Siddhesh Joshi (Editor)

Potter Palmer

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Name  Potter Palmer
Role  Businessman
Spouse  Bertha Palmer

Potter Palmer digital history project Mrs Potter Palmer of Chicago

Born  May 20, 1826 (1826-05-20) New York City,NY
Occupation  Chicago businessman, developer
Known for  Building the Palmer Mansion, developing Marshall Field & Co.
Died  May 4, 1902, Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois, United States

A potter palmer rowhouse on historic astor street

Potter Palmer (May 20, 1826 – May 4, 1902) was an American businessman who was responsible for much of the development of State Street in Chicago. Born in New York City, Albany County, New York, he was the fourth son of Benjamin and Rebecca (Potter) Palmer.


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Return policy no questions asked potter palmer s revolutionary story

Retailing career

Potter Palmer httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsthu

Potter Palmer founded a dry goods store, Potter Palmer and Company, on Lake Street in Chicago in 1852. Unlike many stores of the time it focused on women and encouraged their patronage. Palmer instituted a "no questions asked" returns policy and allowed customers to take goods home to inspect before purchasing, which served to nurture the goodwill and patronage of Chicagoans. He made the store much larger and more distinctive than other stores of the time. Palmer was the first owner to advertise with large window displays that included price comparisons.

When Palmer's doctor urged him to get out of the business in 1865 because of ill health, he brought in partners Marshall Field and Levi Leiter. The trio joined forces and renamed the firm Field, Palmer, Leiter and Company. The store would eventually develop into the prominent Midwestern department store chain Marshall Field and Company.

Real estate career

In 1867, Palmer sold his share of the partnership and focused his efforts on his real estate interests, leasing a new building to his former partners in 1868 at State and Washington. He built several buildings along State Street on property he owned, including the Palmer House Hotel. When his buildings were destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire, Palmer borrowed $1.7 million to rebuild, the largest amount lent to a private individual up to that time. He reclaimed the swampland north of Chicago's commercial district, developing it into Lake Shore Drive.

Personal life

In 1871, he married Bertha Honoré. In 1874 a son, Honoré, was born; in 1875, Potter Palmer II. Both went on to have sons named Potter Palmer III, as well as other children.

In 1885 Palmer built the castle-like Palmer Mansion on Lake Shore Drive, leading to the establishment of the Gold Coast. Prior to that time, Prairie Avenue had been the most desirable address in Chicago.

Palmer is buried in Graceland Cemetery in the north side neighborhood, known today as Uptown Chicago.

Further information

  • Love Under Fire: The Story of Bertha and Potter Palmer, 2013 half-hour documentary
  • Ross, Ishbel (1960). Silhouette in Diamonds: The Life of Mrs. Potter Palmer. New York: Harper. ISBN 9780405069345. 
  • References

    Potter Palmer Wikipedia