Saturday, May 18, 2019

The Chicago Flood of 1992.

On the April 13, 1992, the Chicago River mysteriously sprung an underground leak which flooded subways and basements across the Chicago Loop with up to 40 feet of fishy water. People were evacuated and power went off while a mass of debris quietly began swirling in the river, directly above a breach in Chicago’s historic underground freight railway network.
Lying 40 feet underground, the railway network once linked four public stations and many large businesses in The Loop. Over the years, the tunnels supplied telecommunications, delivered coal, transported mail and took excavation debris to the shore of Lake Michigan where it was used to create the land under Grant Park, Soldier Field and McCormick Place.
In the early twentieth century, buildings were actually constructed with deep foundations in order to access these handy waterproofed tunnels directly (and possibly illegally). Unfortunately, after the tunnels were abandoned in 1959, the redundant access shafts were mostly bricked-up and forgotten about. At least, this was the case until the early hours of the 13th when the basements of City Hall, The Merchandise Mart, Chicago Hilton and Towers, the Federal Reserve Bank and many other business district buildings and subways began to flood.
It was decided that the breached section of tunnel underneath the river had been slowly deteriorating under pressure created from a piling being driven too close to the tunnel wall during remedial work on the Kinzie Street Bridge back in 1991. Allegedly, urban explorers had noticed what was initially a small leak inside the tunnel, which had been reported during a cable inspection but there was a delay in deciding who would fix it.
Chicago’s resulting flood (or ‘leak‘ as it was called for insurance purposes) caused around $1.9 billion worth of damage. After attempts to close the breach by dropping rocks from above, the tunnels were finally drained, drilled and plugged. To prevent further problems, the section underneath the river was eventually sealed off from the rest of the network and the tunnels have since been secured after a terrorist threat.

Compiled by Neil Gale,  Ph.D.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Lydia Moss Bradley, Philanthropist and Founder of Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois.

Lydia Moss Bradley (1816–1908)
Lydia Moss Bradley was a wealthy philanthropist famous for her humanitarian works in Illinois and the independent management of her wealth. A pioneer in business and philanthropy, she founded Bradley Polytechnic Institute (now Bradley University) in 1897. Bradley and her accomplishments would be notable in any age, but to achieve all of this as an independent woman in the 19th century makes her simply amazing.

Lydia Moss was born in Vevay, Indiana on July 31, 1816, the daughter of Zeally and Jennett Glasscock Moss. Prior to Lydia’s birth, Zeally Moss owned a plantation in Kentucky, but decided that he did not want to make a living based on slavery. He reportedly, “gave the place rent free to his Negroes to work out their own living, while he crossed over into free territory to make his home and rear his family.” 

Lydia Moss Bradley believed that industriousness was required of all able-bodied members of a community. Despite her limited education – in a neighbor’s kitchen with no heat, few books and handmade quill pens – Lydia learned the practical things of life and developed the strong business sense that would serve her so well as an adult.

Lydia’s father gave a young colt that had lost its mother to his daughter to raise. After raising enough money for a saddle and bridle, and enjoying the horse as the only access to a social life in those days, she sold it in exchange for 40 acres of forested land. She cleared the land and sold the timber, and met Tobias Bradley, who was running the sawmill where her timber was processed.

Marriage and Family
On May 11, 1837, at age 31, Lydia married Tobias Bradley, and the newlyweds initially lived with her parents in Vevay. Their first child, Rebecca, was born January 20, 1839. That same year, Zeally Moss died leaving the family farm to Lydia. Lydia gave birth to their second daughter, Clarissa, on October, 26, 1843, but Rebecca died on September 2, 1845.

In 1847, Lydia and her family, including her mother, moved to Peoria, Illinois to join her brother William Moss. With the proceeds from the sale of their land holdings in Vevay, the Bradleys purchased a large tract of land in Peoria, which was in its early development, and an excellent place for Tobias Bradley and William Moss to prosper in business ventures.

