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Cornell Watch Company
Life Span: 1873-TBD
Location: 79th and Ellis St
Chicago Tribune, September 13, 1871
The Illinois Central Railroad officials honored a number of their friends , yesterday evening, with an excursion to the new town of Cornell, which is just springing into existence a little south of our city. Among other distinguished personages on board were Judge Robert Wilson, General Warren, Lieutenant Commander Murray, U.S.N., J.Y. Scammon, Thomas Hoyne, H.H. Honore, F.S. Dobbins, George Trumbull, John Fitch, Paul Cornell, George W. Waite, and Colonel Bowen. The railroad company was represented by the President, General Superintendent, Chief Engineer, and other officers. The trip was a very enjoyable one. All seemed pleased at what they saw on the way and at the end of the journey, where the Cornell watch factory, a noble structure and admirably adapted to its purpose, is rapidly approaching completion. Having surveyed this and other improvements, for which our enterprising fellow citizen, Paul Cornell, is deserving of praise, the party returned with enlarged conceptions of the substantial growth of our city and its environs.
The Cornell Watch Company
79th and Ellis
Chicago Tribune, December 13, 1873
The solution of the transportation problem, which is now puzzling so many minds, and which seems to be the great question of the day in the West, has one very ready answer, if only a sufficient number of people can be made to agree to carry out the plan. So long as the cost of transporting grain to distant consumers is so great as to deprive the farmer of all profit, and at the same time to cause an exorbitant price for breadstuffs at the place where they are mostly consumed, there will be considerable difficulty in reconciling the interests of producers and consumers, engaged in mechanical labor, are brought into the immediate vicinity of the producers, both are benefited. In short, few things will improve the condition of the farmers of the great Northwest as much as the location of large manufacturing establishments throughout the country wherever circumstances will permit.
Recognizing the above fact, Chicago has already taken a commanding lead in all branches of manufactures, from the heaviest and bulkiest articles to the finest and most delicate pieces of mechanism.
One of the most valuable and interesting branches of industry that has ever been started here is one but, little known, except to those interested in it, or to the residents in its vicinity. We refer to the Cornell Watch Factory, situated at Grand Crossing, about nine and a half miles south of the city, at the crossing of the Illinois Central Michigan Central, Michigan Southern, and the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroads. The factory was built by the Cornell Watch Company, and work was begun about two years ago. The paid in capital stock of the Company at the present time if $400,000. The officers are, President, Paul Cornell; Vice-President and Manager, T.C. Williams.
The factory is a plain, substantial brick structure, consisting of a main building and two wings. The main part is 50 by 100 feet, four stories high, and has a tower and bell. The wings are each 50 by 50 feet, and are only three stories high. It has the capacity for 500 operatives.
The starting of a watch factory is attended with great difficulties and embarrassments, owing to the fact that all the machinery used in the manufacture of a watch must be made in the factory. The number of watch factories is so small that there are no machinery dealers who either keep or make watch-working machines, and consequently all watch factories have machinery departments, where they make their own machines. These latter are rarely covered by patents, and, except a few unimportant pieces, the same kind of machinery used in all factories. Therefore, the starting-point of a watch factory is in its machinery department. In the Cornell one, the power for all the machinery used is given by a 30-horse-power engine, which works as noiselessly and smoothly as if it were a mere plaything. It seems almost impossible that this silently-working machine should have such power. The machinery department occupies the entire lower floor of the wings, and contains all the latest improvements in metal-working machinery. Here are machines that will cut the heaviest pieces of metal used, and others that will shave off a thin ribbon of metal that will break to pieces at a touch. The large planer in use here has some valuable improvements, invented by the Master-Machinist of the factory. The tool can be used at any angle by means of set-screws, and all are graduated to degrees. There are nineteen machinists in this department, all of whom are workmen of the highest degree of proficiency.
The room next in order in the production of a watch is the plate-room. Here the upper and lower plates are punched out of brass. They are then formed and pierced, preparatory to receiving the train of the watch. The larger brass-works in general, and all the wheels are cut here also, joined to the pinions, and made ready to go into the watch.
