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The Chicago History Blog



Articles and photographs from old encyclopedias, books, and magazines on the the general history of Chicago and its neighborhoods.



Updated: 2016-09-07T21:35:05.802-07:00

 



Chicago as a Seaport, 1891

2012-01-10T09:10:45.391-08:00

This is an interesting discussion of the proposal for the canal between Chicago and the Mississippi River in the late 19th century, from the Scientific American magazine.The prairie land in the southwest corner of Lake Michigan, which, seventy years ago, was half morass from the overflowing of the sluggish creek, whose waters, during flood, spread over the low-lying, level plain, or were supplemented in the dry season by the inflow from the lake, showed no sign of any future development and prosperity. The few streets of wooden houses that had been built by their handful of isolated inhabitants seemed likely rather to decay from neglect and desertion than to increase, and ultimately to be swept away by fire, to make room for the extravagant and gigantic buildings that to-day characterize American civilization and commercial prosperity. Nearly 1,000 miles from the Atlantic, a greater distance from the Gulf of Mexico, and 2,000 miles from the Pacific, no wilder dream could have been imagined fifty years ago than that Chicago should become a seaport, the volume of whose business should be second only to that of New York; that forty miles of wharves and docks lining the branches of the river should be insufficient for the wants of her commerce, and that none of the magnificent lake frontage could be spared to supply the demand.Yet this is the situation to-day, the difficulties of which must increase many fold as years pass and business grows, unless some changes are made by which increased accommodation can be obtained. The nature of these changes has long engrossed the attention of the municipality and their engineers, and necessity is forcing them from discussion to action. As such action is likely to be taken soon, the subject is of sufficient interest to the English reader to devote some space to its consideration.The most important problem, however, which the works to be undertaken—and which must of necessity be soon commenced—will have to solve, is not one of wharf accommodation or of increased facilities of commerce. It is the better disposal of the sewage of the city, the system in use at present being inadequate, and growing more and more imperfect as the city and its population increase. During the early days of Chicago, and indeed long after, the sewage question was treated with primitive simplicity, and with a complete disregard of sanitary laws.The river and the lake in front of the city were close at hand and convenient to receive all the discharge from the drains that flowed into them. But this condition of things had to come to an end, for the lake supplied the population with water, and it became too contaminated for use. To obtain even this temporary relief involved much of the ground level of the city being raised to a height of 14 ft. above low water, a great undertaking carried out a number of years ago. To obtain an adequate supply of pure water, Mr. E.S. Chesborough, the city engineer, adopted the ingenious plan of driving a long tunnel beneath the bed of the lake, connected at the outer end to an inlet tower built in the water, and on shore to pumping engines. This plan proved so successful that it is now being repeated on a larger scale, and with a much longer tunnel, to meet the increased demands of the large population.But to improve the sanitary condition of the city has been a much more difficult undertaking, as may be gathered from the following extract from an official report: "The present sanitary condition calls loudly for relief. The pollution of the Desplaines and the Illinois Rivers extends 81 miles, as far as the mouth of the Fox (see plan, Fig. 1) in summer low water, and occasionally to Peoria (158 miles) in winter. Outside of the direct circulation the river harbor is indescribable. The spewing of the harbor contents into the lake, the sewers constantly discharging therein, clouds the source of water supply (the lake) with contamination. Relief to Chicago and equity to her neighbors is a necessity of the early future." To make this quotation clear it is necessary to explain the act[...]



