American Historic Towns
Historic Towns of The Western States

Edited by Lyman P. Powell
G. P. Putnam' Sons
New York and London
The Knickerbocker Press
1901


CHICAGO
LARGE IN EVERY WAY
By LYMAN J. GAGE

THE plotting of the site of Chicago was haracteristic of the practical sentiment that has ever stimulated the city. No less a personage than Washington established the streets and boundaries of the national capital; religious romance presided at the founding of San Francisco; interesting legends cluster about the origin of other American communities; and in the old world demigods were supposed to have watched over the beginnings of ancient cities. Chicago, though neither hero nor fabled deity was present when its foundations were laid, had a start none the less imposing, for the genius of industry and trade fixed its metes and bounds. And in the growth of the city into perhaps the industrial capital of the continent there has been presented a supreme expression of that resourceful and triumphant ingenuity which has redeemed the American wilderness. The desolation upon which the plodding engineer planted his theodolite three score and ten years ago is a colossal hive of human activity. A marsh has become a metropolis.

The promoters of the Illinois and Michigan Canal were not the first to see the possibility of water communication via the present site of Chicago between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River.

In 1673, Joliet wrote to the authorities in Canada that by the cutting of a canal through half a league of prairie it would be possible for boats to "pass from the Lake of Illinois into the St. Louis River the Illinois including the Desplaines which empties into the Mississippi." One hundred years before our Republic was conceived, a mathematician, but no mere visionaries, the son of a, wheelwright of Quebec, realized that the "Portage of Checagau" was the meeting place of the future traffic between the chain of inland seas and the rivers flowing toward the Mexican Gulf.

It is plain that nature located Chicago. The meeting point between unparalleled watercourses could not but be a place for the distribution of commodities. To the north, awaiting the woodman, were the lumber regions of Michigan and Wisconsin; south and west and east stretched the prairie, to be developed into farms; in Illinois alone, thirty thousand square miles of coal fields were to be uncovered, while Pennsylvania's inexhaustible supply was to find a vast market at this centre of lake shipping; and the iron, red stone, and copper regions of Lake Superior were to pile their output on Chicago docks. The natural meeting place of grain, lumber, fuel, and iron would have become a city of commerce and manufactures, even if, steam railroads and navigation had not come to assist in the unique development of this entrepot, by making it the half way house for transcontinental traffic. But though 'nature, as the Rev. Robert Collyer has said, "called the lakes, the forest, the prairies together in convention, and they decided that on this spot a great city should be built," Chicago has been singularly blessed in the alert and enterprising genius of her citizens. Her business men have worked with catholic outlook, knowing that what upbuilt the city in general would augment their individual projects.

The city has never been, even in its aboriginal beginnings, and abiding place for visionaries. The Minneways were a picturesque tribe. Their chiefs assumed poetic names, and the young men cherished the traditions of their people; but the tribe did not take advantage of its strategic opportunities. Checagau to them was not a coign of vantage between great waters. At the shore of a vast lake, or the brink of a broad river, their dominion halted, for they were not navigators. In their dialect, "Checagau" meant "wild onion." As if to typify the force that was to dominate their region in later centuries, the Checagau country fell to the conquering "canoe men," the adventurous Pottawatomies, the Chippewas, the Sacs, and kindred tribes who, unafraid to venture on the water, turned to trade, exchanging furs and pelts with the French pioneers for food, blankets, and ornamental trinkets. They became the masters of the lake country, and the broken remnant of the uncommercial tribe fled to the Wabash, there to wail their plaintive songs.

Meanwhile the conquering tribesmen, whose canoes paddled up the Mississippi and the Illinois to the "Checagau Portage," to barter with Canadian voyageurs, or glided thence across the Lakes, touching at the outposts of colonizers and missionary friars, were prefiguring the gigantic activities of civilized men who in a later age were to radiate from this same coveted point of distribution. But as they had won their Checagau country by might, and established their holdings by commercial enterprise, so they resisted the coming of their European rivals and masters. Although as early as 1795, by the treaty of Greenville, they ceded much domain to our country, including "one piece of land six miles square, at the mouth of the Checagau River," the intrigue of the powerful Tecumseh and his brother, the Prophet, led the tribes to disregard these and subsequent treaty stipulations. So that 'when, on the same day that saw the capitulation of Detroit, Fort Dearborn was burned and its garrison massacred, "the last vestige," says Henry Adams, "of American authority on the western lakes disappeared. Thenceforward the line of the Wabash and the Maumee became the military boundary of the United States in the northwest, and the country felt painful doubt' whether even that line could be defended."

