Category Archives: Business

Fishman Sporting Goods

Fishman Sporting Goods was an institution for 99 years in downtown Springfield. Founder Louis Fishman emigrated to Springfield in 1887, fleeing anti-Jewish pogroms in his native Russia. He went into business on the smallest of scales, as the Illinois State … Continue reading

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First computer (1954)

The Franklin Life Insurance Co. had to tear out windows and walls to accommodate Springfield’s first computer. Then it had to hire a derrick to hoist the “electronic brain” five floors up. Franklin Life ordered the $1 million Univac from … Continue reading

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Good Will Girls (1920s)

The Good Will Girls were the brainchild of a convicted con man, but they became the stars of a Springfield Chamber of Commerce bid to attract out-of-town shoppers in the 1920s. The chamber periodically sponsored car caravans to outlying communities … Continue reading

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Bachmann & Keefner Pharmacy

When it closed in 2003, Bachmann & Keefner Pharmacy, with its black-and-white mosaic floor, handsome walnut paneling and fire-engine-red bar stools, ended a 90-year tradition at the southeast corner of Sixth Street and Capitol Avenue. The corner building, under various … Continue reading

Posted in Buildings, Business, Medicine, Restaurants | 1 Comment

Albert Booth family, wagon makers

The A. Booth and Son Wagon Factory once dominated the northeast corner of Eighth and Washington Streets in Springfield. The factory was built by Albert Booth (1813-1873), who moved his family from Menard to Sangamon County around 1840. He first … Continue reading

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J.C. Penney store, Springfield

J.C. Penney’s Springfield store was the 1,001st in the chain when it opened on Oct. 5, 1928. “Large crowds attended the formal opening yesterday of the new J.C. Penney company store at 522 East Adams street,” the Illinois State Journal … Continue reading

Posted in Buildings, Business, Department stores, Fires | 2 Comments

Telephones in Springfield, 1939-84

Dial telephones went into use in Springfield in dramatic fashion on Aug. 20, 1939. Four minutes before midnight, crews of workmen in two separate locations simultaneously disabled the old operator switchboards and plugged 21,000 telephones into the new one. “With … Continue reading

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Dual telephone service in Springfield (1903-19)

Sangamon County was a hub for early telephone development, thanks partly to its geographic position between St. Louis and Chicago and partly to the county’s relationship with Bell Telephone. In 1881 a newly formed company, American Bell Telephone, bought a … Continue reading

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Graybar Electric

On March 7, 1877, the Illinois State Journal published an article informing readers how to operate a telephone invented by Alexander Graham Bell, the Scottish-born inventor today credited with patenting the first operational telephone device in 1876. The first telephone … Continue reading

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The Palace Hotel

In the late 1800s, Springfield’s Palace Hotel had a great location at Fourth and Washington streets, a half-block from the Chicago & Alton railroad station (today’s Amtrak station). For a while, the Palace was one of the city’s premier hostelries. … Continue reading

Posted in Buildings, Business, Hotels & taverns, Illinois capital, Prominent figures, Uncategorized | 4 Comments