In the balance department, some of the finest work about the watch is done. The balances are made of brass and steel, joined together in a curious and ingenious manner, and fashioned out of quite a good-sized piece of metal. When finished, they are very delicate and beautiful. These balances have an advantage over those made from a single metal, since the contraction and expansion of the two metals, due to heat and cold, neutralize one another.
The light steel and screw department executes all the steel and screw work, and the stem-winding attachments. Some of the screws turned out by the machinery of this department are so small that one of them weighs only one-sixteen-thousandth of an ounce Troy.
In the motion department, the whole train is fitted to the watch. That is to say, all the interior parts of the watch are here brought together and joined to each other.
The examining department is where all imperfections or inaccuracies are sought for, and when they are found, the offending part is sent back to be corrected or replaced.
In the jewel department, the rough jewels, which come in blocks and fragments, are cut into small slabs, re-cut into cubes, turned, sized, polished, and pierced, ready for setting. Only rubies and garnets are used in the Cornell watches.
The escapement or pallet department is where the pulse of the watch—that which gives it the regularity of beat—is made. This work requires greater judgement and skill than any other.
When all the parts of the the watches have been made, they are placed in a box having ten separate compartments, and are sent to the gilding department, where all parts required gilding are rubbed smooth with stone, and are electro-gilded. The dial department, which is in the same room, is one of the most interesting of all. The dials are punched out of thin copper, and are then covered with a fine enamel, which is imported expressly for this purpose. This enamel is then baked on in a furnace. The dials then go to the painters, who paint the dial figures and divisions and divisions with fine camel hair brushes. This is all done by hand, no process having yet been invented which can do this work properly. The coloring matter appears very faint when first put on, but the dials are again placed in the furnace, and the heat deepens the color to black.
The dials being fitted and the hands put on, the watches are given over to the regulator, and in a short time are ready for the market. At this time, with only about 200 hands employed, the factory is turning out twenty-five watches daily, and the force can be increased at will to 500, with a greater proportional increase in the number of watches. The demand for the watches of this Company is growing so rapidlY that the Manager hopes to have the full force of 500 at work within eighteen months. Chicago can well be proud of this branch of her manufactures, since it took some of the large Eastern companies over two years before they could make a watch at all. The Cornell factory is now entirely over the preliminary embarrassments that always beset a watch factory, and it offers some of the finest work ever done in watchmaking, as a proof of its success. The Company manufactures seven different movements, of which three are stem-winders, thus taking the lead of all companies save one, which also makes a stem-winder.
The Company claims that its railroad watch is unsurpassed, having a perfect escapement, the finish of pallets and escape-wheel teeth being superior to any other yet produced. All watches have the quick beat of 18,000 beats per minute, and a certificate accompanies each watch guaranteeing that it shall perform its work according to promise. In order to insure the introduction of the Cornell watch through reliable and well-known dealers only, the Company has determined to give the exclusive sale to one jeweler in each town, and already orders have been received to such an extent that, instead of decreasing the force of employes during the panic, as most factories did, it was necessary to make a considerable increase.
Whether taken as an interesting branch of manufactures with which we have not as yet had much experience, or as one of the industries which are destined to extend the name and importance of Chicago all over the world, the Cornell Watch Company is a success in which all Chicago people should take pride.
Chicago Tribune, January 24, 1873
THE CORNELL WATCH FACTORY.
An Injurious Scandal Started by Discharged Workmen.
A paragraph in the city column of THE TRIBUNE yesterday relating to the Cornell Watch Company, was the result of inexcusable carelessness in giving publication to a scandal started by a discharged workman, brought in by a reporter at a late hour. Under any circumstances we should regret the tone of the paragraph for there should be no such word as “fail,” recognized in connection with our local manufacturing enterprises. In this case the rumor is totally groundless. The affairs of the Company were never in a better shape, and the capitalists associated in tho enterprise are amply repaid for their skill and nerve. We publish a letter from the Secretary of the Company, the statements in which can be abundantly established from the books of the Company. The Manager has recently been cutting down the force and making changes with a view to economy and efficiency, and it was solely from this source that the scandalous rumor was set afloat.
