Monday, October 8, 2012

1887: A Year to Remember

On Thursday October 4, 2012, museum director Bill Tyre gave a lecture entitled 1887: A Year to Remember – the year in which the Glessners completed and moved into their new home at 1800 South Prairie Avenue in Chicago.  The illustrated talk was divided into five sections focusing on events in the world, the nation, the city, the neighborhood, and lastly the lives of the Glessner family.  We present a few interesting tidbits uncovered during research for the talk:

Queen Victoria celebrated her Jubilee (50th anniversary on the throne) during the year.  For those who were especially devoted to their Queen, a special wallpaper was produced featuring a portrait of the Queen surrounded by images of the colonies she controlled around the world (Australia was depicted by a kangaroo).

On September 28, 1887, a horrific flood started on the Yellow River in China which ultimately led to the deaths of 900,000 and 2 million left homeless.  At its peak, the flood covered 50,000 square miles in Henan Province.  It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in history, however another flood of the Yellow River in 1931 claimed the lives of nearly 4 million people.

Dr. Lezyer Leyvi Zamenhof published his book International Language under the pseudonym Doktoro Esperanto.  His hopes were that the new language could be used as a tool for promoting world peace.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published his first Sherlock Holmes mystery - A Study in Scarlet - in Beeton’s Magazine.

Jenny Lind, the great soprano known as the “Swedish nightingale” died at the age of 67.

President Grover Cleveland embarked on a Goodwill Tour during the months of September and October, traveling as far west as Omaha, Nebraska.  Cleveland and his wife traveled in the private railroad car owned by George Pullman, known as the P.P.C. which was lavishly appointed.  Cleveland insisted on paying for the use of the car, to eliminate any appearance of impropriety.

Rev. Hannibal Goodwin, an Episcopal priest, invented the flexible roll of nitrocellulose film for a roller camera.  The patent was infringed upon by Eastman Kodak, which in 1914 paid a $5 million settlement to Goodwin’s estate.

Eadweard James Muybridge published Animal Locomotion: An Electrophotographic Investigation of Consecutive Phases of Animal Movements with over 700 plates in eleven volumes.  This work is widely considered to be the precursor to motion pictures.

Anne Sullivan became the teacher of six-year-old Helen Keller.

The four Haymarket “anarchists” were executed on Friday November 11.  A fifth anarchist had committed suicide the previous day.

The Commercial Club of Chicago purchased 700 acres of lakefront property north of the city and donated it to the Federal government.  The next year, the military began construction of Fort Sheridan on the land.  The fort was closed in 1993.

The Newberry Library was established using a bequest from Walter Loomis Newberry (1804-1868), the present of the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad, the first railroad built from Chicago.  The first librarian William Frederick Poole, worked with architect Henry Ives Cobb to design the building, which opened in 1893.

The Chicago Kindergarten College was begun by Elizabeth Harrison and Rumah Arvilla Crouse.  It survives today as National-Lewis University.

Sixteen-inch softball was invented in Chicago on Thanksgiving Day at the Farragut Boat Club.

Prominent buildings under construction in Chicago during the year included the Auditorium Building, the Rookery (shown above), the Tacoma Building, and two churches by Burnham and Root – St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church and Lake View Presbyterian Church.


  1. This is a fascinating collection of tidbits. I was interested to see the mention of Esperanto, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year.

    Although we can't expect it to bring about world peace, this language has some remarkable practical benefits. Personally, I’ve made friends around the world through Esperanto that I would never have been able to communicate with otherwise. And then there’s the Pasporta Servo, which provides free lodging and local information to Esperanto-speaking travellers in over 90 countries. Dr Zamenhof's dream has noit died.

  2. I agree with Bill Chapman. Esperanto is more widespread than people imagine. It is now in the top 100 languages, out of 6,800 worldwide. It is the 29th most used language in Wikipedia, ahead of Danish and Arabic. It is a language choice of, Skype, Firefox, Ubuntu and Facebook. Now that Google translate recently added this international language to its prestigious list of 64 languages it has ceased to be just a hobby.

    Native Esperanto speakers, (people who have used the language from birth), include World Chess Champion Susan Polger, Ulrich Brandenberg the new German Ambassador to Russia and Nobel Laureate Daniel Bovet. Financier George Soros learnt Esperanto as a child.

    Esperanto is a living language - see

    Their online course has 125 000 hits per day and Esperanto Wikipedia enjoys 400 000 hits per day. That can't be bad :)


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