Chicago Industrial History
Chicago Industrial History

Olson Rug Company, est. 1874

Museum Artifact: Olson Rug 75th Anniversary Calendar, 1949

Made By: Olson Rug Co., 2800 N. Pulaski Rd., Chicago, IL

No other manufacturing business in Chicago ever had a headquarters quite like that of the Olson Rug Company. From 1935 to 1965, the sprawling Olson factory campus at the northwest corner of Diversey Avenue and Pulaski Road—with its stunning man-made waterfalls, rock gardens, sculptures,

J. C. Deagan, Inc., est. 1897

Museum Artifact: Deagan 4-Bar Dinner Chime Bells & Mallet, 1920s

Made By: J. C. Deagan Inc., 1770 W. Berteau Ave., Chicago, IL

“When you summon your guests to the dining room with a Deagan Dinner Chime, your invitation is carried to their ears by the sweetest musical sound in the world. At once compelling, yet entrancingly beautiful, it carries with it the spirit of hospitality,

B. Heller & Co., est. 1894

Museum Artifact: $1000 Guaranteed Moth Killer, c. 1920s

Made By: B. Heller & Co. / Chicago Insecticide Laboratory, S. Calumet Ave. and E. 40th St., Chicago, IL

“We guarantee that $1,000.00 Guaranteed Moth Killer will kill clothes moths—and carpet beetles and their eggs and larvae—when it is thoroughly sprayed upon them, and agree to forfeit $1,000.00 to anyone proving to us that it cannot do this.” —Chicago Insecticide Company,

Hump Hair Pin MFG Co., est. 1903

Museum Artifact: Hump Hair Pins Set No. 6, 1920s

Made By: Hump Hair Pin MFG Co. / Gaylord Products Co., 1936 S. Prairie Ave., Chicago, IL

“Ingenuity is not always confined to skyscrapers and bridges. The inventor often achieves fame through smaller means. The Hump hairpin is a new invention ingenious enough to secure a niche in the woman’s hall of fame for the man who devised it.” —Hump Hair Pin advertisement,

Citrus Products Co., est. 1919

Museum Artifact: Kist Beverages Soda Bottle, c. 1940s

Made By: Citrus Products Co., 11 E. Hubbard St., Chicago, IL

Most Notable Factoid: In 1933, the vice president of Citrus Products fired a gun at his own wife (and missed) after he saw her kissing the president of the company at a party.

Best known for its “Kist” brand of carbonated beverages,

Zeno MFG Co., est. 1890

Museum Artifact: Zeno Chewing Gum Coin-Op Vending Machine, 1908

Made By: Zeno MFG Co., 150-160 W. Van Buren St., Chicago, IL

It’s been more than 100 years since someone first dropped a penny into this porcelain-enameled steel vending machine, jonesing for a fresh stick of “elegant” Zeno chewing gum. By no coincidence, most awareness of the Zeno Manufacturing Company itself has long since been spat from the public consciousness and trampled over by time,

Benjamin Electric MFG Co., est. 1901

Museum Artifact: Industrial Signal Horn Siren, 1920s

Made By: Benjamin Electric MFG Co., 120-128 S. Sangamon St., Chicago, IL and Des Plaines, IL

“The clear, powerful tones of Benjamin Signals are preventing lost calls, lost time, and costly interruptions the country over. To the farthermost corners of the greatest plants they shout the call for attention, finding the wanted man wherever he may be.

Monark Silver King, Inc., est. 1934

Museum Artifact: Monark Silver King “Roadster” Girls Bicycle, 1950s

Made By: Monark Silver King, Inc., 6501 W. Grand Ave.

“Now—An Aluminum Bicycle! The same metal which made possible present-day high-speed trains and airplanes, makes the frame of the new-type SILVER KING bicycle. Aluminum alloy—much lighter than steel, but with 3 times the tensile strength, weight for weight. Gives faster speed, greater strength, and snappier appearance.” —advertisement for the first Monark Silver King bicycle,

Bloomfield Industries, est. 1933

Museum Artifacts: Cast Iron Fry Cutter (1930s) & Stainless Steel Ice Cream Scoop, (1960s)

Made By: Bloomfield MFG Co. / Bloomfield Industries, 3333 S. Wells St. and 4546 W. 47th St.

Some men have lived and learned through living
Some men have learned by seein’ true
You cannot judge from what they’re sayin’
It’s real clear from what they do
—lyrics by Michael Bloomfield from the song “Good Old Guy,”

Hallicrafters Company, est. 1932

Museum Artifact: Hallicrafters Model 5R34A Continental Radio, 1952

Made By: Hallicrafters Company, 4401 W. Fifth Ave., Chicago, IL

“For radio equipment that won’t be satisfied with the limits of the pre-war world, for radio that will go places and do things hitherto undreamed of and uncharted—look to Hallicrafters, builders of the radio man’s radio.”—Hallicrafters magazine advertisement, 1944

William J.

Halsam Products Co. & Elgo Plastics, est. 1917

 

Museum Artifact: Elgo American Plastic Bricks set No. 705 (1950s) and Halsam Double Twelve Club Dominoes (1960s)

Made By: Halsam Products Co., 4114 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago, IL

Upon encountering an old cylindrical cardboard container of “American Plastic Bricks by Elgo,” nine out of ten people are likely to make the same spontaneous assumption—that they’re looking at a cheap knockoff of Legos.

Gateway Engineering Co., est. 1933

Museum Artifact: Gateway Junior Model NP-1 Sewing Machine, c. 1950

Made By: Gateway Engineering Company / Gateway Erectors, Inc., 233 W. Grand Ave., Chicago, IL

“The Toy Sewing Machine that really sews!” —1948 advertisement for the Gateway Junior Model

Produced only for a short time from the late 1940s into the 1950s, the Gateway line of toy sewing machines represents a case study in a business making the most out of its extraneous materials.

F.H. Smith MFG Co., est. 1892

Museum Artifact: “The Universal” Cast Iron Rivet Setter, c. 1910s

Made By: F. H. Smith MFG Co., 3017-47 W. Carroll Ave, Chicago, IL

Half a century before Rosie the Riveter turned a once tedious trade into a patriotic call-to-arms, Chicago inventor and businessman Fred Herbert Smith was already ahead of the curve, if only lacking in proto-feminist iconography.

Smith (1858-1908) grew up near Boston,