- To the Editor of The Chicago Tribune:
Sir: A paragraph appeared In to-day’s Tribune, with reference tb the Cornell Watch Company. The statement is a “scandal” without foundation in truth, undoubtedly coming from an operative feeling malicious in consequence of being discharged. Within the last ninety days the production of the Company’s factory has been more than double, while the expenses have been diminished 33 per cent in the same time. The prospects of the Company were never so good as thev are to-day Respectfully yours,
S. S. Calkins, Secretary..
Chicago Tribune, March 21, 1874
THE CORNELL WATCH COMPANY,
of Cornell, Ill., which was started in the fall of 1871 by Paul Cornell, sell directly to retailers. The management of the concern is in the hands of T.C. Williams, the Vice-President known as an energetic and enterprising business man. So far the Company turns out eight different movements, all of which are provided with a motion of 18,000 beats per hour. Their watches have lately been introduced on the Illinois Central Railroad, which passes the door of the factory at Grand Crossing, nine miles south of here.
Chicago Tribune, November 25, 1874
The 10 o’clock train on the Northwestern Railroad took out yesterday morning, on their way to California, some forty men who were employed by in the Cornell Watch Factory, and their wives and children. They followed the machinery, which was forwarded some time ago. Their expenses were paid by the Company, on condition that they should be refunded in monthly installments. They had one car, which will go through with them.
Chicago Tribune, December 2,1874
THE CORNELL WATCH COMPANY.
There appears to have occurred some misunderstanding in regard to the Cornell Watch Company, formerly of Chicago, but now of San Francisco. The Company has not disbanded, but, having reorganized on aq gold basis, has removed its place of manufacture. It has not even left the Chicago market, but its is now permanently located at Room No. 8 Tribune Building, as will be seen by the advertisement in another column. Prominent and leading capitalists of California have taken large interests in this reorganization; the Company will have extra advantage of cheap labor, an unvariable climate, and increased facilities, having lately added a watch-case factory with a capacity to turn out cases for all their watches. That far-west country of the setting sun is not in the habit of fostering dwarfs, and this Company is expected to successfully equal some of her gigantic enterprises. Its energetic and enterprising President, Paul Cornell, Esq., goes with its other machinery, and will continue to superintend its operations, making California his winter residence. We cannot spare him entirely, remembering that he is the father of Hyde Park and Cornell, our thriving and ambitious suburbs, and has left his marked influence on our great South Parks and boulevards, the Hyde Park Water-Works, Gas-Works, and her splendid driveways. Nor will Cornell Station feel any blight from this removal of machinery, for the splendid buildings formerly occupied by the Watch Company still remain, and arrangements are in progress to fill them with a first-class manufactory, and also add other kindred establishments close at hand.
Chicago Tribune, December 31, 1874
CHINAMEN AS WATCHMAKERS.
San Francisco, Cal., Dec. 30.—Considerable escitement has been caused here by the fact that the proprietors of the Cornell watch factory have determined to employ Chinese in all departments. Seventy operatives from Chicago have protested, and several have been discharged to-day. One foreman was dismissed. Nearly all the operatives are from Chicago. A general strike of all is threatened, but the proprietors persist in their adherence to the plan of employing Chinamen. Other foremen will probably be discharged to-day. The Company proposed to employ about 500 persons.
Oakland Tribune, September 20, 1875
The Cornell Watch Company will locate their works near Berkeley. This Company will re-incorporate under the name of the California Watch Factory, the necessary papers having already been forwarded to Sacramento. This selection is a feather in fair Berkeley’s cap.
Excerpted fromThe Watch Factories of America, Past and Present By Henry G. Abbott. 1888
The old movement made by the Newark Company (1864-1870) was improved on and the new machinery and a great many new tools made. The company manufactured ten grades of movements as follows:
- “Paul Cornell” (President)
“J. C. Adams” (General Agent)
“Geo F. Root”
“H. N. Hibbard”
“E. S. Williams”
“C. T. Bowen” (Vice President)
“Geo W. Waite”
“Ladies Stem Wind”
The were all size 18 with exception of the ladies movement and the greater majority were full plate and double sunk dial. Expansion balances were used. The Paul Cornell and C. M. Cady models were stem-winders and the balance key winders. The ladies movement proved a failure in spite of the fact that a trade paper in existence at the time said: “One great feature of the Cornell Watch Co. is that they are the first in the county who have manufactured and introduced a Ladies Stem Winding Watch, which is, perhaps, in finished and originality of design, one of the greatest improvements of the age.”
