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The Friday Flashback: Republican National Conventions in Chicago

By Chuck Sudo in Miscellaneous on Sep 5, 2008 2:57PM

2008_09_05_flashback.jpgApologies for our tardiness on this week's "Flashback" installment. John McCain's green screen adventures gave us a migraine last night. Now that Captain Walnuts and his running mate Sarah
Palin (she's gone from "unqualified" to "Goddamn frightening" in the space of a week) have been formally nominated by the GOP, let's take a look back at previous Republican conventions.

The second-ever GOP National Convention that nominated Abraham Lincoln was held in Chicago May 16-18, 1860 at the Wigwam, a convention center located at Lake and Market Streets — Market Street is known today as Wacker Drive — specifically to attract the convention to Chicago. The Wigwam replaced Chicago's first hotel, the Sauganash. The Wigwam was intended as a temporary structure capable of housing 10-12,000 people (we're guessing Mayor Daley and the Olympic Planning Committee had the Wigwam in mind when proposing the "collapsible" Olympic Stadium in Washington Park for the 2016 Summer Games). The Wigwam later served as retail space before being torn down between 1867 and 1871.

Chicago later went on to host consecutive GOP conventions from 1904-1920. The final GOP Convention held in Chicago was in 1960, when Richard Nixon was nominated to break out in flop sweats debating John F. Kennedy on national television. The 1960 convention was also notable for the shot across the bow fired by a maverick senator from Arizona named Barry Goldwater. Goldwater stole the convention with a speech imploring conservatives to take back control of the party. They did, and then some.

In total, Chicago has hosted 14 Republican National Conventions, proving that when pumping revenue into the local economy, Chicago can be non-partisan.

CHM, ICHi-26173, photo by Alfred A. Novick.