H I C A G O
R I B U T E
Philanthropists and entrepreneurs
The 1870 marriage of
Bertha Honore and Potter Palmer united two of the wealthiest and most influential
families of 19th century Chicago. Both were strong-willed individualists
who used their economic power and social positions to carry out their personal
contributions to Chicago were aggressively entrepreneurial. In 1852, he
opened a high-quality dry-goods store that later became the famed Marshall
Fields department store. After retiring from the dry-goods business
in 1865, he speculated in Chicago real estate and was singularly responsible
for establishing State Street as Chicagos principal retail thoroughfare.
Rebuilt three times, the Palmer House hotel has been a landmark for more
than 125 years.
Bertha Honore Palmer
leveraged her position as a respected leader of Chicago society to advance
reform and feminist causes. She was a strong advocate of womens rights
and actively worked to have the diverse achievements of women fully represented
at the 1893 Worlds Columbian Exposition. Mrs. Palmer also was an astute
art collector and many of the Art Institutes Impressionist paintings
once were part of her personal collection.