Cornell Watch Company
John Evans Pocket Watch
15 jewel movement, 18 size
Inter Ocean, January 10, 1876
AT GRAND CROSSING
the Wilson Sewing Machine Company have already erected a large foundry about 60×80 feet, to be used in connection with the old Cornell watch factory; and we understand they will erect another large building in the as part of their works. A good many new dwellings have also been erected there this winter, and we understand a large number are to be erected in thew spring to accommodate the workmen at the sewing machine factory.
William G. Wilson, of Cleveland, Ohio, has sold to the Wilson Sewing Machine Company of Chicago a large tract of land in the village of Cornell, town of Hyde Pak, for $300,000
Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, July 22, 1876
THE WILSON SEWING-MACHINE COMPANY OF CHICAGO.
We of the East who are given to much self-laudation of our finished and elaborate methods, our chaste and elegant architecture and our wonderful business achievements, are at intervals forced into profound contemplation and admiration over some fresh evidence of Western enterprise and sagacity.
In this competitive age it requires absolute genius and more than common endowment of fact to keep so well in hand the complicated threads of business or commercial enterprise that no breakage or entanglement of interests shall ensue; and each succeeding day and each lapsing season contributes to the grand total its appropriate measure of success. We find scattered here and there over our continent, with decades of years between, an easily reckoned roll-call of gigantic undertakings, so conducted, whose merchandise would freight an argosy, and whose complicated workings furnish constant labor to hundreds of busy brains and hands, and out of these few “the many fail—the one succeeds.”
The enterprise which just now awakens our enthusiasm is that of the Wilson Sewing-Machine Company of Chicago, the prestige of whose name is familiar in two continents. We spoke in our introductory sentences of genius in connection with commercial success, and we now verify our proposition by calling attention to the inevitable foresight that selected for the nucleus of production a point so unsurpassable in every feature as Grand Crossing. The site lacks absolutely nothing that can contribute to the personal effort of these successful manufacturers. As a shipping point, it is simply incomparable, standing as it does in a network of iron-bound roadways, comprising six trunk lines of railroads, communicating easily with every port and market in the United States. The manufactory itself is constructed upon the most stupendous scale, and is a remarkable combination of perfect mechanical appliances and personal comfort and convenience. The factory itself is a vast and imposing structure. With the characteristic forecast that has marked in an eminent degree its whole business career, the Wilson Sewing-machine Company secured the coigne of vantage, and have transmuted it by the combined alchemy of skill and capital into a principality that incloses within its own borders both the products and pleasures of industry. The building is four stories in height, and its construction and appointments lacks no appliance that can lighten labor, insure perfect finish of workmanship, or minister to the personal comfort and protection of its inmates. The manufacturing department is most elaborate and perfect in all its features, and has capacity for turning out three thousand machines per week.
Manufactory of the Wilson Shuttle Sewing-Machine Company, Grand Crossing, Chicago
The industrial features are in themselves remarkable, simply as regards their unrivaled contributions to the various marts of trade and commerce; but the astonished and bewildered visitor is compelled to divide his admiration between these eminently practical features of the establishment and the innumerable adjuncts of comfort, and evne luxury, that metamorphose this domain of industry into a spacious and well-ordered hime for those who do service therein. The arrangements for lighting and ventilation are complete in every detail; convenient arrangements for washing supply hot and cold water to each floor, and a regularly-organized fire department with engine, strings if hose, etc., reinforced by Babcock extinguishers, gives a sense pf protection from fire. The building is located in the midst of a large extent of territory owned by the Company, and already the landscape is enlivened by a plentiful sprinkling of tasteful cottages, built for the convenience of the workmen. Taking it altogether, it is a most striking picture, and furnishes an objective point of interest and admiration for the unending cavalcade of tourists passing hither and thither over the half-dozen railways that intersect the immediate territory. Stretching ten miles to the westward, the electric fibres of the telegraph place the factory in instant and constant connection with the magnificent establishment located in in Chicago, that constitutes the general headquarters of the Company for the whole United States. The Company long since established a cordon of elegant offices, stretching throughout the principal cities, from the St. Lawrence to the Gulf of Mexico; but they have concentrated in their Chicago establishment an aggregation of magnificence that is approached in no similar establishment in the world.