Chicago's Population in 1900

2010-03-11T07:36:09.804-08:00

Of the total population in 1900 not less than 34.6% were foreign-born; the number of persons either born abroad, or born in the United States of foreign parentage (i.e. father or both parents foreign), was 77.4% of the population, and in the total number of males of voting age the foreign-born predominated (53.4%). Of the latter category 68.2% were already citizens by naturalization. 3.9% of the inhabitants of ten years of age or upward were illiterate (unable to write), while the percentage of foreign-born whites was 8.2% (93.9% of illiterate males of voting age). Germans, Irish, Poles, Swedes and Bohemians made up respectively 29.1, 12.6, 8.6, 8.3 and 6.2% of the foreign-born population. It was estimated in 1903 by a very competent authority that above 500,000 persons spoke German, 125,000 Polish, 100,000 Swedish, 90,000 Bohemian, 50,000 Norwegian, 50,000 Yiddish, 35,000 Dutch, 25,000 Italian, 20,000 Danish, 17,000 French and 12,000 Irish (Celtic), and that each of fourteen foreign languages was spoken by more than 10,000 people: “Newspapers appear regularly in 10 languages, and church-services may be heard in about 20 languages. Chicago is the second largest Bohemian city of the world, the third Swedish, the fourth Norwegian, the fifth Polish, the fifth German (New York being the fourth). In all there are some 40 languages spoken by ... over one million” persons.21 The death-rate of Chicago is the lowest of the great cities of the country. Births are but slightly in excess of deaths, so that the growth of the city is almost wholly from immigration. The death-rate is the lowest of the great cities of the country (16.2 in 1900; New York, 20.4; Boston, 20.1 etc.).

The growth of Chicago has been remarkable even for American cities. Any resident of four-score years living in 1900 had seen it grow from a settlement of fourteen houses, a frontier military post among the Indians, to a great metropolis, fifth in size among the cities of the world. In 1828 what is now the business center was fenced in as a pasture; in 1831 the Chicago mail was deposited in a dry-goods box; the tax-levy of 1834 was $48.90, and a well that constituted the city water-works was sunk at a cost of $95.50; in 1843 hogs were barred from the town streets. Such facts impress upon one, as nothing else can, the marvelously rapid growth of the city. In 1830 with a population of less than 100, in 1840 with 4479, the increase by percentages in succeeding decades was as follows: 507.3, 264.6, 173.6, 68.3, 118.6 and 54.4; an increase equivalent to 8.6% annually, compounded. Such a continuous “boom” no other American city has ever known.(image)



The University of Chicago, 1911

2010-03-08T07:44:38.333-08:00

Excerpted from the public domain 1911 edition of a major British encyclopedia.The University of Chicago was established under Baptist auspices in the city of Chicago, and opened in 1892.[1] Though the president and two-thirds of the trustees are always Baptists, the university is non-sectarian except as regards its divinity school. An immense ambition and the extraordinary organizing ability shown by its first president, William R. Harper, determined and characterized the remarkable growth of the university’s first decade of activity. The grounds include about 140 acres. Of these about 60 acres—given in part by Marshall Field and laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted—border the Midway Plaisance, connecting Washington and Jackson parks. On these grounds the main part of the university stands. The buildings are mostly of grey limestone, in Gothic style, and grouped in quadrangles. The Mitchell tower is a shortened reproduction of Magdalen tower, Oxford, and the University Commons, Hutchinson Hall, is a duplicate of Christ Church hall, Oxford. Dormitories accommodate about a fifth of the students. The quadrangles include clubs, dining halls, dormitories, gymnasiums, assembly halls, recitation halls, laboratories and libraries. In the first college year, 1892-1893, there were 698 students; in that of 1907-1908 there were 5038,[2] of whom 2186 were women. There are faculties of arts, literature, science, divinity,[3] medicine (organized in 1901), law (1902), education, and commerce and administration. The astronomical department, the Yerkes Observatory, is located on William’s Bay, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, about 65 m. from Chicago. It has the largest refracting telescope in the world (clear aperture 40 in., focal length about 61 ft.). The Chicago Institute, founded and endowed by Mrs Anita McCormick Blaine as an independent normal school, became a part of the university in 1901. The school of education, as a whole, brings under university influence hundreds of children from kindergarten age upwards to young manhood and womanhood, apart from the university classes proper. Chicago was the second university of the country to give its pedagogical department such scope in the union of theory and practice. The nucleus of the library (450,000 volumes in 1908) was purchased in Berlin soon after the university’s organization, in one great collection of 175,000 volumes. Scholarly research has been fostered in every possible way, and the university press has been active in the publication of various departmental series and the following periodicals:—Biblical World, American Journal of Theology, American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures, American Journal of Sociology, Journal of Political Economy, Modern Philology, Classical Philology, Classical Journal, Journal of Geology, Astrophysical Journal, Botanical Gazette, Elementary School Teacher and School Review. The courses in the College of Commerce and 126 Administration link the university closely with practical life. In extension work the university has been active from the beginning, instruction being given not only by lectures but by correspondence (a novel and unique feature among American universities); in the decade 1892-1902, 1715 persons were prepared by the latter method for matriculation in the university (11.6% of the total number of matriculants in the decade). Extension lectures were given in twenty-two states. At Chicago the work of the university is continuous throughout the year: the “summer quarter” is not as in other American schools a supplement to the teaching year, but an integral part; and it attracts the teachers of the middle western states and of the south. In the work of the first two years, known together as the Junior College, men and women are in the main given separate instruction; but in the Senior College years unrestricted co-education prevails. Students are mainly controlled by self-government in small groups (“the house system”). Relations with “affiliated” (private) c[...]