For four years the unburied bones of the Fort Dearborn victims lay where the bodies had fallen. Then came peace, Christian interment of these pathetic human fragments, and a reorganization of the valuable fur trade of the region. The spot again became the centre of this industry. Trading posts were reestablished on the Illinois River and the Kankakee with the Pottawatomies of the prairies; at Rock River with the Winnebagoes; at Milwaukee with the Menomonies, and at Le Large with the Kickapoos. Trains of pack horses carried the furs and peltries to Chicago, and in the spring vessels touching at that port bore these valuable cargoes to Mackinac, where the American Fur Company, organized by John Jacob Astor, had established its headquarters.

In 1821, Governor Lewis Cass of Michigan Territory and Solomon Sibley, with Henry R. Schoolcraft as their secretary, representing the United States, met three thousand Indian braves at Chicago. Topinebee and Meeta were spokesmen for the tribes. In consideration of five thousand dollars, to be paid annually for five years, the Pottawatomies and other tribes ceded to this Government 5,000,000 acres of land lying in Michigan and Illinois. The marvellous real estate transactions subsequently negotiated in Chicago, whereby citizens have multiplied their millions, have not eclipsed this profitable investment of the Federal Government in 1821.

Although some minds foresaw a possible future for Chicago in this centre of a rich domain owned by the Republic, there was no rush to the spot. In 1823, the officials of Fulton County, of which the village was then a part, levied a tax of five mills to the dollar upon property in the new port, with the result that there was carried back to the county treasury the sum of $11.42. Surely a small beginning to lead to taxes in 1900 amounting to $19,086,408.36. In 1823, when the sum of $11.42 was the aggregate of taxes collected from Chicago, the total assessed value of property was $2284. In 1900, the actual valuation of Chicago property was fairly $2,000,000,000.

No one, perhaps, of the few settlers who drifted to the place dreamed of such mighty possibilities, yet as early as 1831 the future of the city was a chosen topic of conversation among those enthusiastic pioneers. One of these, Dr. Elijah D. Harmon, true to his baptismal name, was singularly prophetic. He located in Chicago in 1831, acquired a section of land, built a sod fence about it, and there planted fruit trees of all descriptions. Mrs. Kinzie states that the south path to the settlement led by Dr. Harmon's nursery, and that as people passed he sought to impress upon them "the certain future importance of Chicago."

In 1830, lots were being sold at prices ranging from $10 to $50. In that year Thomas Hartzell purchased eighty acres (being the west half of the northeast quarter section) for $155 an acre. Low as these prices were, they were an advance upon valuations a few years before. In the archives of the Chicago Historical Society is a letter written to John Wentworth by Father St. Cyr, recounting how one Bonhomme sold the north half of Chicago to Pierre Menard for $50, but that the latter, finding land cheaper near Peoria, and more fertile, repented of his bargain, and hurrying back unloaded what he believed to be a poor investment upon John Kinzie, who was not unwilling to take the property at the same figure at which Ménard had purchase d it. By 1835, values had so increased that the investment had made Mr. Kinzie rich.

The belief which soon began to take possession of the minds of white men, that the little settlement was to be a city set in the midst of a new, empire of civilization, had also. aroused the celebrated Indian, Black Hawk. He was convinced that, unless the tribes could be federated into compact opposition to their conquering enemies, the hunting grounds of his people would speedily be converted into the homes and cities of the paleface. Emulating the career of Tecumseh, Black Hawk in 1832 addressed a grand council, attended by representatives of fifty tribes. "Let all our tribes unite," said he, "and we shall have an army of warriors equal in numbers to the trees of the forest" The appeal was eloquent and moving, but Shawbonee, who had been with Tecumseh when that leader fell at the battle of the Thames, answered Black Hawk. "Your army," he cried, "would equal in number the trees of the forest, and you would encounter an army of palefaces as numerous as the leaves of those trees." The arguments of Shawbonee prevailed, the native attempt at coalition was defeated, and henceforward the activities of the white races in peopling the valley of the Mississippi and building to the northward, on the shore of Lake Michigan, its great metropolis, proceeded without any one to molest or make afraid. Thus Shawbonee (whose name is variously spelled), in successfully opposing the red men's far reaching conspiracy, assisted materially in advancing the interests of Chicago. In token of this service, the Historical Society has given his portrait a place of honor, and has preserved the record of his deeds.

