 1945 and took the reins after his father retired. Steve Rosen, Don’s son, joined in 1974 and today serves as Vice President and General Manager. Steven A. Rosen retained his position as Vice President and  General Manager when Alpha Baking Company purchased Rosen's in 1981. One of Steve's brothers, Michael, was the company’s Director of Human Resources.
In 1981, Alpha Baking Company purchased S. Rosen’s Baking Company, a Chicago staple and baker of Jewish hearth rye breads and variety rolls. Back in 1979, Alpha Baking bought Mary Ann Baking Company, famous for "The Chicago Hot Dog Bun".
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Neil Gale (Ph.D.)

Photographs & History  - 
Bunker Hill, Illinois Tornado of 1948.

Bunker Hill, Illinois - This community of about 1,700 in southern Macoupin County has seen its share of high wind in the last century.

The town was spared devastation during the tornado of 1925, which killed 540 people in southern Illinois. Bunker Hill was hit in 1928, but only a few buildings lost roofs. Then in 1958, five of the town’s half-dozen churches were either demolished or damaged by a tornado that did an estimated $250,000 in damage, which is nearly $3.8 million in today’s money.

Then came the tornado on March 19, 1948. It killed 19 people and injured 126.  

Almost every structure in Bunker Hill was destroyed, only two buildings were left standing, by the tornado that arrived shortly before 7 a.m. With so many men recently home from World War II, comparisons to bombed-flat European cities were understandable.

Wayne Heal, then a senior in high school, remembers racing into town with his father from the family farm five miles away. They were worried about Heal’s grandparents. They couldn’t get past the edge of town, owing to bricks in the streets.

“An average of three feet deep,” Heal said. “We went through about three blocks of that, altogether.”

The roof of his grandparents’ home was gone. So was the entire north side of the house, Heal said. But his grandmother and grandfather were fine.

That was largely a matter of luck. Nothing fell on them, and a 2-by-6 board that went through a kitchen window and embedded itself in a wall missed everyone.

“It went in deep enough that it was suspended there, like you’d driven a nail,” Heal recalled. “If that had caught anybody, it would have cut their head off.”

Carolyn Scroggins was working as a clerk in St. Louis when she heard the news and jumped on a bus.

“On the way home, the traffic was just car after car after car, going very slowly all the way to Bunker Hill,” Scroggins said. “People were going there for sightseeing. It took us nearly all day before we finally got home to Bunker Hill.”

Her future husband, Glenn, had already started helping with cleanup, despite a piece of glass in his eye.

“He got his clothes on, he says in about three seconds, then started uptown,” Scroggins said. “As he went uptown, there was a lady lying in the middle of the street without any clothes on, so he covered her with his raincoat.”

The woman was dead, Scroggins said. But others were more fortunate.

In the disaster’s wake, Scroggins said, townfolk began wondering about an infant girl found alive in the debris of a demolished house. Her mother, father, brother and sister were all dead, leaving her alone in the world at just 6 months old. The family had lived in Bunker Hill for fewer than five years and wasn’t well known, she said.

“I bet you that’s been one of the most-asked questions: Whatever happened to her?” Scroggins said.

Last fall, Scroggins got her answer when someone from the local library called: There’s a woman here who says she was a baby when the tornado hit, and she wants to see pictures. Scroggins, who is president of the Bunker Hill Historical Society, knew exactly who the librarian was talking about.

“I said, ‘Oh my goodness!’” Scroggins said. “We ran to the museum.”

The woman had been taken in by an aunt and raised in southern Illinois.

“She was a delightful person,” Scroggins said. “She was like a ray of sunshine.”
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POSTING AND COMMENTING RULES FOR: LIVING HISTORY OF ILLINOIS AND CHICAGO® community. **Please Read This >>BEFORE<< Posting or Commenting** Digital Research Library of Illinois History®: http://LivingHistoryOfIllinois.com Illinois History Store®: http://IllinoisHistoryStore.org 1. To protect the enjoyment of the group, we have a ZERO TOLERANCE policy for racist, anti-Semitic, ethnic, and religious or LGBT slurs and pornographic material. Criticism of administrators, disrespectful comments, members who start an argument, fight, affix blame, instigate, make trouble, political or religious bashing, people that are belligerent, post nasty or hateful comments, disseminate their twisted point of view (even in jest), or use profanity, will be banned immediately. 2. If you are too lazy to READ THE ENTIRE post and the comments, this is not the group for you. Your question may already be answered in someone else's comment. 3. Your own personal photos, one (1) family photo [with a history], Internet discovered pictures* (no smartphone/tablet screen captures), videos*, and non-sexual comments are welcome as a posting. 4. This is a STATEWIDE history group. You are expected to: - a. Present/write the history about the photo you post; - b. Post the location including the city because some members don't know. - c. Posting with no comment is a "Hit-and-Run" and will be deleted. 5. Links are NOT ACCEPTABLE as the MAIN POSTING in this group (i.e. no links to Websites OR other Facebook groups, walls, timelines OR other photo albums like Flickr, OR file sharing sites like Google Docs, etc.). >> BUT... if you post a photo (not a photo link), you may include a URL link in the posts body. >> TO TEST<< Click on the image presented. If it takes you to a website or another Facebook group or page, it is not posted properly for this group. >> Video links and PDF files ARE ALLOWED with a text description. 6. As a Comment; Website links (Non-sexual. Non-adult) are allowed except for other Facebook groups, pages, walls, or timelines. They will be deleted. 7. NO mentions of or links to any other Google+ Communities are allowed (unless approved). Other groups do not reciprocate links. Web links and photos ARE ALLOWED in the comment, except for Google+ links. 8. Administrators may remove a post that has already been posted recently to avoid duplication. 9. Thread comments must be on the posted topic. Comments not on topic will be removed. 10. The group is not a quiz show, trivia game or a request line and those types of posts will be removed. Search Google for your answers or photos requests. 11. Who remembers and personal journal type posts will be removed. 12. Group Get-togethers are not sanctioned. 13. Only posts about Illinois are allowed. *Copyrights to photographs/videos belong to their owner. Plagiarism may occur in this open, public forum, but it's not a crime. This group displays images and text for historical presentations only.