Chicago's Universities, 1911

2010-03-01T08:40:55.208-08:00

From a 1911 Encyclopedia

There are three universities situated wholly or in part in the city. The leading institution is the University of Chicago. The professional department of North-Western University is in Chicago, while its academic department is in the suburb of Evanston. North-Western University was organized in 1851 and is under Methodist Episcopal control. Its students in 1908 (exclusive of pupils in “co-operating” theological schools) numbered 3850; the best equipped departments are those of dentistry, medicine and pharmacy.

There are two Roman Catholic colleges in Chicago: Loyola University (chartered in 1870), with a department of law, called Lincoln College (1908), and a medical department; and St. Stanislaus College (1870).

The College of Physicians and Surgeons is the medical department of the University of Illinois, at Champaign-Urbana.

Theological schools independent of the universities include the McCormick Theological Seminary (Presbyterian); the Chicago Theological Seminary (Congregational, opened 1858, and including German, Danish-Norwegian and Swedish Institutes); the Western Episcopal Theological Seminary; a German Lutheran theological seminary, and an Evangelical Lutheran theological seminary.

There are a number of independent medical schools and schools of dentistry and veterinary surgery. The Lewis Institute (bequest 1877, opened 1896), designed to give a practical education to boys and girls at a nominal cost, and the Armour Institute of Technology, one of the best technical schools of the country, provide technical education and are well endowed. The Armour Institute was founded in 1892 by Philip D. Armour, and was opened in 1893. It comprises the College of Engineering, including, besides the usual departments, a department of chemical engineering and a department of fire protection engineering, a department of “commercial tests,” and the Armour Scientific Academy (preparatory). In 1907 the Institute had 1869 students. The Chicago Academy of Science (1857) has a handsome building and museum collections in Lincoln Park.(image)



Chicago Libraries, 1911

2010-02-28T13:20:38.230-08:00

At the head of the libraries of the city stands the public library (established 1872; opened 1874), supported by taxation, which on the 1st of June 1910 had 402,848 volumes, and in the year 1910 circulated 1,805,012 volumes. In 1889 John Crerar (1827-1889), a wealthy manufacturer of railroad supplies, left to the city for the endowment of a non-circulating library funds which in 1907 were estimated to amount to $3,400,000. The library was incorporated in 1894 and was opened in 1897; in February 1908 it had 216,000 volumes and 60,000 pamphlets. It occupies a floor in the Marshall Field Building on Wabash Avenue.

Another reference library was established (opened in 1887) with a bequest (1868) of Walter L. Newberry. It has a rich endowment, and in February 1908 had 191,644 volumes and 43,644 pamphlets. By a plan of co-operation each of these three libraries devotes itself primarily to special fields: the John Crerar is best for the natural, physical and social sciences; the Newberry is particularly strong in history, music, medicine, rare books and fine editions; the public library covers the whole range of general literature.

The library of the University of Chicago contained in 1908 some 450,000 titles.

Among other collections are those of the Chicago Historical Society (1856; about 150,000 titles in 1908), the Athenaeum (1871); the Law Institute and Library (1857), which in 1908 had about 46,500 volumes; the Art Institute, the Field Museum of Natural History, the Academy of Sciences (1857) and the libraries of various schools.(image)



Photos from the Columbian Exposition, 1893

2010-02-26T07:28:28.154-08:00

(image)
Over time I'll be posting some images of the Chicago Columbian Exposition of 1893. As a start, here's a view of the Manufacturer's Building and the Liberal Arts Building, and also the North Facade of the Liberal Arts building... including views of the gondolas on the nearby waterways.

