Monday, March 30, 2009

Potter Palmer (1826 - 1902)

(Published May 5, 1902 by The New York Times) Photos by ME
Chicago Millionaire Unexpectedly Passes Away in His Home.
Immediate Cause of Death Heart Failure - He Made a Fortune During the Civil War.
CHICAGO, May 4. - Potter Palmer, for nearly half a century one of Chicago's most prominent business men, died today at his residence on Lake Shore Drive. The immediate cause of Mr. Palmer's death was heart failure.
Mr. Palmer's condition had not been regarded as extremely serious, even by the family physician, Dr. Henry B. Favill. Saturday night he suffered from a fever. His temperature rose then, and by this morning was 101, but Dr. Favill, while unable to account for the presence of this fever, did not feel that it indicated serious results.
This afternoon Mrs. Palmer noticed symptoms of sinking in Mr. palmer and became much alarmed. Dr. Favill could not be found and Dr. George P. Marquis was called. He reached the Palmer residence at 4 o'clock and after a brief examination of the patient advised Mrs. Palmer that he could hold out no hope. Mr. Palmer had seemed to fall into a sleep at 3 o'clock, although it was a fatal unconscousness, and so he remained until the end.
Dr. Marquis made a vain effort to hold the wavering spark of life of the patient by administering oxygen, but it was without avail, and the end came at 5:40 o'clock this afternoon.
Just after Mr. Palmer's death Dr. Favill arrived at the residence. After a brief conference with Dr. Marquis he announced that death was due to heart failure. He discovered a slight disorder of the lungs that gave some indication of incipient pneumonia, possibly brought on by an attack of grip suffered several months ago, but not sufficient to have brough the speedy end.
Mrs. Palmer and their two sons, Honore and Potter, Jr., were with Mr. Palmer when he died. No arrangements have yet been made for the funeral, but in all probability he will be buried in Chicago.
News of the death spread rapidly over the city and intimate friends of the Palmer family called at the home early.
Old-time associates of mr. Palmer's, such as Judge Lambert Tree, Marshall Field, Levi Z. Leiter, and Erskine Phelps, were informed. Robert T. Lincoln, H. H. Kohlsaat, and R. W. Patterson called.
Potter Palmer was born in Potter's Hollow, Albany County, N. Y., in 1826. His father was a Quaker and a prosperous farmer there. At the age of eighteen, after receiving a common school education, young Palmer became a clerk in the store of Platt Adams, in the village of Durham, Greene County. Shortly afterward he started a dry goods store in Oneida, and a year later removed to Lockport. He was successful almost from the beginning.
In 1851 Mr. Palmer visited Chicago. The city at that time boasted of only 40,000 souls, but Mr. Palmer saw in it a place of promise. He sold his interests in Lockport, and with a capital of $6,000 opened a dry goods store in Chicago in 1852. The Chicago public liked the New York merchant and during his first year there his sales reached the satisfactory figure of $73,000.
But Mr. Palmer's great fortune came with the civil war. He foresaw that the impending struggle would interfere with production, and he spent every dollar he had on buying up cotton and wollen goods. It required several warehouses to hold his goods. His judgment proved correct. The war brought the increased prices he had foreseen, and in less than four years he had made over $2,500,000. With a fortune estimated to be all the way from $3,000,000 to $4,000,000, Mr. Palmer retired in 1865. His firm had at that time become Field, Palmer, & Leiter, the members of which were Marshall Field and Levi Z. Leiter. It was succeeded by the firm of Marshall Field & Co.
Mr. Palmer subsequently began to interest himself in real estate transactions. He determined to make State Street, then little more than a wide alley, the principal thoroughfare of Chicago. Within six months he had bought three-quarters of a mile of frontage on that street. He succeeded in having it widened. When the great fire came in 1871 Mr. Palmer had ninety-five fine buildings in the city, including the Palmer House. All were destroyed in that conflagration.
Only a year before the fire Mr. Palmer married the woman who has become well known the world over. She was Miss Bertha Honore, daughter of H. H. Honore. Mr. Honore went to Chicago from Louisville, and his daughter had all the beauty for which Kentucky women are famous. When the fire had given his fortune a great blow Mr. Palmer felt at first inclined to withdraw the remnant of it and leave the work of rebuilding the city to others. During a great conversation he had with his wife at that time he made known to her his desire to leave the ruined city. "Mr. Palmer," replied Mrs. Palmer, "it is the duty of every Chicagoan to stay here and devote his fortune and energies to rebuilding this stricken city."
Mr. Palmer acted upon the advice of his wife. No man contributed so much to the resurrection of the city as did Potter Palmer. As soon as possible after the fire the work on Palmer House was resumed. It was completed at a cost of $2,000,000, the result being the handsomest and most substantial hotel in the country at that time. He rebuilt many other large buildings, and his real estate holdings continued to increase in value, until today his fortune is estimated at $25,000,000.
Mr. Palmer was one of the most active promoters of the World's Fair. He gave $200,000 to the Women's Building there. His wife was President of the Board of Lady Managers at the Columbian Exposition. Mr. Palmer was a Democrat, and was several times mentioned as a possible candidate for Mayor of Chicago.
Funeral of Potter Palmer
(Published May 8, 1902 by The New York Times)
CHICAGO, May 7. - Hundreds of Chicagoans, representing all classes, from laborer to millionaire, attended the funeral of Potter Palmer here today. Services were held at the Palmer residence, where many friends of the dead millionaire and Chicago pioneer viewed his remains. The Rev. James S. Stone, rector of St. James's Episcopal Church, conducted the services. The burial was at Graceland Cemetery.
Potter Palmer (May 20, 1826May 4, 1902) was a Chicago businessman who was responsible for much of the development of State Street.
Potter Palmer founded a dry goods store on Lake Street in Chicago in 1852, Potter Palmer and Company. Unlike many stores of the time it focused on women and encouraged their patronage. Palmer also instituted a "no questions asked" returns policy, which served to nurture the goodwill and patronage of Chicagoans.
When Palmer's doctor urged him to get out of the business in 1865 because of ill health, he brought in partners Marshall Field and Levi Leiter. The trio joined forces and renamed the firm Field, Palmer, Leiter and Company. In 1867 sold his share of the partnership and focused his efforts on his real-estate interests, leasing a new building to his former partners in 1868 at State & Washington.
Potter Palmer built several buildings along State Street on property he owned, including the Palmer House Hotel. When his buildings were destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire, Palmer borrowed $1.7 million to rebuild, the largest amount lent to an individual up to that time.
In 1871, Potter Palmer married Bertha Honoré. In 1874, she gave birth to son Honoré, and in 1875, she gave birth to son Potter Palmer II. Both sons went on to have sons named Potter Palmer III, as well as other children.
Potter built a castle for Bertha on Lake Shore Drive in 1885, leading to the establishment of the "Gold Coast". Prior to that time, Prairie Avenue was the most desirable address in Chicago.

