Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry was originally constructed from hemp. Just learning that fact may be worth the price of admission to What Happened Here? Chicago, but there’s a great deal more to enjoy in this deck—such as the Potawatomie word for “meeting hall” (that information crops up in a discussion of Abe Lincoln’s 1860 presidential nomination). And the essential Chicago insider knowledge that 43.4 miles’ worth of frankfurters were devoured during the 1953 season at the Riverview amusement park.
What Happened Here? Chicago also presents information of real historical significance, of course—about Padre Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet, for instance, probably the first Europeans to visit the Chicago area; about the mighty stockyards that inspired The Jungle; about the origin of Montgomery Ward’s nation-changing mail order catalog; and about Enrico Fermi’s world-changing experiment in atomic fission. Compiled by the Chicago Historical Society, this is an intellectually satisfying deck as well as an entertaining one.
A sample card: 2131–2133 South Dearborn ò February 1900. Answer: In 1900, Chicago’s red light district, known as the Levee, saw the opening of its most opulent house of prostitution.
Ada and Minna Everleigh (their real last name was “Lester) opened the brothel with a $35,000 inheritance. The Everleigh club boasted rich furnishings, world-class artwork, luxurious accommodations, succulent meals, and of course, beautiful young ladies. At a time when the average working man made no more than $10 a week, one could easily spend $200 for one night at the Everleigh with the $10 admission fee, $50 for dinner, $12 for a bottle of wine—and the fee (averaging about $50) for the evening’s female companionship. It is said that Prince Henry of Prussia, while dining at the club, was the first to drink champagne from a young lady’s slipper, creating the fad. In October 1911, under pressure from reformers, Mayor Carter Harrison II closed down the Everleigh Club for good.