Celebrate Wizard of Oz’s Chicago Roots

Montgomery and Stone as the Scarecrow and Tinman at the Grand Opera House, 1902.
The Wizard of Oz, Scrapbook A, Volume 1, Special Collections

August celebrates the 75th anniversary of the release of the MGM classic film The Wizard of Oz. This favorite has roots in Chicago. L. Frank Baum wrote the children's story in 1900 while living in Chicago, and many speculate that the Emerald City was inspired by the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition's famed White City.

Baum's Wonderful Wizard of Oz was a success when published, and he then turned it into a musical play. Baum made several changes for the stage version, nixing both the Wicked Witch of the West and Toto. Instead, Dorothy and her companion Imogene the cow rode the cyclone to the land of Oz, where they met Princess Weenietotts and Tryxie Tryfle among others. The play premiered at Chicago's Grand Opera House on June 16, 1902, and went to Broadway one year later.

The Chicago Public Library's Special Collections and Preservation Division holds a first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as well as a selection of playbills from the original stage play.