"About Chicago" in 1901

, the county-seat of Cook County, chief city of Illinois and (1890) second city in population in the United States.

- The city is situated at the south west bend of Lake Michigan, 18 miles north of the extreme southern point of the lake, at the mouth of the Chicago River 715 miles west of New York, 590 miles north of west from Washington, and 260 miles northeast of St. Louis. From the Pacific Coast it is distant 2,417 miles. Latitude 41° 52' north longitude 87° 35' west of Greenwich. Area (1898), 186 square miles.

. - Chicago stands on the dividing ridge between the Mississippi and St. Lawrence basins. It is 502 feet above sea-level, and its highest point is some 18 feet above Lake Michigan. The Chicago River is virtually a bayou, dividing into north and south branches about a half-mile west of the lake. The surrounding country is a low, fiat prairie, but engineering science and skill have done much for it in the way of drainage. The Illinois & Michigan Canal terminates at. a point on the south branch of the Chicago River, within the city limits, and unites the waters of Lake Michigan with those of the Illinois River. The CHICAGO RIVER, a sluggish stream, draining narrow strip of land between Lake Michigan and the Des Plaines River, the entire watershed drained amounting to some 470 square miles. It is formed by the union of the "North" and the "South Branch," which unite less than a mile and a half from the mouth of the main stream. At an early day the former was known as the "Guarie" and the latter as "Portage River." The total length of the North Branch is about 20 miles, only a small fraction of which is navigable. The South Branch is shorter but offers greater facilities for navigation, being lined along its lower portions with grain-elevators, lumber-yards and manufactories. The Illinois Indians in early days found an easy portage between it and the Des Plaines River. The Chicago River, with its branches, separates Chicago into three divisions, known, respectively, as the "North" the "South" and the "West Divisions." Drawbridges have been erected at the principal street crossings over the river and both branches, and four tunnels, connecting the various divisions of the city, have been constructed under the river bed.

-The Chicago River, with its branches, affords a water frontage of nearly 60 miles, the greater part of which is utilized for the shipment and unloading of grain, lumber, stone, coal, merchandise, etc. Another navigable stream (the Calumet River) also lies within the corporate limits. Dredging has made the Chicago River, with its branches, navigable for vessels of deep draft. The harbor has also been widened and deepened. Well constructed break waters protect the vessels lying inside, and the port is as safe as any on the great lakes. The city is a port of entry, and the tonnage of vessels arriving there exceeds that of any other port in the United States. During 1897, 9,156 vessels arrived, with an aggregate tonnage of 7,209,442, while 9,201 cleared, representing a tonnage of 7,185,324. It is the largest grain market in the world, its elevators (in 1897) having a capacity of 32,550,000 bushels.
According to the reports of the Board of Trade, the total receipts and shipments of grain for the year 1898 - counting flour as its grain equivalent in bushels - amounted to 323,097,453 bushels of the former, to 289,920,028 bushels of the latter. The receipts and shipments of various products for the year (1898) were as follows:




Flour (bbls.)



Wheat (bu.)















Cured Meats (lbs.)



Dressed Beef












Chicago is also an important lumber market, the receipts in 1895, including shingles, being 1,562,527 M. feet. As a center for beef and pork-packing, the city is without a rival in the amount of its products, there having been 92,459 cattle and 760,514 hogs packed in 1894-95. In bank clearings and general mercantile business it ranks second only to New York, while it is also one of the chief manufacturing centers of the country. The census of 1890 shows 9,959 manufacturing establishments, with a capital of $292,477,038 employing 203,108 hands, and turning out products valued at $632,184,140. Of the out put by far the largest was that of the slaughtering and meat-packing establishments, amounting to $203,825,092 men's clothing came next ($32,517,226) iron and steel, $31,419,854 foundry and machine shop products, $29,928,616 planed lumber, $17,604,494. Chicago is also the most important live-stock market in the United States. The Union Stock Yards (in the southwest part of the city) are connected with all railroad lines entering the city, and cover many hundreds of acres. In 1894, there were received 8,788,049 animals (of all descriptions), valued at $148,057,626. Chicago is also a primary market for hides and leather, the production and sales being both of large proportions, and the trade in manufactured leather (notably in boots and shoes) exceeds that of any other market in the country. Ship-building is a leading industry, as are also brick-making, distilling and brewing.