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Parks

2010-02-26T07:15:34.523-08:00

The park system may be said to have been begun in 1869, and in 1870 aggregated 1887 acres. Chicago then acquired the name of “The Garden City,” which still clings to her. But many other cities have later passed her (until in 1904, though the second largest of the country, she ranked only thirty-second in her holdings of park area per capita among American cities of 100,000 population). In 1908 the acreage of the municipal parks was 3179 acres, and there were 61.4 m. of boulevards. After 1900 another period of ambitious development began. The improvement of old and the creation of new “internal” parks, i.e. within the cordon of those older parks and boulevards that once girdled the city but have been surrounded in its later growth; the creation of a huge metropolitan ring—similar to that of Boston but vaster (35,000 acres)—of lake bluffs, hills, meadows, forests and river valley; and a great increase of “neighbourhood parks” in the poor districts, are included in the new undertakings. The neighbourhood park, usually located near a school, is almost all-inclusive in its provision for all comers, from babyhood to maturity, and is open all day. There are sand gardens and wading ponds and swings and day nurseries, gymnasiums, athletic fields, swimming pools and baths, reading-rooms—generally with branches of the city library—lunch counters, civic club rooms, frequent music, assembly halls for theatricals, lectures, concerts, or meetings, penny savings banks, and in the winter skating ponds. These social centres have practically all been created since about 1895. There are also municipal baths on the lake front and elsewhere. The older parks include several of great size and beauty. Lincoln Park (area 552 acres), on the lake shore of the North Side, has been much enlarged by an addition reclaimed from the lake. It has fine monuments, conservatories, the only zoological garden in the city, and the collections of the Academy of Sciences. A breakwater carriage drive connects with a boulevard to Fort Sheridan (27 m.) up the lake. Jackson Park (542 acres), on the lake shore of the South Side, was the main site of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, and contains the Field Columbian Museum, occupying the art building of the exposition. It is joined with Washington Park (371 acres) by the Midway Plaisance, a wide boulevard, intended to be converted into a magnificent sunken water-course connecting the lagoons of the two parks with Lake Michigan. Along the Midway are the greystone buildings of the University of Chicago, and of its (Blaine) School of Education. On the West Side are three fine parks—Douglas, Garfield (with a fine conservatory), and Humboldt, which has a remarkable rose garden (respectively 182, 187 and 206 acres), and in the extreme South Side several others, including Calumet (66 acres), by the lake side, and Marquette (322 acres), Jackson Boulevard, Western Avenue Boulevard and Marshall Boulevard join the South and the West Park systems. Neither New York nor Boston has preserved as has Chicago the beauty of its water front. The shore of the North Side is quite free, and beginning a short distance above the river is skirted for almost 30 m. by the Lake Shore Drive, Lincoln Park and the Sheridan Drive. The shore of the South Side is occupied by railway tracks, but they have been sunk and the shore otherwise improved. In addition to Calumet and Jackson parks there was another just below the river, Lake Park, which has since been included in Grant Park, mostly reclaimed from the water. Here are the public library and the building of the Art Institute (opened in 1893); the park had also been proposed as the site of a new building for the Field Museum of Natural History. The park and boulevards along the lake in 1905 stretched 10.78 m., within the city limits, or almost half the total frontage.10 The inner “boulevards” are broad p[...]



A Portrait of Lincoln Park, 1963

2010-02-25T08:43:10.014-08:00

(image) The following is excerpted from "City in a garden : Homes in the Lincoln Park Community", 1963, and is a small portrait of the condition of the neighborhood at the time.

Bounded roughly by North Avenue on the south, Lincoln Park on the east. Diversey Avenue on the north, and the Milwaukee tracks and Clybourn Avenue on the west, the area was first settled in the 1850's by German truck gardeners. Prior to 1871 buildings were fairly scattered, and most of them were leveled during the Chicago Fire of that year.

