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Steger is a village that straddles the border which separates Cook County and Will County, Illinois (Steger Road is the border line). It is 35 miles (56 km) south of Chicago and had a population at the 2010 census of 9,570.
Steger was founded in 1891 by Chicago real estate interests and initially named Columbia Heights in honor of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition which the City of Chicago had been preparing to host since 1889. The character, financial fortunes and even the name of the community were set immediately thereafter when John Valentine Steger began to build a piano factory there on a parcel of land south of Chicago Heights that was sited immediately west of the Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad tracks and bordered by the tracks, Vincennes Avenue (now Chicago Road) and 33rd and 34th Streets. This first building of the complex replaced Steger's original factory which had adjoined his showrooms at Wabash Avenue and Jackson Boulevard in downtown Chicago, which had a capacity of only two pianos per week. This new building was three stories tall, 40 x 225 and designed by the Chicago architectural firm Mayo and Curry to accommodate 200 workers. By 1904 the factory at Steger had grown to cover twenty-three acres and had a capacity of sixteen thousand pianos per year. A piano by the company was displayed at the World's Columbian Exposition, and the instrument was commented on as follows:
Any work dealing with the Piano Industries of this country would be incomplete did it not contain a reference to the celebrated Steger. The particular excellence of the Steger piano consists of its fine quality of tone, seldom found in other high-grade instruments; it is very musical, liquid, round, sufficiently brilliant to satisfy the most fastidious taste. The very finest material obtainable is used in all parts of the Steger, the one aim being to obtain excellence in every feature -- tone, touch, appearance and durability. The name Steger upon the piano is sufficient guarantee of its superior worth.
"The high-grade instrument makers were few, with names like Steger & Sons, Bush & Lane, Baldwin, Mason & Hamlin, Conover-Cable and of course Steinway & Sons.
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