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CHICAGO PRIOR TO 1840.
IN 1839, Chicago-a city of 4,000 having been demolished, there was, people-was doggedly dragging it- at that time (1839), no way of passing self from the slough of hard times. from the south side to the north side A pen picture of the place at that of the town except by ferry. The time would be something like this: warehouse owners and operators of The North Side had a fringe of ware
the “North Side” were put to great houses, packing houses and foundries inconvenience on this account, because along the river, with a considerable the grain and produce of various number of residences beyond. On kinds brought to Chicago from the that side also on Illinois street-to- country west and south had to be wards the lake was the most preten- ferried across to reach the North Side tious church edifice in Chicago-the warehouses. When the farmers came only brick one. This was St. James into the South Side with their prairie Episcopal Church-a gothic struc- schooners, and other kinds of farm ture, well fenced and provided within wagons loaded with grain, it required with massive mahogany furniture. It an extra inducement to get them to was quite generally known locally as cross the river on the ferry boats. Kinzie's church, because John H. There was a floating bridge of logs Kinzie had been its chief patron and across the south branch of the river, continued to be deeply interested in on Lake street, which gave the farmits welfare.
ers from all of the most productive The distillery, which was looked country, directly tributary to Chicago, upon as one of the important indus- easy entree into the southern division tries of the town, was located a few of the city, while the northern division hundred feet east of the church. The was practically cut off from this upper portions of the slope from the trade. The south side residents, busiriver had not been covered over very ness men and property owners, were thickly with dwellings, but the streets of course reasonably well satisfied had been fairly graded and improved. with this condition of affairs, but the
The old Dearborn street bridge citizens of “North Chicago” were ardently desirous of being linked to ness blocks which would have done their south side neighbors by some- credit to a much older city. Ranthing more satisfactory than the old
dolph was a fair business street, and scows which plied back and forth boasted the little brick court-house, across the river at Dearborn and also. Washington was more a resi.. Clark streets. They accordingly be- dence street, and also claimed the gan an agitation of the matter of Methodist church, on the corner of building a substantial bridge—so ar- Clark (whither it had been removed ranged that it should not interfere from the North Side). South of with navigation — across the river, Washington, on Clark, was the First either on Dearborn or Clark street. Presbyterian church. The Baptists In the year 1840 their efforts were worshipped in a building which was crowned with success, and the first formerly a workshop. Madison street floating swing bridge ever construct- was thought to be rather far out on ed in the west, was thrown across the prairie, and St. Mary's Catholic Chicago river on Clark street.
church, at the corner of Michigan The south division of the town avenue and Madison street, was conwas at that time—as it is now—the sidered by many of the parishioners trade centre of Chicago.
There were to be so far out of the way that they manufactories along the “South refused to worship in it. Between Branch," wharves and stage landings, the church and Fort Dearborn were and few warehouses on South a few buildings, the fort itself being Water street; a number of hotels and occupied only by several army quite a solid array of brick and wood- officers. en stores on Lake street.
There was The harbor improvements were at row of “store build gs” in ruins a standstill and were visible only in on the north side of Lake street east the partially completed piers, which of Dearborn, where the first Tremont the government had been pushing House had been one of the buildings out into the lake after the new shore destroyed by fire in October The lines which were being extended by “ Saloon Building”—which it must continual deposits of sand. At this always be remenibered, was not a time the artificial channel had not building given up to dram shops, an only been closed but the sand-bar had idea which might be conveyed to one extended far beyond its entrance. So familiar only with the modern misuse that the port of Chicago found herof the word saloon--looked upon at self in the very interesting situation that time as a handsome structure, of having herself shut up the natural and largely given up to public uses, mouth of her river (which was forstood at the corner of Clark and Lake merly at Madison street) and of havstreets, and there were other busi- ing her artificial mouth shut up by
nature. And, further, Congress would notice ‘On his way to the lower renot listen to her prayer for further gions,' attached. In fact there was appropriations that she might have a no end of the fun, and jokes of the harbor. The Goose Island ship yard boys of that day-some were of larmight well be in despair.