Over the next three decades the Bradleys prospered in real estate and banking. In the early days, Lydia was the housewife and mother, while Tobias became a leading businessman with many entrepreneurial endeavors. He was one of the founders of First National Bank in Peoria and helped establish the first public library there.
Unfortunately, the Bradleys suffered the deaths of five of their six children in rapid succession. Daughter Rebecca had died in 1845 before the move to Illinois, while daughter Clarissa and son Tobias Moss (born April 28, 1847) died during the first year at Peoria. Daughter Mary lived less than a year, dying on April 25, 1852, and son William died August 25, 1855 at the age of two. Daughter Laura (born April 24, 1849) lived longer than any of the other children, dying in 1864 at the age of fourteen.

During these same difficult years, in business dealings the Bradleys were charmed and soon became quite wealthy. In the early days Tobias ran another sawmill, captained the steamboat Avalanche owned by William Moss, and joined Moss in a distilling business, which ran successfully for many years. Tobias also continued to purchase land and bought stock in new companies.

After losing all of their children, the Bradleys began thinking about constructing a monument to their deceased children. They discussed the idea of an orphanage, but Lydia later decided that such institutions were often ill-equipped to help young people acquire the skills needed to become independent, which was her main interest.

Then came the final blow in 1867 when Tobias Bradley was killed in a carriage accident at age 56. Rather than becoming absorbed in her own grief and allowing herself to be protected by her wealth, Lydia took over the management of her estate, which was valued at $500,000. Within ten years, the estate doubled to over $1 million and then doubled again.

At the time of his death, Tobias Bradley was the president of the First National Bank of Peoria. Lydia inherited the stock which he owned in the bank, and became a member of the Board of Directors. 
Lydia sits for a photograph with the First National Bank in Peoria Board of Trustees, the first female member of a national bank board in America.
For twenty-five of the nearly thirty-four years she served as a board member, she held the position of Director. Although it is difficult to determine if any other women in the country held similar positions, it is possible the she was the first female member of a national bank board in the United States.

In 1869, just before marrying Edward Clark, Lydia Moss Bradley became the first American woman to draft a prenuptial agreement to protect her assets. She was savvy enough be careful with her wealth, and was unwilling to place herself in a position of vulnerability. The agreement, which Clark signed, declared that if the marriage did not last each would retain their individual holdings. Bradley and Clark divorced in 1873.

Career in Philanthropy
In Peoria, Bradley gave land to the Society of St. Francis to build a hospital, now known as the OSF St. Francis Medical Center. In 1884, she built the Bradley Home for Aged Women to care for widowed and childless women, and funded the construction of the Universalist church. She also donated over 100 acres of land to the City of Peoria for a park, later named in memory of her daughter Laura.

Lydia Moss Bradley finally decided that she wanted to establish a place of higher learning as a lasting memorial to her husband and children. She began investigating schools as models for the one she planned to endow through her will. In 1877 Bradley visited Rose Polytechnic Institute in Indiana which offered degrees in engineering and the sciences because she wanted to give young people “the most practical assistance at the best time of their lives to make them independent, self-supporting, useful men and women.”

During her research, Bradley learned that the cost of such a school would be far greater than the value of her estate, so she decided to continue her business efforts in order to fully endow a school of the highest standards. One of the ways in which she made such a substantial increase in her wealth was her ability to improve the quality of land.

She owned 680 acres of Manito Marsh; she had the land drained and built farm buildings and fences, and began cultivating the land for farming, but the crops did poorly. When the crops failed to improve over time, she sent samples of the soil to Champaign for analysis. The soil was very rich, but it lacked potash. By amending the soil, Bradley’s farms became successful.

The farmers working her land benefitted, the land became useful, neighboring farmers followed suit and improved their own crops, and the value of the land was increased dramatically. Bradley had purchased this marsh land for $10 per acre, and when the crops became successful, the lots sold for up to $140 per acre.

Bradley was a strong, independent woman at a time when women were still expected to be submissive, but her willingness to seek out experts to aid her in her decision making was perhaps the greatest key to her success. In 1885, after nearly doubling the value of the estate left to her by her husband, she hired W.W. Hammond as her business manager, starting a relationship which lasted until her death and beyond – Hammond managed the affairs of Bradley’s school until his own death in 1920.

