Monday, January 12, 2009

Pizzeria Uno, birthplace of deep dish pizza

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Chicago more specifically 'Pizzeria Uno" is said to be the birthplace of Deep Dish Pizza ... Citylore has it that a Texan named Ike Sewell created the dish at his bar and grill named Pizzeria Uno in 1943.

While searching for some information on the origins of Deep Dish Pizza ... I foud this ... Ref: Deep Dish Pizza .. click here ..

During the depression of the thirties, followed by the war years of the forties, Americans ate one-dish meals of "casseroles", easily procured ingredients that would satisfy the stomach, stretch the budget and not cost many ration coupons. Therefore, the more you could load onto a pizza crust, the better it would be, and doubtless a deep pan would be more like a casserole. Moreover, the crust would not need the fancy stretching and pushing, even tossing, that the traditional Italian thin pizza would require. The mozzarella cheese would be on the bottom and the crust and toppings would all bake and ooze together and become one of America's legacies to fat foods nationwide and waistwide...

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Some more interesting information can be found here Uno's, Chicago's Original Deep-Dish Pizza .. click here ...

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Click on the image for eenlarged view ...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Plan of Chicago: 1909

"Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. Think big."
- Daniel Burnham

The Plan of Chicago 1909 was prepared by
- Daniel Burnham, and
- Edward H Bennett
It was commissioned by the Commercial Club of Chicago. It was the first comprehensive city and regional planning of the Chicago Metropolitan Area.

The "Plan of Chicago" was an outgrowth of the City Beautiful Movement ... The City Beautiful movement was a Progressive reform movement in North American architecture and urban planning that flourished in the 1890s and 1900s. It was based on the notion that a reform of the landscape, would complement the reforms in other areas of society.

An excerpt from the Enclyclopedia of Chicago ...
"The plan consisted of a system of parks and broad avenues that transcended the street grid in a pattern reminiscent of the French Baroque tradition favored for nineteenth-century Paris. The physical integration of systems of transportation and systems of recreation was the organizing principle for the buildings, streets, and parks. In the following decades, as a result of a flexible and well-publicized planning process, the Plan of Chicago inspired the creation of a permanent greenbelt around the metropolitan area, the development of the lakefront parks with cultural enhancements such as the Field Museum of Natural History, and the establishment of new transportation elements, from road to river to rail".

Although it was the first comprehensive plan , But there were several plans that preceded this ...
- Aaron Montgomery Ward's campaign to preserve "Grant park" for public use.
- Sanitary and Ship Canal Commission to reverse the Chixago River by means of a system of canals and locks in order to protect the Lake Michigan from being contaminated by sewer discharge.

- Burham himself had played important role in the planning and construction of the World's Columbian Exposition.

1908: Street naming

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1908 Street Numbering ordinance ...

The system established two base lines where all numbering began:
State Street running north and south and
Madison Street running east and west.

800 numbers were assigned to each mile ...
or 100 numbers to each one-eighth of a mile,
and such numbers changed to the next succeeding one hundred at the intersecting street nearest the one-eighth of a mile line.

Even numbers indicated a building on the north or west side of a street,
while odd numbers meant a location on the south or the east side of a street. This numbering scheme is still in use.

1900: The Chicago River flow reversed ...

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Before 1900, the Chicago river flowed into the Lake Michigan ... But in 1900, the flow of the river was reversed ... and now Chicago River originates from Lake Michigan and empties into the Mississippi River System ... It's an engineering marvel! ... But why reverse the flow ???

As many river-towns, the growth of Chicago was along the Chicago River .... However as the city population grew there were problems of water pollution ... as most waste was simply drained into the river. "Because the Chicago River was not a swift moving stream and was often clogged at its mouth by sand, the waste did not flow out into the lake as the residents had hoped. The residents of the city collected their drinking water from collection facilities just offshore in Lake Michigan. With the influx of waste in the river and in their drinking water, outbreaks of cholera, typhoid and other water-borne diseases were common. In 1854, a cholera epidemic took the lives of 5 ½ percent of the population. By the 1890’s almost 1 percent of the population died each year from typhoid. In 1887, the city officials decided to attempt a bold feat of engineering and reverse the flow of the river".