It is located at the intersection of State and Madison Streets, overlooking the most brilliant and crowded thoroughfares of Chicago; is five stories in height, and covers an area of 75×100 feet. The first floor is an immense salon, fitted up with the utmost elegance and perfection of detail as a sales-room and counting-room. A prominent feature is, of course, the array exquisitely finished machines that are scattered throughout the spacious apartment, but the eye is allured from these more practical features to a wonderful combination of utility, convenience and fine art. Harmony and good taste are the prevailing characteristics, and the union of these two elements is undisturbed from the moment the visitor enters until he has mounted the broad, easy stairways, and emerged from the last of the handsome suit of offices and reception-rooms, located upon the upper floors. The fresco-work in the lower salon or sales-room, was executed by a Chicago artist of established reputation, and the workmanship and designs are unusually fine. The decorative woodwork is of fine French walnut, and its rich and sombre tints contrast in the most effective manner with the brighter tints introduced here and there. The second-floor is occupied by the president’s room and private offices and reception-rooms, and the upper floors are set apart for general supply offices. One cannot but be impressed on every side with the generous and even lavish provision of everything that can contribute to the comfort and material gratification of the men and women in the employ of the Company. The policy is a most liberal one, and we cannot but believe it an investment that brings in corresponding returns of intelligent and faithful service. The magnificent display of the Wilson Sewing Machine Company at the Centennial will not soon be forgotten by those who inspected it, and the entire business ramifications of this Company present so many remarkable features, that as representatives of the highest type of American enterprise, we have taken pains to collate the following facts for the amusement and instruction of our readers. Our engravings in this issue will serve to illustrate the necessarily imperfect chronicle of commercial property and corporate grandeur.
The Wilson Sewing Machine Company Exhibit in Machinery Hall
The Centennial Exposition, Philadelphia, PA.
Chicago Tribune, September 13, 1879
Chicago Tribune, May 8, 1880
Chicago Tribune, October 13, 1883
It is stated on good authority that the Wilson sewing-machine factory at Grand Crossing, which has stood vacant since the factory was moved to Connecticut, will be occupied on or before Jan. 1, 1884, as a sewing machine factory.
Inter Ocean, March 12, 1893
The old Cornell Watch factory at Grand Crossing, belonging to William L. Breyfogle, has been leased by Force & Carlisle to prominent Baltimore business men for hotel purposes. The hotel will be called the Fort McHenry. A large force of men are at work upon the building, and by May 1 it will be transformed into a first-class hotel of 125 rooms. Grand Crossing, with the numerous railroads centering there, and the electric and cable roads running in every direction, is bound to be a great distributing point for World’s Fair visitors.
Chicago Tribune, May 13, 1900
At an early term of the United States Court the suit of the National Cash Register company of Dayton, O., will be tried against a local cash register company, which has been manufacturing a machine known as the “Navy Cash Register.” The National people brought suit against the manufacturers of the Navy Register in November, and in March of this year the Navy was declared to be an infringement and the National company secured a preliminary injunction against it.
The National Cash Register company claims that the Navy Cash Register infringes several other if its patents, under which patents suits for infringement will be brought if the machine is offered for sale. Interesting developments are expected, as it is said that the Chicago Cash Register company recently incorporated in this State proposes to manufacture the Navy machines at Grand Crossing under a new name.
Chicago Tribune, May 21, 1900
The Chicago Cash Register company, recently formed to manufacture cash registers under new patents, in competition with the National Cash Register company, has leased the old Cornell watch factory at Grand Crossing, and has secured an option for the purchase of the buildings. The company expects to open its new plant in two weeks, and a large number of men will be employed. T.P. Hamm, President of the company, says eventually the employes will number more than 700. The company was organized some time ago, with a capitalism of its own $500,000, and the majority of the stock is held by Chicago men.
