Tag Archives: A Century of Progress


I love his terribly serious expression and crooked tie.


This is a special item in my photobooth photo collection. It is always great to get a pic with an ornamental frame, even better if the frame is dated, as is this one. Making this photo even more special to me, is that it is accompanied by a detailed card that identifies the sitter, the event and the sitter’s status at the event.

On top of all that, I found inside the holder for the card, a fragment of newspaper (below) that tells us that chair-pushers had to pay for their own uniforms and that they were paid $0.30 per hour, being an average of $10 per week. Even in 1933 I would imagine that was not great pay. Given that Karl kept that bit of news, one could conclude that he was employed as a chair-pusher at the event.

The Century of Progress Exposition ran in Chicago for two seasons from 27 May, 1933 to 12 November, 1933 and from 26 May, 1934 to 31 October, 1934. Originally intended to showcase Chicago’s past, the exposition came to symbolize hope for Chicago’s and America’s future in the midst of the Great Depression. I imagine the job opportunities for young people this event offered, might have been one of the few prospects they had of getting employment during this difficult time.

Using my less than proficient search skills, I managed to find a US census record for 1940 that names a Chicago resident, Karl Ek, who was born in 1914. It could be the same Karl, as from the image he appears to be in his late teens or early 20s, fitting in well with the date of the photo. Interestingly the Karl named in the census had a sister named Winifred who was also born in 1914, making it possible that this Karl was a twin. The actual birth dates including the day and month were not listed in the report I found. If not a twin, one could imagine that he had a very fertile mother and an overly eager father. Or a very fertile father and an overly eager mother.


The card in its folder. It is embossed on the front with the title of the event. Unfortunately it wouldn’t scan well.


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