top of page

Rotary’s Battle for Urban 'P'-rogress

1907, Chicago. A hub of hard work, noise, and energy. Rising amidst the vibrant chaos was the two-year old Chicago Rotary Club, ready to take on an issue nobody else dared touch: the glaring lack of public restrooms. A pain in the neck for the city's tireless workforce.

Back in the day, when you needed to go, you headed to the local saloon. Not a great deal, really. Unreliable hours, tipsy patrons, and the constant noise made it an ordeal. Worse yet, they weren't a comfortable spot for women.

But Chicago Rotary wasn't about to let this slide. Under the guidance of Paul Harris, they stepped up, turned on the charm, and got the city council to loosen the purse strings to provide $20,000 ($500,000 in today's dollars). It was settled. Public restrooms for all were to be built.

Soon, restrooms sprang up at life-filled crossroads - train stations, department stores. They were clean, well-kept, and open to all. Their arrival marked a win for the city's folks. These restrooms became more than just buildings; they turned into a comfort zone, a relief spot, a life-improver.

But there was more. The new restrooms also spurred a shift in commerce. With a safe and friendly space, more women started hanging out downtown, treating themselves to some shopping.

Chicago Rotary had risen to the challenge. They tackled the city's 'number one' problem and knocked it out of the park. The city was better off. It became more livable, more fair. They set a new standard for civic projects, shining a light on what's possible. Chicago Rotary, once just a social club, had become a force for good, a force for progress. "Service Above Self" was born.


Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page