The Second City

It’s not very often that we get chances to do things over in life. I won’t say it never happens, but for most of us, it’s few a far between. What’s in the past is done, and anything you may want to change, from the major life choices to the small tweaks, are stuck as they were. Cities get second chances even less frequently, what with stone and metal being less flexible than most people. Chicago did get the chance to remake itself, though at a very high price.

No one knows exactly what started the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. We all know the old story about Old Lady O’Leary and her cow, but that’s just a story. Well, a story and a song. Now, the fire did start near the O’Leary house, with some pointing to the barn specifically. But weather a cow, a drunk gambler, or something else, the fire started and grew.

Though Chicago did have a fire department at the time, a number of factors led to a slow response as the fire continued to spread through the densely populated downtown. By the time the fire department was on hand, there was little they could do. Once the fire spread to the city waterworks, there was even less they could do but wait for the fire to burn itself out. It eventually did, almost 24 hours later. From this darkest moment, Chicago got its second chance. The city was badly burned, but not destroyed, not at all. The city began to rebuild itself quickly, with an eye on protection against fire.

But fire safety wasn’t the only thing the city decided to do as it rebuilt. Rather than try and build the city back up as it was, but safer, the city decided to dream a little bigger. Rather than a simple recreation, the city that emerged was something new. Grander, bigger, with more of an eye on making the buildings, and thus the city, more exciting and beautiful. Within twenty years, the city was back on its feet and hosting the World Colombian Exposition. Residents took to calling Chicago the Second City.

While the skyline of today is again rather different from that of the 19th Century, the focus on architecture remained. From the impossibly tall Willis Tower, to the old Chicago Tribune Building, to Aqua, the tallest skyscraper designed by a woman, Chicago is still a gorgeous city. The old spirit of the Second City still survives today.

Graduation season is upon us! Whether it’s the first or last there’s no better way to show how proud (or relieved) you are than by displaying those diplomas and degrees for all to see! 
We love these graduation display ideas. Check out the link below! Got your own cool display ideas? Let’s see ’em in the comments!

Graduation Display Ideas

Matboard and More Leafs hockey team


Mayor Kasim Reed recently called Atlanta the Cultural Capital of the Southeast, and we here at Matboard and More couldn’t agree more. This very weekend, Atlanta will be celebrating one of our many art festivals, the 81st Annual Dogwood Festival, downtown in Piedmont Park. Besides this, we have many other art festivals all throughout the year, including the Sweetwater 420 Festival, the Inman Park Festival, and the Candler Park festival. Beyond this, Atlanta also hosts a number of large conventions for the creative types, with Dragon Con being the largest. There are other such conventions throughout the year, along with many smaller arts festivals scattered around the city.

Atlanta has benefitted from this patronage, with a huge amount of money coming into the city from the many movies and television shows that film in the area. I myself have personally walked through areas used by The Walking Dead and Zombieland. The city is much less scary when filled with students and businesspeople.

Mayor Reed plans to continue this partnership by supporting smaller artistic endeavors, in the hopes that they too will be yet another part of what makes our city great. The Mammal Gallery and the Downtown Players Club have both played a part in revitalizing parts of the city that previously had needed little changes when used in the post apocalypse of The Walking Dead.

We here at Matboard and More are big believes in supporting the Arts. We are living proof of the economic benefit of the Arts, but it goes beyond that. Art of all kinds helps us appreciate and understand life. It can show us the type of people we want to be and type of world we want to live in. It help us think about problems and ideas in ways we had not before. It can help us understand ourselves and prepare us for the problems we all come to face in life. When we are at our worst, art can help remind us of the beauty and goodness in the world. As such, we fully support Mayor Reed’s efforts, and hope that the arts continue to grow, both here and around the country.

You can read more about Mayor Reed’s plans for downtown here.

Crime of the Century

The greatest crime of all time is a tough thing make a call on. There’s not a right answer, really. It depends on how you look at it. However, it’s a fun thing to talk about and consider. In that light, the famous theft from the Gardner museum has to stand out as one of the top contenders. The amount value of the theft was huge, the crime was well organized and ran smoothly and it remains unsolved today. Then the fact that it was an art theft gives the story that extra little bit of intrigue and romance.

What first surprised me, after reading about the theft, was re-checking the date and realizing how recently it happened. It happened in my lifetime, back in 1990. The thieves used a simple but effective trick to gain access to the building. Two of them dressed as policemen and demanded that the night watchman let them inside for an unspecified reason. Once inside, they subdued the guard and his partner non-lethally, and got to work. In just over an hour the thieves made off with thireen paintings by masters like Rembrandt, Manet, Vermeer, and five works by Edgar Degas. The thieves disappeared into the night with over $600 million in paintings, more that had ever been stolen at one time… and were never seen again.