Late in July, 1833, three years after the canal surveyor, James Thompson, had surveyed and mapped out the town which was to be, a public meeting was held to decide whether incorporation should be effected. There were twelve votes in favor of incorporation, and one against, and the place made its start among historic towns. A few days later the following election notice was posted

Publick notice is hereby given that an election will be holden at the house of Mark Beaubien, on Saturday, the 10th day of August, at 11 o'clock in the forenoon of that day, for the purpose of choosing five trustees of the Town of Chicago.

" CHICAGO, August 5, 1833.
E. S. KIMBERLY, Town Clerk.
N. B. The poll will close at one o'clock."

On the appointed day, twenty eight electors, the full number of citizens entitled to suffrage in the new town, found their way to Mark Beaubien's house and availed themselves of the privilege of freemen. Thirteen of them announced their willingness to shoulder the responsibilities of office. The first business transacted by the trustees was the establishment of a free ferry across the river at Dearborn Street; the second, the reconstruction of the "estray pen" into a solid and sufficiently commodious log jail. These two programmes, the extension of commercial facilities and the stern suppression of lawlessness, have ever since been conspicuous in the city's history.

Then the town was born. Its development into a municipal Titan is one of the marvels of history. In 183o, P. F. W. Peck arrived on a schooner, bringing with him a small stock of goods. "He built," says Mr. Colbert, "a small log store near the fort, which made an important addition to the trade of Chicago." In the year 190o, just seventy years later, the amount of wholesale goods distributed from this centre throughout the country amounted to $741,000,000, the volume of drygoods alone being $143,000,000; groceries, $99,000,000; clothing, $35,000,000; shoes, $58, 500,000; books and paper, $70,000,000, and other items in proportion; while the manufactured products sent forth aggregated in value $786,000,000, and the total business of the city reached the high figure of $143,000,000. The year that concluded the nineteenth century recorded transfers of real estate amounting, in round numbers to $87,000,000, in striking contrast to that early transaction wherein Chicago's first investor repented him of paying $5o for the northern half of the city.

But the little town was not to achieve great things without a struggle. Fire, flood, panic, and pestilence had first to be faced and fought. The small band in the incorporated town started out determined to develop the settlement into a city, notwithstanding the dismal prophecies of certain learned men that a city would never rise on this unpropitious swamp. Professor William H. Keating, geologist and historiographer, hid furnished the pioneer townsmen with the melancholy message:

"The dangers attending the navigation of the lake, and the scarcity of harbors along the shore, must ever prove an obstacle to the increase of the commercial importance of Chicago. The extent of the sand banks which are formed on the eastern and southern shore by the prevailing north and northwesterly winds will likewise prevent any important works from being undertaken to improve the port of Chicago."

In the light of this prediction it is interesting to note that in 1900 the vessels mooring or weighing anchor there numbered 17,553, and brought and carried away cargoes aggregating 14,236,190 tons. Nevertheless, for some years, because of the quagmire condition of streets and the frequent inundations from lake and river, Chicago was termed derisively the "amphibious town." By filling in the land, the city long since literally lifted itself out of the mud, the level of streets today being eight feet above the original marsh. But even before the transformation of the town into a city, it was plain that the founders had come to build it into a centre of trade and population. Encouraging progress was being made on the Illinois and Michigan Canal, the population of the town wads increasing, neighboring prairies were being tilled, and the water carriers who drove their carts into the lake, filled their barrels, and then distributed water by the bucketful, were giving way to the Hydraulic Company. A new era was at hand, and Chicago on the 4th of March, 1837, became an organized municipality.

