Chicago Industrial History
Chicago Industrial History

Adams & Westlake Company, est. 1857

Museum Artifact: Adlake Truck Lamp, c. 1910s

Made by: Adams & Westlake Co., 320 W. Ohio St. / 319 W. Ontario St., Chicago, IL

Much like one of today’s showbiz power couples, the partnership of Chicago railroad supply magnates John McGregor Adams and William Westlake produced its own linguistic portmanteau in the late 1800s, as the name “ADLAKE” (combining ADams and WestLAKE) soon evolved into their company’s primary identity.

Ekco Products Co., est. 1888

Museum Artifacts: EKCO Miracle Can Opener 885 (c. 1960s) and EKCO Helmet Bottle Stopper (c. 1940s)

Made by: Ekco Products Co., 1949 N. Cicero Ave., Chicago, IL

“We taught your mother a new way to open chicken soup,” read the presumptuous tagline of a 1965 advertisement for the Miracle Can Opener—arguably the most recognizable of the thousands of utensils produced by the EKCO Housewares Company.

Chicago Roller Skate Co., est. 1905

Museum Artifact: Metal Roller Skates, c. 1920s

Made By: Chicago Roller Skate Company, 4458 W. Lake St., Chicago, IL

“They used to call him ‘Slow-Poke’ when he had those old-fashioned, slow, hard-rolling skates. But, Oh Boy! On ‘Chicagos’ he whizzes to the lead like a flash. ‘Chicagos,’ the Choice of Champions, have established more World’s Records than all others, yet cost less in the long run.

TootsieToy & the Dowst MFG Co., est. 1876

Museum Artifacts: TootsieToy Die-Cast Cars: No. 4655 Ford Model A Coupe and No. 4629 Sedan, c. 1928

Made By: Dowst Brothers / Dowst Manufacturing Co., 4537 W. Fulton St., Chicago, IL

Chicago-based brothers Charles and Samuel Dowst were arguably as foundational to the toy car industry as Henry Ford was to the real thing. It was work on a significantly smaller scale,

J. W. Allen & Co., est. 1881

Museum Artifact: J. W. Allen Baking Supply Pail, c. 1940s

Made By: J. W. Allen & Co., 110 N. Peoria St., Chicago, IL

“Our building in Chicago has come to be known as the acknowledged ‘Bakers’ Headquarters.’ We carry in stock and ready for immediate delivery practically everything required for the Baking Industry. This assures our customers with dependable service.”—J.

Chicago Hardware Foundry Co. & Harper Supply Co., est. 1897

Museum Artifact: Cast-Iron Dog Tray Nut Cracker, 1899

Made By: Harper Supply Co. (40 Dearborn St, Chicago) / Chicago Hardware Foundry Co. (2500 Commonwealth Ave., North Chicago, IL)

“It is a fact that the successful sale of any product is dependent upon the genuineness of the need for which it is manufactured.” —Earl P. Sedgwick, co-founder and president of the Chicago Hardware Foundry Company

While Mr.

Mid City Uniform Cap Co. & Citation Hat Corp., est. 1925

Museum Artifacts: CitationBeaver Quality Fedora, c. 1950s, and Mid City Khaki Garrison Cap, 1948

Made By: Citation Hat Corp. / Mid City Uniform Cap Company, 2330 W. Cermak Rd., Chicago, IL

“I hate like hell to praise myself, but at the same time I cannot go away from the truth.” —Harry Lev

In the summer of 1955, Harry “The Hat” Lev—53 year-old owner of the Citation Hat Company,

Indestro MFG Co. & Duro Metal Products, est. 1917

Museum Artifact: Indestro Bottle Capper, 1920s

Made By: Indestro MFG Co., 3429 W. 47th St. / Duro Metal Products, 2649 N. Kildare Ave.

When Gertrude McNaught Odlum died in 1992, aged 96, she was widely remembered as an award-winning breeder of dairy cows, owning a pair of multi-million dollar farms in the Chicago suburbs (“Rolling Acres” and “Odlum Farm”). Far less publicized,

American Flyer MFG Co., est. 1907

Museum Artifact: Cast Iron Locomotive No. 3195, c. 1930

Made by: American Flyer MFG Co., 2229 S. Halsted St., Chicago, IL

There’s something inherently sad about a solitary steam engine—even a toy one. With no tender, it has no imaginary fuel, and with no boxcars, it serves no imaginary purpose. Our particular locomotive doesn’t even have a lonesome whistle to blow. Still, if we’re talking about the American Flyer Manufacturing Company at the dawning of the Great Depression,

G. Felsenthal & Sons, est. 1898

Museum Artifact: Altitude Correction Computer, c. 1945

Made By: G. Felsenthal & Sons, 4100 W. Grand Ave., Chicago, IL

“No sign posts on the mountains . . . no concrete highways in the soup . . . no rocky peak so kind it steps aside to let a plane go by. Yet, with the navigational instruments precision made by Felsenthal, in Felsenthal Plastics,

Sanford Ink Company, est. 1857

Museum Artifact: Sanford’s Ink Eraser by Sanford MFG Co., c. 1910s

Made By: Sanford MFG Co. / Sanford Ink Company, 846-854 W. Congress Street, Chicago, IL

“Have you handled Sanford’s ink eraser yet? Every office needs it and every stationer should carry it in stock. It does the work of erasing ink from paper and stains from cloth perfectly. It is put up in a handsome round corner package and is made by the Sanford Manufacturing Company,

American Family Scale Co., est. 1928

Museum Artifact: 25 LB Kitchen Scale, c. 1950s

Made by: American Family Scale Co., 515 S. Laflin St., Chicago, IL

A television metaphor might not be entirely apropos for the time period, but when the American Family Scale Company was established in 1928, it was essentially a “spin-off” of Chicago’s venerable American Cutlery Company. In fact, all the classic hallmarks of a TV spin-off were there:

1—The original,

Adjustable Clamp Company, est. 1903

Museum Artifact: Jorgensen Hand Screw Clamps, c. 1950s

Made by: Adjustable Clamp Co., 417 N Ashland Ave., Chicago, IL

Back in 2015, when the Made In Chicago Museum was in its developmental stages, the Adjustable Clamp Company stood out as the rare “feel good” story amidst a sea of shuttered factories, outmoded merchandise, and forgotten dreams. The respected tool manufacturer, which changed its name to Pony Tools in 2013 (adopting the title of one of its’ long-running brands),

Kling Bros. & Co., est. 1897

Museum Artifact: Tailor’s Measuring Tape, c. 1930s

Made By: Kling Bros. & Co. Inc., 2300 W. Wabansia Ave, Chicago, IL

“Garments that combine character and charm with lines that are clean cut, comfortable, and correct. . . . Are you one of the ten thousand dealers who know the immeasurable satisfaction to be found in KLING-MADE clothing specialties?”—1920 ad for Kling Bros.

C. Cretors & Co., est. 1885

Museum Artifacts: Cretors Popcorn Wagon Steam Engine, 1908, and Pop Corn Carton, 1920s

Made By: C. Cretors & Company, 600 W. Cermak Road, Chicago, IL

“Cretors’ Pop Corn is the most pleasing of any in the world. No other novelty gives such a degree of enjoyment and satisfaction for the money. Relished by all, young or old—rich and poor alike, during all seasons of the year—it wins instant success everywhere,