Various organizations and individuals have tracked the paintings over the years, but none have been recovered. Famous art is notoriously difficult to sell, so it’s entirely possible the original thieves still have the paintings, even more than 25 years later. This is actually somewhat common with art theft- the thieves may hold on to valuable paintings in times of trouble to use as a bargaining chip with the law.

There have been a number of colorful suspects over the years, though none panned out. The professional nature of entry, but rough way the paintings were handled, suggested to some it could be organized crime figures. The thieves knew crime, but not art, leading some to suspect member of the Mafia. Others have suggested a group of Corsicans, based on some of the other less valuable items taken at the same time.

For now, though, the crime remains unsolved, and the paintings remain lost. There is hope- a good chance, even- that the pieces will turn up when the right men are caught are forced to turn them over. Or perhaps in a secluded basement of a rich family, displayed privately. Or, perhaps not at all. Only time will tell.

The Patriotic Theft of the Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa, perhaps the most famous painting in the world, wasn’t always so well known. While it was always well regarded in artistic circles, for much of its history, it’s only claim to fame was its painter- Leonardo Da Vinci. Sold into the French royal family after Da Vinci’s death, several important historical figures did recognize the value of the work. King Louis IV of France has it on display at his personal palace at Versailles, while Napoleon hung the painting in his own bedroom for a short time. Yet for all this, most people on the street wouldn’t be able to name the Mona Lisa if they saw it in 1911.

It was this very history that seemed to bother Vincenzo Peruggia. He, along with many of his fellow Italian countrymen, thought the work should have long ago returned to Da Vinci’s homeland of Italy. Had Da Vinci not been in France when he died, the painting would likely have remained in the country, in some form of fashion. As such, Peruggia thought it only right that the painting be returned to Italy by any means necessary. Not to say he wasn’t going to make some money for his trouble, but the money wasn’t his chief concern.

His plan was simple, and likely only worked due to the painting’s considerable lower profile at the time. Peruggia got a job at the Louvre which allowed him to learn his way around the building- and to learn the uniforms of the employees. Though he no longer worked there by time the theft took place, he did enter and leave through a service entrance, using his knowledge of both the paintings security and the layout of the museum to escape without arousing any suspicion.

Another sign of the paintings lower profile was the fact that its theft went unnoticed for over a day. Though some did note its absence, all assumed the painting was being cleaned or photographed elsewhere, as was common at the time. It was not until an irritable patron demanded to see the painting that authorities noticed it was completely gone.

              It was one of the first high-profile art thefts of the era. Though the painting itself wasn’t well known, the painter was. Newspapers and other media reproduced the pilfered painting, making it recognizable the world over. This newfound fame the painting enjoyed also made it far harder to sell, since it was now not just more well-known, but specifically for well-known being stolen. And indeed, the painting was recovered and Peruggia arrested after attempting to sell it in Florence.

The painting would go on display briefly in Florence before being returned to Paris. However, it very much seemed like the floodgates had been opened. The Mona Lisa was the most famous painting in the world now, and would remain so till the modern day. This fame would make it even more of a target in years to come. Not just from thieves- the painting would be attacked several times in the 20th Century. Peruggia himself, however, received a sentence of less than one year, and went on to live a normal life.

Farewell to Football Season

It’s been a few days. Many of us are still reeling from what proved to be an exciting comeback game for the Patriots. Now that the sting isn’t so fresh, I find easier to appreciate the incredible overtime comeback the Patriots pulled out in the second half.

Things are also settling down over here, so we’re going to end our 20% off promotion for NFL mats. We’ll still have the colors in stock for a little while, but we are ending the promotion today.

In the meantime, we’ll keep you updated with any other changes or sales!

The Dust Settles…

It’s with a heavy heart that I write this. Super Bowl LI Final Score- Patriots 34, Falcons 28.

For a moment, it seemed like David might beat Goliath. The Falcons pushed to an early lead that they maintained till late in the game. The Falcons defense, which had been a major concern for the team going in, not only managed to hold the Patriots down, but scored a touchdown themselves off an interception by Robert Alford.

But then Tom Brady came to show that he can back up his reputation. In a comeback for the ages, he scored 25 points in the second half. This included four touchdowns and two much needed conversions. Ryan looked poised to put his team in field goal range and bring their lead up, but he was unexpectedly sacked and lost possession, leading to a fumble and recovery by the Patriots.

With nearly no time left, the Patriots scored the second conversion and tied the game, leading to the first ever overtime in Super Bowl history. Sudden death rules apply- the first team to score wins. The Patriots won the coin toss and then beautifully brought the ball down the field. The Falcons defense, which had been so strong before, now faltered, and the Patriots fought their way into the endzone without losing possession.

While I would have been much happier with a Falcons win, I’m not going to begrudge the Patriots their win. They played an amazing game in the second half. Even after being sacked several times, Brady kept his head strait and found openings in the Falcons defense to keep the ball moving forward. Edelman and White in particular proved invaluable with several incredible catches and drives respectively. I can appreciate good playing not matter who’s doing it, and it’s hard to feel too bad losing to a team that came together as well as the Patriots in the second half.