ger growth-were without number.” The principal streets had been In the foregoing quotation from graded or as it was called in those Mr. Bross' History, what one may days, “turnpiked.” That is to say properly term the primitive condition they were simply thrown up as coun- of the streets of Chicago is aptly detry roads. This of course was a slight scribed, and perhaps the fact that the improvement on the streets as they city has at the present time more miles were originally laid out, but, it can- of splendid drives and boulevards than not be said that Chicago had a well any city in the United States, speaks improved roadway “prior to 1840," as loud as any other for the enteror in fact within several years there. prise and energy of its citizens. after. In his History of Chicago, Speaking of the streets of Chicago Hon. Wm. Bross-one of the pioneers it is interesting to note some of the of Chicago, who died in 1890—wrote, idiosyncrasies of those who gave them that there were no pavements in the their names. The boundary streets city in 1848. “In the spring,” said of the original town named he, "they would be simply impas- Washington, Jefferson, Kinzie and sible. I have at different times seen Dearborn. George Washington, empty wagons and drays stuck on Thomas Jefferson, General Henry Lake and Water streets, on every Dearborn and John Kinzie were the block between Wabash avenue and individuals who were thus honored, the river. Of course there was little and the fact that Kinzie was the or no business doing, for the people "father of Chicago," was perhaps of the city could not get about much, deemed a good and sufficient reason and the people of the country could for associating his name with that of not get in to do it. As the clerks had the father of his country in this way. nothing to do, they would exercise The early attachment of Jefferson's their wits by putting boards from name to a street running north and dry goods boxes in the holes from south, spoiled, in a measure, the symwhich drays and wagons had been metry of a system adopted in later dug out, with significant signs paint years, which was designed to be a pered on them, such as: No bottom petual object lesson in American hishere,' • The shortest road to tory.
Beginning with Washington China.' Sometimes one board would street, and going south, a stranger in be nailed across another and an old the Chicago of to-day will note the hat and coat fixed on it, with the fact that the streets running east and
west are named after the Presidents Franklin, Robert Cavelier La Salle, of the United States, in pretty nearly the earliest explorer of the “Illinois the order of their succession. Jeffer country,” General George Rogers son, who should have come next to Clark, General Lewis Cass and BenAdams, is left out, because, as already jamin Rush-another of the signers of stated, a street in another part of the the Independence Declaration-were city had been named after him before also honored by the founders of Chithis system was thought of. Madison cago in the naming of streets. comes next to Washington. Then Four streets in the north division comes Monroe, Adams, Jackson, Van of the city were early named after the Buren, Harrison, Polk and Taylor in four States, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan their order, and beyond this the and Illinois, and four streets have been numbered, as Presi- named after the great lakes, Ontario, dents
not being made fast Erie, Huron and Superior. Outside enough to supply the demands for of the conspicuous already names for new thoroughfares. Tyler mentioned, the early settlers do not and Filmore were both ignored. appear to have cared for great names
John Randolph, "the sage of Roa- for their streets, but inclined rather noke," Robert Fulton, Charles Car- to perpetuation of their own patronyroll, of Carrollton, the last surviving mics, which now figure largely in signer of the Declaration of Indepen- street nomenclature. dence, DeWitt Clinton, Benjamin
Ar eighty-one years of age Thomas his majority, spent some time at DelAllen is one of the best preserved, hi Academy, at which his education physically and mentally, of the small was completed. Judson Allen, who number of those now living, who had had been actively engaged in business grown to manhood, when they became for some years in Harpersville, his residents of Chicago, prior to 1840. native town, was engaged among To-day. as when he landed here near- other things in merchandising at that ly fifty-six years ago, he is a typical place, and when Thomas decided to representative of the Empire State, in leave the farm he entered his which he was born and brought up. brother's mercantile establishment, Cordial in manner, apt in expression, and was associated with him in busiand full of the knowledge of men and ness until 1835. events gathered in many years of in- At that time he decided to come telligent observation, one seldom West, and fixed upon Chicago as his meets a more entertaining octogen- objective point. Among the friends arian.
of the Allen family of New York, was Mr. Allen was born in Harpersville, the distinguished statesman and lawBroome county, New York, April yer, Daniel S. Dickinson, and when 25th, 1810. He was a son of Linus Thomas Allen set out for Chicago he Allen-a descendant of Ethan Allen carried with him letters of introducof Revolutionary fame-and brother tion from Mr. Dickinson to two of to Hon. Judson Allen, well known as the leading citizens of the Western a member of Congress, and Judge of city. the courts of New York State, and at He was accompanied on this trip a later date as a distinguished citizen by his brother, Bennett Allen, and they of St. Louis.
reached the city about the 1st of Linus Allen a farmer, and November, 1835. Before locating Thomas grew up to sturdy manhood here they concluded to see more of upon terms of familiarity with all the surrounding country, and with kinds of farm labor. In his boyhood this object in view they spent nearly he attended the common schools two months travelling through Illiregularly, and, just before he attained nois and Wisconsin on horseback.