The first census, taken in July, 1837, showed a population in the city of 1800 men, 845 women, and 1344 children. With a colored population of 77, the grand total of inhabitants in this its first year's existence as a city was 4066. Today its population is nearing the two million mark.

O. D. Wetherell, ex city Comptroller, recalls a letter, written at an early date by a citizen, in which the prediction was made that some day Chicago would become a city of 10,000 people! At the time, that prophecy seemed to be more wildly optimistic than would, a prediction now that the city might ultimately harbor the amazing total of ten million persons.

The early promoters of Chicago were sanguine of a great future, but none dreamed of the amazing destiny in store. At a political gathering in 1838, addressed by Stephen A. Douglas and John T. Stuart, his competing candidate for Congress, a local orator, warmed by the enthusiasm of the occasion, uttered what was derisively referred to the next day as "flamboyant prophecy."

"The child is already born," he exclaimed, "who shall live to see Chicago a city of 50,000 souls."

"Town lots, town lots!" shouted the audience in amiable sarcasm, not wishing the visiting statesman to depart with the suspicion that dreams of real estate speculation had destroyed the sanity of the whole community.

For three years the town had been the centre of a great land craze, one of the first real estate booms that have played so important a part in the location and development of Western cities. Dr. Horace Chase, writing in 1883 from Milwaukee, says:

Soon after the sale of lots in Chicago, in 1833, I think, Robert Kinzie, on his way to Detroit, stopped at Marsh's trading post near Coldwater. There happened to be several of us present and Bob began to boast about Chicago and what a great city it would become. Why,' said he, I bought some of the best lots in Chicago for twenty dollars apiece, and those lots are worth sixty dollars apiece today! It seemed to us utterly absurd that a lot should be worth sixty dollars, when two hundred dollars would buy one hundred and sixty acres of the best quality. Not a single person in the crowd believed Bob's yarn."

As an example of the spirit which animated these old pioneers who came in the early days to the great city that was to be, the story of one man furnishes an interesting illustration. The writer had it from the lips of the man himself, who recently died at the ripe age of eighty two.

"I had heard of the West," he said, "in the little hamlet in New England where I was born. My ambition was fired, and I determined at all hazards to seek my fortune there. I soon found myself in Buffalo with seven dollars in my pocket, and with this I had to pay my transportation to the young city in the West. After considerable higgling' with the captain of a schooner I arranged for deck passage at a cost of three dollars. Part of my money was then expended to get some cotton cloth. This I sewed up in the shape of a bag, and into it I put some shavings to soften the hard planks of the deck of the ship at night. The balance of the money went for boiled ham, cheese, and bread.

"I was twenty years old, had been a farm boy, and had attained no special knowledge of any manual trade. I arrived in Chicago and found it a dismal, swampy place, but with every appearance of thrift and activity. My money was exhausted, and work was indispensable. Going along the one important street or road I found a man building a rather pretentious boarding house. He asked me if I came off that ship in the harbor,' and when I answered yes,' he inquired whether there were any carpenters on board. I told him there was none excepting myself. He wanted to know if I could lay out work' so that his men could saw and hammer, which was all they could do. It seemed to me that I could lay out work' better than anything else, and engaged myself to him at four dollars a day. Two days satisfied my new boss that my technical knowledge was deficient, and he paid me off. I soon afterwards found work in a harness shop, and by assiduity and attention I acquired a knowledge of that business. Thus I got my start."

This man lived continuously in Chicago for more than sixty years. By early and judicious investments in real estate he acquired wealth. He bought a lot, now centrally located, for $400, and sold a part of it thirty years later for $62,500. He sold it too soon, however, for that same corner will bring at the present time not less than $500,000. At his death he left an estate valued at between $5,000,000 and $6,000,000.

Fortunes were made over night. In 1835 the Federal Government opened a land office, and this intensified the excitement. Boundless acres of outlying farmland changed hands in Chicago. Towns and cities that had no existence save on the blue prints of imaginative and wily promoters were plotted, and their mythical blocks sold to hasty and credulous investors. But the panic of 1837 brought both legitimate and illicit real estate traffic to a close with a crash. The dishonest and the defrauded went down in a common ruin. By 1838 the sheriff was the only real estate agent who could dispose of property, and at these forced sales the returns were meager. Panic paralyzing business, a mysterious disease like Asiatic cholera stopping progress on the canal, and a drought destroying crops, impoverishing streams, and spreading devastating fever in the city, was the calamitous record of 1838.

