With Art & Industry: 1890-1920


Wheeler's home [12k] The use of over 125,000 electric lights at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago amazed visitors and showed the potential for electricity in the home. By World War I, electricity had become a symbol of modernity for the middle class in Illinois.

George Wheeler, like many other middle-class Illinoians, saw the advantages of electric lighting and converted his gas fixtures to electricity. It was cleaner, brighter, and less likely to start a fire. Also, electric companies offered liberal installment plans to promote sales. In 1912, Commonwealth Edison in Chicago agreed to a reduced fee of $12 for wiring houses in working-class neighborhoods. An additional fee of $2.50 per outlet and $1.75-$6 for light fixtures was charged, and the homeowner had two years to pay. Residents in more affluent neighborhoods paid between $100 and $300 for wiring.


© Illinois State Museum 31-Dec-96