MPC recently held its spring staff retreat at the Chicago History Museum. In addition to a day filled with staff discussions about ways we can improve our work, we also were treated to an hour-long tour led by curator Libby Mahoney of the exhibit "Chicago: Crossroads of America."
What a fantastic primer on Chicago's history! The exhibit highlights turning points in our economy, demographics, culture and built environment. Museum goers learn about Chicago's establishment as a fur trading post, how the railroad became and remains a central industry, and how natural disasters and social upheaval have shaped our lives. It also showcases some of Chicago's best innovations in retail, design and architecture.
We were surprised and gratified to see Elizabeth Wood featured in the exhibit. Wood was MPC's first executive director in 1934. At the time, the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) did not exist, and MPC strongly advocated for its establishment. In fact, Wood left MPC just a few years later to become CHA's first executive director. The exhibit features an interview with Wood by Chicago's legendary journalist Studs Terkel, in which Wood reflects on her unfortunate dismissal from the agency: She was fired for wanting to pursue a color-blind housing policy.
"Chicago: Crossroads of America" is on permanent exhibit at the museum. If you've been wanting to learn more about Chicago's history -- including a slice of MPC's history -- I encourage you to plan a visit. (Mondays are free!)