Hiring Hammond was a wise decision because he was not only astute in business matters, he was also a lawyer and was subsequently able to protect her interests. Bradley met with Hammond every morning at her home, an imposing brick residence Tobias Bradley built in 1858. Every Sunday, she took a carriage ride to Springdale Cemetery and placed flowers from her own gardens on the graves of her deceased loved ones.
The historic Lydia Moss Bradley house on Moss Avenue in Peoria, Illinois.
Bradley Polytechnic Institute
As a first step toward her goal of establishing a school, in 1892 Bradley purchased a controlling interest in Parsons Horological School in LaPorte, Indiana, the first school for watchmakers in America, and moved it to Peoria with its 100 students, full staff of teachers and all. She specified in her will that the school should be expanded after her death to include a classical education as well as industrial arts and home economics: being the first object of this Institution to furnish its students with the means of living an independent, industrious and useful life by the aid of a practical knowledge of the useful arts and sciences.
One of the best pieces of advice Bradley received came from William Rainey Harper, president of the University of Chicago in October 1896. After looking over her finances he assured her she had sufficient funds, and soon convinced her to move ahead with her plans and establish the school during her lifetime.
Bradley Horology Hall: dedicated on October 8, 1897.
Bradley Polytechnic Institute, now Bradley University, in Peoria, Illinois.
Bradley Polytechnic Institute was chartered on November 13, 1896. Mrs. Bradley provided 17.5 acres of land, $170,000 for buildings, equipment and a library, and $30,000 per year for operating expenses. On April 10, 1897, ground was broken for Bradley Hall and work moved ahead quickly. With 14 faculty and 150 students, classes began in Bradley Hall on October 4, 1897 – with 500 workers still hammering away.
Bradley Hall and Horological School, 1906.
The Chicago Times Herald article about Mrs. Bradley at the school’s dedication on October 8, 1897 stated: the few sentences she uttered were compressed the ideals she had cherished for half a century. She said she hoped the institute would be a real benefit to mankind; that it would be the means of making better men and women; that boys and girls would find in the new institution of learning an incentive to intellectual life was her ardent wish.
Later Years
Bradley knew that to safeguard her initial plans for the Bradley Polytechnic Institute, she could not leave many issues open to interpretation. She purposely placed a majority of Peorians on the board and had the ratio of residents written into the charter to make certain the school always served the interests of the community.

Establishing the school during her lifetime gave Lydia Moss Bradley the enormous emotional satisfaction of seeing the creation brought about by her efforts. All records indicate that she rarely missed special events at the Institute. She is said to have entertained students in her kitchen and garden some afternoons, and she is almost always reported to have been an honored guest on founder’s days and graduations.

In many speeches and memorial addresses after her death, those who knew her felt that the Institute had a profound effect on Bradley’s happiness in her later years. Students, faculty and trustees were also glad that they had the opportunity to express their appreciation to their school’s founder while she lived. Without that satisfaction, she would have had far less reason to live such a long and active life.

Pleased with its progress, Mrs. Bradley transferred to the school the rest of her estate, including nearly 1,000 different pieces of property, reserving its use and profits during her lifetime. At Founder’s Day in 1906 she announced an additional gift to build Hewitt Gymnasium, now Hartmann Center for the Performing Arts.
The Hewitt Gymnasium, 1912.
By 1899 the Institute had expanded to accommodate nearly 500 pupils, about equally divided between men and women, and offered courses in biology, chemistry, food work, sewing, English, German, French, Latin, Greek, history, manual arts, drawing, mathematics and physics.
Lydia Moss Bradley at her home on Moss Avenue in Peoria, Illinois.
Lydia Moss Bradley developed deep convictions on work, skill, thrift and economy. Although her family had become quite prosperous in land holdings during her childhood, every member of the family worked on the farm. Even in her later years as one of the wealthiest citizens in the Peoria area, business manager W. W. Hammond reported:
"Mrs. Bradley never forgot how to work, and until within a short time of her death still made her own butter, raised her own eggs, salted down her own meat and tried out her own lard. She would not have considered herself a good housekeeper had she not done so. The housewife of those times was expected to stock the larder with meats and fruits, to spin the yarn, make the clothing, bedding and carpets, and to prepare food in plenty for all who chanced to be present when meal time came round. All these things Mrs. Bradley did."
Lydia Moss Bradley died on January 16, 1908, at age 91, and is buried at Springdale Cemetery and Mausoleum, Peoria, Illinois.