In 1900 the 28-mile canal had been completed, as had the locks that control the flow of water now going from Lake Michigan into the Chicago River, through the Sanitary and Ship Canal, and into the Des Plaines River. This engineering feat has been compared to the building of Panama Canal ... more earth and rocks has been removed than from the Panama project. In 1955 the American Society of Civil Engineers announced that the reversal of the Chicago River was one of the Seven Wonders of engineering in the United States.

Chicago also has a huge water purification plant, I'll bring it's photo later ...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

World Columbian Exposition - 1893.

In 1893 "The World's Columbian Exposition" opened in Chicago to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America by Columbus in 1493. The exposition ran for six months and attracted 27,539,000 visitors [almost half of the total number of people then living in the United States].

Chicago won the honor to celebrate this event over cities like New York, Washington D.C & St. Louis … More than 150 new buildings were made, in the classical Romanesque, Greek & renaissance architecture style … It earned the city a new nickname: “White City”; as most buildings had facade made of mixture of plaster & hemp called : “Staff” which was white in color.

A very interesting read ... "The World's Columbian Exposition", click here.

Transportation by 1900

In the second half of the 19th century, Chicago was growing very rapidly... and an intricate system of transportation developed ...

Streets Cars/ Street Railroads ...
Street cars, known as street railraods were introduced in 1859.
These were pulled by horses. By 1882, many lines were converted to cable operation. The cable car as an improvement to horsecar service, not as a separate network. Feeder cars pulled by horses were often attached to cable cars to be pulled downtown. Beginning in 1892, electric traction quickly replaced the complicated cable technology, and Chicago's last cable car ran in 1906. It was this system, ultimately switching from streetcars to buses, that solved the problem of transporting hundreds of thousands of daily commuters to work across the vast face of the city.

The "L" or Elevated Railroads ...
The first 'L' began revenue service on June 6, 1892, when a small steam locomotive pulling four wooden coaches with 30 passengers left the 39th Street station of the Chicago & South Side Rapid Transit Railroad and arrived at Congress Street 14 minutes later over tracks still used today by the Green Line.

1892: first L to South side
1895: first L to West side
1900: first L to North side

A major drawback of early 'L' service was that none of the lines entered the central business district. Instead trains dropped passengers at stub terminals on the periphery due to a state law requiring approval by neighboring property owners for tracks built over public streets, something not easily obtained downtown.

This obstacle was overcome by the legendary traction magnate Charles Tyson Yerkes, who went on to play a pivotal role in the development of the London Underground. Yerkes, controlled much of the city's streetcar system, and obtained the necessary signatures through cash and guile, too build a mile-long 'L' over Van Buren Street from Wabash Avenue to Halsted Street.

The Union Loop opened in 1897, greatly increasing the rapid transit system's convenience but at the cost of noisy, obstructed streets, a fact of life in downtown Chicago to this day. Operation on the Yerkes-owned Northwestern Elevated, which built the North Side 'L' lines, began three years later, essentially completing the elevated infrastructure in the urban core although extensions and branches continued to be constructed in outlying areas through the 1920s.

Chicago: The Birthplace of Skyscrapers [1885]

Click on the image for enlarged view ...

Chicago has literally sprung from the ashes ... The Great Fire of 1871, gutted about a THIRD of the city; burning 17,000 buildings and leaving 100,000 people homeless. Although the fire was one of the largest U.S. disasters of the 19th Century, the rebuilding that began almost immediately spurring Chicago's development as one of the most important American cities ... Talk about a catasthrope that was turned into an oppurtunity to built an ultra modern city ...

Chicago had a special problem ... It stood on swamp ... It came up with DARING solutions ... constructed the world's first completely iron-and-steel-framed building in the 1880s ... the world's FIRST SKYSCRAPER ... The credit for this goes to the architect/engineer William LeBaron Jenney [the father of skyscrpers] ... who designed the Home Insurance Building in 1885 ... [it was demolished in 1931] ... What I find really interesting is that this first skyscraper was just 10-floors high and rose to a height of 138 feet [42 m]... But what was unique about it is that it was the first building entirely supported by a steel frame and so is considered the first skyscraper. In fact the building weighed only one-third as much as a stone building would have and the city officials were so concerned that they halted construction while they investigated its safety.

