I have another mystery and hope in time some readers will step forward to fill in the gaps.
Click on image to see it larger.
I have no information about this photo; no idea where or when it was taken. The only historical reference point are the billboards created by the Thos. Cusack Co. which these lovely folks are strolling by.
MONDAY OCT. 6, 1924Time MagazineIn 1875, one Thomas Cusack, a youth in his teens, started a business with only a paint pot and brush and a remarkable personality as assets. The business consisted in painting advertising signs on the sides of buildings in a small way. Gradually, he took to building billboards of his own, and leasing suitable walls and other locations for outdoor advertisements.After a half-century, Mr. Cusack decided to retire from active work. But it took a banking syndicate to buy out his interest in the Thomas Cusick Co. of Chicago. What his selling price was is unknown. But the company's last balance sheet showed assets over $26,000,000 and annual gross business over $23,000,000. The headquarters of the company are located in Chicago, with branches in about one hundred other cities. The concern owns 100,000 separate leases controlling 40,000,000 square feet (10 10/99 square miles) of wall surface and 1,800,000 square feet (5/11 square mile) of billboards.The bankers who have acquired the Cusack Co. expect to make a public offering of the stock shortly. This is said to be the first time in the history of U. S. business that Wall Street bankers have taken over an advertising concern, and also the first time that shares in such a business should be underwritten and sold to the public through the Wall Street markets. (SOURCE: TIME)
And then, on July 29, 1929, just a few months before the crash of the stock market this article appeared in Time extolling the great earnings of Thos. Cusack Co.:
Last week many a U. S. corporation issued earnings figures for the first half of 1929, showed general increases over the corresponding 1928 period. The first half of the year is almost always better than the second because of the July and August "summer slump." But even with this qualification 1929 promised to be a banner year of bumper prosperity. Of special interest among many earnings were:Company Comparison 1929 1928Congress Cigar Co., Inc.(La Palina Cigars, makes 1,300,000 cigars daily, no hand work, all machine made)Net profit, 6 mos. $1,274,707 $1,172,091White Rock Mineral Springs Co.(Charged water, sarsaparilla, ginger ale, root beer, "Kentucky nip") Net profit, 6 mos. 589,481 546,728American Chicle Co.(Gum; owns 5,000,000 chicle-growing acres in Guatemala, Mexico, British Honduras) Net profit, 6 mos. 1,039,167 892,391American Chain Co., Inc.(Chains for jewelers, chains for ship anchors. and all in between sizes including Weed, "Rid-o-skid" and other auto chains)Net profit, 6 mos. 1,034,029net loss 354,428General Outdoor Advertising Co., Inc.(Largest U. S. outdoor advertising company, responsible for a large proportion of roadside billboards; controls Thos. Cusack Co. and 20 other subsidiaries) Net income, 2nd quarter 806,975 1,180,137Brillo Manufacturing Co. Inc.(Combination red soap and steel wool in a green box, used by housewives to scour stubborn pots & pans) Sales, 5 mos. ending May 31 888,042 790,627Company Comparison1929 1928General Baking Corp.(Spent $10,000,000 in expansion in last three years, acquired seven smaller bakeries east of the Mississippi last year; plans to build six new plants in 1929 and 1930) Net income, 27 wks. 4,115,833 3,418,375Chicago Yellow Cab Co., Inc. (operates 2,800 Yellow Cabs in Chicago; also Drive-it-yourself companies in New York, Chicago, Delaware) Net profit, 6 mos. 1,196,791 957,843S. S. Kresge Co.Net income, 6 mos. 7,013,456 6,527,111General Motors Corp. (1930 Buick model to be introduced shortly; new Chevrolet plant planned)Net profits, 6 mos. 150,000,000 * 161, 267,974* Approximated. Decline in 1929 net is reported due to introduction of several new G. M. products, entailing big production costs. (SOURCE: Time Magazine)
So who was Thomas Cusack? Well, I can tell you he was no longer alive when the stock market crashed.
Thomas Cusack of Chicago was born in Kilrush, County Clare, Ireland, October 5, 1858, and died in Oak Park, Illinois on November 19, 1926. He was a pioneer and entrepreneur in the outdoor advertising industry and a politician, serving as a Democratic U.S. Representative from Illinois' 4th District from 1899 to 1901.Thomas Cusack immigrated with his family to New York City from Ireland in 1861 when Cusack was a young boy. Shortly after the move, his parents died, leaving Cusack and his younger brother orphaned. Cusack was raised by relatives in Chicago, where he received his education and learned how to paint, a skill that would ultimately make him a very wealthy man. At the age of 17, Cusack established his own sign painting business, the Thomas Cusack Company, in Chicago, Illinois, making him one of the pioneers in the field of outdoor advertising. The business soon grew to be very profitable, leasing over 100,000 billboards and advertising spaces and turning Cusack into a prosperous and influential Chicagoan.In addition to business saavy, Cusack had a strong sense of civic duty. In 1890, Mayor of Chicago Hempstead Washburne appointed the "billboard baron" to a seat on the city's school board. Cusack's fervent support of public education drew the attention of Progressive Party Illinois Governor John P. Altgeld, who invited Cusack to serve on his general staff. In 1898, Cusack was elected to his first and only term in the United States Congress from the 4th District of Illinois. After his term, Cusack decided to return his attention primarily to his outdoor advertisingbusiness, which had grown considerably in size to more than one-hundred offices and was producing an annual revenue of over $20 million. Cusack was known for his fair labor practices and amicable relationships with his employees, and was most proud of the fact that, in a city known for labor strikes, his workers never walked off the job. In his day as a sign painter, Cusack remembered getting $8 a week in wages. By the time he sold his business to a New York banking syndicate in 1924, he was paying his workers $10 to $15 a day.At the pinnacle of his success in business, Thomas Cusack bought the entire unincorporated town of Cascade, Colorado at the Ute Pass in the Rocky Mountains. He hired architects and contractors to build a plush mansion nestled in the Ute Pass, which he named "Marigreen Pines" after his wife, Mary Green. Having lived through the Great Chicago Fire and experienced so many early losses in his life, Cusack built Marigreen Pines out of brick, marble and concrete to safeguard his family from harm. Marigreen Pines became a much loved mountain home for Cusack and his family, where he routinely and graciously hosted many friends and relatives, engaging them in lively conversation and debate.Thomas Cusack died on November 19, 1926, at the age of 68. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery in Evanston, Illinois. In the 1970's, Cusack's last surviving daughter donated Marigreen Pines to the Congregation of Holy Cross to serve as their novitiate. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
To see remnants of Thos. Cusack Co. signs click here, here, here for a bit more history about Cusack, here, here, and here. I'm sure if I kept looking I'd find many more.
While doing my search I came upon this little scrap from The New York Times. A sad little story.
(SOURCE: The New York Times)
Now that we know something about the billboards in this shot and the family that owned the company, it would be nice to find out which city this is. A generic looking city except for the ummmmm...rather phallic looking monument in the background. Perhaps someone will see this and let us know where this is located. Someone somewhere must recognize this ummmmm...thing.
UPDATE: Thanks to WJY I can now say that this shot was taken in Chicago, headquarters of the Thos. Cusack Co., and that the monument is actually the Chicago Water Tower.