TRANSPORTATION, ETC.- Besides being the chief port on the great lakes, Chicago ranks second to no other American city as a railway center. The old "Galena & Chicago Union," its first railroad, was operated in 1849, and within three years a substantial advance had been scored in the way of steam transportation. Since then the multiplication of railroad lines focusing in or passing through Chicago has been rapid and steady. In 1895 not less than thirty-eight distinct lines enter the city, although these are operated by only twenty-two companies. Some 2,600 miles of railroad track are laid within the city limits. The number of trains daily arriving and departing (suburban and freight included) is about 2,000. Intramural transportation is afforded by electric, steam, cable and horse-car lines. Four tunnels under the Chicago River and its branches. and numerous bridges connect the various divisions of the city.

HISTORY.- Point du Sable (a native of San Domingo) was admittedly the first resident of Chicago other than the aborigines. The French missionaries and explorers - Marquette, Joliet, La Salle, Hennepin and others - came a century earlier, their explorations beginning in 1673. After the expulsion of the French at the close of the French and Indian War, the territory passed under British control, though French traders remained in this vicinity after the War of the Revolution. One of these named Le Mai followed Point du Sable about 1796, and was himself succeeded by John Kinzie, the Indian trader, who came in 1803.

Fort Dearborn was built near the mouth of the Chicago River in 1804 on land acquired from the Indians by the treaty of Greenville, concluded by Gen. Anthony Wayne in 1795, but was evacuated in 1812, when most of the garrison and the few inhabitants were massacred by the savages. The fort was rebuilt in 1816, and another settlement established around it. The first Government survey was made, 1829-30.

Early residents were the Kinzies, the Wolcotts, the Beaubiens and the Millers. The Black Hawk War (1832) rather aided in developing the resources and increasing the population of the infant settlement by drawing to it settlers from the interior for purposes of mutual protection.

Town organization was effected on August 10, 1832, the total number of votes polled being 28. The town grew rapidly for a time, but received a set-back in the financial crisis of 1837. During May of that year, however, a charter was obtained and Chicago became a city. The total number of votes cast at that time was 703. The census of the city for the 1st of July of that year showed a population of 4,180. The following table shows the names and term of office of the chief city officers from 1837 to 1899:






1837 Wm. B. Ogden I. N. Arnold, Geo. Davis (1). N. B. Judd Hiram Pearsons
1838 Buckner S. Morris Geo. Davis N. B. Judd Hiram Pearsons
1839 Benj. W. Raymond Wm. H. Brackett Samuel L. Smith Geo. W. Dole.
1840 Alexander Lloyd Thomas Hoyce Mark Skinner W.S. Gurnee, N.H. Bolles (2)
1841 F. C. Sherman Thomas Hoyne Geo. Manierre N.H. Bolles.
1842 Beni. W. Raymond J. Curtis Henry Brown F.C. Sherman.
1843 Augustus Garrett James M. Lowe G. Manierre, Henry Brown (3) Walter S. Gurnee.
1844 Aug. Garrett, Alson S. Sherman(4) E. A. Rucker Henry W. Clarke Walter S. Gurnee
1845 Aug. Garrett, Alson S. Sherman (4) E. A. Rucker, Wm. S. Brown (5) Henry W. Clarke Wm. L. Church
1846 John P. Chapin Henry B. Clarke Charles H. Larrabee Wm. L. Church
1847 James Curtiss Henry B. Clarke Patrick Ballingall Andrew Getzler
1848 JameS H. Woodworth Sidney Abell Giles Spring Wm. L. Church
1849 James H. Woodworth Sidney Abell O. R. W. Lull Wm. L. Church
1860 James Curtiss Sidney Abell Henry H. Clark Edward Manierre
1851 Walter S. Gurnee Henry W. Zimmerman Henry H. Clark Edward Manierre
1852 Walter S. Gurnee Henry W. Zimmerman Arno Voss Edward Manierre
1853 Charles M. Gray Henry W. Zimmerman Arno Voss Edward Manierre
1854 Ira L. Milliken Henry W. Zimmerman Patrick Ballingall Uriah P. Harris
1855 Levi D. Boone Henry W. Zimmerman J. A. Thompson Wm. F. De Wolf
1856 Thomas Dyer Henry W. Zimmerman J. L Marsh 0.J. Rose.
1857 John Wentworth H. Kreisman John C. Miller C. N. Holden
1858 John C. Haines H. Kreisman Elliott Anthony Alonzo Harvey
1859 John 0. Haines H. Kreisman Geo. F. Crocker Alonzo Harvey
1860 John Wentworth Abraham Kohn John Lyle King Alonzo Harvey, C.W. Hunt (6)
1861 Julian S. Rumsey A. J. Marble Ira W. Buel W. H. Rice.
1862 F. C. Sherman A. J. Marble Geo. A. Meech F.H. Cutting, W. H. Rice (7)
1863 F. C. Sherman H. W. Zimmerman Francis Adams David A. Gage
1864 F. C. Sherman H. W. Zimmerman Francis Adams David A. Gage
1865 John B. Rice Albert H. Bodman Daniel D. Driscoll A.G. Throop
1866 John B. Rice Albert H. Bodman Daniel D. Driscoll A.G. Throop
1867 John B. Rice Albert H. Bodman Hasbrouck Davis Wm. F. Wentworth
1868 John B. Rice Albert H. Bodman Hasbrouck Davis Wm. F. Wentworth
1869 John B. Rice (8) Albert H. Bodman Hasbrouck Davis Wm. F. Wentworth
1870 R. B. Mason Charles T. Hotchkiss Israel N. Stiles David A. Gage
1871 R. B. Mason Charles T. Hotchkiss Israel N. Stiles David A. Gage
1872 Joseph Medill Charles T. Hotchkiss Israel N. Stiles David A. Gage
1873 Joseph Medill Charles T. Hotchkiss Israel N. Stiles David A. Gage
1874 Harvey D. Colvin Jos. K. C. Forrest Egbert Jamieson Daniel O’Hara
1875 Harvey D. Colvin Jos. K. C. Forrest Egbert Jamieson Daniel O’Hara
1876 Monroe Heath,(9) H. D. Colvin, Thomas Hoyne Caspar Butz R. S. Tuthill Clinton Briggs
1877-78 Monroe Heath Casper Butz R. S. Tuthill Chas. B. Larrabee
1879-80 Carter H. Harrison P. J. Howard Julius S. Grinnell W.C. Seipp
1881-82 Carter H. Harrison P. J. Howard Julius S. Grinnell Rudolph Brand
1883-84 Carter H. Harrison John G. Neumeister Julius S. Grinnell John M. Dunphy
1885-86 Carter H. Harrison C. Herman Plautz Hempstead Washburne Wm. M. Devine
1887-88 John A. Roche D. W. Nickerson Hempstead Washburne C. Herman Plautz
1889-90 Dewitt C. Cregier Franz Amberg Geo. F. Sugg Bernard Roesing
1891-92 Hempstead Washburne James R. B. Van Cleave Jacob J. Kern, G.A.Trude (10) Peter Kiolbassa
1893-94 Carter H. Harrison. Geo. B. Swift, (11) John P. Hopkins (11) Chas. D. Gastfield Geo. A. Trude Michael J. Bransfield
1895-96 Geo. B. Swift James R. B. Van Cleave Roy O. West Adam Wolf
1897-98 Carter H. Harrison, Jr William Loeffler Miles J. Devine Ernst Hummel
1899 Carter H. Harrison,Jr William Loeffler Andrew J. Ryan Adam Ortseifen

