Saving More Daylight (4-9-1941)

Chicagoans were talking about Daylight Saving Time.  The discussion was more heated than enlightening.

Benjamin Franklin had suggested Daylight Saving Time (DST) as long ago as 1784.  But America did not take up the idea until 1918.  With the country fighting World War I, Congress adopted year-round DST as an emergency measure.  When the war ended, the law was repealed.

In 1941 there was no national standard for DST.  Local communities made their own decision.  Chicago observed DST from the last Sunday in April through the last Sunday in September.  Now some Chicagoans wanted to extend that a month, to the last Sunday in October.


Opposition came mainly from farmers.  In Springfield, the Illinois Agricultural Association was backing a bill to prevent cities from extending DST.  They argued that any changes should be implemented statewide.  The CIO, a major labor group, was supporting the farmers.

However, most Chicagoans seemed to favor the extension.  DST was hailed as an economic boon, encouraging people to stay out later and spend more money.  With DST, there were fewer traffic accidents.  There was less crime, too.

Today Chicagoland sports leaders were speaking out in favor of longer DST.  According to the Tribune, their support was “as convincing as the Chicago Bears’ 73-0 rout of Washington” in the NFL championship.


At Northwestern University, the football coach said the change would allow his team to practice in natural sunlight, rather than under electric lights.  In the Loop, employees of banks and department stores were eager to have the extra hour of softball time in Grant Park.  Tennis players wanted more DST.  So did local soccer teams.

Greatest enthusiasm came from golfers.  “It would be a definite benefit to the thousands in the Chicago district if they were able to take advantage of October, one of our finest months,” a golf official said.  “That added 60 minutes would allow most of them to get in another nine.”  (Nine holes in an hour? They sure played faster in those days!)

The debate continued.  In May the Chicago City Council voted to extend DST the extra month.  The next year, with World War II under way, the whole country again went on temporary, year-round DST.  A national DST law–allowing for a few exceptions–finally went into effect in 1967.


For 366 stories like this—one for every day of a leap year—buy a copy of my book, On This Day in Chicago History

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