Thomas Cusack

Thomas Cusack

Birth
Kilrush, County Clare, Ireland
Death 19 Nov 1926 (aged 68)
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Burial Evanston, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Memorial ID 12675057 · View Source
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US Congressman, Business Magnate. A pioneer in advertising, he helped make billboards a ubiquitous part of the American landscape. Cusack's life was a literal rags-to-riches story. He was born in Kilrush, County Clare, Ireland, and immigrated with his family to New York City in 1861. Orphaned by age five, he went to live with relatives in Chicago and was trained as a sign painter. In 1875 he established the Thomas Cusack Company in Chicago for outdoor advertising, with himself as sole employee. Early on he rejected the traditional method of plastering posters at street level and painted ad murals on the upper levels of building walls for higher visibility, and in the late 1880s he was among the first to regularly use billboards, both rooftop and freestanding. The advent of the automobile opened up a new market for roadside advertising and the Thomas Cusack Company eventually became the leader of the field in the United States, with over 100 branches, 100,000 advertising sites, and $23 million in annual gross revenue. In the meantime Cusack served as a member of the Chicago Board of Education (1891 to 1898) and on the staff of Governor John P. Altgeld (1893 to 1897), while whetting his political ambitions through his membership in the Illinois Democratic Party's Central Committee (1896 to 1898). In 1898 he was elected to represent Illinois' 4th District in the United States House of Representatives and served one term, from 1899 to 1901; he did not seek reelection. Cusack remained in charge of his ad company until he sold it to a group of Wall Street investors in 1924.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Peterborough K
  • Added: 13 Dec 2005
  • Find A Grave Memorial 12675057
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Thomas Cusack (5 Oct 1858–19 Nov 1926), Find A Grave Memorial no. 12675057, citing Calvary Cemetery, Evanston, Cook County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .