Bertha Honore Palmer was - and probably always will be - the First Lady of Chicago. Born to wealth and the acknowledged queen of Chicago society at the turn of the twentieth century, she tirelessly worked to improve the lives of working women and to elevate the perception of women in general and recognize their accomplishments. Today, however, many people in Chicago have forgotten her. There is no statue honoring Bertha Palmer in the city. A new book by Sally Sexton Kalmbach may help to rectify this unfortunate "oversite."
The Jewel of the Gold Coast: Mrs. Potter Palmer's Chicago takes us back to the time when there was no Gold Coast on Lake Shore Drive. "What are today eight to ten lanes of noisy traffic, "writes Kalmbach, "was once a quiet dirt road along the lake. In the late 1870s when Potter Palmer started buying land along the lake just south of Lincoln Park, Chicago residents laughed. This swamp land, or Frog Pond as it was called, was filled with sand, willows, and mud." Potter Palmer had already exhibited his keen real estate vision by developing State Street, but this new project was considered a joke and many referred to it as "Frog's Folly." But, castles would replace that mud and by the 1890s Chicago's elite would construct a neighborhood of millionaires.
Sally Kalmbach, who conducts tours of the Gold Coast today, is a fourth generation Chicagoan. She teaches Chicago history at the Newberry Library and is co-founder of the Chicago History Women's Club, board member of the Chicago Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians and volunteers as a docent at the Charnley-Persky House Museum. She loves Chicago and she knows her stuff.
In September, Chicago history buffs will have the opportunity to meet Sally Kalmbach, hear more about the development of the Gold Coast, and support a worthy historical cause. (Pleasse click on image for a larger view.) Hope to see you there!
Final note: In late July, 1870 Potter Palmer (44) married Miss Bertha Honore (21) at the home of her parents at 157 Michigan Avenue (across the street from the Art Institute today).
Happy Anniversary, you crazy kids!
July 30, 2009
July 24, 2009
...Chicago—a city where they are always rubbing the lamp, and fetching up the genii, and contriving and achieving new impossibilities. It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up with Chicago—she outgrows his prophecies faster than he can make them. She is always a novelty, for she is never the Chicago you saw when you passed through the last time.
Life on the Mississippi (1883)
July 9, 2009
July 8, 2009
Director Mark Richard Smith has posted an update on the eagerly awaited film dedicated to the life and work of Chicago's most beloved architect, Louis Sullivan. The film is slated for release at the end of 2009. Follow the production's progress on the film's official website - Louis Sullivan: The Struggle for American Architecture. Best news is that DVD release is already being planned.
Posted by Chicagobookbabe
Labels: Louis Sullivan