The Institute continued to grow and develop to meet the educational needs of the region. It became a four-year college offering bachelor’s degrees in 1920 and a full university with graduate programs in 1946, when it was renamed Bradley University. Today it is a fully accredited institution that provides education in engineering, business, communication, teacher education, nursing, physical therapy, fine arts and the liberal arts and sciences.

In 1998, Bradley was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Story of the "Spirit of Progress" Statue.

Many Chicagoans had noticed the bronze statue on top of the old Montgomery Ward warehouse and administrative building at 600 West Chicago Avenue over the years.

It was Ward’s time-honored symbol, "The Spirit of Progress," a female figure poised on her left foot, holding a torch high in her right hand and a caduceus, a winged staff with two snakes wrapped around it, an ancient symbol of commerce, in the other, while she leans forward into the wind as though about to flight.

Actually, Spirit is the third of three similar statues which have graced a number of prominent Chicago buildings. The first, a gilded weather vane of Diana, goddess of the hunt, stood on the Agriculture Building at Chicago's 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. The second, Progress Lighting the Way for Commerce, also a gilded weather vane, was made for Montgomery Ward’s Michigan Avenue Tower Building in 1900. The third and final reincarnation was created for the Montgomery Ward Administration Building on Chicago Avenue in 1928 and christened The Spirit of Progress.
Diana I and II by Augustus Saint-Gaudens at the W. H. Mullins shop in Salem, Ohio.
Diana, Goddess of the Hunt
In 1891, Diana, Goddess of the Hunt was commissioned by New York’s Madison Square Garden’s architect, Stanford White to design a weather vane for the famous hall. He asked his friend, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, to design it. The tower at MSG was modeled after La Giralda, the Bell Tower in Granada, Spain which also sported a weather vane called Faith.

Diana was fabricated at the W. H. Mullins shop in Salem, Ohio, she was 18 feet tall and weighed 1,800 pounds, yet she was perfectly balanced and could move gracefully with a light wind. She was made of many individually formed sections of 22-ounce sheet copper which were first machine-hammered over dies and then riveted together. Inside, the thin-skinned copper figure rested on a wrought iron skeleton, the same method that was used to construct the Statue of Liberty in 1883. Diana was covered with gold leaf.

Unfortunately, Diana did not rotate as planned because of its immense weight. Furthermore, both White and Saint-Gaudens realized that the gilded figure was somewhat awkward looking and was disproportionately large for the Madison Square Garden building. So the figure was removed about a year after its debut and a smaller, 13 foot Diana was installed. Madison Square Garden was demolished in 1925 and Diana II was placed in storage, awaiting completion of a new tower promised by New York University. But NYU could not raise the money to build.

In 1932, the Art Museum’s dynamic young director, Fiske Kimball, persuaded the New York Life Insurance Co., Diana’s owner, to give the sculpture to the Museum of Art in Philadelphia.

She was installed in 1932 at the top of the stairwell.
Diana I (left) and Diana II (right) on top of Madison Square Garden.
Charles McKim, the architect for the Agriculture Building at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, who was about to begin construction, thought that Diana I would be a perfect piece to top the dome. The exposition officials agreed, and in early 1892 the statue was purchased for $2,500 and sent to Mullins for refurbishing. Once in place, Diana I soon won the admiration of many fairgoers because of her beauty and her prominent position overlooking the Court of Honor in the heart of the exposition.
Diana I on top of the Agriculture Building during the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago.
At first it seemed that Diana I was destroyed by a fire that swept the fairgrounds on January 9, 1894 as most of the structure was left in ruins. Fortunately, the Chicago Tribune reported the following day:
The statue of Diana was not damaged as she had been removed about six weeks ago to the Columbian Museum of Chicago.
This was not the whole story. Executives from Montgomery Ward toured the Agriculture Building and bought the statue and had it stored in the Columbian Museum (Fine Arts Building, now the Museum of Science & Industry) until their Tower Headquarters was built in 1899. It is uncertain whether Diana was sent back to Mullins and was refurbished or if a new statue was made from a new design.
The Statue, "Diana, Goddess of the Hunt," erected in front of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1909.

