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Chicago History Museum

1601 N Clark St


Chicago History Museum


"Chicago History Museum (formerly known as the Chicago Historical Society) was founded in 1856. It is currently located in a building at the corner of Clark Street and North Avenue in the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago in Lincoln Park (the actual park, not the neighborhood). It was renamed the Chicago History Museum on September, 2006.


Much of the early collection amassed by the museum was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, but like the city, the museum rose from the ashes. Among its many documents which were lost in the fire was the original Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln. After the fire, the Society began collecting new materials, which were stored in the Scammon Building until it, and their collection, were again destroyed by fire in 1874. The Chicago Historical Society built a fireproof building on the site of its pre-1871 building. The replacement building opened in 1896.


The current museum contains standing exhibits on the fire, Fort Dearborn, and the American Civil War. Other items in its collection, which are shown at various times include the bed in which Abraham Lincoln died, George Washington's second inaugural suit, Al Capone's mugshot, and the initial letter P from the old Playboy Building.


In addition to the exhibits, the museum houses a research library which is open to the public.


On January 19, 2006, the first passenger car to operate on the Chicago 'L' system in 1893 was transported to its new display location at the Chicago Historical Society. Passengers were allowed to ride the 1893 'L' from the Loop to Hyde Park station for 5 cents to attend the World's Columbian Exposition upon the line's opening. The car, known as CTA 1, was cosmetically restored into its 1893 appearance before being transported to the museum where it was lifted and inserted into an opening through the museum's second floor wall. The car's interior features include mahogany and rattan seats and etched glass windows. CTA 1 joins Pioneer, the first locomotive to operate in Chicago; a redesigned exhibit space to showcase the car and locomotive opened on September 30, 2006."

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Taken on July 21, 2007