Chicago as a city began with $1993 in its treasury. The need for municipal improvement was imperative. Where to get money for sanitary drainage, for the paving of a few streets, and the purchase of two fire engines, was a problem. The Common Council appointed a finance committee with power to act. Peter Bolles was made chairman. It was finally decided to borrow $25,000 from the State Bank of Illinois, pledging the city to redeem the obligation in five years. In due time the committee submitted as its report the following letter:

"STATE BANK OF ILLINOIS,
" SPRINGFIELD, May 31, 1837.
" PETER BOLLES, ESQ.,
"Dear Sir:

" Your letter of the 18th, addressed to the president of this bank and proposing on behalf of the city of Chicago a loan from this bank of the sum of $25,000, has been laid before the directors of the bank, and, I regret to have to state, declined.
" I am very respectfully,
" Your o'bt serv't,
"N. H. RIDGELY, Cashier."

In 1900 the city which sixty three years before could not borrow $25,000, could boast of bank clearances amounting to $6,795,876,000.

The poverty and disasters of early days seemed only to nerve the city to renewed determination and prepare her to meet with stoic faith the appalling calamities of later years. In this resume it is only possible to catalogue the misfortunes that visited her. Floods swept away her shipping, fire destroyed her accumulating industries, raging epidemics reduced her population, - cholera alone in 1854 causing 1424 deaths, - and financial panic again and again returned to manacle activities. Many times in Chicago's history citizens could well exclaim: "One woe upon another's heels doth tread, so fast they follow!"

Unconquerable in the presence of these recurrent visitations, the city pressed forward to her place as the metropolis of the Mississippi empire. At an early day "prairie schooners," pioneers of the great freight trains to come, laden with grain from the fertile areas round about began to line the prairie roads leading to Chicago. In 1839, two years after the city was begun, a crude grain elevator was constructed. The farmers, too poor to furnish sacks, brought their grain in sheets, blankets, and pieces of canvas. It was hoisted by hand with block and tackle to the elevator, and in the year mentioned 2900 bushels of wheat, consigned to Black Rock, New York, were dumped loose into the hold of the brig Osceola. From this primitive beginning has grown a mighty volume of trade in grain. In 1900 the wheat, corn, oats, rye, and barley shipped from Chicago amounted to 232,267,109 bushels, while the receipts aggregated 307,723,135 bushels.

It was not until 1843 that the Common Council came to the conclusion that the place was sufficiently advanced as a city to warrant the enactment of an ordinance declaring that hogs should no longer be permitted to run at large in the streets. In 1900, far from being unwelcome, over 8,000,000 hogs, safely penned in cars, arrived in the city and were sent to the slaughter.

In writing of Chicago it is customary to deal in superlatives, and this is necessary in the nature of things. Its Union Stock Yards cover 400 acres, nearly twice the area of the original town. Twenty miles of streets thread this meat packing colony, which pays wages amounting to nearly $9,000,000 a year. In 1900 there were shipped to Chicago 277,205 carloads of hogs, cattle, sheep, etc. Its trade in grain leads every city in the world, while its general mercantile traffic is surpassed by few.

The first railroad at that time was the Galena and Chicago Union, which was chartered January 16, 1836. Galena at that time was believed to be destined far to outrival her neighbor, and therefore demanded and secured the place of honor in the title of the road. Today thirty nine distinct railroads enter Chicago, more than half the railway systems of America make that city their objective point, and the aggregate distance travelled by freight and passenger trains daily entering the metropolis is over 80,000 miles. In the thunder of this traffic the clamor of rivalry long since died away. The British critic, Mr. Archer, remarked that he was unable to detect the slightest evidence of competition with Chicago even in a "Pisgah view from the top of the Auditorium."