(1) I. N. Arnold resigned and Geo. Davis appointed, October, 1837.
(2) Gurnee resigned, Bolles appointed his successor, April. 1840.
(3) Manierre resigned, Brown appointed his successor, July, 1843.
(4) Election of Garrett declared illegal, and Sherman elected at new election, held April, 1844.
(5) Brown appointed to fill vacancy caused by resignation of Bucker.
(6) Harvey resigned and Hunt appointed to fill vacancy.
(7) Cutting having failed to qualify, Rice, who was already in office, held over.
(8) Legislature changed date of election from April to November, the persons in office at beginning of 1869 remaining in office to December of that year.
(9) City organized under general Incorporation Act in 1875, and no city election held until April, 1876. The order for a new election omitted the office of Mayor, yet a popular vote was taken which gave a majority to Thomas Hoyne. The Council then in office refused to canvass this Vote, but its successor, at its first meeting, did so, declaring Hoyne duly elected. Colvin, the incumbent, refused to surrender the office, claiming the right to "hold over" Koyne then made a contest for the office, which resulted in a decision by the Supreme Court denying the claims of both contestants, when a new election was ordered by the City Council, July 12, 1876, at which Monroe Heath was elected, serving out the term.
(10) City Attorney Kern, having resigned November 21, 1892, Geo. A. Trade was appointed to serve out the remainder of the term.
(11) Mayor Harrison, having been assassinated, October 28, 1893, the City Council at its next meeting (November 6, 1893) elected Geo.. B Swift (an Alderman from the Eleventh Ward) Mayor ad interim. At especial election held December 19, 1893, John P. Hopkins was elected to fill out the unexpired term of Mayor Harrison.

THE FIRE OF 1871 - The city steadily grew in beauty, population and commercial importance until 1871. On Oct. 9 of that year occurred the "great fire" the story of which has passed into history. Recuperation was speedy, and the 2,100 acres burned over were rapidly being rebuilt, when, in 1874, occurred a second conflagration, although by no means so disastrous as that of 1871. The city's recuperative power was again demonstrated, and its subsequent development has been phenomenal. The subjoined statement shows its growth in population:

1837 . . . . 4,179
1840 . . . . 4,470
1850 . . . . 28,269
1860 . . . 112,162
1870 . . . . 298,977
1880 . . . . 503,185
1890 . . 1,099,850
1900 . . . 1,698,575

Notwithstanding a large foreign population and a constant army of unemployed men, Chicago has witnessed only three disturbances of the peace by mobs - the railroad riots of 1877, the Anarchist disturbance of 1886, and a strike of railroad employees in 1894.

MUNICIPAL ADMINISTRATION - Chicago long since outgrew its special charter, and is now incorporated under the broader provisions of the law applicable to "cities of the first class," under which the city is virtually autonomous. The personnel, drill and equipment of the police and fire departments are second to none, if not superior to any, to be found in other American Cities. The Chicago River, with its branches, divides the city into three principal divisions, known respectively as North, South and West. Each division has its statutory geographical boundaries, and each retains its own distinct township organization. This system is anomalous it has, however, both assailants and defenders.

PUBLIC IMPROVEMENTS - Chicago has a fine system of parks and boulevards, well developed, well improved and well managed. One of the parks (Jackson in the South Division) was the site of the World's Columbian Exposition. The water supply is obtained from Lake Michigan by means of cribs and tunnels. In this direction new and better facilities are being constantly introduced, and the existing water system will compare favorably with that of any other American city.

ARCHITECTURE - The public and office buildings, as well as the business blocks, are in some instances classical, but generally severely plain.
Granite and other varieties of stone are used in the City Hall, County Court House, the Board of Trade structure, and in a few commercial buildings, as well as in many private residences. In the business part of the city, however, steel, iron, brick and fire clay are the materials most largely employed in construction, the exterior walls being of brick. The most approved methods of fire-proof building are followed, and the "Chicago construction" has been recognized and adopted (with modifications) all over the United States. Office buildings range from ten to sixteen, and even, as in the case of the Masonic Temple, twenty stories in height. Most of them are sumptuous as to the interior, and many of the largest will each accommodate 3,000 to 5,000 occupants, including tenants and their employees. In the residence sections wide diversity may be seen the chaste and the ornate styles being about equally popular. Among the handsome public, or semi-public buildings may be mentioned the Public Library, the Newberry Library, the Art Institute, the Armour Institute, the Academy of Sciences, the Auditorium, the Board of Trade Building, the Masonic Temple, and several of the railroad depots.

