Two modest newspaper advertisements helped promote Chicago's first official auto show, which was held March 23-30,1901. Under the auspices of Motor Age magazine the eight-day event took place inside the Coliseum exposition hall, situated 15th Street and 16th Wabash Avenue. Prices for exhibit space on the main floor, which measured 300 feet long by 170 feet wide, ranged from $1.00 to $1.50 per square foot. Opening night was "invite only" for the "top 20,000 families" in Chicago. General admission for the public was 50 cents per ticket, and spectators could walk among the auto displays on the first floor. Parts suppliers/manufacturers and ample seating to watch the show filled the second level gallery.
An exterior view of the Chicago Coliseum, a 58,000 square foot structure at 15th Street and Wabash Avenue. The dingy and cramped Coliseum, was reconstructed from the shell of the Libby Prison, a Civil War institution brought to Chicago as a tourist attraction that had been used for the Columbian Exposition. The Coliseum continued as the home of the Chicago Auto Show through the 35th annual event in early 1935. Beginning with the 36th show, held Nov 16-23, 1935, the automotive extravaganza took place in the International Amphitheatre at 43rd Street and Halsted Ave,
A rare view inside an empty Coliseum exposition hall, once located at 1513 South Wabash Ave. The Chicago Auto Show was held in the Coliseum from 1901 through 1935. Superimposed on the right is a young Samuel Miles, considered the "Father of the modern auto show." Miles served as the show manager from 1901-1932.
A bird’s eye view inside the Coliseum during the first official Chicago Auto Show captured the various vehicle exhibits and the indoor wooden track (highlighted here in gold). The track was 20 feet wide and looped around the exhibits. About 10 laps equaled one mile. The indoor track was used for driving demonstrations of the new ‘horseless carriages," to help dispel public apprehensions and illustrated that motor vehicles were safe and easy to handle. An occasional test run ended up where drivers lost control and broke through the track’s wood railing.
On display during the first Chicago Auto Show was the 1901 Motorette, manufactured by the George N. Pierce Co. of Buffalo, New York. The De Dion Bouton single-cylinder, water-cooled engine produced less than three horsepower and was positioned just forward of the rear axle. Weighing in at 600 pounds, the vehicle was controlled by tiller steering.
Grainy photographic portrait of the National Automobile Company exhibit during the first Chicago Auto Show. Manufactured in Indianapolis, Indiana, the electric-powered National line of vehicles occupied one of the largest spaces on the main floor. The display included runabouts, four-passenger models and wagons. Some of the vehicles ran on pneumatic tires and wire wheels, while others had wood wheels with solid tires. One runabout was built especially for the exhibition, with upholstery and top lined in imported ‘golf red’ material. Like most vehicles produced in 1901, the National used a tiller for steering.
One of the entrances to the indoor wooden driving track that ringed some of the motorcar exhibits during the 1901 Chicago Auto Show. Woods and National were just two of the 65 vehicle-related firms that filled the Coliseum exposition hall.