Neil Gale (Ph.D.)

Photographs & History  - 
Ambassador Theatre, 5825 W. Division Street, Chicago (1927)

The Ambassador was built for the M & H Theaters Corporation in 1924 by architect Harold E. Gallup serving the far western Chicago neighborhood of Austin.

It could seat 2500 in its auditorium and originally hosted stage shows in addition to motion pictures. It was built in the Neo-Classical style and featured a domed lobby which was topped by a cupola.

Its marquee was V-shaped, and had signage on both Division and Monitor Avenue. Over the marquee were four large arched windows. Terra-cotta decoration covered much of the facade, which was of pale colored brick.

After the death of Knute Rockne[1] in a plane crash in 1931, the Ambassador was renamed the Rockne in his honor

The Rockne became and "adult" theater in the 1960s. When neighborhood groups protested the change, the theater's owner agreed to try a change and offered special family films and rates. But the families stayed home and the Rockne reverted back to adult films.

After its days as a movie house ended in the very early 1980s, the Rockne began a new life as a church, which it still serves as today.

[1] Knute Kenneth Rockne (1918-1930) was a Norwegian-American football player and coach, at the University of Notre Dame. Rockne is regarded as one of the greatest coaches in college football history. Rockne died in the crash of an airplane—TWA Flight 599—in Kansas on March 31, 1931, while en route to participate in the production of the film The Spirit of Notre Dame (released October 13, 1931).

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Neil Gale (Ph.D.)

Photographs & History  - 
Elevated view of the WWI 33rd Division soldiers marching in lines upon their return home. Crowds line the street on both sides, and the buildings are decorated with American flags. The view is looking north from the west side of State Street at Madison Street. (1919)

NOTE: That is not the Marshall Field Clock. This is the State and Madison Building was built in 1905 on the northwest corner of State & Madison built by Holabird & Roche as the "Boston Store".

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Neil Gale (Ph.D.)

Photographs & History  - 

Mary Todd Lincoln - In the midst of the Chicago Fire.

After the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, shot on April 14, 1865 and his passing on April 15th, Mary Todd Lincoln (Abe's wife) departed Washington by train to Chicago to live with Tad (son) in the Tremont House. Later Mary moved to the Hyde Park Hotel, but in 1866 she purchased a home at 375 W. Washington in Chicago. This home was located between Willard (later known as Ann) and Elizabeth Streets.

In May of 1867 Mary rented her home and moved to the Clifton House at the southeast corner of Wabash and Madison. Later in the same year Mary moved back to her old neighborhood and lived at 460 W. Washington, across the street from Union Park. Again in 1868 Mary stayed at the Clifton House.

In May of 1871, after spending several years in Europe, Mary and Tad returned to Chicago and lived with son Robert at his home at 653 Wabash Avenue. She soon moved out and was back at the Clifton House. Tad died in the Clifton House on Saturday morning, July 15, 1871, after a long illness he contracted in Europe.

Mary Todd Lincoln was staying at Robert Lincoln's house on Wabash when the Chicago Fire began on October 8, 1871. She and Robert rushed to the lake front with the thousands of other people avoiding the fire, flames and smoke. Both survived.

In 1874 Mary was living at the new Grand Central Hotel on LaSalle, St. On April 6, 1874, she sold her old home on Washington Street.

NOTE: All addresses in this story are BEFORE the 1909 & 1911 Chicago street renumbering and the 1909 streets being renamed. See all three original documents in our Digital Research Library of Illinois History®

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Neil Gale (Ph.D.)

Photographs & History  - 
Marshall Field Garden Apartments, Chicago, IL.

[PHOTO] Construction of the Marshall Field Garden Apartments, located on the block bounded by West Blackhawk Street, North Sedgwick Street, West Siegel Street, and North Hudson Avenue in Chicago, ca. 1928.

[HISTORY] The Marshall Field Garden Apartments, located at 1450 North Sedgwick in Chicago, is a large non-governmental subsidized housing project in the Old Town neighborhood. The project occupies two square city blocks (6 acres...) and was the largest moderate-income housing development in the U.S. at the time of construction in 1929. Marshall Field Garden Apartments has 628 units within 10 buildings. Construction was financed by Marshall Field III.

This "experiment", built by Marshall Field III, aimed not only to provide housing at a reasonable cost but also to provide a catalyst for renewal of the surrounding area. Marshall Field Garden Apartments was at the time of construction one of two large philanthropic housing developments in Chicago. The other was Michigan Boulevard Garden Apartments, at 47th and Michigan. Both were built in 1929 and both were modeled after the Dunbar Apartments built by John D.
Rockefeller, Jr., in 1926 in Harlem, New York City.

All 628 apartments are currently Section 8 assisted living units.
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Neil Gale (Ph.D.)

Photographs & History  - 
Effects of the Panic of 1893 in Illinois and Chicago.

The Panic of 1893 was a true and severe financial panic lasting from May of 1893 to November, 1893, with a run on currency, and banks closing, and businesses and manufacturers not being able to open because they had not cash to pay workers or buy materials. The panic included precipitous declines in the stock market, the failure of Wall Street brokerage houses, and the failure of 158 national banks in 1893, mostly in the South and West. Other bank failures included 172 state banks, and 177 private banks, as well as 47 savings banks and 13 loan and trust companies and 16 mortgage companies. The panic started in New York and spread to the rest of the country.

In a nut-shell, people attempted to redeem silver notes for gold; ultimately the statutory limit for the minimum amount of gold in federal reserves was reached and U.S. Notes could no longer be successfully redeemed for gold.

For the first time in July of 1893 Chicago banks approved the issuance of clearinghouse loan certificates, foreshadowing the eventual suspension of cash payments and the price of silver fell. The Panic of 1893 was followed by an economic depression in employment and prices which lasted until 1897. Had the United States Federal Reserve Bank system existed, the panic probably would have been averted.

