Did You Know A Local Woman Invented ‘Monopoly’?
If you drive into Macomb, Illinois these days there is a good chance you will see a sign saluting Lizzie Magie. These signs were installed at the major entrances to Macomb back on May 9 of this year. So you ask, just who was Lizzie Magie? Elizabeth “Lizzie” Magie, who was born in Macomb, invented the world’s most popular board game we now know as Monopoly! The original name was called “The Landlord’s Game”.
Elizabeth “Lizzie” Magie was born in Macomb on May 9, 1866, the year after the Civil War Ended and Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Her father, James K. Magie, was a newspaper publisher and an abolitionist who accompanied Lincoln as he traveled around Illinois in the late 1850's debating politics with Stephen Douglas.
According to the Macomb Area Convention & Visitor's Bureau's website, the seeds of the Monopoly game were planted when James Magie shared with his daughter a copy of Henry George’s best-selling book, “Progress and Poverty” written in 1879. In the early 1880's, Lizzie spent her time drawing and redrawing, thinking and rethinking the game that she wanted to be based on the theories of Henry George’s book.
Magie’s game featured a path that allowed players to circle the board. The plat of the board game is surprisingly similar to that of Macomb’s Downtown Square. Macomb’s jail at the time was located on the corner of the Macomb Square. She called her creation, The Landlord’s Game” and in 1903 filed a legal claim and received a patent for the game. Years later, a man by the name of Charles Darrow took ownership of the game and made some revisions to it. Parker Brothers struck a deal with Magie to purchase her Landlord’s Game patent.
While Darrow made millions and struck an agreement that ensured he would receive royalties, Magie’s income for her creation was reported to be a mere $500. But Parker Brothers, Darrow, nor Lizzie Magie, could never have known that Monopoly would go on to be a perennial best seller for generations.
On May 9, 2020, Macomb Mayor Michael J. Inman, officially proclaimed it to be Lizzie Magie Day in Macomb. To find out more, go to: www.VisitForgottonia.com.