It was during the next 25 years that most of the structures in this neighborhood went up, from wooden "relief shanties" and brick cottages in the south and west to the elaborate stone mansions of the northern sector. The area became the home of De Paul University and McCormick Theological Seminary, numerous hospitals, churches, and schools, and the Chicago Historical Society — not to mention the garage that witnessed the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.

With time, portions of the Lincoln Park area, rundown and shabby, began the downhill slide into urban blight. A report as late as 1948 characterized the section as "predominantly in a state of deterioration." Even before this time, however, energetic and enterprising residents had begun to retrieve, restore, and rescue. The people who made it possible proved that at least one Chicago community has made a reality of the old motto — City in a Garden.(image)



The Grand Crossing Improvement Club

2010-02-25T08:09:26.062-08:00

These minutes of the "Grand Crossing Improvement Club" are excerpted from "Neighborhood Improvement In and About Chicago", 1909, and are an example of the types of neighborhood civic groups being organized at the time.

Organized and incorporated 1905. District includes territory from Cottage Grove Avenue to Stony Island Avenue, and from 71st Street to 87th Street. Officers for 1909: President, E. P. Williams; Secretary, J. W. Classen. Membership, 375. Nineteen
special committees and eight working districts. Executive committee made up of chairmen of sub-committees is the working force of the club. Women honorary members. Annual fee, $1.00.

Complaints are invited and carefully investigated. The following appeared in a local paper after the last annual meeting.

There were eight regular monthly meetings held in Turner Hall, upstairs ; two executive meetings held in President Williams' office, and one special meeting held in the office of Vice-President Math, June 5th, for the purpose of considering ways and means to induce the council to force vhc railways to widen the subways under 75th Street and South Chicago Avenue. There was no meeting held in November. There were three special meetings held in District No. 1, one in No. 2, two in No. 4, and one in No. 6.

There were 1,950 postal cards sent out notifying members of the meetings of the club and thirty communications sent out by the secretary by order of the club to public department officials and persons as follows: To the superintendent of streets, four;
Commissioner Hanberg, three ; smoke inspector, two ; oil inspec- tor, one; corporation counsel, three; ward superintendent, five; manager of Calumet Electric Street Railway, one; Mr. Speedell, one; lieutenant of police, one; Alderman Hunt, three; Alderman Biehl, two ; secretary Park Manor Improvement Club, one ; secre-
tary Anti-Smoke League, one; principal Cornell school, one; family F. C. Schmidt, one.

During the year records show there were forty complaints made in the different districts of bad crosswalks, garbage, sewers stopped, etc. Relief in the way of repairs, etc., was effected in fourteen cases, some of which covered several complaints. There were nineteen special committees appointed during the year, of
which several have failed to report up to this writing.(image)



