The Fascinating True Story Of Monopoly

It's one of the most-played board games in the entire world, a game so well-known that its rules have become household shorthand and slang. And yet, the full story of Monopoly is a good deal deeper, more interesting, and more tragic than you may have thought.

Harper's has taken a fascinating, lengthy look back at the origins of the game, all the way to points unmentioned in Hasbro's official narrative.

The game's true origins, however, go unmentioned in the official literature. Three decades before Darrow's patent, in 1903, a Maryland actress named Lizzie Magie created a proto-Monopoly as a tool for teaching the philosophy of Henry George, a nineteenth-century writer who had popularized the notion that no single person could claim to "own" land. In his book Progress and Poverty (1879), George called private land ownership an "erroneous and destructive principle" and argued that land should be held in common, with members of society acting collectively as "the general landlord."

It's an interesting and well-researched bit of history, and a look at one of the most enduring, popular board games of all time. Go read, and enrich yourselves!

Side note: Man, did you guys all get into McDonald's Monopoly? I got so into that when I was a kid. I remember it'd be really easy to get Park Place (halfway to a million bucks), but impossible to get Boardwalk. I was kept up at night wondering at the person who got Boardwalk but didn't know it was the rare one and tossed it. I bet that happened more than once.

Monopoly Is Theft [Harper's via Anna Kipnis]