The Chicago World's Columbian Exposition, opened on May 1, 1893 and claiming 27,300,000 visitors (paying and non-paying) after closing on October 30, 1893. There were 46 Countries participating in the World's Fair. The shock came to Chicago a week after the Exposition opened. In spite of the depression, the World's Columbian Exposition was financially immensely successful. The admission to the Fair cost 50¢. October attendance had reached over 6.8 million paid visitors - doubling August's 3.5 million. Chicago Day (October 9) alone saw 716,881 Fairgoers. The concession stands brought in over $4 million, the Ferris wheel (50¢ admission for two rotations) turned a profit, and when all the calculations were complete, the Exposition itself more than broke even, with a $1 million surplus to be returned to its 30,000 stockholders.

During the summer of 1893 commercial, industrial and manufacturing depression accompanied financial panic. Businesses failed and several major railroads, with Chicago as their transportation hub, went into receivership, and control of ‘unprecedented mileage’ was handed over to the state and federal courts in bankruptcy. For the year ending in June, 1894 over 125 railroads went into receivership.

The year also saw prosecutions under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, aimed at curbing the abuses of monopolies. By July and August of 1893 unemployment in factories was severe, and wage reductions widespread. Many banks were reporting declines in their gold reserves; the United States debt increased and money and gold flowed out of the country. The depression reached its low point in July of 1894. About 20%-25% of the United States workforce was unemployed at the panic's peak.

The economic misery was exacerbated by an extraordinarily harsh winter in 1893, Coxey’s army of unemployed marched to Washington, D.C. in 1894, and in April of 1894 more than 40,000 workers were reported to be involved in over thirty national strikes. The most dramatic and important of all of these strikes was the Pullman Strike which started in May of 1894 which tied up 50,000 miles of rail on July 26.

Jane Addams, Florence Kelley and many others at Hull House spoke out and wrote about the circumstances and conditions of the strike.
At one point 5,000 Federal troops, called in by Grover Cleveland over the objection of Governor John Peter Altgeld, were camped alongside the Lake in downtown Chicago.

As with many former and subsequent financial crises, there were international roots and ramifications. The United States tariff policy played a role, as did the political stalemate over taxes, and whether United States currency should be backed by gold alone, or gold and silver. These issues remained central to the hotly contested presidential campaign of 1896 when the Democrat William Jennings Bryan was defeated.

The financial crisis was precipitated by an unexpected event, when Baring Brothers, a financial house in London, defaulted on 21 million English pounds of debt which had been collateralized by its heavy investment in Argentina. To cover the default the Bank of England borrowed from the Bank of France which borrowed from the Bank of Imperial Russia, and in November of 1890 there were numerous bank failures and run on currency in Europe.

The financial crash of 1893 would have come sooner to America had there not been a bumper crop of wheat in the face of European famine, and thus gold temporarily poured into the coffers of United States banks. Then there was a political revolution in Brazil, followed by a banking crisis in Australia. And the economic depression in France and Germany depressed the price of silver. This further increased the immigration to the United States, and to Chicago.
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Neil Gale (Ph.D.)

Photographs & History  - 
Lee's Place / Hardscrabble - The Bridgeport Neighborhood of Chicago

A settler, Charles Lee, had come to the Chicago area about 1804 with his family, and had preempted a large tract at what afterwards became Bridgeport.  Charles Lee owned a farm on the South Branch about four miles from its mouth; his house stood on the northwest side of the river in a grove and was first called "Lee's Place," and later "Hardscrabble."  Lee and his family built a residence near Fort Dearborn (the fort was built during the summer and fall of 1803) and were thus residents of Chicago very early. Farm products such as livestock and hay were known to be produced here.

At the time of the massacre of 1812 the families of Lee, Burns, Kinzie and Ouilmette, lived close to the fort. The Lee house at "Hardscrabble" was occupied by Lee's employees or tenants; Liberty White, a Frenchman named Debou, a discharged soldier named John Kelso (or Kelson), and a boy.

The massacre of 1812 was due the attack of the Indians at Lee's Place. On April 6, 1812, a party of ten or twelve Winnebagoes, dressed and painted, arrived at the house, and, according to the custom among savages, entered and seated themselves without ceremony.

Something in their appearance and manner excited the suspicions of Debou, who remarked, "I do not like the appearance of these Indians - they are none of our folks. I know by their dress and paint that they are not Pottowattamies."
Kelso then said to the boy who was present, "If that is the case, we had better get away from them if we can. Say nothing; but do as you see me do."
As the afternoon was far advanced, Kelso walked leisurely towards the canoes, of which there were two tied near the bank. Some of the Indians inquired where he was going. He pointed to the cattle which were standing among the haystacks on the opposite [right/south] bank, and made signs that they must go and fodder them, and then they should return and get their supper.
Kelso got into one canoe, and the boy into the other. The stream was narrow, and they were soon across. When they had gained the opposite side, they pulled some hay for the cattle - made a show of collecting them - and when they had gradually made a circuit, so that their movements were concealed by the haystacks, they took to the woods, which were close at hand, and made for the fort.
They had run about a quarter of a mile, when they heard the discharge of two guns successively, which they supposed to have been levelled at White and Debou that they had left behind. On their way to the fort they notified the family of Burns, living on the river at what is now North State Street, of their danger, and a squad of soldiers was sent to escort them to the fort.

All of the families gathered in the fort and the Indians left the neighborhood. Later, news reached the fort about White and Debou being stabbed, scalped, shot and mutilated.

This was the precursor to the Fort Dearborn Massacre later that summer. The Lee farm was abandoned following the Fort Dearborn massacre in August of 1812. While fur traders were thought to have still traversed the area, American activity did not resume until after federal troops returned (July 4, 1816) to rebuild Fort Dearborn.
1816 was also a new beginning for Lee's Place, though the name would be changed to Hardscrabble. Until roughly the Black Hawk War of 1832, Hardscrabble served as a fur trading outpost consisting of several cabins, a trading post, and a lodging house.

