CHICAGO Population in 1850, 30,000. This place is situated on the W. shore, and towards the S. end of Lake Michigan, at the point where the river of the same name enters the lake. ... This place has had a rapid growth, and from its position in the great line of communication between the E. and W., is destined to become a large city. In 1832 it contained only 5 small stores, and 250 inhabitants. Only 4 vessels had arrived during the year before. In 1836, 4 years later, the arrivals of brigs, ships, and schooners amounted to 407, besides 49 steamboats. (Gazetteer of the United States of America, 1854)
CHICAGO The county seat of Cook county, is the moat populous and commercial city of the state. It is situated on the south-western shore of lake Michigan, and on both sides of Chicago river, 278 miles west by south from Detroit, and 285 miles north from St. Louis. The first explorers of lake Michigan, the first white men to pitch their tents on the Chicago prairie, and to haul up their boats upon its river banks and lake shore, were the French Jesuit missionaries and fur traders, under the guidance of Nicholas Perrot, who was also acting as the agent of the government in the west. This was in the latter part of the year 1669. At that time this territory was in possession of the Miami tribe of Indians, but subsequently the Pottawatomies crowded back the Miamis, and became sole possessors, until the year 1795, when they became parties to the treaty with Wayne, by which a tract of land, six miles square, at the mouth of the Chicago river, was ceded to the United States—the first extinction of Indian title to the land on which Chicago is built. For nearly an hundred years during the time of the French possession, and after its cession to the English, Chicago has little mention in history. During this time it is only known from incidental circumstances, that in those dark days of French possession there was a fort near the mouth of the river, that there were Indian villages near the Calumet and on the Des Plaines, that here were the roving grounds of the Pottawatomies, and that from the head waters of the Illinois to the Chicago river, was the common portage for the trade and transit of the goods and furs between the Indians and the traders, and that the shipping point was from the port at Chicago. The few white men who were there, were there not for the purpose of making settlements, but simply to carry on a trade with the Indians, the gain from which must have been of no inconsiderable amount. They were men of limited education, and could not have been expected to have any accounts of their adventures. This state of things existed until the close of the general western Indian war, soon after the termination of the war of the revolution. During this war the intrigue of the English was constantly exciting the Indians to warfare, to such a degree that, after peace was declared between the old and the new country, a general war of the Indians against the United States broke out. This war continued until 1795, when, after having been severely punished by Gen. Wayne, the chiefs of the several tribes assembled, by his invitation, at Greenville, Ohio, and there effected a treaty of peace, thus closing the war of the west. In this treaty numerous small tracts of land were ceded by the Indians to the states, and among them was one described as "one piece of land six miles square, at the mouth of Chickajo (Chicago) river, emptying into the south-west end of lake Michigan, where a fort formerly stood." This may be called the first "land sale," and which has been the precursor to a business which has entailed to its participants independence and wealth. But little time passed before the proprietors thought best to enter upon active possession, and in 1804 a fort was built upon the spot by government. This fort remained until the year 1816, when it was destroyed by the Indians, at the time of the massacre. This fort was called Fort Dearborn, a name which it retained during its existence. Its location was upon a slightly elevated point on the south side of the river, near the lake shore, and commanded a good view of the lake, the prairie extending to the south, the belt of timber along the south branch and the north branch, and the white sand hills to the north and south, which had for so many years been the sport of the lake winds. Up to the time of the erection of this fort, no white man had made here his home, the Pottawatomie Indians having undisputed sway. After the establishment of the garrison, there gathered here a few families of French Canadians and half-breeds, none of whom possessed more than ordinary intelligence. The only link in the chain of civilization which admits of identity, existed in the Kinzie family, who came here to reside in 1804, the same year in which the fort was built. John Kinzie, then an Indian trader in the St. Joseph country, Michigan, in that year became the first permanent white resident of Chicago, and to him is due the honor of establishing many of the improvements which have made Chicago what it is. For nearly twenty years he was, with the exception of the military, the only white inhabitant of Northern Illinois. During the years, from 1804 to 1820, the lake trade was carried on by a small sail vessel, coming in in the fall and spring, bringing the season's supply of goods and stores for the fort, and taking away the stock of furs and peltries which had accumulated. Mr. Kinzie pursued the business of fur trading until the breaking out of hostilities with the Indians, which resulted in the massacre of 1812. The friendly feelings which had been cultivated between himself and the Indians, preserved himself and family from the fate which befell his neighbors of the fort. Removing for a time, in 1816 he returned to Chicago, and re-opened the trade with the Indians, residing there until the time of his death, in 1828. It was a saying with the Indians that "the first white man who settled there was a negro," by which was meant Jean Baptiste Point-au-Sable, who, in 1796, built the first house in Chicago, which he afterward sold to Le Mai, who subsequently sold it to Mr. Kinzie. In 1812 there were but five houses outside of the fort, all of which, with the exception of that owned by Mr. Kinzie, were destroyed at the time of the massacre. In August, 1816, a treaty was concluded by commissioners appointed by the government, with the various Indian tribes, by which the country between Chicago and the waters of the Illinois river was ceded to the United States, on the 4th of July. In the same year, the troops again returned to their former locality, and a new fort was erected, under the direction of Capt. Hezekiah Bradley, then commander. It stood upon the same ground as the former one, and remained until the summer of 1856, when it was demolished to make room for the increasing amount of