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New EHS Exhibit Showcases Edgewater’s Automotive Glory Days

EdgewaterIt is hard to believe, but back in the 1920s Edgewater was such a hub for the Chicago automotive industry that it was dubbed “The Northside Motor Row”.  Now,  a new exhibit which opened July 12th at the Edgewater Historical Society and Museum tackles the past showcasing photographs, artifacts and maps that help us get a glimpse at our neighborhood’s vehicular glory days.

With numerous dealerships, garages and parts stores dotting the Broadway corridor around that time, many remnants remain today in the form of buildings now used for other purposes. Curator Tiffany Middleton explained, “We all know that the automobile had a transformative effect on American life in the 20th century, but in this exhibit, you will see how that happened in one community, Edgewater, and how that looked to people living in the community.”

The exhibit showcases in particular one Edgewater resident, Thomas Hay, who was a domineering force in the industry from 1908-1945. He used the area he called home as a way to also sell his Fords, REOs and Hupmobiles. He was also the founder of the Chicago Automobile Trade Association and the National Automobile Dealer’s Association which were both two of the first of its kind.

“The automobile exploded between 1900 and 1950,” explains Middleton. “It permeated culture—advertising, music, radio, and television. The idea of the road trip, be it a Sunday drive or a cross country tour, really began to take hold of America’s imagination, and Edgewater played a role in that development.”

The Edgewater Historical Society and Museum is open Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 p.m., and admission is free. “Motoring Through Edgewater” ends March 13, 2015. Related programs will be offered during the exhibit.

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