Mack & Conant, extensive merchants at Detroit, in the Indian trade, became the owners of this property about the year 1816. They sent Mr. John Craft with a large supply of Indian goods to take possession of it, and establish a branch of their house there, the principle object being to sell goods to such traders as they could residing throughout this country, without interfering with the interests of those traders who purchased goods from him.

Mr. Craft repaired the dilapidated building, adding thereto, and erecting others necessary for the convenience of business. He named it 'Hardscrabble;' whether he or someone else, it bore that name in 1818.

Chief Alexander Robinson owned a cabin at Hardscrabble, and several members of the La Framboise family, who were French-Indian, lived there. Robinson had put up the Galloway family at his cabin when they were coldly received by agents of the American Fur Company at Chicago in 1826. One of the girls of the family later became the wife of Archibald Clyborne. She recalled five or six cabins of the several persons living nearby.

Another early settler was Russell Heacock. He took up land on the South Fork of the South Branch of the Chicago River near what is today Thirty-Fifth Street. Heacock was staunchly independent, which is probably the reason he had moved to the Hardscrabble area in the first place. He found it necessary to move closer to Chicago so that his children could attend school, himself becoming one of Chicago's early school teachers. In spite of moving to Chicago, he retained his property on the South Fork. Heacock is notable for two other reasons. First, he was the sole dissenter when a vote was called to incorporate the Town of Chicago (1832). The second thing he was noted for was his promotion of the Illinois and Michigan Canal. Because funds to build the canal were scarce, a plan was devised to make it less expensive by reducing the intended depth of the canal. Russell Heacock was perhaps the most vocal proponent of the plan - which earned him the nickname of Shallow-Cut. Maybe he hated the nick name, but the shallow cut plan was ultimately successful.

Even before the canal construction was begun, Hardscrabble became the site of a quarry, which was opened in 1833 in order to cut stone needed to improve Chicago harbor. And because of the relentless pounding of Lake Michigan waters, the harbor improvement project dragged on for many years. Later the stone quarry became known as Stearns' Quarry. The opening of the quarry and the construction of the canal mark the transition from the frontier outpost of Hardscrabble to the Bridgeport that we know today.

What came to be known as the town of Bridgeport was platted by the canal commissioners in 1836; although it was not yet going by the name of Bridgeport. Canalport or (Canal Port) was platted by private interests in 1835 in one of the even-numbered sections not controlled by the canal commissioners. The beginnings of the settlement are somewhat obscure, since it is so old and because many of the records pertaining to that period, such as those kept by the county, burned in the Chicago Fire of 1871. The origin of the name Bridgeport is shrouded in myth, purportedly owing to a low bridge spanning one of the waterways which forced a transfer of cargo from larger to smaller vessels. Some sources say this bridge was "at Ashland avenue," others say "near Ashland avenue." It should be noted that here was no bridge at Ashland avenue, nor was there an 'Ashland avenue' per se.

The nearby named Canalport would also indicate that the site was foreseen as a cargo transfer point. The forks had already been marked as the 'Head of Navigation' in the 1821 survey. The bridge in question was presumably the bridge at the lock, located just to the east of future Ashland Avenue (also known early as Lisle or Reuben street north of the river). Aside from the bridge altogether, the narrow width of the canal lock made cargo transfer necessary. A very low bridge would have at the most compounded this fact, and if it were built low enough to impede traffic, the canal commissioners probably did so by design. The reason is simple; being that the commissioners held the land in the odd-numbered sections (here Section Twenty-nine), they naturally would prefer that the highest valued lots fall on canal lands rather than to those (like Canalport in Section Thirty) promoted by private speculators. According to Michael Conzen, this is what the commissioners were doing in places like Lockport (vying with Joliet) and La Salle (in competition with Peru).  The naming of Bridgeport probably had as much to do with the commissioners’ efforts to distinguish their platting from Canalport as it had with any physical bridge. Moreover, 1840 federal census information in A. T. Andreas' History of Cook County (1884) mentions the Bridgeport precinct of Cook County. There was no water in the canal at the time. In any event, whoever named it, Bridgeport became the real town, while Canalport remained a paper dream. A Street by the name of Canalport Avenue is the only remnant left of the "town."

Full Size Map: http://livinghistoryofillinois.com/images/Lees_Place_Map_1812.jpg
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Neil Gale (Ph.D.)