Progress Lighting the Way for Commerce
Architects for the new Ward Tower, Richard E. Schmidt and Hugh Garden envisioned a statue-weather vane on top of their new structure. Schmidt hired John Massey Rhind a Scottish sculptor to design the final statue. For some reason, however, the statue of Progress is not mentioned in articles of his work, nor does it appear in the lengthy obituary published in a London newspaper on October 22, 1956. The reason for this might well be that Rhind only designed alterations to transform Diana, therefore he would not have been the sole creator of Progress.

The reincarnated weather vane was installed on the top of Montgomery Ward’s new Michigan Avenue tower headquarters on October 21, 1900. It was dubbed Progress Lighting the Way for Commerce by the Inter-Ocean.
Progress Lighting the Way for Commerce on top of the Montgomery Ward Tower on Michigan Avenue. Photo on the left was taken during the dismantling in 1947.
The Chicago Tribune had acclaimed the new statue as “rivaling in beauty New York’s famous ‘Diana.'” And small wonder; with her torch held high some 390 feet above the street. the gleaming figure of Progress was visible over most of the city and far out into Lake Michigan. Lit by four electric beacons with 1,000 candlepower each, Progress actually did serve as a beacon in at least one instance. On September 18, 1918, Captain Ben Lipsner used these lights to guide his plane into Grant Park after making the first airmail flight between New York City and Chicago, in 9 hours and 13 minutes of stormy weather.

In 1908 Ward’s sold the Tower Building and moved to more spacious headquarters on West Chicago Avenue. Although the Michigan Avenue building still stands, its 125-foot tower portion was removed in 1947 after being judged structurally unsafe. As for Progress, she also had to come down. On Saturday, April 26, 1947, workmen of the Speedway Wrecking Company erected a scaffold around the statue and began to dismantle her. On July 20, 1947 the Chicago Tribune, calling the figure “Diana,” reported that:
"The statue was cut into about 30 pieces before it was lowered. Most of the statue is at the company’s office, but some parts have been claimed by Chicagoans. Diana’s arm with outstretched spear came off at the shoulder, the head came off in one piece, and one leg below the knee. The requests for pieces of the metal for souvenirs was amazing. Some old-timers want the metal to make into ash trays, and others just want pieces of it as souvenirs. One of Chicago’s prominent citizens has, for some reason he kept to himself, requested the bust."
Progress’ head was auctioned off on November 4, 2014
at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.
The Spirit of Progress
In 1922, the year of Ward’s fiftieth anniversary, Theodore F. Merseles, President of Ward’s, presented the widows of A. Montgomery Ward and George R. Thorne with 15-inch bronze replicas of the Progress statue. The disposition of Mrs. Ward’s figurine is not known, but Mrs. Thorne’s statue was passed on to her great-grandson, Charles H. Thorne II.

In 1928, when construction had started on a new Administration Building on Chicago Avenue, Mersele’s successor, George B. Everitt, felt that the building shaould have a statue. He commissioned an artist to design one, and in September, 1929 The Spirit of Progress was placed atop the white stuccoed Art Deco tower.

Once completed, Spirit became the new corporate symbol, and the company commissioned copies to place on other Montgomery Ward buildings across the country. But President Everitt’s successor, Sewell Avery, was not quite taken to her. After he became president in 1952 Avery sought to have her removed. However, he dropped the plan when he found that it would cost $6,000 to dismantle her.
LEFT: Progress Lighting the Way for Commerce       RIGHT: Spirit of Progress
For years the identity of the artist was unknow, making the story of Spirit’s origin as much as a mystery as that of Progress. However, it is probable that Spirit was the work of sculpture-architect Joseph Conradi. In a letter to his grand-daughter, Grace Conradi Anderson of Addison, Illinois, Conradi’s second wife Anna wrote:

"Your grandfather Conradi was architect and sculptor at St. Alphonsus Church at Lincoln, Southport and Wellington Avenues, Chicago. Also, the tallest statuary, 'Progress' is his work (I think it’s on Montgomery Ward building) can be seen from Lake Forest and afar."

Although there is no other documentary evidence to corroborate Mrs. Conradi’s conviction, the sculptor’s oldest son Leo also attributed the statue to his father. Just before his death in 1979 Leo told Mrs. Anderson that he remembered the day his father’s statue of The Spirit of Progress was placed on the Ward’s building.