Death of Potter Palmer

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Chicago's Graceland Cemetery

More photos from my lunchtime stroll through Graceland Cemetery...

The monument on the right is dated 1868, just 3 years after the assassination of President Lincoln. The world was a different place back then, these stones were probably pulled here by horse. Graceland Cemetery is a 119 acre cemetery on Chicago's north side. It was founded in 1860 as the city discussed closing and relocating the old City Cemetery on the near north side lakefront. Residents complained that the City Cemetery, being so close to Lake Michigan's shoreline, was causing disease. The graves and monuments were moved - most to Graceland or Rosehill cemeteries. At the time, this was not a part of Chicago but as the city grew it annexed the cemetery and surrounding neighborhoods.

Some famous folks buried at this cemetery include Potter Palmer, responsible for the early development of Chicago's State Street retail corridor. Marshall Field worked for Potter and later founded the Marshall Field Company department store, now Macy's. Marshall Field is also interred at Graceland Cemetery. The next generation of business giants were John G. Shedd, A. Montgomery Ward, and Richard Sears - all interred at the Rosehill Mausoleum.

I'll get some photos of Rosehill up tomorrow, it's even larger than Graceland and features the grandest Mausoleum in all Chicago. They offer guided tours on Saturdays!

(Inez Clarke, discussed in a previous blog) I think the glass case lends an eerie property to this memorial. I've found two more of these types of statue-in-a-case sorts of monuments in the larger Rosehill Cemetery. They always tell a tragic tale, albeit made up in the case of Inez Clarke.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Eternal Silence

Eternal Silence, originally uploaded by zuctronic.

Eternal Silence marks the plot of hotelier Dexter Graves (1789-1844), who, in 1831, brought the first colony to Chicago from Ashtabula, Ohio.

A robed and hooded bronze figure stands before a polished black slab of granite, its face partially hidden by one arm. Eternal Silence, also called the "Statue of Death", was created by sculptor Lorado Taft in 1909.

This monument stands in the Graceland Cemetery on the north side of Chicago. One of the legends of this monument is that it "cannot be photographed" ... well there you go. I added the effect because it looked a little blah without it.

I do not believe in ghosts. I do not believe in "supernatural" phenomena. I like to visit cemeteries because they are free history museums and sculpture gardens. I have never witnessed anything "paranormal" in a cemetery or otherwise. The hair stands up on the back of my neck when I listen to others talk about ghost stories or unusual experiences they've had in cemeteries or old houses, but the people telling such stories typically have dubious credibility and a history of believing preposterous claims.

