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Chicago Technical College

Chicago, Illinois



HathiTrust has four early catalogs for Chicago Technical College.  One—labeled as 1903-04—is actually 1928.  It has a number of illustrations.  The college was also a point of discussion on Ancestry Message Boards in 2012.


Founded in 1904, Chicago Technical College billed itself as “America’s oldest and largest school of specialized engineering.”  In his message to prospective students, the president notes the school’s purpose was “to place technical training within the reach of men who have not neither the time, the money, nor the preliminary education to attend a university.”  Instead C.T.C. offered “simple, direct and thorough courses in the essential subjects.”


A two-year course of study in architecture; architectural engineering; civil, mechanical, electrical, or structural engineering would lead to a college diploma.  A three-year course of study in one of those fields would earn a student a bachelor’s degree.


In addition, C.T.C. offered short courses—four months in drafting and design or a three-month builder’s course.


Students whose schedules would not accommodate a regular day schedule of classes could take evening courses and/or courses in the summer session.  For students outside Chicago, C.T.C. offered home-study programs. In the 1950’s, CTC enrolled more than 6,000 students in its extension programs.    


In 1928 American Society for Engineering Education. evaluated the school and found the “program possibly too diverse for best efficiency.”


Originally catalogs refer to students as men.  However, the 1918-19 catalog speaks of engineering—especially drafting—as  a field women could enter and “for which they are so naturally adapted.” 


The catalog notes that success in life requires “knowledge of men that can come only through social contact.”   It states that through “classes, fraternities, student and employees organizations” the college hoped to promote a “sane social program.”  The one fraternity mentioned in newspapers was Sigma Beta Epsilon.


The 1957-58 Education Directory lists enrollment as 1258.  Databook on Illinois Higher Education lists total 1976 enrollment as 470.  A 1968 graduate noted that the college was “small” with “about thirty” in the graduating class. CTC closed in 1977.

Bricks and Mortar

Catalogs emphasized the importance of Chicago as the site for a technical college.  It was a city where “construction projects of world-wide importance are going on constantly.”  Since classes emphasized field trips, the city furnished ample opportunities for observation and research.  It also furnished employment for graduates.  


The original C.T.C. home was the Lake View building at 116 S. Michigan Avenue, close to downtown and libraries.  By 1918 day classes were held in new Chicago “Tech” Building farther out at 2721 S. Michigan Avenue. This was a four story building with ideal lighting and ventilation, making it ideal for drafting classes.


But by 1928, the school is advertising a new two-story building at the corner of 26th and Indiana Streets, closer to downtown. Again the lighting and ventilation are emphasized.


Some time before 1950 C.T.C. moved to a three-story building at 2000 South Michigan Avenue.  This 1909 building was originally a showroom for the Locomobile automobile company.  

The Locomobile Building today houses upscale condominiums.  Image by Andrew Jameson ( accessed 1-2-2018


      School colors: These appear to be

                   Orange and Blue.


The 1968 graduate cited above stated, “We were all there for one purpose, get our degree and get a job in our chosen fields. " Still catalogs note that C.T.C. believes in a “rational” athletics program.  It goes on to say that the school is represented by “strong teams in basketball, baseball and tennis.”   

The Rockford Morning Star reported football games in both 1920, a 21-0 loss to St. Viator, and 1922.


In addition to St. Viator, other common basketball opponents included Northwestern Military and Naval Academy, McKinlock Campus of Northwestern University, Crane JC, Valpariaso, Millikin, Lincoln, Central Y.M.C.A., Wilson JC, and Wisconsin Engineering.  In 1945 Chicago Tech helped make history when the University of Chicago ended a 45-game, two-year losing streak by defeating the Techmen 65-29.


Note: Images are used in accordance with their “terms of use” as I understand those terms.  Recopying or republishing these images may be restricted or forbidden.

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