Chicago Tribune. January 27, 1929

Foundations are now being Installed for the corporation for Montgomery Ward & Co. at the southwest corner of Chicago Avenue and Larrabee street. This structure will occupy a site which was purchased by the late A. Montgomery Ward at the time he bought the land for Ward’s present huge building, just across the street.

Designed by the construction department of the mail order firm, under lie direction of W. H. McCaully, chief engineer, the. new building will be of modernistic architecture. At one corner there will be a tower surmounted by a figure reminiscent of the statue atop the Tower building at Michigan and Madison, Ward’s home.
Spirit of Progress on top of Ward’s Administration Building on Chicago Avenue. Sheet music for Spirit of Progress March, composed in 1928, published before the final design of the statue was approved.
The new building will contain the executive, Administrative and general offices and the clerical departments. The first floor will be for retail store purposes, replacing the establishment In the building the street. Clerical departments wil take up the second and third floors.

On the fourth floor there will be a large cafeteria for employees and for customers of the store. Executive departments of the chain store and retail store divisions will be found on the fifth story. The merchandise buying group will take up the sixth floor, while the catalog and general operating departments will be on the seventh. And, finally. the executives are to be located on the top floor where it’s presumed they’ll have walnut trimmed rooms, fireplaces, and the other perquisites of the “big shots.”

The building is to be of reinforced concrete construction. Financing is being accomplished by a $2.000,000 bond Issue recently announced by Lawrence Stern & Co. and the First Trust and Savings bank. Winston & Co. were the real estate brokers In arranging the enterprise. The Wells Brothers Construction company has the contract.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

The Biography of Aaron Montgomery Ward, founder of retail catalog sales.

Aaron Montgomery Ward
Aaron Montgomery Ward was born on February 17, 1843, in Chatham, New Jersey. When he was about nine years old, his father Sylvester Ward moved the family to Niles, Michigan, where Aaron attended public schools. He was one of a large family with a modest income. When Aaron was fourteen, he was apprenticed to a trade to help support the family. According to his brief memoirs, he first earned 25¢ per day ($6.80 per day today) at a cutting machine in a barrel stave factory, and then stacking brick in a kiln at 30¢ a day.

Energy and ambition drove Ward to seek employment in the town of St. Joseph, Michigan, where he went to work in a shoe store. This was a market town for a farm area devoted to fruit orchards. Starting in sales eventually led him to the profession that made him famous. Being a fair salesman, within nine months he was engaged as a salesman in a general country store at $6/month plus room and board, a considerable salary at the time. He rose to become head clerk then general manager of the store, working there for three years. By the end of that time, his salary was $100/month including room and board. He left for a better job in a competing store, where he worked another two years. During this period, Ward learned retailing.

In 1865, Ward relocated to Chicago, where he worked for Case and Sobin, a lamp house. He traveled for them as salesman, and sold goods on commission for a short time. Chicago was the center of the wholesale dry-goods trade, and in the late 1860s Ward joined the leading dry-goods house, Field Palmer & Leiter, forerunner of Marshall Field & Co. He worked for Field for two years and then joined the wholesale dry-goods business of Wills, Greg & Co. In tedious rounds of train trips to southern communities, hiring rigs at the local stables, driving out to the crossroads stores and listening to the complaints of the back-country proprietors and their rural customers, he conceived a new merchandising technique: direct mail sales to country people. It was a time when rural consumers longed for the comforts of the city, yet all too often were victimized by monopolists and overcharged by the costs of many middlemen required to bring manufactured products to the country. The quality of merchandise also was suspect and the hapless farmer had no recourse in a caveat emptor economy. Ward shaped a plan to buy goods at low cost for cash. By eliminating intermediaries, with their markups and commissions, he drastically cut the selling costs and could sell goods to people, however remote, at appealing prices. He invited them to send their orders by mail and he delivered the purchases to their nearest railroad station. The only thing he lacked was capital.

None of Ward's friends or business acquaintances joined in his enthusiasm for his revolutionary idea. Although his idea was generally considered to border on lunacy and his first inventory was destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, Ward persevered. In August 1872, with two fellow employees and a total capital of $1,600 ($33,890 today) he formed Montgomery Ward & Company. He rented a small shipping room and published a general merchandise mail-order catalog with 163 products listed which was dated August 18, 1872. Ward initially wrote all catalog copy. When the business grew and department heads wrote their own merchandise descriptions, Ward proofed every line of copy to be certain that it was accurate.