For me, I like the quiet in a cemetery. They are not happy places, I will admit... but they are very peaceful. A few hours strolling through a cemetery is a brilliant way to shut out the city hassles and reflect on my own life.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Inez Clarke 1873-1880

Inez Clarke 1873-1880, originally uploaded by zuctronic.

Today at lunchtime I decided to take a short drive through Graceland Cemetery in Chicago. I had my camera with me, so I took some pics and this is one of my favorites!

Here's some information about this particular sculpture known as Inez Clarke.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Did You Know? Youtube Video

We live in exponential times... watch this video if you love to hear surprising statistics about our changing world.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hero Dog Rescues Injured Dog!

This story got my all misty eyed =)
The Associated Press

December 8, 2008

SANTIAGO, Chile -- Chileans have a new hero: an apparently homeless dog who's gone missing. A surveillance camera on a Santiago freeway captured images of a dog trotting past speeding cars to pull the body of another dog, mortally struck by a vehicle, away from traffic, to the median strip.

The scene was broadcast by Chilean television stations and then posted on Web sites such as, and hundreds of thousands of people had viewed versions of it by Monday.

Highway crews removed both the dead and live dogs from the median strip of the Vespucio Norte Highway shortly after the Dec. 4 incident, and the rescuer dog ran away.

Authorities say images of the rescue prompted some people to call and offer to adopt the dog, but neither highway workers nor a television crew could find they animal when they went to hunt for it.

Warning at Montrose Pier

I found this serious warning painted on the Montrose Pier.


I think it's a modified one of these:


The important thing is that one shouldn't be diving into the shallow waters of Montrose Harbor while ... whatever that is in the first picture ... or otherwise.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Cooking the Easter Bunny!

How to chop up, cook, and eat a whole rabbit! YUM!!


I bought a whole rabbit at Treasure Island Foods in December and chopped it up and cooked it. I took some pictures as I did the needful so I could share it all with you. First the whole rabbit before I got started.


I had a few pictures from the internet that showed a rabbit after being cut into the primals, but I'd never done it myself before. Based on those pictures, this is what I managed to come up with:


As you can see, there are the hind legs, the breasts, tenderloins, and front legs (shanks). I was really looking forward to those tenderloins! The recipe I chose was intended to accentuate the rabbit flavor, it was very simple. Some carrots and onions, a little olive oil, rosemary, and red wine. I seared the rabbit for a couple minutes before adding the vegetables back in and then the wine.

FoodandThingsOct-November061 FoodandThingsOct-November063


That's the finished product

Monday, March 16, 2009

LEGO Store on Michigan Avenue

On Michigan Avenue just north of the Chicago River is an area called The Shops at North Bridge. Among these shops is the LEGO Store with over 400 LEGO products! Throughout the enclosed shopping center and LEGO store were little sculptures that artists had created for display.

Above: A LEGO man with a bird on his head sitting on a bench; Little LEGO sunbathers on the balcony of a "Chicago" high rise hotel "The Drake"
Below: Giant LEGO man that looks like tiny LEGO man between models of Chicago buildings; Chicago skyline with LEGO people and Dinosaur.

Above: LEGO spider!!
Below: LEGO woman with puppy and suitcase.

Below: King Tut's Mask, Airplane, Skeleton in spider web; alternate view

LEGO Mindstorms in ROBOT Configuration!

Chicago St. Patrick's Day 2009 081 by you.

Hope you liked my pictures!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day from Chicago

In Chicago they do the parade on Saturday closest to St. Patrick's Day and also dye the river green! I didn't catch the parade because I was getting some work done on our Australian websites, but I did manage to get some pictures of the bizarre green river. The obvious question is always... if they can dye it green on St. Patrick's Day, why can't they dye it blue the other 364 days of the year?

And some random St. Patrick's Day revelers --

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Chicago "L"

So I took the train to the "Loop" today to get some pictures of the Chicago River dyed green for St. Patrick's Day. We call the center of the city the Loop because there is a loop of elevated train track that circles the CBD. I took some pictures of the train and from the train so you can see what you're missing!

The tracks are mounted to wooden ties supported by steel girders.

The CTA is called the Chicago "L" because it is "L"-evated (elevated) above the street through most of the system. Two of the lines actually travel under the loop as subways. One of those lines goes right past my apartment!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bacon Cheese Roll!

First, weave a "mat" of bacon and fry it up:


Then you put a bunch of shredded cheese on it, roll it up, and slice it... YUM YUM!!!