business. The reoccupancy of the fort by the troops continued until May, 1823, after which time it was occupied by the Indian agent, and used for the temporary accommodation of families of residents recently arrived. On the 10th of August, 1828, the fort was again occupied by a company of volunteers, and afterward by two companies of regular troops, under the command of Major Fowle and Captain Scott. These last remained until May, 1831, when the fort was given in charge of George W. Dole, as agent for the government. On the breaking out of the Black Hawk war, in 1832, it was re-occupied by a detachment under Gen. Scott, until the removal of the Indians, in 1836, and, until near the time of its demolition, was held by the government for the occasional use of its army officers, engineers, and agents connected with the public works. From 1816 to 1880, Chicago had gained the number of twelve or fifteen houses, with a population of less than one hundred. In 1818, the public square,where now stands the court house, was a pond, on whose banks the Indians had trapped the muskrat, and where the first settlers hunted ducks. This pond had an outlet in a "slough," as it was then called, which passed over the present site of the Tremont House, entering the river at the end of State street. Along the shores of the river the wild onion was found in great abundance, to which the Indians gave the name Chi-ka-jo, and from which the city doubtless derived its name. In the autumn of 1829, the town of Chicago was laid out, which is the part now known on the maps as the "original town." This was an act of organization, with a mere handful of inhabitants, which in twenty-eight years has swelled to the enormous number of one hundred and twenty thousand. With giant strides, Chicago has risen, in point of importance, till it has become one of the wealthiest cities of the west, and the first primary grain depot in the world. In point of location, Chicago is much favored, being situated on both sides of the Chicago river, and its north and south branches, which unite about three-quarters of a mile from the lake, thus separating the city into three divisions, the north, south and west. The main stream of the river is from 50 to 75 yards wide, and 20 to 30 feet deep. Vessels ascend it and one of its branches nearly 5 miles. The city is laid out in squares, the streets corresponding nearly to the cardinal points of the compass. The shore of the lake, and the northern part of the city are occupied with private residences, many of which are of a magnificent order. The business is principally confined to the river and those streets running parallel with and adjacent to it. At the termini of the various railroad lines are immense warehouses, used for the storage of grain and produce. Tracks are laid to these, and while the great staple of the state is being unloaded from the cars on one side, it is being delivered into vessels and steamers on the other.
Among the many public buildings of which Chicago can boast are, the Court House, Marine Hospital, Medical College, Armory building, etc. A new custom house and post office is in process of erection, which, when completed, will be second to none in the Union. The number of churches is ____ , some of which are model specimens of architectural design and finish. The Second Presbyterian church is a particular object of interest, owing to the material of which it is built—it being of the limestone order but filled with a black, pitchy substance, which is constantly oozing out, giving to the whole structure the appearance of an old and venerable cathedral, whose walls are liveried with ivy green.
Chicago possesses every advantage for business, being connected by lake and railroad with almost every commercial city of the Union. In 1867 the number of vessels arrived at this port was 7,557, having a tonnage of 1,763,413. The lake tonnage of the district was, on the commencement of the year 1858, steam 7,954.07, sail 62,727.00, making a total of 70,681.07.......
The manufacturing interests of Chicago are well represented, when we say that in 1856 the amount of capital invested was $7,759,400; number of hands employed, 10,568; value of manufactured goods, $15,516,063. The most important branches are the manufacture of iron work, steam engines and railroad machinery, agricultural implements, carriages, wagons, lumber, etc.
In point of railway facilities Chicago is second to no city in the Union. Six years ago and only 95 miles were completed in the entire state, now there are over 8,000, showing an increase of over 600 miles per year. Over 120 trains arrive and depart daily from the various station houses.
The idea of opening a direct trade with the cities of the Old World had long engaged the attention of the business men of Chicago, and in 1856 the Dean Richmond was built and fitted out for Liverpool, and in July, 1857, Capt. Pierce, who commanded the Richmond on her trial trip, took out the C. J. Kershaw, having on board a cargo of staves. As a return on the part of the Liverpool merchants, in the summer of '57 the Madeira Pet, with a cargo of iron, crockery, hardware, cutlery, etc., dropped anchor in the harbor and was hailed with lively interest by every business man in the city. The feasibility of direct trade has thus become a reality, and will doubtless be increased as time advances.
The city is supplied with water from the lake, raised by steam power, and distributed throughout the city in iron pipes. The main engine is of 500 horse power, and capable of furnishing over twenty millions of gallons of water in twenty-four hours. This engine, with its accompanying machinery, is an object of interest to strangers visiting the city. The reservoir building for the South Division is located near the corner of Clark and Adams streets, is two stories high, with a capacity of 500,000 gallons, the surface of the water being 88 feet above the lake. New reservoirs are to be erected in the West and North Divisions, the latter covering an area of 275 feet square, and capable of holding 7,000,000 gallons of water.
Until the year 1856 most of the streets were planked, and the buildings then erected were without cellars, but since that time a new grade has been established, which, when finished, will raise the entire city from two to five feet. It needs only that the system of paving and sewering the streets, which has been so vigorously commenced, should be carried out, to render Chicago one of the healthiest as it will inevitably be one of the largest cities of the continent. The system of sewerage is under the superintendence of Mr. E. S. Chesbrough, who was for many years at the head of that department in Boston. Population, 120,000.
Wm. Price, Postmaster. THE CITY GOVERNMENT Is invested in a mayor and twenty aldermen. At present the HON. JOHN WENTWORTH, Mayor. (Hawes' Illinois State Gazetteer...,1859)