The Inner Ocean July 21, 1900
Chicago capital to the amount of $500,000 has been invested in the cash register business , and a monster plant is being equipped at Grand Crossing, Ill., where 1,000 men are to be employed in the manufacture of machines, which are to be put on the market in competition with the product of the cash register trust. The Chicago Cash Register company is the name of the concern which is to throw down the gauntlet to the trust. It has secured the factory buildings at Grand Crossing formerly occupied by the Cornell Watch company, and is having extensive alterations and additions made to meet the requirements of the new business. The company is incorporated under the laws of Illinois, and has a working capital of $500,000, which will be added to as occasion requires. T.P. Hamm of Chicago is president and treasurer of the company. In speaking of the plans of the concern Manager Luke Cooney said:
- We have been criticized in some quarters for inaugurating such an enterprise in Chicago, at a time when other manufacturing establishments are moving away on account of alleged labor troubles, but we have confidence in the good sense of Chicago workmen when they are fairly treated. We have discussed this matter thoroughly with the class of skilled workmen we shall employ, and have assurances that they will be well satisfied with the terms we offer. Our factory at Grands Crossing will give work to at least 1,000 men as soon as we can get it in complete running order, and this means a great deal to the prosperity of that district. It will also be of benefit to the community at large, as we shall do a business of from $4,000,000 to $5,000,000 a year.
This cash-register business is one of the most peculiar in the country. It has been manipulated in the interests of one concern, so that it has been virtually controlled by a trust, which has held prices at an absurdly high figure. Small tradesmen have found it almost impossible to use the system in their business owing to the exorbitant cost of the machines. Legitimate concerns that attempted to manufacture registers were bought out and their factories closed, and various means have been used to intimidate capital from being invested in new establishments. The effect of all this has been to concentrate the business in the hands of a monopoly. Having the market thus ‘clinched,’ as it were, people who saw the possibilities of the trade have been afraid to embark in it. The Chicago Cash Register company has the capital, the right kind of machines, and the nerve to make a winning fight against the trust, and we are going to do it. Our register is entirely new in principle, but combines all the features of a first-class machine, and is up-to-date in every particular. It is of the product of ten years of patient experiment, during which time fully 100 different models were constructed before the desired results were attained.
Chicago Tribune, November 8, 1902
Chicago Cash Register Company Sued.
Suit for infringement was filed in the United States court here on Nov. 5 by the National Cash Register Company of Dayton, O., against the Chicago Cash Register Company and Robert L. Henry, Thomas P. Hann, Charles E. Fuller, Charles D. Shedd, Luke Cooney Jr., and Lewis Hamburger.
In this suit the National company claims that the Chicago company is infringing another of its patents, and asks for an injunction and damages against the Chicago company and its above named officers and directors. Three suits are already pending against the Chicago company for infringement of other patents owned by the National company.
The Cornell Watch Company
79th and Ellis
1897 Rand McNally Map of Chicago
Chicago Tribune June 24, 1965
On a summer day in 1853 a tall, bearded rider guided his horse thru the swampy land along Lake Michigan.
He noted with satisfaction the surveyor’s markers driven into the ground, and then rode up a hill for an overall view of the surrounding country.
Paul Cornell, successful Chicago attorney, was viewing his first major real estate investment, a 300-acre, low-lying tract more than three miles south of the city. Parts of it were covered with water. As an investment, his friends said, it could appeal only to a confirmed optimist.
Follows Douglas’ Advice
In sinking his earnings into the open prairie and swamp land, Cornell was following the advice given him in 1845 by the rising Illinois politician, Stephen A. Douglas.
“Invest in the south side,” Douglas had said, “for one day the center of Chicago will be at the mouth of the Calumet river.”
Cornell’s purchase formed the bulk of what was to become the town of Hyde Park, one of the first Chicago suburbs. It would be the keystone of the southern residential and indus- trial expansion of the city.
Cornell’s Name Is Used
Today in Hyde Park, Cornell’s name marks a street, a park, and a school at 7540 Drexel av.
Descended from Thomas Cornell of Essex, England, who settled in Boston in 1638, Paul Cornell was born in White Creek, N. Y., in 1822. Shortly after the birth of Cornell, his father died and his mother was remarried to a local doctor.
The family moved to Adams county in Illinois, where Cornell grew up on a farm, attending school only in the most bitter months of the frontier winter. He began to study law in 1843, and in 1847, after his admission to the state bar, he moved to Chicago.