The Chicago Region's Points of Interest in 1921

2010-02-25T07:14:04.779-08:00

This is excerpted from "The Greatest Highway in the World, Historical, Industrial and Descriptive Information of the Towns, Cities and Country passed through between New York and Chicago via The New York Central Lines", 1921, and is an interesting selection of the attractions of the Chicago region at the time.For reference a general summary of Chicago's "points of interest" exclusive of those already mentioned is here given.North SideLincoln Park: Academy of Sciences Museum; botanical conservatories and a zoological garden with a splendid Lion House. Also the fine Saint Gaudens Statue of Lincoln at the entrance and other monuments in the park.Chicago Historical Society Library and Collection, Dearborn Ave. and Ontario St.; an interesting collection of historic relics and documents.The Municipal pier, at the foot of Grand Ave., built by the city at a cost of $4,000,000; devoted to recreational activities as well as to commercial purposes. Excursion steamers may be taken here to various points on the lake.The Newberry Library, a free reference library, Clark St. and Walton Place.Northwestern University, in Evanston (at the extreme North of the city—actually outside the city limits). Northwestern University is a Methodist-Episcopal institution of about 5,000 students.Ft. Sheridan. A U.S. military post north of Evanston.Lake Forest, a fashionable suburb north of Ft. Sheridan.South SideLife Saving Station at the mouth of the Chicago River.Tablet marking site of Ft. Dearborn, River St., opposite the old Rush St. Bridge.Crerar Library, East Randolph St., a reference library devoted chiefly to scientific subjects; open to the public.Board of Trade, La Salle and Jackson Sts.; visitors may obtain admission to gallery overlooking the famous wheat pit.Auditorium hotel and theatre building, Michigan Ave. at Congress St.; view of city from tower.The Coliseum building, 16th St. and Wabash Ave.; all the national Republican conventions of recent years have been held here.Field Museum of Natural History (founded by Marshall Field), in Grant Park; a fine anthropological and historical collection. The Museum, originally housed in a temporary building in Jackson Park, was made possible by the gift of $1,000,000 by Marshall Field, who on his death (1906) bequeathed a further $8,000,000 of which $4,000,000 has been used for the new building.Ft. Dearborn Massacre Monument, 18th St., near the lake.Armour Institute of Technology, founded by the Armour family, 3300 Federal St.Douglas Monument, 35th St. near Lake Michigan; Stephen A. Douglas is buried here. Stephen A. Douglas (1813-1861) was born in Vermont, but in 1833 he went west and settled in Jacksonville, Ill., where he was admitted to the bar in 1834. He identified himself with the Jackson Democrats and his political rise was rapid even for the west. Among other offices, he held those of Judge of the Supreme Court of Illinois, representative in Congress and senator from Illinois. Although he did more perhaps than other men, except Henry Clay, to secure the adoption of the Compromise Measures of 1850, he seems never to have had any moral antipathy against slavery. His wife and children were by inheritance owners of slaves. In 1858 he engaged in a close and exciting contest for the senatorship with Abraham Lincoln, the Republican Candidate, whom he met in a series of debates over slavery that soon became famous and brought Lincoln prominently into public favor, though he was defeated in this particular contest.The Stockyards, Halsted and Root St. In area the yards exceed 400 acres; they have facilities for taking care of 50,000 cattle, 20,000 hogs, 30,000 sheep and 5,000 horses. The great packing plants are clustered around the stockyards.The University of Chicago, Ellis Ave., south of 51st St. This university was established under Baptist auspices a[...]



Father Marquette and the Chicago Portage

2010-02-25T07:07:17.586-08:00

The old Chicago portage was used by the Indians in travelling by canoe from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi and then to the Gulf of Mexico, long before any white man had visited the site of the present city on the shore of Lake Michigan. The portage connected the Chicago River, then flowing into Lake Michigan, with the Des Plaines River, flowing into the Illinois River, which in turn discharges into the Mississippi opposite a point not far from St. Louis. It is probable that the first white men to visit the city of Chicago were Father Marquette (1637-1675) and Louis Joliet, though La Salle may have used the portage at an earlier date in the course of one of his journeys of exploration. It is certain, however, that La Salle established a fort at Starved Rock, some miles south of the present city of Chicago, in 1682; and it is in the journal of one of La Salle's followers, Joutel, that we find the first explanation of the name "Chicago." Joutel says that Chicago took its name from the profusion of garlic growing in the surrounding woods.

Joutel and his party were in Chicago in March, 1688, when lack of provision forced them to rely on whatever they could find in the woods. It appears that Providence furnished them with a "kind of manna" to eat with their meal. This seems to have been maple sap. They also procured in the woods garlic and other plants. The name Chicago may have come from the Indian word ske-kog-ong, wild onion place.

After the departure of Father Marquette several other mission settlements were attempted at Chicago, but these were all abandoned in 1700 and for almost a century Chicago ceased to be a place of residence for white men.(image)



Music and Arts in Chicago, 1911

2010-02-25T06:34:33.538-08:00

The following is excerpted from a major encyclopedia published in 1911

Among the monuments erected in public places are a Columbus by D.C. French and a bronze replica of French’s equestrian statue of Washington in Paris; statues of John A. Logan and Abraham Lincoln by St Gaudens; monuments commemorating the Haymarket riot and the Fort Dearborn massacres; statues of General Grant, Stephen A. Douglas, La Salle, Schiller, Humboldt, Beethoven and Linnaeus. There is also a memorial to G.B. Armstrong (1822-1871), a citizen of Chicago, who founded the railway mail service of the United States. A city art commission approves all works of art before they become the property of the city, and at the request of the mayor acts in various ways for the city’s aesthetic betterment. The Architectural Club labours for the same end. A Municipal Art League (organized in 1899) has done good work in arousing civic pride; it has undertaken, among other things, campaigns against bill-board advertisements,11 and against the smoke nuisance.