In the meantime, Patriots fans, Falcons fans, and all NFL fans, you can continue to save 20%* on all NFL team mat colors, including custom mats.


*Limit one use per customer, applied to subtotal of all football themed mats for orders up to $500.

Back in the Day… with the Patriots

It’s Friday, and the air is crackling with energy in Atlanta, in Boston, in everywhere in between. But since there’s still some time before kickoff, we’re going to take a look at the Patriots Super Bowl history.

There’s no way around it- the Patriots have a more impressive Super Bowl pedigree. Having gone to the Super Bowl eight times, dating back to Super Bowl XX in the mid 80’s. Their record at the Big Game is tied, 4-4, with a number of those wins coming with Brady himself leading the team. Since there’s a lot to cover, we’ll focus on their more recent games.

Super Bowl XXXVI is, in many ways, the game that made both the Patriots and Brady the forces they are today. With the game tied as time wound down, Brady refused to accept the result. With a bold rush, he managed to bring his team close enough for a field goal to break the tie and win the game.

The Patriots and Brady followed up with two more wins, including in 2004, which proved to be a good season for Boston, with the Red Sox finally breaking their curse. However, after this impressive string of victories, their luck turned. Though still an impressive team, they were not able to topple the Giants and Eli Manning in 2007 and 2011, though both games were close.

This proved to be a small setback, though, as the Patriots reclaimed the title in 2014 against the Seahawks in yet another close game, with Brady bringing the team back from 10 points behind going into the fourth quarter.

All in all, the Patriots, and Brady in particular, have quite a legacy to live up to. Moreover, the possibility of a winning Super Bowl record is sure to help focus the team. That said, in many ways the past all prologue. While Ryan and the Falcons may not have a much of a record to look back on, the only thing that really matter is who plays better on Sunday. Perhaps Brady will tilt his Super Bowl record positive, or perhaps the Falcons will get their first ever. In any case, it promises to be an awesome game!

In the meantime, Matboard and More will continue our Superbowl Promotion, with 20% off any NFL mats until Sunday. We can handle both standard and custom orders, and even exact color matches in acid free mats for all the playoff teams, including our the Patriots.

Back in the Day… with the Falcons

It’s another day closer, but still so far away. Today and tomorrow, we’re going to kill a little time looking at the histories of this year’s Super Bowl teams. First up- our hometown Falcons.

Sadly, though, it is a short history. Only once before have the Falcons made it to the Super Bowl. Back in the 1999, during Super Bowl XXXIII, the Falcons faced off against the previous year’s Champions, led by legendary quarterback and Nerf Football icon, John Elway. Elway was ending what would prove to be an all-time great career with a bang, hoping for back to back Super Bowl wins.

The Falcons, meanwhile, had everything to prove. If the Broncos were all but expected to at least play in the Super Bowl year, the Falcons were a complete surprise. Coming off a series of weak seasons, that year had been different for the Falcons. Sporting an impressive record going into the Playoffs, they scored a nail biting victory against the Vikings in overtime to make it into the Big Game.

An early lead looked exciting for the Falcons, with a field goal coming early. However, the Broncos soon took the lead, and the Falcons never managed to regain it. Though they wound up with a respectable 19 points, the 34 points for the Broncos proved to be a decisive victory.

It’s been almost 20 years since that day. The Falcons are back, once again facing off against returning champions led by a legendary quarterback. We’re hoping for different results this time around though! Go Falcons!

Tomorrow, we’ll have a look at the Super Bowl history of the Patriots.

In the meantime, Matboard and More will continue our Superbowl Promotion, with 20% off any NFL mats until Sunday. We can handle both standard and custom orders, and even exact color matches in acid free mats for all the playoff teams, including our hometown Falcons.

A Look at the Patriots

One day closer to the Big Game, and we’re ready! Matboard and More will continue our Superbowl Promotion, with 20% off any NFL mats until Sunday. We can handle both standard and custom orders, and even exact color matches in acid free mats for all the playoff teams, including our hometown Falcons.

We took at a look at the Falcons yesterday, and we’re going to examine the Patriots a little bit today. The game promises to be one to remember, with compelling reasons to favor either team.

The most compelling reason for the Patriots has to be Tm Brady. A legendary QB in his own time, Brady has once again led the team in an impressive season. Brady has shown tenacity and flexibility in his role, and we can expect to see both of those in full force come Sunday.

Like Ryan on the Falcons, though, Brady is backed up by a solid team. Julian Edelman has proved a reliable wide receiver through the whole season, while Chris Hogan has stepped up his game in the postseason. Meanwhile, LeGarrette Blount will give Brady a solid options if he wants to run the ball. Add on the Patriots defense, which has given up fewer points than any other this year, and the Patriots look like a well rounded team.

Tomorrow, we’ll go into the Superbowl history of the Atlanta Falcons.