V28-2 Made In Chicago

Vol. XXVIII No. 2 - SPRING 2017

A special exhibit of the actual objects in the website MadeInChicagoMuseum.com

The newest exhibit at the Edgewater Historical Society Museum is a walk down memory lane with industrial objects made in Chicago from 1900 to 1970. The oldest object is really a mystery – a sheep shearing machine which is on display in the front window. Any memory of how to use this apparatus had since faded.

The objects are the artifacts of the 20th century before the age of computers, and they will evoke memories of working in offices, buying food stuffs from general stores and craving the newest candies by the Mars Candy Company.

Did you own a Schwinn bike or listen to a Zenith radio? Did you apply Maybelline mascara or skate on Johnson ice skates? Perhaps your parents were inclined to purchase Chicago made products because “It’s good for the local economy.”

Over the past several years Edgewater resident Andrew Clayman has been curating his own private collection of industrial antiques, vintage wares and simple everyday objects, all of which are united by just one key trait… They were made in Chicago during the city’s modern manufacturing hey day – 1900-1970. Inspired by the challenge of finding, researching and documenting these items and the companies that once produced them, Andrew launched the website MadeInChicagoMuseum.com in 2015. Now, for the first time, the collections is being exhibited at the Edgewater Historical Society “Made in Chicago: An Industrial History in Everyday Objects 1900-1970.”

“All along I have always hoped to be able to display the full collection in one space for people to see it as a whole,” Andrew says, “and the Edgewater Historical Society is really a wonderful venue for it. I think it is a chance to discover and rediscover the multitude of smaller, overlooked innovations our city helped develop, and how they continue to impact our lives- even if the original models are rusty and dusty up in our attics.”

From the vintage tins to tools, toy trains, telephones and typewriters, each product included in the “Made in Chicago” exhibit provides a rabbit hole to its own unique little origin story – complete with investors, immigrants, entrepreneurs and working stiffs who delivered it to the world. Start weaving the various stories together and you gradually get a better sense of the city of Chicago itself, and how it became one of the manufacturing capitals of the 20th century.

Full company histories are at www.MadeInChicagoMuseum.com.

Editors note: Part of this exhibit includes items that were made in Edgewater. For instance, the person who invented the movie popcorn machine, Charles Cretor, lived on Sheridan Road near Thorndale. The Swedish American Telephone Company was on Ravenswood, and the Maybelline Mascara company was at 5900 North Ridge. There are more, so stop in to see the exhibit and tell us something you know about one of these companies.