Chuck Taylor – Columbus’ own native son
There really was a "Chuck"
You may be surprised to learn that there was a real Chuck Taylor, and, he got his start right here in Columbus, Indiana.
A Bull Dog at the start
Chuck joined the Columbus, Indiana High School Bull Dogs basketball team in 1915, with no inkling he’d one day become one of the most iconic names in basketball history.
Historic City Hall
Since it was the earliest days of high school basketball, the team played games at the former City Hall, because the second story had eighteen-foot ceilings and room for over 200 spectators.
Semi-Pro at age 18
City Hall (as it looks today) was also home court of the Columbus Commercials – a kind of semi-pro team. Chuck played his first pro game one day after his high school team competed in the state finals, in 1919.
Going Pro at 19
Taylor did something nearly unthinkable by pursuing a professional basketball career when such a thing hardly existed. He was just nineteen when he played for of the Akron, Ohio Firestone Non-Skids.
The Chuck Taylor Co.
Meanwhile, Chuck’s parents moved to a modest home just north of downtown, where Chuck operated the “Chuck Taylor Co.” out of his parent’s home for years.
The rest of the story...
Of course, Chuck went on to untold fame which continues to this day, and there’s a LOT more to this story – check out the links below to learn more.
The State Museum Exhibit
To celebrate Chuck Taylor and his contributions, The Indiana Historical Society is proud to offer its latest exhibit, “Chuck Taylor All Star,” through Jan. 27, 2025.
Audio / Rise & Fall of the Hi-Top
NPR commentator Frank Deford discusses the rise and fall, and rise again, of the Chuck Taylor hi-top. (3:43)
Audio / Biographer interview
All-Star: The Chuck Taylor Story features the author of the definitive biography of Chuck Taylor (34:38)
Hall of Famer
From the Hall of Fame listing – “In 1932, Converse added Taylor’s signature to its trademark five-pronged star shoe, and sent its new basketball ambassador on the road to promote the sneaker. In addition to promoting the Converse basketball sneaker, Taylor also pursued his goal of building players, coaches, and spectator interest in the game of basketball by conducting clinics and demonstrations throughout the country…”
The Full Story
From the Amazon listing – “His is the name on the label of the legendary Converse All-Star basketball shoe. Though the shoe has been worn by hundreds of millions, few, if any, know a thing about the man behind the name. Some even believe that there is no such person, that he is a marketer’s fabrication like Betty Crocker. (This book separates) truth from legend ― discovering that the truth was much more interesting than the myth…”
In the 1970s “Chucks” were adopted as a counter culture fashion statement, a symbol of the underdog, eventually becoming a mainstream wardrobe staple for millions. Ninety years after his name was first emblazoned on his innovative sneaker, Columbus’ own Chuck Taylor still enjoys unparalleled world-wide recognition.
All Stars as a cultural icon
By the end of the 1960s, Converse was responsible for 80% of the sneaker market as a whole. This shift to casual sneakers solidified Converse All Stars as a cultural icon of the people, not just the athletic elite. Though the initial Chucks were in the classic black and white, they became available in a litany of colors and designs as well as limited and special editions.
[ THOUGHT & CO. ]
Grunge stars Kurt Cobain and Winona Ryder rocked All Stars into the ’90s — the dirtier, the better. The look was later borrowed by Green Day and the All American Rejects, cementing the shoes as a mass market staple. By the end of 1997, the company reported it had produced 550 million pairs over the course of just a single year.
[ BUSTLE ]
Preferred BY rAP'S eLITE
Over the years, the canvas sneaker has been donned by rap’s elite — Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, The Game, DJ Quik, and Kendrick Lamar. So, it’s only fitting that the brand’s latest campaign taps Vince Staples, one of Hip-Hop’s brightest creative phenoms from the West Coast.
[ VIBE ]
Everyone loves their Chucks!