The following year, both of Ward's partners left him, but he hung on. Later, George Robinson Thorne, his future brother-in-law, joined him in his business. This was the turning point for the young company, which grew and prospered. Soon the catalog, frequently reviled and even burned publicly by rural retailers became a favorite in households all across America.
Ward's catalog soon was copied by other enterprising merchants, most notably Richard Warren Sears, who mailed his first general catalog in 1896. Others entered the field, and by 1971 catalog sales of major U.S. firms exceeded more than $250 million in postal revenue.

The Montgomery Ward Tower, on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Madison Street in Chicago, reigned as a major tourist attraction in the early 1900s.
Montgomery Ward & Co. building at 6 North Michigan Avenue, on the northwest corner of East Madison street.
Montgomery Ward’s “Busy Bee Hive” in 1899. The open-air observatory at the top of the tower was the highest point in Chicago.
In civic life in Chicago, Montgomery Ward fought to keep Chicago's lakefront “open, clear and free” and protect the public trust doctrine. In 1906 he campaigned to preserve Grant Park as a public park. Grant Park has been protected since 1836 by legislation that has been affirmed by four Illinois Supreme Court rulings. Ward twice sued the city of Chicago to force it to remove buildings and structures from Grant Park and to keep it from building new ones. Ward is known by some as the "watch dog of the lake front" for his preservationist efforts. As a result, the city has what are termed the Montgomery Ward restrictions on buildings and structures in Grant Park. Daniel Burnham's famous 1909 Plan of Chicago (pdf) eventually preserved Grant Park and the entire Chicago lakefront.

However, Crown Fountain and the 139-foot Jay Pritzker Pavilion were exempt from the height restriction because they were classified as works of art and not buildings or structures. 
Crown Fountain, Grant Park, Chicago
Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Grant Park, Chicago
The Montgomery Ward warehouse and administration building, at 600 West Chicago Avenue, along the north branch of the Chicago River was completed in 1908. This eight-story and basement building was one of the first large reinforced concrete buildings in Chicago of skeleton construction.
Montgomery Ward Complex 1907 Floor Plan.
Montgomery Ward warehouse and administration building on the Chicago River.
Montgomery Ward died in 1913, at the age of 70. His wife Elizabeth bequeathed a large portion of the estate to Northwestern University and other educational institutions.
Spirit of Progress on top of Ward’s Warehouse and Administration Building was installed in 1929 on the corner of Chicago Avenue and Larrabeee Street.
Montgomery Ward Plaza, the "26-story park" corporate headquarters, named "The Montgomery," at 535 West Chicago Avenue, featured uninterrupted office space between two marble-clad cores. It occupied only one-fourth of the 2.2 acre site.
The Montgomery Ward catalog secured its place in history when the Grolier Club, a society of bibliophiles in New York, exhibited it in 1946 alongside Webster's dictionary as one of the one-hundred books with the most influence on life and culture of the American people.

A bronze bust honoring Ward and seven other industry magnates stand between the Chicago River and the Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago, Illinois. A smaller version of that bust is located in Grant Park.
This 1972 bust of A. Montgomery Ward by stands in Grant Park in Chicago Illinois.
The Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners named a park in honor of A. Montgomery Ward. It is located at 630 North Kingsbury Street, a few blocks away from the old Montgomery Ward & Co. warehouse and adminstration Building at 600 West Chicago Avenue, Chicago.

Forbes magazine readers and editors ranked Aaron Montgomery Ward as the 16th-most influential businessman of all time.

Despite the collapse of its brick-and-mortar department stores in 2001, Montgomery Ward & Co. reopend as online retailer in 2004. Wards, still adheres to the once unheard philosophy of "satisfaction guaranteed."

Montgomery Ward Timeline.
1883: Company's 240-page catalog lists 10,000 items.

1928: Opens 244 stores. By 1929, it has 531 stores.

1931: Sewell Avery becomes CEO, correctly predicts the Depression but is convinced a recession will follow World War II.

1939: Advertising copywriter Robert L. May creates "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" for a poem to be handed out to children.