The Art Institute of Chicago contains valuable collections of paintings, reproductions of bronzes and sculpture, architectural casts, and other objects of art. Connected with it is the largest and most comprehensive art school of the county—including newspaper illustration and a normal school for the training of teachers of drawing in the public schools. The institute was incorporated in 1879, though its beginnings go back to 1866, while the school dates from 1878. The courses in architecture are given with the co-operation of the Armour Institute of Technology. There are also a number of notable private art collections in the city. In 1894 the Chicago Public School Art Society was founded to secure the placing of good works of art in the public schools. Picture collections are also exchanged among the neighbourhood-park homes.

Music in Chicago owes much to the German element of the population. Especially noteworthy among musical organizations 121 are the Apollo Musical Club (1872) and The Theodore Thomas orchestra, which has disputed with the Boston Orchestra the claim to artistic primacy in the United States. Its leader from its organization in 1891 until his death in 1905 was Theodore Thomas, who had long been identified with summer orchestral concerts in the city. In 1904 a fund was gathered by public subscription to erect a handsome building and endow the orchestra.

The Field Museum of Natural History, established (1894) largely by Marshall Field, is mainly devoted to anthropology and natural history. The nucleus of its great collection was formed by various exhibits of the Columbian Exposition which were presented to it. Its collections of American ethnology, of exceptional richness and value, are constantly augmented by research expeditions. In addition to an original endowment of $1,000,000, Mr Field bequeathed to the museum $8,000,000, Lo be utilized in part for the new building which is being erected in Jackson Park.(image)



The Railway System in 1911

2010-02-25T06:28:53.889-08:00

Local transit is provided for by the suburban service of the steam railways, elevated electric roads, and a system of electric surface cars. Two great public works demand notice: the water system and the drainage canal. Water is pumped from Lake Michigan through several tunnels connecting with “cribs” located from 2 to 5 m. from shore. The “cribs” are heavy structures of timber and iron loaded with stone and enclosing the in-take cylinders, which join with the tunnels well below the bottom of the lake. The first tunnel was completed in 1867. The capacity of the tunnels was estimated in 1900 by two very competent authorities at 528 and 615 million gallons daily, respectively. The average daily supply in 1909 was 475,000,000 gallons; there were then 16.6 m. of tunnels below the lake. The wastes of the city—street washings, building sewage, the offal of slaughter-houses, and wastes of distilleries and rendering houses—were originally turned into the lake, but before 1870 it was discovered that the range of impurity extended already a mile into the lake, half-way to the water “crib,” and it became evident that the lake could not be indefinitely contaminated. The Illinois and Michigan Canal, for which the right of way was granted in 1821 and which was built in 1836-1841 and 1845-1848, and opened in 1848 (cost, $6,557,681), was once thought to have solved the difficulty; it is connected with the main (southern) branch of the Chicago river, 5 m. from its mouth, with the Illinois river at La Salle, the head of steamer navigation on the Illinois river, and is the natural successor in the evolution of transportation of the old Chicago portage, ½ m. in length, between the Chicago river and the headwaters of the Kankakee; it was so deepened as to draw water out from the lake, whose waters thus flowed toward the Gulf of Mexico. It is about 96 m. long, 40-42 ft. wide, and 4-7 ft. deep, but proved inadequate for the disposal of sewage. A solution of the problem was imperative by 1876, but almost all the wastes of the city continued nevertheless to be poured into the lake. In 1890 a sanitary district, including part of the city and certain suburban areas to be affected, was organized, and preparations made for building a greater canal that should do effectively the work it was once thought the old canal could do. The new drainage canal, one of the greatest sanitary works of the world, constructed between 1892 and 1900 under the control of the trustees of the Sanitary District of Chicago (cost up to 1901, $35,448,291), joins the south branch of the Chicago with the Desplaines river, and so with the Illinois and Mississippi, and is 28.5 m. long,7 of which 15 m. were cut through rock; it is 22 ft. deep and has a minimum width of 164 ft. The canal, or sewer, is flushed with water from Lake Michigan, and its waters are pure within a flow of 150 m.8 Its capacity, which was not at first fully utilized, is 600,000 cub. ft. per minute, sufficient entirely to renew the water of the Chicago river daily. A system of intercepting sewers to withdraw drainage into the lake was begun in 1898; and the construction of a canal to drain the Calumet region was begun in 1910. The Illinois and Michigan canal is used by small craft, and the new drainage canal also may be used for shipping in view of the Federal government’s improvements of the rivers connecting it with the Mississippi for the construction of a ship-canal for large vessels. The canal also made possible the development (begun in 1903) of enormous 120 hydraulic power for the use of the city. The Illinois and Michigan Canal has been supplemented by the Illinois and Mississippi Canal, commonly known as “the Hennepin,” from its starting at the great bend [...]



