The Intellectual Crossroads

The Nanoscience High-Performance Computing Facility at Argonne National Laboratory (Image: ANL CC by/sa)

Read our latest story on, a website which offers briefing papers and source lists to journalists visiting Chicago for the NATO Summit who are interested in connecting with local stories.

Chicago was not exactly an academic hothouse in 1890, though it was a place of wonderment to much of the world, having grown from a muddy frontier outpost of 30,000 souls in 1850 to a bustling metropolis of 1.1 million four decades years later. Its streets were lined with the world’s first skyscrapers. Its raucous sidewalks were filled with dreamers, visionaries, opportunists, and fast-buck artists from all corners of the globe. Though quiet, scholarly and pious, Harper fit right in this boisterous scene, with his outsized ambition and determination to found a great institution.

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