14 March, 2013

Harold In Flight

Today I discovered this remarkable footage taken by Harold McCormick while in flight with his pilot; Charles C. Witmer. Many people aren't aware that Harold was an aviation aficionado, or that he owned a few aeroplanes at the beginning of the twentieth century. One of them, the "Edith," was actually housed in a hanger on the beach at Villa Turicum. Harold would frequently fly from Lake Forest to Chicago - landing in Grant Park, the city's only airfield at the time.

At the end of the summer season in 1913, "Mme. X" wrote in her column News of the Society World: "Another of the summer's features at Lake Forest - Harold McCormick's flying boat, Edith - is out of commision and tucked away in it's winter quarters; it's keeper or exploiter, C.L. Witmer has gone to other flying grounds, and locally aviation is ended for the year." 

This footage (c.1913-1914) is remarkable as it captures the Chicago lakefront in the years prior to WWI. Most notable is the expanse of East Lake Shore Dr., with only two of Benjamin Marshall's luxe buildings  constructed thus far.

Of course Edith herself  made it into News of the Society World as well that September of 1913. Mme. X wrote: "Perhaps some day Mrs. Harold McCormick's scheme of a chain of islands and harbors stretching from the naval station to Chicago may be realized and suburban residents may still have other means of transit from home to office." Indeed:

Photos of Harold, the "Edith" and Charles Witmer can be viewed on the Villa Turicum website, here.

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