Without Chicago, we wouldn't have Disney

Without Chicago, we wouldn't have Disney

I can't seem to get enough of fairy tales. I'm obsessed with "Once Upon a Time," I'm a huge Gregory Maguire fan and I adore Disney World. So, you can imagine how excited I've been for the Snow White movies out right now. I just saw "Snow White and the Huntsman," and I was so disappointing. I won't go in to how many ways the movie sucked - can Kristin Steward try to make more than one facial expression - rather I'll just tell you about the man who made the original Grimm's Fairy Tale to a family audience.

Walt Disney was born in an upstairs bedroom at 1249 Tripp Avenue in Chicago's Hermosa neighborhood. The original house was designed by his mother Flora and built by his father Elias.

Walt's father Elias, a carpenter, moved his family from Florida to Chicago so he could work on the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893.

The Disney family left Chicago for Missouri, but returned in 1917 after investing in the O-Zell Company, a jelly and juice producer. The new family residence was at 1523 West Ogden Avenue. (The house has since been torn down.) Shortly after moving, Walt began his freshman year at McKinley High School and took night courses at a downtown art school. He became the cartoonist for the school newspaper, drawing patriotic topics and focusing on World War I.

Walt dropped out of school to join the American Red Cross, going overseas to France. Unfortunately, afterwards he decided to move to Kansas City rather than back to Chicago.

That's where Mr. Disney's Chicago story ends. The original Disney home still stands today, although the address has since changed to 2156 N. Tripp Ave. It's not a museum and there's not even a plaque letting people know who was born there. Apparently it doesn't bear much resemblance to its original appearance.


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  • Interesting. I knew that WD was from Chicago, but not much else. Of course, it could be argued that there would be no Wizard of Oz without Chicago, too. Great post.

    Chicago has long been the petri dish of cultural and societal creations, but, like some younger brother to LA and NYC, never seems to get much credit.

    Now, if I could only see Steamboat Willy as the nice mouse he was supposed to be, instead of the commercial, money-sucking rat that he as become. O, Walt, would you keep Mickey alive today, or would there be an explosion in one of the boilers on the SS Disney?

    Nice post!

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