Photographs & History  - 
The Origin and Meaning of the Name Chicago.
The name Chicago is derived from the local Indian word chicagoua for the native garlic plant (not onion) Allium tricoccum. This garlic (in French: ail sauvage) grew in abundance on the south end of Lake Michigan on the wooded banks of the extensive river system which bore the same name, chicagoua. Father Gravier, a thorough student of the local Miami language, introduced the spelling chicagoua, or chicagou, in the 1690`s, attempting to express the inflection which the Indians gave to the last syllable of the word.
The French who began arriving here in 1673 were probably confused by the Indian use of this name for several rivers. They usually wrote it as Chicagou. Gradually other names were given to the streams composing this system: Des Plaines, Saganashkee (Sag), Calumet (Grand and Little), Hickory Creek, Guillory (for the north branch of the present Chicago River), and Chicago or Portage River (for the south branch). Students of early Chicago history likewise tend to get confused, unaware of these name changes, but early French maps and narratives, when carefully interpreted, make it possible to discover who and what was where, and when.
As a name for a place, as distinct from a river, Chicagou appears first in Chicagoumeman, the native name for the mouth of the present Chicago River, where Fort Dearborn was built in 1803. As a name for a place where people lived, the simple Chicagou was first used by the French about 1685 for a Jesuit mission and French army post at the site of Marquette`s 1675 camp along the south branch. This interpretation, and the etymology of the name Chicago, derive largely from the memoirs of Henri Joutel, the soldier-naturalist associate of La Salle on his fatal last journey, 1684-1687, to Texas. Joutel spent nearly three weeks in the Chicagou area in 1687-88, and one of his first investigations was into the origin of this name which he had heard from La Salle and many others. His detailed description of the plant, its "ail sauvage" taste, its differences from the native onion and its maple forest habitat, point unambiguously to Allium tricoccum.
English accounts tracing the name to a "wild onion" date from after 1800, when different groups of Indians, mainly Potawatomi, had displaced the original Miami. In the Potawatomi language, chicago meant both the native garlic and the wild onion.
The downtown Chicago or Fort Dearborn area, exposed to wind, weather and passing enemies, was not where the local Miami and other people lived when Frenchmen, led by Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette, S.J., began arriving in 1673. In early 1675 Marquette found a group of Illinois merely camped there before setting out for the Green Bay area. The local population`s villages were scattered along rivers and streams in more sheltered environments. Archaeologists have identified dozens of places in the greater Chicago area where they lived, and a few were vaguely recorded by the early French.
Early French forts, camps and settlements, and one or two British army camps are also rather vaguely recorded and can only be approximately located by examination of many obscure pre-1800 maps and documents. The following represents an attempt to piece together all available clues and put these locations and people in a time series. In so doing, it will be necessary to correct some longstanding misconceptions, such as the customary labeling of Jean Baptiste Point de Sable as Chicago`s first permanent resident. This account, however, ends with the important figure of Point de Sable, because with him begins an era for which historical data are available in much greater abundance. Detail may be found in the encyclopedic entries of this website under the appropriate names, and in the chronology section under the dates given.
• Louis Jolliet, Jacques Marquette and five others; 1673 camp at western end of portage des chênes, marked by the Chicago Portage Historical site. Marquette`s party also camped here in March 1675.
• Louis Jolliet and associates, 1673-1675; two 1674 maps prepared under Jolliet`s direction allude to the explorations made during this period. Jolliet`s detailed rendering of the river system in the Chicago area and of the lower St. Joseph River indicate intimate knowledge of the terrain. During this time period, there were probably two building sites on the west bank of the Des Plaines (then Chicagou). One was probably at the mouth of the Tukoquenone (Du Page) River, the other opposite the mouth of Hickory Creek at Mont Jolliet in present Joliet. This distinctive alluvial mound, which the Indians called Missouratenoui (place where pirogues were dragged or portaged) was a prominent landmark for native and French travelers, as it was at the crossing of the major east-west Sauk trail. Marquette in early 1675 met two of Jolliet`s associates who were living and trading in this area: Pierre Moreau (La Taupine) and Jean Roussel or Rousseliere, the unnamed "surgeon" in Marquette`s journal.
• Jacques Marquette, S.J.; 1674-75. He and his two companions, the experienced voyageurs Jacques Largillier and Pierre Porteret, camped briefly near the mouth of the Chicago River, and in mid-January moved to a site on the south branch, probably selected as a result of 1673-74 explorations in the employ of La Salle, in which Largillier may have taken place.
• Claude Allouez, S.J.; 1677. He visited for several days at a native village somewhere along the Des Plaines, en route to the great Kaskaskia village opposite Starved Rock.
• La Salle`s employees; 1677-79. Two trading camps, probably both on Hickory Creek, perhaps near New Lenox. The surgeon Jean Roussel, who worked for La Salle in 1669 and again in 1677-80, may have been in both groups, because he knew the area from his 1673-75 experience. Assuming the same for Michel Accault (Aco) would explain the latter`s detailed knowledge of native traders, and of their territories and languages, as early as 1679-80. The 1677 trip produced the buffalo pelts which La Salle showed to Louis XIV in France the following winter. In 1678 the king gave La Salle control over the Illinois country and the rights to trade in buffalo, which were very abundant southward from Mont Jolliet and Hickory Creek. The 1678-79 trip produced a large quantity of beaver pelts which were taken to present Door County, Wisconsin, and loaded on the Griffon, which soon sank with great loss to La Salle`s creditors. La Salle seems to have traveled along Hickory Creek twice in 1680, on a route he had not previously seen. On his second trip he found a trace of earlier European presence, a bit of sawed wood.
• La Salle and party, January 1682. Camp along the west bank of the Des Plaines, en route to the mouth of the Mississippi River, probably at Mont Jolliet, opposite the mouth of what the chaplain, Father Zénobe Membré, called the Chicagou (Hickory Creek). They were waiting for a party of hunters who had separated from the main group after leaving the St. Joseph River. [Hickory Creek flows west from Skunk Grove in eastern Frankfort Township. Chicagoua is the Miami and Illinois word for skunk.]
• La Salle`s fort, 1683. Probably at the New Lenox site. In 1994 a team led by archaeologist Rochelle Lurie unearthed, in the midst of an extensive Indian settlement, a rectangular feature of apparently European origin. La Salle, in a letter from here (at the "portage de Chicagou") described it as being 30 leagues, about 72 miles, from his newly completed Fort St. Louis on Starved Rock and near a trail (Sauk) from the east. The actual river distance, measured on the plats of the 1822 U.S. Government surveys, is about 32 or 33 leagues. The west end of the portage des chênes, the only portage route seriously studied by historians in three centuries, was about ten leagues farther to the north, a route La Salle disliked.
• Jesuit mission and French army post, c.1685-86. Probably on the site of Marquette`s 1675 camp, about where Damen Avenue crosses the south branch of the Chicago River. Referred to by Joutel, who described the entire area and the maple forest where he found the native garlic, but not the mission and post which had probably been mostly destroyed by the Iroquois in July 1686. This site is probably the same one farmed 1809-1812 by James Leigh (often erroneously called Charles Lee), a retired sergeant of the Fort Dearborn garrison. In an 1811 letter to his commander-in-chief Col. Jacob Kingsbury, Leigh mentioned the maple-basswood forest here, a typical habitat of the native garlic, Allium tricoccum.
• French fort, commanded by Lt. Nicolas d`Ailleboust, sieur de Mantet, 1693-96. Probably at the mouth of the Grand Calumet River, then near present Gary, Indiana. The river is marked R. de Chicagou on the "Louvigny" map, which Mantet helped prepare in 1697. Mantet had been ordered to the region to quell Indian unrest in the St. Joseph River area. He and the garrison evacuated this post in May or June of 1696, pursuant to royal orders. This fort, which was erroneously placed in the Fort Dearborn area by the Treaty of Greenville, 1795, may be the same as the Petit Fort or "Little Fort" of various British and American accounts of 1779-c.1803, and the mythical progenitor of the later settlement at Waukegan.
• Jesuit Mission of the Guardian Angel, 1696-c.1702. Site of the Merchandise Mart. Headed by Father Pierre-François Pinet. Two large Miami villages were nearby.
• Trading post of Tonti, Accault and La Forêt, managed by Pierre de Liette, Tonti`s cousin, 1697-c.1702. Near site of Tribune Tower. Was probably discontinued with the establishment of Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit by Cadillac.
• Trading post owned by Simon Guillory of Michilimackinac, manager not known; c.1716-[?]. Opposite Merchandise Mart on the west bank of the north branch of the Chicago River, which was still called Guillory River in 1824 and 1830. Gurdon Hubbard described the site as it appeared in 1818, sometime after it had been vacated by French traders forced out of business by the American Fur Company. Guillory`s father, also Guillory, was a trader to the Great Lakes as early as 1683.
• British trading post, 1782-83. Probably that of Jean Baptiste Gaffé, somewhere along the Chicago River. This may have been where Mme Rocheblave, wife of British commandant, took refuge with their children on her way to Quebec after he was arrested at Fort de Chartres and imprisoned at Williamsburg and New York. Her sister was the widow of Prisque Pagé, prominent Kaskaskia merchant and mill owner, whose family name became attached to the Du Page River and the village, now called Channahon at its mouth.
• Farm of Jean Baptiste Point de Sable, c.1784-1800. Near site of Tribune Tower; later `owned` by John Kinzie.
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Neil Gale (Ph.D.)

