18 Things Chicago Did First

Since before we all had electricity in our homes, Chicago has been the premiere stage for some of America’s most important innovations. This Summer Intel will be bringing the latest in tech to the city that once hosted the World’s Fair as a part of their Experience Intel Roadshow.

1. The Ferris Wheel

Also known as the Chicago Wheel, the original Ferris Wheel was was 264’ high and had 36 cars that could hold up to 60 passengers.

2. Radio soap operas.

The first radio soap, “The Smith Family,” started in Chicago in 1929. Oh those Smiths… they sound so hot.

3. The Hootchy Kootchy

The Hootchy Kootchy (not pictured above) is a provocative version of belly dancing that premiered at the Chicago World’s Fair by a performer named “Little Egypt.”

4. Electricity

Thanks to Nikola Tesla’s revolutionary system for Alternating Currents, on May 1st, 1893, President Grover Cleveland was able to push a button and switch on 100,000 lights that illuminated the World’s Fair in Chicago.

5. Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer

PBR was unveiled in Chicago in 1893, officially setting the college party movement in motion.

6. The first commercial movie theater

The Zoopraxographical Hall was originally built in Chicago for Eadweard Muybridge’s lectures on the Science of Animal Locomotion.

7. McDonald's

Chicago was home to the first McDonald’s. Which obviously means they were the first to cone.

8. Wrigley's gum.

Chicagoans were the first to get their teeth on Wrigley’s gum, long before those Doublemint Twins. The first flavor was Juicy Fruit!

9. Cracker Jacks

F.W. Rueckheim introduced the world to the classic baseball snack in Chicago.

10. The first African-American President

No that doesn’t mean he’s the President of Chicago… it means he’s FROM Chicago.

11. Open heart surgery

One hundred and twenty years ago, Chicago surgeon Daniel Hale Williams performed the first successful open heart surgery. His heart must have been beating so fast!

12. Zippers

When Whitcomb Judson premiered the Zipper in 1851 it didn’t have such a zippy name. The best Judson could come up with was “Clasp Locker.” Come on Whitcomb, you’re better than that.

13. Quaker Oats

So good you could kiss your mom!

14. Picture Postcards

Hulton Archive / Getty Images

The United States Post Office Department produced its first picture postcards in Chicago.

15. Electric dishwasher

The dishwasher was introduced at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. But it wasn’t until the 1960s that Americans started trusting the strange contraptions enough to put them in their kitchens.

16. Baseball

The first baseball game was played in 1887 using an old boxing glove and a broomstick at Chicago’s Farragut Boat Club.

17. Nuclear chain reactions

The first man-made nuclear chain reaction was successfully conducted at the University of Chicago’s Stagg Field on Dec. 2, 1942.

18. Twinkies

Tim Boyle / Getty Images

The magical and everlasting Twinkie was created in Chicago’s Schiller Park.

Speaking of innovation…

The Experience Intel roadshow June 7-9. Join Intel and explore a series of immersive, cutting-edge digital experiences and performances—by notable artists and creative thinkers—that let you both imagine and experience how an Intel-based device is different from any other.

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