Soon the "iron-&-steel frame" skyscraper evolved into the signature edifice of Chicago School of Architecture ... This new construction, while costly, had overwhelming advantages. It was almost fireproof ... The thin curtain walls hung from the steel frame allowed for more interior rental space ... New floors could be added easily ... and since the exterior walls were no longer essential to holding up the building, they could be cut away and replaced by ever larger expanses of glass, an important consideration in the early era of electrical lighting.

Although in early skyscrapers, the metal-frame were clothed in historical styles, with walls of brick and stones ... BUT eventually the walls become more GLASS than stone ... and we had the STEEL-&-GLASS buildings ...

So the catastrophic fire cleared way for the emergence of an ultra modern city. In fact many factors contributed to this new phenomenon:

Though many buildings were destroyed; but somehow the industrial base was left intact. The demand of office space was increasing; but since the land is bound by Lake and River; so the only way to expand was to GO UP.

In the early 19th century; important technical advances took place that made high-rise buildings possible; like: safety-elevators, electricity, fire-proofing, telephone-services.

Many architects setteled in Chicago ... like William LeBaron Jenney ... His office in Chicago which became the training ground for a number of leading architects of the First Chicago School [of architecture], including, among others, Martin Roche, William Holabird, and Louis Sullivan ... Later the Second Chicago School of architecture evolevd with prominent names like ... Ludwig Mies van der Rohe ... Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), C.F Murphy, Helmut Jahn ...

REFERENCE: Architecture: The First Chicago School click here ... from the Encyclopedia of Chicago ...

The "Windy City" & other nicknames

It is said that the name does not originate from the gusts of winds ...

BUT according to historians... the name originates from few local boosters (windbags), who went up and down the East Coast yelling about the wonders of Chicago ... So Chicago was dubbed the "Windy City" after its "windy" citizenry in the 1850s who boasted about the virtues of the city [A Chicago Daily News article from Sept. 22, 1969]

Some other NICKNAMES ...
- The name "Second City" comes from Chicago's historical position as America's second largest city after New York. however now it’s America’s third largest city after New York City & Los Angeles.

- "Paris of the Prarie" Daniel Burnham had designed a visionary plan for a city in 1909 named the “Chicago Plan”. The city was nicknamed 'Paris on the Prairie' as the plan incorporated wide boulevards and parks ...

- The "City in a Garden" ... After the motto on its seal "Urbs in Horto."; which is Latin for “city in a garden”.

- "Pride of the Rustbelt"... for its once thriving heavy industries.

- "City of Big Shoulders" & "Hog Butcher to the World"
HOG Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders .......
[ A poem by Carl Sandburg; about the city of Chicago - a tribute to the steelworkers and meat packers of the past]

So who was O'Leary?

Legend has it that it was Mrs O’Leary’s cow started the “Great Chicago Fire” of 1871. Kate O'Leary kept five cows and milked them twice a day for her local dairy business. Kate supposedly revealed to different people the morning after the blaze began that she was in the barn when one of her cows kicked over a lantern which started the fire. Although how far this city-lore true … is much debated, however … this local legend explains the fire truck’s name …

The Great Chicago fire 1871

Any talk on Chicago’s history is divided into before & after The Great Fire.

The Great Fire of Chicago, lasted 2 days [8- 10 October 1871] … It destroyed about 4 square miles of the city; killed about 250 people, made 100,000 homeless. It leveled about a third of the city; destroying about 17,450 buildings. It destroyed about the entire core downtown of Chicago and most of the North side. Property losses are estimated at $200 million.

The folklore has it that the fire was sparked by an errant kick from Kate O'Leary's COW!!!

However Chicagoans quickly started to rebuild the city ... and in just 6 weeks after the fire … construction of more than 300 buildings had already begun ... . The vigor of the city’s rebirth amazed the rest of the nation and within three years, it once again dominated the western United States. It soared from the ashes like the fable phoenix and became the home of the first skyscraper in 1885. [Yes Chicago is the birthplace of skyscrapers!!! ]. It is said that The Great Chicago Fire was the beginning of a new metropolis, much greater than it could have ever become if the horrific fire had never happened at all.