Photographs & History  - 
Arthur Novit, Chicago Police Officer, Superman of the Subway, c1970s, Chicago.

[Obiutary from the Chicago Sun-Times Newspaper]
Arthur Novit, officer who was "Superman of the Subway," dies at age 89. Chicago Police Officer Arthur Novit was an expert at disguising himself as a vagrant or country bumpkin while he worked as a decoy in the subway to attract would-be robbers.

But one day he decided to have a little fun. The adventure earned him a nickname: "Superman of the Subway."

Mr. Novit dressed in a Superman costume and hid in a CTA storage closet while he waited for criminals to make their move on a fellow police decoy slumped on the floor — like a man on a bender — at the Red Line station at Jackson and State.

When two robbers pounced, Mr. Novit burst out in full superhero regalia, knocking the closet's steel door to the ground as if it were made of cardboard. (He and other officers had loosened the hinges so they could slip in and out.)

And he made a speech that would become departmental legend.
"Halt! In the name of the Law! Law and Order will prevail in the subways of Chicago!" he told Leonard Aronson, who reported the story in a 1976 issue of Chicago magazine. "As long as I'm in this metropolis, law and order will prevail."

When one of his police partners thanked "Superman" for helping officers, he replied, "Any time you need me, I'll be here. It takes me only 10 minutes by cape."

When the robbers appeared in court, a judge asked them who made the pinch.

"Superman arrested me," one said. The judge sent him to see a court psychiatrist.

Mr. Novit died July 8, 2012, at Our Lady of the Resurrection Medical Center at 89.

"He was a good policeman; a very active policeman," said his friend, retired Officer Harold Brown, who recalled the Superman adventure. "He did make a lot of arrests."

He was a born performer who could play music and sing in the style of Sinatra, said his wife, Arlene. "Being a decoy fit him perfect," she said. He also had boxes full of commendations for his work.

With expert use of cosmetics, fake facial hair and changes in clothing, he could transform into a captain of industry or a tourist or a homeless person. Often, he would flash a gold watch to attract the attention of thieves before lying on the subway floor to approximate a drunken stupor.

"He used to dress up like a cowboy, like he just came from Texas," his wife said. "He had fake moustaches; he had fake sideburns. He put powder in his hair so it looked gray."

He was so skilled at disguise that a neighborhood busybody felt it was her duty to inform Mr. Novit about the strange men she thought she saw going in and out of his house.

She warned Mr. Novit, "'You don't know what your wife does when you're at work,' " Arlene Novit recalled with a laugh. The woman told him, " 'When you're not here, I see a wealthy businessman come out; I see an Indian.' ''

Mr. Novit thought her nosiness was so funny that he didn't explain: "He said, 'Thanks for telling me.' ''

He received many commendations from the Chicago Police Department. "He was a natural police officer who had a sixth sense about the street," said his former partner, Vic Jacobellis. "His best disguise was Superman. . . .I trusted him more than I trusted anyone else I worked with. He would never back down to anyone and always had everybody's back."

Mr. Novit grew up in Albany Park at the height of the Great Depression.
"Dad went to a lot of different grade schools, eight different grade schools," said his son, Anthonie. "My dad said they kept bouncing; he had to keep moving out of one apartment to another to another."
He attended Von Steuben High School. Those early hard times made him especially generous with others, his son said. He always worked two jobs, and he loved to see his kids' faces when he bestowed gifts or shiny new bicycles.

In his prime, Mr. Novit played handball every day at the YMCA, and he enjoyed Chinese food so much, he could eat it all day, every day. He loved his dog, Booboo, a husky mix with powder-blue eyes who lived 15 years. He swore the dog had ESP and could follow commands without a word.
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Neil Gale (Ph.D.)

