By the end of the nineteenth century, Chicago had emerged as a leader in both industry and culture--a metropolis that slaughtered hundreds of thousands of pigs and cattle in its packinghouses and produced millions of tons of steel in its mills, while also providing a home for art, culture, and higher education. Business and civic leaders sought to demonstrate their cosmopolitan capabilities and worldliness, in contrast to their city's crass commercial image, by investing in cultural institutions as well as soaring skyscrapers. These leaders often looked abroad for global inspirations, particularly to European styles of clothing, artwork, and entertainment. Despite such efforts to create an image of cultural sophistication and aesthetic refinement, popular perceptions of Chicago continued to be influenced by the physical, social, and economic realities of industrialization, and by workers' responses to these realities. Chicago's business elite viewed labor activism as the worst kind of European import, blaming worker unrest on recent "radical" immigrants. In fact, beginning in the mid-1870s, several political organizers (both native-born and foreign-born) proved successful at helping to forge working-class consciousness among some of Chicago's ethnic communities.
This Marshall Field & Co. catalog promised to educate "American ladies" on "coming European fashions in advance of the season" and allow them access to styles worn by European royalty.
When a group of Chicago businessmen sought to develop the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (1891), they reached out to German-born conductor Theodore Thomas, who was then performing and conducting in New York. After Thomas's death in 1905, the CSO brought in another German-born conductor, Frederick Stock, to lead the orchestra. Under Stock's leadership, the orchestra began recording their music and developing a distinctive "Chicago sound" which eventually would gain international recognition.
The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), established in Chicago in 1905, promoted international worker solidarity and called for a single world-wide union and an end to the wage-labor system. In its various editions, the "Little Red Songbook" included organizing and protest songs written by such famous radicals as Joe Hill and Ralph Chaplin. IWW maintained its headquarters and held international conventions in Chicago until the 1980s.
This monument in Waldheim Cemetery was erected in 1893 to honor five labor leaders. Four of the men were executed and one committed suicide after being convicted of murder in a trial that arose from the 1886 rally and bombing near Chicago's Haymarket Square. The trial and verdict drew international attention, outrage, and widespread accusations of judicial misconduct. The area around the monument, which was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1997, holds the grave markers of more than 60 internationally recognized labor activists. Pilgrims continue to visit the cemetery, laying roses on the monument and nearby stones for Emma Goldman, Lucy Parsons, Ben Reitman, and others.
This poster, pasted on a wall in the San Telmo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina, recalls the significance of Haymarket in worldwide observances of May Day. Its caption reads: "Another 1st of May in struggle."