Money Is Stolen
He arrived with an extra suit of clothes and $1.50. The money was stolen from his hotel room, but a friendly attorney supplied both a loan and a position, in a prosperous law firm.
Adequate and dependable transportation was one of the main problems blocking successful development of the region south of Chicago. With that in mind, Cornell made a deal with the Illinois Central railroad. He agreed to sell the railroad 60 acres of his south side land at a low price on the condition that the road maintain daily, round-trip train service to Chicago.
Sells in Subdivislon
In 1857 the I. C. threatened to stop service, of few passengers. Cornell agreed to pay the difference of the cost of operation and ticket receipts. In December, 1858, only 13 passengers used the service each day, and by the next month the number had shrunk to nine. Cornell paid and rail service continued.
Altho the new subdivision faltered at first, sales eventually picked up and more houses were built. Later, Cornell built the Hyde Park hotel, which remained in the family well into the present century.
Hyde Park House
53rd & Lake Michigan
It was a favorite resort for the elite. During the summer of 1865, Mrs. Abraham Lincoln, with Robert and Tad, stopped (and slept) here. Photo was taken in 1859.
It burned down in 1879. The Hampton House condominiums exists on the property today.
By 1866 Cornell had become one of the largest owners of suburban real estate in Cook county. He was one of the organizers of the Chicago Coal and Dock company, which helped to develop the Calumet region.
He also knew how to take advantage of a situation. When an accident at an intersection of two railroads caused the county to order trains to come to a complete stop at the point before proceeding, Cornell bought land there and sub- divided it for a village. It was his theory that a community was bound to develop at a location where transportation to the city was easy to obtain.
Grand Crossing Region
The resulting community was incorporated as Cornell, but the name was changed when it was discovered that a town in southern Illinois already had the name. The district, now part of the city, is still known by its second name, Grand Crossing.
Years later, during the presentation of a bust and a portrait of the developer to the Cornell park fieldhouse, 51st and Wood streets, his son, John E. Cornell, described one of his father’s “feats of super-salesmanship:”
- In the spring of 1875, when unable to take a prospect over some real estate because it lay under 2 feet of water, he took him to the top of the tower . . . at 79th and Ellis, pointed out the lots from there and sold two blocks at $300 a lot.
The tower was part of the Cornell watch factory, another family enterprise.
Helps Create Parks
Cornell was an early advocate of an extensive park system thruout the city, espe- cially on the south side. He lobbied for the creation of a south park district during the 1867-68 sessions of the Illinois legislature.
He was successful and was appointed to serve on the board of commissioners of the new district, a post he held for 14 years. He helped establish Washington and Jackson parks and aided in their early development.
On March 4, 1961, a day after the 57th anniversary of Paul Cornell’s death in 1904, a tornado ripped thru the south side, destroying dozens of homes, and causing $82,500 damage to the Cornell school. Part of the wall and roof in the old section of the structure was destroyed and the building was flooded when the automatic sprinkler system was activated.
Put Back to Use
“But it was soon back in full operation,” said Louis Asher, principal. “This building was built to withstand the ages. Old buildings are not always ideal, but this one is both efficient and comfortable.”
Asher and his staff of 33 teachers are responsible for the education of nearly 1,000 pupils from kindergarten thru the 8th grade.
“We have projects by the dozen, nothing earth-shaking perhaps, but you learn from experience,” Asher said. “For example, one teacher used a sandbox to help a youngster learn to write. First they traced words in-the sand and then they put the same words on paper. Perhaps the sandbox related directly t6 the child s everyday life, because it was the difference between success and failure.”
Serves’ Cornell One Year
Asher, who has been a teacher and principal for 15 years in the Chicago school system, is concluding his first year as principal of Cornell.
The school is teaching the “new math” concepts with good results, Asher said.
“At this point, we may soon need a course in it for parents as well,” he added. “They are just that interested.”
Teach with Recorder
The school also uses tape recorders to teach reading and writing. Recently, parents pre- pared meals featuring South American dishes for students studying the geography of that area.
“I think we must continue to innovate and not fear failure,” Asher said. “The important thing is to bring education to our children in the most effective way possible.'”
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