And in 1893 Chicago had recovered well enough to host the 1893 World Columbian Exposition.

The Chicago Water Tower

The Chicago Water Tower is completed in 1869. It was be one of the few buildings in the area to survive the Great Fire of 1871.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Population of Chicago

1830: 100
1840: 4,470
1850: 29,963
1860: 112,172

1890: 1,099,850

2000: 2,896,016

* 1833: Chicago incorporated as a twon with population: 350
* 1837: City of Chicago incorporated with population: 4,170
* With the completion of Illinois and Michigan Canal, the population of Chicago tripled in the next three years.

Reference: "Population of Chicago by decades", click here.

Economic Growth in late 19th century ...

Click on the image for enlarged view ...

Major factors contributing to its meteoric rise are the basic factors...
- Infrastructure [ Development of canals & railroads ]
- Industries [ especially meat-packing & steel industries ]
- Finance [opening of Chicago Board of Trade - CBOT]

I have just discussed how the development of Illinois and Michigan Canal made Chicago an important center on the midwest ...
Some other contributing facts are ...

The development of railroads began in Chicago 1848 ....
By 1850 – there was only one railroad passing through the city; “The Galena & Chicago Union Railroad”. By 1852, there were 5 and by 1856 – there were 10 railroads, totaling 300 miles of track. The opening of Union Station in 1881 further consolidated Chicago’s position as the hub of the Midwest!

The Gold Rush - When gold was found in California in 1848 – it proved to be the first great impetus for migration to the Far West regions of America and proved to be a boon to Chicago as it now emerged as an important transit & trading center.

Meat Packing Industry
It’s perhaps the most-important industry in the development of Chicago.
# the establishment of “Union Stock Yards” in 1865 made Chicago a livestock center.
# the development of “refrigerated railroad cars”- made long distance transport possible without much spoilage. The utilization of ice in meat packing plants increased the meat-production. Before this time, the disassembly plants [meat production and distribution facilities], had to shut down in the hot summer months. Increased operating months created hundreds of thousands of new man-hours in which people could work. This increased the demand for “unskilled labor” – contributing to the growth of immigrants and working class in the city ….
# By 1862 Chicago had displaced Cincinnati, Ohio as "Porkopolis".
# The Civil War [1861-65] increased the demand for food products and Chicago's vast transportation system ensured that goods could be delivered to soldiers quickly all over the northern United States …

Steel Industry
During the second half of the nineteenth century, Chicago became one of the world's leading centers of steel production. It helped in the development of railroads, ships, skyscrapers and bridges and also employed immigrant workers in large numbers.

The Chicago Board of Trade
In 1848 Chicago built its first grain elevator, and the Chicago Board of Trade [CBOT] was established. In fact Modern day futures and commodity trading markets were pioneered in Chicago at CBOT. Some even argue that the grain elevators built were Chicago's first skyscrapers. The trade in livestock, lumber, and grains laid down the financial basis for Chicago's growth.

I& M canal and immigrants especially Irish

Interesting information from this article ...

One of the greatest impacts the Illinois and Michigan Canal has had on Illinois history was the influx of immigrants into the state.

During the construction of the I&M Canal, the labor force was insufficient in the region. This led to the arrival of numerous workers from the New England and New York area. Not only did a strong labor force arrive to work on the construction of the canal, but many also came in hopes of capitalizing on the construction in one way or another. Many of these workers in search of capital ended up as contractors, organizing work contingents on the canal, and others became suppliers of needed materials and provisions.

Most of the labor forces brought in to work on the digging of the canal were impoverished immigrants from eastern cities. The majority of these workers were Irish who responded to widespread advertising in the cities. After the completion of the canal, large numbers of workers stayed in the region. Some settled on public and unclaimed land without a title, thus being known as squatters, while others bought their own land. Yet, in both cases, these new settlers chose to try their hand at farming. Some chose to settle in new villages and towns to work at urban pursuits. Others invested and risked their earnings in substantial rural estates and manufacturing enterprises.