Photographs & History  - 
Broadwell Inn & Tavern, Clayville, Illinois
Moses Broadwell, the Inn's first proprietor, was a Revolutionary War veteran from New Jersey who migrated to Illinois by way of the Ohio River and Cincinnati, arriving at Beard's Ferry landing in 1820. He settled south of Richland Creek about 12 miles west of Springfield. He arrived with his wife, Jane, and their nine children in June or July and proceeded to build a log house. Three years later, Broadwell bought the 550 acres on which he was living. His sons later purchased additional land to bring the total to 790 acres.
The brick house or Inn was built about 1824 in the architectural style of the Federal period not unlike those of the New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio area from which Mr. Broadwell had come. The Inn, built with native clay bricks, originally had two two-story wooden porches on its north and south facades. The structure and cabinetwork of this Inn are unusually fine for its day, and the building has been recorded by the Historic American Buildings as an outstanding example of early architecture in Illinois.
Great exposed, hand-hewn center “summer” beams run through the structure at three levels for support. The walnut mantels, cabinetwork and most of the flooring are original, and the doors have great hand-forged strap hinges and large iron or brass locks. The bricks were handmade on the site. A brick oven built into the kitchen fireplace is one of the few beehive ovens in this region in which bread or other goods are still baked. Outside, the original hand-dug stone-cased well still has good water. The furniture for the Inn, in addition to its glass, china, pottery, and kitchen gadgets, has been obtained mostly from old families of Sangamo Country. The structure represents a transitional period between the cabin of the rugged pioneer at New Salem and the more comfortable homes of Springfield before the Civil War.
In 1842, the area around Broadwell's Inn was renamed "Clay's ville" because of the sentiment for the perennial Whig candidate, Henry Clay.
During the heyday of the Inn, Reverend Peter Cartwright often spent time at Broadwell's Inn. In fact, Reverend Cartwright held a large camp meeting at Clayville in 1832.

Mentor Graham, Lincoln's teacher, held classes at the Clayville Schoolhouse in 1830 and 1836; and according to Carl Sandburg, it was at this log schoolhouse at Clayville that Lincoln sat and listened to students recite their lessons.
Dr. Charles Chandler, founder of Chandlerville, was a frequent visitor to Clayville on his way to and from Springfield. Lincoln himself is said to have stayed at the Inn, even though no actual proof exists. Lincoln was the lawyer of the Broadwell family, and it is unlikely that he made the journey from Springfield to confer with his client and returned home all in the same day.
To the traveler, Clayville tavern offered comfort and warmth within its walls. To the Broadwells, it provided an income which was needed to raise their large family. In addition to the tavern, the Broadwells also operated a store and a tannery nearby on Richland Creek. According to the store daybook, the Broadwell store stocked flour, sugar, molasses, salt, whiskey, gin, nails, dye stuffs and other staples of the day. The tannery ledger shows that approximately twelve men were employed in the tanyard, and that this business operation supplied leather to farmers, bootmakers and harness makers.
In addition to the family's businesses, a mill and blacksmith shop and schoolhouse completed this rural community. Ten miles to the north at Sangamo town, the Broadwells operated their own grist mill. (During the restoration of the tavern, a barrel stencil and stencil brush used by the miller were found under the boards in the stairway.)
Moses Broadwell died in 1827 and the family operations fell on the shoulders of son John. In 1834, a fire broke out in the Inn and partially destroyed the west end. The tavern was rebuilt, but even today evidence of the fire can be seen in one of the upstairs bedrooms. After the structure was rebuilt, the family prospered until the advent of the railroads. With the iron horse also came the death of the Clayville community.
All of the businesses at Clayville depended upon the post road and stagecoach line. The post road, which originally opened in 1825 and ran from Springfield to Beard’s Ferry, was extended in 1829 to Quincy on the Mississippi River. With the railroads in the 1850’s, the need for a tavern no longer existed, and the Inn became a family residence. The structure was used as such until the 1930's when it became a storage barn for hay. It remained that way until the Pearsons came along.
In 1960, Dr. Emmett and Mary Pearson purchased the property from the family of Dr. Fink and began a restoration process. Two log cabins, two large barns, a blacksmith barn, and other out buildings were acquired and moved to the site over the next few years. In 1972, the Pearsons donated the site to the Sangamon State University Foundation; the university operated the site until 1992 as the Clayville Rural Life Center.
In 1992 the site was sold into private ownership and over the next several years deteriorated to a point that in 2007 it was declared one of the ten most endangered historic sites in the State of Illinois.
In 2009, headed by Jim Verkuilen, The Pleasant Plains Historical Society was formed with the purpose of purchasing and saving The Clayville Historic Site, in May of 2010 the purchase of the site was finalized.
In 2012, Landmarks Illinois, the organization that in 2007 had declared the site to be one of the most ten endangered sites in Illinois, awarded The Pleasant Plains Historical Society it’s advocacy award for saving the site.
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Neil Gale (Ph.D.)

Photographs & History  - 
(via: Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois, published:1900)
The Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois series is in our groups Digital Library. http://livinghistoryofillinois.com/

An exhibition of the scientific, liberal and mechanical arts of all nations, held at Chicago, between May 1 and Oct. 31, 1893. The project had its inception in November, 1885, in a resolution adopted by the directorate of the Chicago Inter- State Exposition Company. On July 6, 1888, the first well defined action was taken, the Iroquois Club, of Chicago, inviting the co-operation of six other leading clubs of that city in “securing the location of an international celebration at Chicago of the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America by Columbus.” In July, 1889, a decisive step was taken in the appointment by Mayor Cregier, under resolution of the City Council, of a committee of 100 (afterwards increased to 256) citizens, who were charged with the duty of promoting the selection of Chicago as the site for the Exposition. New York, Washington and St. Louis were competing points, but the choice of Congress fell upon Chicago, and the act establishing the World's Fair at that city was signed by President Harrison on April 25, 1890. Under the requirements of the law, the President appointed eight Commissioners-at-large, with two Commissioners and two alternates from each State and Territory and the District of Columbia. Col. George R. Davis, of Chicago, was elected Director- General by the body thus constituted. Ex- Senator Thomas M. Palmer, of Michigan, was chosen President of the Commission and John T. Dickinson, of Texas, Secretary. This Commission delegated much of its power to a Board of Reference and Control, who were instructed to act with a similar number appointed by the World's Columbian Exposition. The latter organization was an incorporation, with a directorate of forty-five members, elected annually by the stockholders. Lyman J. Gage, of Chicago, was the first President of the corporation, and was succeeded by W. T. Baker and Harlow N. Higinbotham.