General Background on Chicago, 1911

2010-02-25T06:15:18.823-08:00

The following is excerpted from a major British encyclopedia published in 1911CHICAGO, a city, a port of entry and the county-seat of Cook county, Illinois, U.S.A., the second city of the United States in population, commerce and manufactures; pop. (1900) 1,698,575; and (1910) 2,185,283. It is situated at the south-west corner of Lake Michigan (lat. 41° 50′, long. 87° 38′ W.), about 913 m. distant by railway from New York, 912 m. from New Orleans, 2265 m. from Los Angeles, and 2330 m. from Seattle. The climate is very changeable and is much affected by the lake; changes of more than thirty degrees in temperature within 24 hours are not at all rare, and changes of twenty are common. The city is the greatest railway centre of the United States, and was for several decades practically the only commercial outlet of the great agricultural region of the northern Mississippi Valley. Trunk lines reach E. to Montreal, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore (the nearest point on the Atlantic coast, 854 m.); S. to Charleston, Savannah, Florida, Mobile, New Orleans, Port Arthur and Galveston; W. to the Pacific at Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Vancouver, and to most of these by a variety of routes. In 1905 about 14% of the world’s railway mileage centred in Chicago.With its suburbs Chicago stretches along the shore of Lake Michigan about 40 m. (the city proper 26.5), and the city in 1910 had a total area of 191.4 sq.m.1 It spreads loosely and irregularly backward from the lake over a shallow alluvial basin, which is rimmed to the W. by a low moraine water-parting2 that separates the drainage of the lake from that of the Mississippi Valley. The city site has been built up out of the “Lake Chicago” of glacial times, which exceeded in size Lake Michigan. Three lakes—Calumet, 3122 acres; Hyde; and part of Wolf—with a water-surface of some 4100 acres, lie within the municipal limits. The original elevation of what is now the business heart of the city was only about 7 ft. above the lake, but the level was greatly raised—in some places more than 10 ft.—over a large area, between 1855 and 1860. The West Side, especially in the north-west near Humboldt Park, is much higher (extreme 75 ft.). A narrow inlet from the lake, the Chicago river, runs W. from its shore about a mile, dividing then into a north and a south branch, which run respectively to the N.W. and the S.W., thus cutting the city into three divisions known as the North, the West and the South “Sides,” which are united by three car-tunnels beneath the river as well as by the bridges across it.3 The river no longer empties into Lake Michigan since the completion of the drainage canal. Its commercial importance is very great: indeed it is probably the most important non-tidal stream of its length in the world, or if it be regarded as a harbour, one of the greatest; the tonnage of its yearly commerce far exceeds that of the Suez Canal and almost equals the tonnage of the foreign trade (the domestic excluded) of the Thames or the Mersey. The increase in size of the newer freighters that ply on the Great Lakes4 has proved one serious difficulty, and the bridges and the river tunnels, which hinder the deeper cutting of the channel, are others. The improvement of the outer harbour by the national government was begun in 1833. Great breakwaters protect the river mouth from the silting shore currents of the lake and afford secure shelter in an outer roadstead from its storms, and there is a smaller inner-basin (about 450 acres, 16 ft. depth) as well. But the river itself which has about 15 m. of navigable channel, in part lined with docks, is the most important part of the harbour. Its channel has been rep[...]