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The University and the City
A Centennial View of the
University of Chicago
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Sears, Roebuck & Company Headquarters, postcard, undated.

Sears, Roebuck & Company Headquarters, postcard, undated. Built in 1905, the sprawling West Side complex served as the company's main office for sixty-seven years, until the Sears Tower was completed downtown.

 

Chicago Union Stock Yards, undated.

Chicago Union Stock Yards, undated. The central stock yard created in 1865 covered 345 swampy acres on the South Side, and included 2300 separate livestock pens as well as hotels, saloons, restaurants, and offices for merchants and brokers.

 

Lakeside Press, R. R. Donnelley & Sons Company, entrance, from Training Craftsmen at the Lakeside Press (Chicago: Lakeside Press, 1927).

Lakeside Press, R. R. Donnelley & Sons Company, entrance, from Training Craftsmen at the Lakeside Press (Chicago: Lakeside Press, 1927). The University's relations with one of Chicago's foremost printing establishments began when R. R. Donnelley became treasurer of the University Press in 1892. His son Thomas served as a trustee and consulted on matters concerning the Press, and grandson Gaylord continued the family tradition as chairman of the Board of Trustees from 1970 to 1976. Photograph courtesy of R. R. Donnelley & Sons Company.

 

The Civic Spirit

Merchandisers and Advertisers
Executives from the advertising industry also took an interest in the University. Albert Lasker of the Lord and Thomas agency provided an important endowment for the hospital in its early years, and one of his employees, Fairfax M. Cone, who took over the company renamed as Foote, Cone and Belding, served the University years later as a member and chairman of the Board of Trustees. After deciding to leave his successful career at the New York advertising agency of Benton and Bowies, William Benton accepted the invitation of his Yale classmate, Robert Hutchins, to come to the University of Chicago and study its public relations problems. A confidential report was printed for the trustees which incorporated advice on the latest advertising and promotional techniques. Benton advocated better use of radio broadcasting and films to disseminate the University's name and improve its image. Benton also acquired the Encyclopaedia Britannica from Sears and turned over much of its stock to the University, providing an ongoing source of funds from royalties, and initiating along relationship with EB that placed many faculty members in editorial positions.

Industrialists
As trade and transportation lines converged in Chicago, the city became a center for manufacturing and industry of all kinds. Raw materials flowed in by ship from the Great Lakes and by railroad from the surrounding prairie states, and finished goods were sent to both coasts and around the world. The University was a natural beneficiary of successful entrepreneurs who wished to show their civic pride. As a fiftieth-anniversary brochure declared, "The regular dividends paid by a university are paid to all humanity, in new knowledge, new science, new medicine. The 12,000 Chicagoans who have invested money in the University of Chicago expected nothing more than these regular dividends."

Meat packer Gustavus F. Swift subscribed $1000 for the new University of Chicago in 1890.

But his most important legacy to the University was certainly his son Harold, who graduated with a PhB in 1907 and became one of the University's most devoted alumni. Chairman of the Board of Trustees from 1922 to 1949, Harold Swift may have spent as much time with University affairs as he did with the family business.

Other meat packers aided the University, including Sidney Kent, an original incorporator of the Union Stock Yards, and Charles Hutchinson, whose father was a partner with Kent in the Chicago Packing and Provision Company. Philip D. Armour, who arrived in Chicago the same year as Gustavus Swift, invested in the Armour Institute of Technology, which later became the Illinois Institute of Technology. Although the two schools discussed affiliating at several different times, the Armour family preferred to keep their school independent. They did provide for the University in other ways, including the Armour Clinical Research Laboratory in the hospital complex.

Benefactors of the University included manufacturers of lumber, steel, railroad freight cars, steam radiators, farm machinery, electrical equipment, and paper products. Silas R. Cobb, a harness maker who arrived in Chicago in 1833, made enough money to retire in 1852 at the age of 60, and although somewhat intimidating to the University's campaign solicitors, was happy to contribute funds for the University's first lecture hall. Cyrus Hall McCormick, who made Chicago a center for farm implement manufacturing, died before the University opened, but several family members took an active interest in it, including his daughter, Anita McCormick Blame, who funded the Chicago Institute, which was to become part of the University's College of Education, and her brother Harold, who served as a trustee for many years.

La Verne Noyes was an inventor of farm machinery and also developed a wind-driven motor which could generate electricity. President of the Civic Federation of Chicago, trustee of the Lewis Institute, life-member of the Art Institute, and president of the trustees of the Chicago Academy of Sciences, he donated money for a women's building at the University of Chicago as a memorial to his wife, Ida Noyes, who died in 1912.


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