The employment of large adjectives in the recital of the city's history is not without warrant. "The trouble with you people in Chicago," remarked a visitor, "is that you exaggerate too much." "We have to," retorted a citizen, proudly, "in fact we have to lie to tell the truth." Even when we speak of the fire of 1871, we must call it the "great Chicago fire," for never before perhaps in the history of the world were so many of the piled up monuments of man's hands consumed so rapidly. Such awful moments, happily, seldom come in the history of communities. It was as if the fires of Dante's Inferno had been permitted for a night and day to devastate a great city of this planet. One thousand four hundred and seventy acres of buildings were utterly consumed. The entire business portion of the city vanished in smoke and flame. One hundred thousand persons were left homeless and in many cases penniless. Seventeen thousand four hundred and fifty buildings were destroyed, the total valuation of the loss by fire being $186,000,000.

In the presence of a catastrophe, so vast that the imagination reeled as the eye wandered over the mighty paths where the cyclones of fire had swept, social inequalities and race prejudices were ignored. All right minded men stood together in a common bond of fellowship. Doubtless much of the present spirit of amalgamation of the people of the city is an outgrowth of the calamity which thirty years ago brought the representatives of those divers races elbow to elbow in the common cause of rebuilding their homes and reconstructing their lines of industry. The riots at the Haymarket did not indicate bad blood between the races of the city, but merely an incidental if not accidental social unrest not uncommon in all our greater cities.

The city staggered, but did not fall, under the woful wreck the great fire wrought. Through a grim schooling of disaster in the past the city had developed a force of character that fire could not consume. "Nothing," exclaimed the great French Cardinal and Premier of the seventeenth century, when he was temporarily overthrown, "nothing remains but the indomitable spirit of Richelieu." Chicago had similar faith in her own inherent power. There were some broken spirits who, gazing on the melancholy ruin, caught no glimpse of the magnificent city that was to rise, as if by command of a magician's wand, upon the smoking desolation. But the majority did not permit the calamity to crush. The faithful were exhorted to rebuild the city. It was predicted then that Chicago would live, and live to be so mighty and so vast that the great fire would be but an incident in its history. The city was to live because beyond it were the giant forces, the teeming millions, the imperial area of the mighty West, which, having Cade Chicago the gateway to the East, would recreate it under the same natural necessities.

The city's optimistic faith and determination enlisted the sympathy of the world, and $5,000,000 in relief contributions poured in and thousands of telegrams offering credit to merchants supplemented this hearty and timely exhibition of Good Samaritans. The deeds of valor displayed by firemen and citizens in fighting an unequal combat with the fire were equalled only by the heroism which appeared in the rebuilding of the city. The first structure to rise over the ruins was a board shanty, twelve by sixteen feet in dimensions. It was on Washington Street, between Dearborn and Clark, near the site of a former flourishing block, where W. D. Kerfoot had conducted a large business in real estate. The tiny structure was built hastily on the morning of October wth, while the surrounding ashes and heaps of twisted iron were so hot that the little building had to be set in the middle of the street. The comical cabin bore the legend, "Kerfoot's Block. Everything gone but wife, children, and energy." Small' as the shanty was, it was an inspiration. It marked the beginning of a city now so vast that the municipality existing before the fire seems but a shadow. Through the city run paved streets whose aggregate length would reach from Chicago to New York, and start the traveller some distance on his way to Boston. More than 100,000 street lights, kept "trimmed and burning" by the municipality at an annual cost of over $1,000,000, twinkle in the city by night.

Over a quarter of a billion of gallons of water are consumed daily by a city now protected by an efficient fire department against a repetition of the disaster of 1871. Nearly 1500 miles of sewers preserve the sanitation, while the superb ingenuity of engineers has changed the courses and reversed the currents of rivers, and with connecting canals turned the city's sewage toward the Gulf of Mexico.

The ambition of this characteristically American city is to excel in everything. When she undertook to hold a World's Fair, she determined to eclipse any previous exposition, and to secure a phenomenal attendance. When she held a Parliament of Religions she arranged that the faiths of every clime should be represented by their most learned and pious men, and that the teachings there set forth should constitute a memorable contribution to the best thought of the world. It has been said of Chicago that when she decides to be the home of the greatest poet among mankind, she will go out and get him, or, better still, produce him.

