Get schooled on Chicago history on the city's Facebook timeline

March 30, 2012|Leonor Vivanco | RedEye

The city's Facebook page reads like a digital history book of Chicago's leaders.

The Facebook timeline feature, which went live Friday for pages, shows photos of each mayor, from William Butler Ogden in 1837 when the city was incorporated to present day Rahm Emanuel, along with factual tidbits and links to inauguration speeches.

"Facebook's new timeline gives us a unique way to not only show folks where we're going with the city but where we've come from," said Kevin Hauswirth, director of social media.

The timeline features some significant events in the city's history such as the Chicago Fire in 1871 and the World Series of 1909. However, it omits any mention of blunders, like the unsuccessful Olympic bid, or even more recent achievements celebrated by Chicagoans, such as the Blackhawks' 2010 Stanley Cup win.

How the timeline looks now is just a jumping off point to listing noteworthy events that have impacted the city, which is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year, Hauswirth said. Among the interesting facts included on the page: Mayor James Woodworth, elected in 1848, was friends with Abraham Lincoln and marched in his funeral procession. Another: Chicago remains the largest U.S. city to have elected a female mayor, Jane Byrne in 1979.

"I think it gives a fun and colorful look at Chicago's history," Hauswirth said.

He sees the timeline as just another way to engage the public through social media and hopes to get some feedback from residents. Already, the mayor's office tweeted out a few facts "Jeopardy"-style to involve followers and guide them to the timeline.

Much of the Facebook timeline shows Emanuel's term in office, complete with photos and announcements of programs or initiatives, links to news stories and comments from residents. That's primarily because the city's Facebook page was created shortly after Emanuel's inauguration.

RedEye Chicago Articles