Chicago History

Chicago History

“It is futile for the occasional visitor to to keep pace with Chicago. She is able to surpass his prophecies more quickly than he can create them.” ” – Mark Twain, 1883

Chicago was just 46 years old at the time Mark Twain wrote those words however, it had already increased by more than 100 times, from a tiny trading post near the mouth of the Chicago River into one of the biggest cities in the country and was not about to slow down. In the following 20 years, the city would quadruple its population and amaze the people with its ability to continually reinvent itself.

Then it hasn’t stopped.

Chicago is an area that many from all backgrounds reside. Before it was a city it was home to several indigenous peoples, an tradition that is still forming relationships with us, our land and the surrounding environment.

In the present, Chicago has become a international city, a flourishing city of international commerce and trade as well as a destination where people from all nations and ethnicity come to chase their American dream.

Indigenous Chicago

Chicago is the traditional homelands of Hoocak (Winnebago/Ho’Chunk), Jiwere (Otoe), Nutachi (Missouria), and Baxoje (Iowas); Kiash Matchitiwuk (Menominee); Meshkwahkiha (Meskwaki); Asakiwaki (Sauk); Myaamiaki (Miami), Waayaahtanwaki (Wea), and Peeyankihsiaki (Piankashaw); Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo); Inoka (Illini Confederacy); Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe), Odawak (Odawa), and Bodewadmik (Potawatomi). The city is situated on top of an ocean divide and atop a continental divide, the Chicago region lies in the middle of several major waterways, allowing to the region becoming the place of healing and travel for many tribes.

The City recognizes the fact that Tribes are sovereign nations and have the right to be the first opinion in recognizing their historical and present presence on this land. If your Tribe is interested in seeing changes contact us with suggestions.

Early Chicago

Chicago’s first permanent resident who was not an indigenous was the trader Jean Baptiste du Sable who was a black free man from Haiti who’s father was an French sailing ship and whose mother was was an African slave. He came to Chicago in the 1770s through the Mississippi River from New Orleans along with their Native American wife, and their home was located at the mouth of Chicago River. In the year 1803, it was the time that the U.S. government built Fort Dearborn at what is now Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive (look for the bronze markers that are on the road). The fort went down in 1812 after the Battle of Fort Dearborn, it was rebuilt in 1816 and eventually demolished in 1857.

A Trading Center

The city was incorporated as a city in the year 1837. Chicago is perfectly situated to benefit from the trade opportunities generated by the country’s westward expansion. The construction of the Illinois & Michigan Canal in 1848 established an water line connecting two of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River However, the canal was quickly defunct due to railroads. Today, more than 50 percent of U.S. rail freight continues to travel through Chicago despite the fact that Chicago has grown into the country’s most populated aviation hub due the O’Hare as well as Midway International airports.

The Great Fire of 1871

As Chicago was growing, its inhabitants adopted heroic measures to keep up. in the early 1850s they elevated many of the streets between five and eight feet to construct sewer systems – and then they raised the buildings, too. The streets, sidewalks, and buildings were constructed of wood and a majority of them were destroyed to the ground during the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. It is believed that the Chicago Fire Department training academy located at 558 W. DeKoven St. is situated on the O’Leary property from which the fire first started. In addition, the Chicago Water Tower and Pumping Station located at Michigan as well as Chicago avenues belong to the buildings to have survived the flames.

“The White City”

Chicago rebuilt quickly. The majority of the wreckage was put into Lake Michigan as landfill, which formed the foundations of the present Grant Park, Millennium Park and the Art Institute of Chicago. In the next 22 years, Chicago celebrated its comeback with its World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 which was accompanied by the iconic “White city.” The Exposition buildings was renovated to be it’s Museum of Science and Industry. Chicago did not let itself be deterred even during it’s own Great Depression. Between 1933 and 1934 the city staged an the equally prosperous Century of Progress Exposition on Northerly Island.

Hull House

In the half-century that followed in the half-century following the Great Fire, waves of immigrants flocked to Chicago to find jobs in meatpacking plant. Many of the poor and their families were able to find help in the settlement homes run by J Ane Addams and her associates. The Hull House Museum is hers. Hull House Museum is located at 800 S. Halsted St.

Chicago Firsts

Through the course of their history, Chicagoans have demonstrated their inventiveness in all things large and small.

The first tower in America The 10-story steel-framed Home Insurance Building, was built in 1884 near LaSalle as well as Adams streets, and was demolished in 1931.

In the event that residents were at risk of the spread of waterborne diseases from sewage flowing through Lake Michigan, they reversed the Chicago River in 1900 to allow it to flow towards the Mississippi.

Beginning in the “Historic Route The “Historic Route” that begins with Grant Park on Adams Street at the entrance of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Chicago was the city that gave birth to:

  • the refrigerated rail vehicle (Swift)
  • retailing via mail-order (Sears as well as Montgomery Ward)
  • Car radio (Motorola)
  • the remote control for TV (Zenith)
  • A self-sustaining chain reaction that was the first to be sustained by nuclear energy which ushered in the Atomic Age, took place at the University of Chicago in 1942. The site is marked with an Henry Moore sculpture on Ellis Avenue between 56th and 56th streets.
  • 1.451 feet Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower), completed in 1974, was most tall structure in the world from the year 1974 to 1998.

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