1945-1955: Avery refuses to open new stores. Company's sales shrink 10%, Sears' sales double.

1985: Company unveils specialty store strategy and discontinues catalog operations.

1991: Resumes mail-order catalog business, sells it in 1996.

1994: Montgomery Ward opens first Electric Avenue & More stores, acquires New England retail chain Lechmere.

1997: Company files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

1998: In an attempt to revitalize the chain, company introduces new store format with new "Wards" moniker.

1999: GE Capital Services purchases Montgomery Ward, brings it out of bankruptcy.

2000: Montgomery Ward announces plan to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, shutter 250 stores in 30 states.

2001: Montgomery Ward closes.

2004: Montgomery Ward opens an online retail store.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Direct access bridges to Chicago department stores from the CTA Rapid Transit System.

The first and most famous such entrance led from the Madison and Wabash station to Carson Pirie Scott, which was called the Schlessinger and Meyer Department Store back in 1900 when the bridge was built. Some referred to it as the “crystal bridge." Architect Louis Sullivan made the bridge every bit as ornate as the store, which of course he also designed.
This is the direct entrance into the 2nd floor of the Marshall Field’s State Street store from the Wabash Avenue elevated 'L' station at Randolph Street. There was also a subway entrance to Field's into the basement level on the State Street side.
Entrance from the North-South (Red Line) subway to the Pedway and Marshall Field's.
Other department stores and buildings in Chicago's Loop had dedicated entrances from the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) elevated or subway rapid transit stations like; Goldblatt’s and Sears & Roebuck.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Marshall Field & Co., Famous Elevator Girls. (1947)

In historical writing and analysis, PRESENTISM is the introduction of present-day ideas and perspectives into depictions or interpretations of the past. I believe presentism is a form of cultural bias, and it creates a distorted understanding of the subject matter. Reading modern notions of morality into the past is committing the error of presentism. I'm well aware that historical accounts are written by people and can be slanted, so I try my hardest to present articles that are fact based and well researched, without interjecting any of my personal opinions.

Marshall Field & Co., Chicago’s biggest department store, decided that their elevator girls were in need of a bit of finishing, so they were enrolled in a local charm school.
ELEVATOR STAFF at Marshall Field store, neatly aligned at their stations with the starter (left), shows the chic results of their "glamourizing."
The Marshall Field uniformed elevator girls grew so famous that Life Magazine ran a feature article in the Spetember 15, 1947 issue about their eight-week charm and beauty course. The twice a week program included hair and makeup lessons as well as training on elocution, how to walk, sit, and and how to operate the elevator cars decorously. They are also taught to enunciate clearly merchandise items like "lingerie, bric-a-brac and millinery." The article noted that the “finished” ladies were happier and much more beautiful, even if there didn’t seem to be a correlating increase in sales.
NEW HAIRDO for operator Ann Vratarichis skillfully swept up by an expert. The charm school also reshaped her eyebrows and the curve of her lips.
REDUCING EXERCISES include rolling on inflated beach balls, calisthenics and homework with a rolling pin. One girl lost 35 pounds during the course.
Indeed they are hopeful of following in the footsteps of a distinguished Marshall Field alumna, Mary Leta lambour.  After winning a New Orleans beauty contest in 1931, Lambour moved to Chicago and worked briefly as a $17-a-week Marshall Field's elevator girl. She was discovered in the store by a movie scout, starting her entertainment career as a cabaret singer and then movie star. She is known as Dorothy Lamour.
Mary Leta Lambour (Dorothy Lamour)
Other Field's employees who became celebrities include first lady Nancy Davis Reagan (sales clerk), catalog sales pioneer Aaron Montgomery Ward (sales clerk and traveling salesman), and film and stage director Vincent Minnelli (window decorator).
Nancy Davis [Reagan] 1950.

BEFORE AND AFTER charm school. June Wahl and Ann Vratarich.

CORRECT STANDING POSITION (right) of an elevator operator should be straight and modest, not too breezy, with body bent and leg in the air (left).

CORRECT BENDING POSITION (right) is shown by an instructor. Knees should be bent and body lowered. Stooping from the waist (left) is undignified.

DICTION DRILLS teach the girls to announce floors and merchandise and answer questions from the store's customers in distinct, well-modulated tones.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.