Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Zenith Radio Store, Chicago, Illinois, 1936.

Console radio units are displayed in model living rooms in two illuminated, floor-to-ceiling windows of this Zenith Radio store in Chicago at the southwest corner of Michigan and Huron in September 1936. 
Personal radio purchases increased after the passage of the Rural Electrification Act [1] in 1936, which coincided with a drop in radio prices and increased sales for the Chicago company.

The southwest corner is now the "City Place" building at 676 North Michigan Avenue and home to the Omni Chicago Hotel.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

[1] The Rural Electrification Act (REA) of 1936, enacted on May 20, 1936, provided federal loans for the installation of electrical distribution systems to serve isolated rural areas of the United States. REA crews traveled through the American countryside, bringing teams of electricians along with them. The electricians added wiring to houses and barns to utilize the newly available power provided by the line crews. A standard REA installation in a house consisted of:

A 60 amp, 230-volt fuse panel, with:
  • A 60 amp range circuit
  • A 20 amp kitchen circuit
  • Two or three 15 amp lighting circuits
A ceiling-mounted light fixture was installed in each room, usually controlled by a single switch mounted near a door. At most, one outlet was installed per room, since plug-connected appliances were expensive and uncommon. 


  1. I am a radio fanatic. I would have loved to have visited the Zenith showroom back then.

  2. My Grandfather, Julius Broili, Sr. and his business partner George Parks, obtained a Zenith franchise right after WWII for Northern California, in Sacramento. I wonder if either of them ever visited this Zenith Radio Store. We sold all Zenith products in the 1950's to 1980's in Reno, Nevada.


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