In 1908, 25,000 local Chicago residents, many of whom were new immigrants of Czech or Polish descent, began working at Western Electricís new Hawthorne Works manufacturing plant in Cicero, Illinois.
The rural Hawthorne Works plant became a self-sufficient city with 100 buildings, a hospital, fire brigade, laundry facilities, greenhouse, a brass band, running track, tennis courts, gymnasium, an annual beauty pageant and a staff of trained nurses who made house calls!
In 1900, only 676,733 Bell telephones existed in the country. By 1975, 45,000 Western Electric employees had manufactured 140 million phones and provided the country-wide infrastructure for this exponential growth. They manufactured the famous inventions of Bell Labs from vacuum tubes to transistors, sound for motion pictures, the loudspeaker, the microphone, the transcontinental phone line, radar and ship-to-shore equipment for the Signal Corps and fiber optics.
This Museum provides a lens through which you can view the rich industrial history of our community, and, by extension, the history of 20th Century America.
Updated on January 13, 2007 at 18:53 by Albert LaFrance