EDUCATION AND LIBRARIES - Chicago has a public school system unsurpassed for excellence in any other city in the country. According to the report of the Board of Education for 1898, the city had a total of 221 primary and grammar schools, besides fourteen high schools, employing 5,268 teachers and giving instruction to over 236,000 pupils in the course of the year. The total expenditures during the year amounted to $6,785,001, of which nearly $4500,000 was on account of teachers' salaries. The city has nearly $7,500,000 invested in school buildings. Besides pupils attending public schools there are about 100,000 in attendance on private and parochial schools, not reckoning students at higher institutions of learning, such as medical, law, theological, dental and pharmaceutical schools, and the great University of Chicago. Near the city are also the Northwestern and the Lake Forest Universities, the former at Evanston and the latter at Lake Forest. Besides an extensive Free Public Library for circulating and reference purposes, maintained by public taxation, and embracing (in 1898) a total of over 235,000 volumes and nearly 50,000 pamphlets, there are the Library of the Chicago Historical Society and the Newberry and Crerar Libraries-the last two the outgrowth of posthumous donations by public-spirited and liberal citizens-all open to the public for purposes of reference under certain conditions. This list does not include the extensive library of the University of Chicago and those connected with the Armour Institute and the public schools, intended for the use of the pupils these various institutions.

CHICAGO BOARD OF TRADE - one of the leading commercial exchanges of the world. It originally organized in the spring of 1843 as voluntary association, with a membership of eighty-two. Its primary object was the promo m of the city's commercial interests by unity of action. On Feb. 8, 1849, the Legislature enacted a general law authorizing the establishment of Boards of Trade, and under its provisions incorporation was effected-a second organization being effected in April, 1850. For several years the association languished, and at times its existence seemed precarious. It was, however, largely instrumental in securing the introduction of the system of measuring grain by weight, which initial step opened the way for subsequent great improvements in the methods of handling, storing, inspecting and grading cereals and seeds. By the close of 1856, the association had overcome the difficulties incident to its earlier years, and the feasibility of erecting a permanent Exchange building began to be agitated, but the project lay dormant for several years. In 1856 was adopted the first system of classification and grading of wheat, which, though crude, formed the foundation of the elaborate modern system, which has proved of such benefit to the grain-growing States of the West, and has done so much to give Chicago its commanding influence in the grain markets of the world. In 1858, the privilege of trading on the floor of the Exchange was limited to members. The same year the Board began to receive and send out daily telegraphic market reports at a cost, for the first year, of $500,000, which was defrayed by private subscriptions. New York was the only city with which such communication was then maintained. In February, 1859, a special charter was obtained, confer ring more extensive powers upon the organization, and correspondingly increasing its efficiency. An important era in the Board's history was the Civil War of 1861-65. During this struggle its attitude was one of undeviating loyalty and generous patriotism. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were contributed, by individual members and from the treasury of the organization, for the work of recruiting and equipping regiments, in caring for the wounded on Southern battlefields, and providing for the families of enlisted men. In 1864, the Board waged to a successful issue a war upon the irredeemable currency with which the entire West was then flooded, and secured such action by the banks and by the railroad and express companies as compelled its replacement by United States legal-tender notes and national bank notes. In 1865, handsome, large (and, as then supposed, permanent) quarters were occupied in a new building erected by the Chicago Chamber of Commerce under an agreement with the Board of Trade. This structure was destroyed in the fire of October, 1871, but at once rebuilt, and made ready for re-occupancy in precisely one year after the destruction of its predecessor. Spacious and ample as these quarters were then considered, the growing membership and increasing business demonstrated their inadequacy before the close of 1877. Steps looking to the erection Of a new building were taken in 1881, and, on May 1, 1885, the new edifice-then the largest and most ornate of its class in the world -was opened for occupancy. The membership of the Board for the year 1898 aggregated considerably in excess of 1,800. The influence of the association is felt in every quarter of the commercial world.

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