In addition to these bodies, certain powers were vested in a Board of Lady Managers, composed of two members, with alternates, from each State and Territory, besides nine from the city of Chicago. Mrs. Potter Palmer was chosen President of the latter. This Board was particularly charged with supervision of women's participation in the Exposition, and of the exhibits of women's work.

The supreme executive power was vested in the Joint Board of Control. The site selected was Jackson Park, in the South Division of Chicago, with a strip connecting Jackson and Washington Parks, known as the “Midway Plaisance,” which was surrendered to “concessionaires” who purchased the privilege of giving exhibitions, or conducting restaurants or selling booths thereon. The total area of the site was 633 acres, and that of the buildings - not reckoning those erected by States other than Illinois, and by foreign governments - was about 200 acres. When to this is added the acreage of the foreign and State buildings, the total space under roof approximated 250 acres. These figures do not include the buildings erected by private exhibitors, caterers and venders, which would add a small percentage to the grand total. Forty-seven foreign Governments made appropriations for the erection of their own buildings and other expenses connected with official representation, and there were exhibitors from eighty-six nations. The United States Government erected its own building, and appropriated $500,000 to defray the expenses of a national exhibit, besides $82,500,000 toward the general cost of the Exposition. The appropriations by foreign Governments aggregated about $86,500,000, and those by the States and Territories, $6,120,000 - that of Illinois being $8,800,000. The entire outlay of the World's Columbian Exposition Company, up to March 31, 1894, including the cost of preliminary organization, construction, operating and post-Exposition expenses, was $27,151,800. This is, of course, exclusive of foreign and State expenditures, which would swell the aggregate cost to nearly $845,000,000. Citizens of Chicago subscribed $5,608,206 toward the capital stock of the Exposition Company, and the municipality, $5,000,000, which was raised by the sale of bonds.

The site, while admirably adapted to the purpose, was, when chosen, a marshy flat, crossed by low sand ridges, upon which stood occasional clumps of stunted scrub oaks. Before the gates of the great fair were opened to the public, the entire area had been transformed into a dream of beauty. Marshes had been drained, filled in and sodded; driveways and broad walks constructed; artificial ponds and lagoons dug and embanked, and all the highest skill of the landscape gardener's art had been called into play -to produce varied and striking effects. But the task had been a Herculean one. There were seventeen principal (or, as they may be called, departmental) buildings, all of beautiful and ornate design, and all of vast size. They were known as the Manufacturers' and Liberal Arts, the Machinery, Electrical, Transportation, Woman's, Horticultural, Mines and Mining, Anthropological, Administration, Art Galleries, Agricultural, Art Institute, Fisheries, Live Stock, Dairy and Forestry buildings, and the Music Hall and Casino. Several of these had large annexes. The Manufacturers' Building was the largest. It was rectangular (1687x787 feet), having a ground area of 31 acres and a floor and gallery area of 44 acres. Its central chamber was 1280x380 feet, with a nave 107 feet wide, both hall and nave being surrounded by a gallery 50 feet wide. It was four times as large as the Roman Coliseum and three times as large as St. Peter's at Rome; 17,000,000 feet of lumber, 13,000,000 pounds of steel, and 2,000,000 pounds of iron had been used in its construction, involving a cost of $1,800,000.

It was originally intended to open the Exposition, formally, on Oct. 21, 1892, the quadricentennial of Columbus' discovery of land on the Western Hemisphere, but the magnitude of the undertaking rendered this impracticable. Consequently, while dedicatory ceremonies were held on that day, preceded by a monster procession and followed by elaborate pyrotechnic displays at night, May 1, 1893, was fixed as the opening day - the machinery and fountains being put in operation, at the touch of an electric button by President Cleveland, at the close of a short address. The total number of admissions from that date to Oct. 31, was 27,530,460 - the largest for any single day being on Oct. 9 (Chicago Day) amounting to 761,944. The total receipts from all sources (including National and State appropriations, subscriptions, etc.), amounted to $28,151,168.75, of which $10,626,330.76 was from the sale of tickets, and $3,699,581.43 from concessions. The aggregate attendance fell short of that at the Paris Exposition of 1889 by about 500,000, while the receipts from the sale of tickets and concessions exceeded the latter by nearly $5,800,000. Subscribers to the Exposition stock received a return of ten per cent on the same.

The Illinois building was the first of the State buildings to be completed. It was also the largest and most costly, but was severely criticized from an architectural standpoint. The exhibits showed the internal resources of the State, as well as the development of its governmental system, and its progress in civilization from the days of the first pioneers. The entire Illinois exhibit in the State building was under charge of the State Board of Agriculture, who devoted one-tenth of the appropriation, and a like proportion of floor space, to the exhibition of the work of Illinois women as scientists, authors, artists, decorators, etc. Among special features of the Illinois exhibit were: State trophies and relics, kept in a fire-proof memorial hall; the display of grains and minerals, and an immense topographical map (prepared at a cost of $15,000), drafted on a scale of two miles to the inch, showing the character and resources of the State, and correcting many serious cartographical errors previously undiscovered.

191 Original Photographs; Glimpses of the World's Fair, 1893 - [in high-resolution b/w]
http://livinghistoryofillinois.com/photo_albums/Glimpses of the World's Fair, Chicago, Illinois 1893/album

Two complete sets of 1893 World's Columbian Exposition Official Postcards.
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That is so awesome and amazing! 
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