Good morning, Chicago.
Few salesmen can predict the future like a newsboy trying to sell a paper. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, the news spread in fits and starts across Chicago, but at least one newspaper hawker knew what he had: “They’re historic, and will be worth money years from now.”
The start of World War II was far from the only headline worth keeping during that era of Chicago, which saw the city’s mayor shot dead, a devastating Depression, another world’s fair, the birth of blues music, the founding of Playboy Magazine, and the origins of Chicago’s most famous dish.
And then there was that other headline, the time the Tribune called the presidential election for the wrong man. You can read more about that from Rick Kogan here, while Ron Grossman offers readers a look into what the Tribune wasn’t covering in those days.
You’ll find many of these headlines in our new book commemorating the Chicago Tribune’s 175th anniversary, featuring more than 100 historic front pages. But perhaps you’d rather just test your knowledge. We’ve got you covered there too. Take our quiz and see how much you know about the place a New York writer once called the “second city.”
– Jocelyn Allison, Marianne Mather and Kori Rumore
Tribune editor and publisher Col. Robert R. McCormick was furious when an early deadline led the paper to print an erroneous headline proclaiming Thomas Dewey the winner of the 1948 presidential election. But it was a rare flub in an otherwise successful time for McCormick, who had succeeded in making the paper indispensable, writes Rick Kogan.
From the Jazz Age through the 1940s and beyond, Black musicians who had migrated from places like New Orleans were transforming music in Chicago. But to its discredit, the Tribune largely ignored them, instead writing about white performers like Benny Goodman. This happened even as Black musicians were lauded by the larger musical world.
During the Roaring ‘20s, the nation was riding high, and so was the stock market. America was the land of productivity and plenty, where wages were rising and prices were falling. But Americans intoxicated by new wealth were blind to an economic bubble that was quickly approaching the bursting point.
Chicago’s second world’s fair opened May 27, 1933, with a quarter of the American workforce unemployed and many hungry Chicagoans seeking sustenance at Al Capone’s soup kitchen. The Century of Progress marked Chicago’s centennial, the title reflecting the city’s spectacular growth from a frontier settlement to an industrial metropolis.
In its opening-day issue, the Tribune promised fairgoers “a colossal combination of science and circus.” Attractions ranged from scientific marvels like dishwashers and air conditioners to a pie-eating contest for 400 monkeys and performances from the women of Chicago’s red-light district.
War clouds had hung over the U.S. for months, but Japan’s 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor still took Americans by surprise. Chicagoans quickly got behind the war effort. Women went to work in defense plants in droves, and Chicago soon led the nation in war production.
The next year, underneath the stands of the University of Chicago football stadium, a group of scientists led by Italian physicist Enrico Fermi created a chain reaction that would lead to the development of the atomic bomb — and bring an end to the war.
There is almost no documentation about who invented deep dish pizza, and without it, legend has taken over. The only paper trail indicates the pizza almost certainly started in 1943 at a 19th century mansion built with lumber money at 29 E. Ohio St. — the restaurant now known as Pizzeria Uno. But the question of who exactly developed the concept remains a mystery.