1 Eight of the last nine Chicago mayors were born in Illinois, with the exception being Alabama native Eugene Sawyer. But early in city history, New Yorkers dominated. Fifteen people born in New York state have been mayor, while only 11 native Illinoisans have. Two mayors have been foreign-born: Joseph Medill in Canada and Anton Cermak in Bohemia.
2 Jane Byrne, Chicago's only female mayor, battled sexism as she rose to political power. The first Mayor Daley named her co-chairman of the Cook County Democratic Central Committee, but she didn't last long in the old boys' network. After she quit in 1977, party chairman George Dunne promised that women would still have a role. "Women's card parties, fashion shows and the like will be continued," he said.
3 Big Bill Thompson, who deserves consideration as Chicago's most crooked mayor, threatened to punch Britain's King George V in the nose and once staged a "debate" in which he appeared onstage with two caged rats meant to represent his opponents.
4 Justice was in a hurry after Giuseppe Zangara mortally wounded Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak during an appearance with President-elect Franklin Roosevelt in Miami on Feb. 15, 1933. Within five days, Zangara was sentenced to 80 years in prison. On March 6, Cermak died of his wounds, and three days later, Zangara pleaded guilty to murder. He went to the electric chair March 20 — just two weeks after Cermak's death.
6 Fred Busse was elected mayor in 1907 without giving a single speech or making any campaign appearances. Busse, who was postmaster of Chicago and had served as a state legislator and state treasurer, spent the campaign season recovering from a near-fatal train wreck. The Chicago Tribune did his campaigning for him, running Page 1 headlines like "Busse a fighter; credit to city" while ridiculing incumbent Mayor Edward Dunne.
7 During the Civil War, two former Chicago mayors were imprisoned at Camp Douglas on the South Side, suspected of being "Copperheads," or Southern sympathizers. Both were freed — Levi Boone after 37 days and Buckner Morris after about six months.
8 "Long John" Wentworth was a hard-drinking, heavy-eating, 6-foot-6 autocrat. When a state law shifted control of Chicago police from the mayor to an independent board in the 1860s, Wentworth fired the entire force, leaving a city of 100,000 people without a single officer for a few hours until the board could convene.
9 The Daleys weren't the first father-son dynasty in Chicago. Carter Harrison I served for 10 years in the 1880s and '90s. Carter Harrison II ran the city for 14 years at the turn of the last century. A survey of experts conducted in 1985 rated the father-son duo No. 2 and No. 3 behind Richard J. Daley as the city's best mayors.
10 Harold Washington's parents divorced when he was quite young, and he lived with his father, Roy, whom he adored. Washington had a way with words. Case in point: "I was very fortunate. My father was my role model. He was a real man. He was a good man. For many years, he was not only my father, he was my mother. And so I knew who Santa Claus was. He came home every night, put his feet under the table and had dinner with me."
Mark Jacob is a deputy metro editor at the Tribune; Stephan Benzkofer is the Tribune's weekend editor.
Sources: "The Making of the Mayor," edited by Melvin G. Holli and Paul M. Green; "The Chicago City Manual," (1911); "Political History of Chicago (Covering the period from 1837 to 1887)," by M.L. Ahern; "Fifty Years' Recollections," by Jeriah Bonham; "Big Bill Thompson, Chicago, and the Politics of Image," by Douglas Bukowski; "Capone: The Man and the Era," by Laurence Bergreen; "Fabulous Chicago," by Emmett Dedmon; "The Mayors: The Chicago Political Tradition," edited by Paul M. Green and Melvin G. Holli; "The Hoofs and Guns of the Storm: Chicago's Civil War Connections," by Arnie Bernstein; "American Bastille," by John A. Marshall; "To Die in Chicago: Confederate Prisoners at Camp Douglas, 1862-65," by George Levy; and Tribune archives.