Cities affecting a more advanced culture sniff at the stock yard atmosphere which they pretend to believe permeates the literary life of Chicago, and Eugene Field, in playful mood, accepting the jibes of distant critics, printed as the frontispiece of his Culture's Garland a wreath of sausage links; but William D. Howells has acknowledged that out of Chicago is coming a literary virility destined to leave classic record in the annals of letters. Field himself occupies an honored place in the American Pantheon, and his "Little Boy Blue," though dead, forever sings his way to our firesides.

The city takes high rank as a centre for advanced education. In addition to technical schools like the Armour Institute, it has two famous Universities; the Chicago, and the Northwestern. The Chicago University began its career ten years ago. The old denominational University of the same name having been sold at auction under foreclosure, John D. Rockefeller decided to reorganize it and found a great institution of learning, and to that end pledged a portion of his fortune and secured as President, Dry. William R. Harper, of Yale. The University opened in 1892 with 702 students. Today it has nearly 4000. It began with no less than 135 instructors; it now has 205. The University made its start with grounds, buildings, and equipments valued at $15,000,000, and invested funds amounting to $1,500,000. Today its productive funds aggregate over $1,500,000. Women have been prominent among the University's donors, and in all the departments women students enjoy equal status with men. A student may enter at the beginning of any quarter and receive his degree at the end of any term. The colleges continue throughout the year. Recently the Chicago Institute, founded by Mrs. Emmons Blaine for training school teachers, was absorbed by the University. In fact, Dr. Harper has succeeded in merging so many professional schools that he has been amiably accused of attempting to form an educational trust. The Northwestern University, located partly in the city and partly in Evanston, a suburb, was founded in 1851. It has 296 instructors and over 3000 students. Its productive funds amount to over $3,000,000. Although conducted under denominational auspices, its charter provides that no particular religious faith shall be required of students. It has a campus of 45 acres on the Lake Michigan shore. The University includes a college of Liberal Arts, and schools of medicine, law, pharmacy, dentistry, music, and theology. Many of the departments area coeducational.

The public schools of Chicago are crowded with three quarters of a million children of parents for few of whom "Plato and the swing of Pleiades and the tall reaches of the peaks of song" had a meaning. And these children of every kindred and tongue are not herded into classes and indifferently taught. Modern science assists them from the start with anthropometric examinations, and scientific methods are in use in every school. There could be no more hopeful "sign and portent" of the city's future than is furnished by its public schools.

Voluntarily, by popular vote of the people, civil service was established in all branches of the city administration, and the principle laid down that industrious merit rather than political influence should fill the thousands of positions in the school department and city branches in general, a graphic illustration that the spoils system is not a Chicago, ideal. Benevolent institutions thrive under the munificent endowment of its men of wealth. Seers like Professor David Swing have preached the Gospel to an eager people, thousands on Sunday being turned away, unable to press to the pews through the multitude of churchgoers. All these phenomena present the interesting psychological truth that with Chicago's liberty and cosmopolitan make up has been developed a reassuring force "making for righteousness." The city is not yet prepared for canonization, but in many ways it is, in its largeness of life and tolerance, an example to the cities of the world. She is still apt, perhaps, in speaking, for example, of her art galleries to dwell overmuch upon the cost of the buildings and paintings and the number of acres.

The unprejudiced critic or historian knows that not all Chicago is pork and pig iron, though why these industries are not as honorable as poetry and prose, perhaps they who sit in the seat of the scornful will explain. Booker T. Washington well says that a people cannot be truly great until they recognize that it is as dignified to till the soil as it is to pen an epic, and in the same line of thought it might be said that a people who "live laborious days" packing meat and handling lumber, particularly by the thousand carloads, are not necessarily belated travellers on the highway that leads to national integrity and renown.

In wealth, in population, in the high character and eager attendance in her great schools, in libraries, art, and architecture, as evidenced by institutes, buildings, and academies of design, in her letters, as displayed by the literary output, in her spiritual conquests, as shown in the teachings of her poets and preachers, and even in the periodical reforms that purify the political atmosphere, Chicago's future will undoubtedly be, like her past, phenomenal.


[Also see Cook County Biographies]

Historic towns of the Western States

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