One of the largest groups of immigrants to arrive to work on the canal was the Irish. In 1836 laborers traveled westward to Chicago from the Erie Canal to work on the Illinois and Michigan Canal. Most found work as "paddies" digging the canals. By 1843 natives of Ireland were 10 percent of Chicago's 7,580 people. The Irish were one of the many immigrant groups who helped to establish an urban frontier and make Illinois the diverse population it is today. Among other immigrants were the Germans, Bohemians, Polish, Lithuanians, and Swedes. The arrival of new ethnic groups led to a great diversity in the canal area, particularly in and around Chicago.

The cultural impact of the Illinois and Michigan Canal remains strong to the present day. Even today, small towns developed near the canal such as Pilsen, Illinois, are proud to boast that they are, "world renowned for the diversity of the ethnical-racial groups living side by side.

Illinois and Michigan Canal, completed 1848.

Prior to the advent of railroads, the major mode of transportation was steamboats. As such; St. Louis – the “River city” – at the confluence of 3 rivers - Mississippi, Illinois & Missouri – was the most important trading centre in the Midwest. Trade route was mostly North-South – which implies that the surplus farm products from Midwest were gathered together at St. Louis and were shipped south through the Mississippi River to New Orleans, from there were taken by sea to the east or west coast.

One of the most important developments that changed the face of Chicago was construction of New York's Erie Canal [in 1825]. By about 1835, a large part of the products could now be transported east through the Great Lakes to the Erie Canal to the New York City. This diminished the trend of North-South transportation and established Chicago as an important center for West - East trading.

The Illinois & Michigan Canal, completed in 1848, connected the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River watershed along a longstanding Indian portage route. The 97-mile canal extended from the Chicago River near Lake Michigan to the Illinois River at Peru, Illinois.

The creation of this canal system further reoriented this trade to an east-west axis. It rapidly transformed Chicago from a small settlement to a critical transportation hub between the East and the developing Midwest. This in turn drew many land speculators and entrepreneurs to the area. This key water based transportation link in turn influenced the massive Railroad construction from Chicago to other parts of the country which just continued Chicago's explosive growth.

The newly opened Illinois and Michigan Canal, marked a turning point in trade and migration in the United States that persists to this day. Prior to the opening of the Canal, trade had moved from north to south. After the opening of the Canal trade and migration moved from south to north and from east to west. Chicago, the eastern terminus of the I&M Canal, became the transportation center through which most of this traffic flowed.

The Illinois and Michigan was the last major canal constructed in the United States. In the decades following its opening the railroad gained supremacy as the nation's mode of shipping and transportation. Passenger traffic ended on the canal soon after its opening. By the early twentieth century canal barges were primarily transporting waste material from Chicago. In 1933, following the channelization of the DesPlaines and Illinois Rivers, the I&M Canal ceased operations.

Reference: "Illinois and Michigan Canal", click here.

A very interesting read ...
"Illinois and Michigan Canal", click here.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Chicago's open frontyard : Grant Park

The Grant Park area is actually a landfill made from the debris of the Great Fire of 1871. Following the colossal destruction due to the fire, when massive reconstruction projects were undertaken in the city; then there definitely were plans of making large buildings in the Grant Park area. But then there were objections. A Chicago visionary and mail-order magnet Aaron Montgomery Ward, wanted the place to remain open space… [*as was decided in 1836]. He brought the construction plan to the court in 1890. After about 20 years of battle, he won the case as in 1911 the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the Grant Park would remain "forever open, clear and free."

But the history of Grant Park goes further back to 1835, that is even before the “City of Chicago” was incorporated [in 1837]. The foresighted citizens, sought to protect the open space along the lakefront from commercial development. As a result, the 1836 Act of the Illinois Legislature, designated the Park area as a "public ground forever to remain vacant of buildings”. Now that explains how the huge slot of land of the Grant Park area remains an open space.

Aaron Montgomery Ward: First mail-order business [1872]

In 1872, Aaron Montgomery Ward establishes the nation's first mail-order business at Clark and Kinzie Streets. The first catalog consisted of a single-sheet price list offering 163 items. The company adopts the slogan "Satisfaction Guaranteed." In fact, he was the first retailer in the United States to guarantee satisfaction to his customers. By 1904, the catalogs weighed a hefty four pounds each and were mailed to three million customers.

His other great contributuion was fighting for Chicago's open front yard ... Check out the Previous Post.

City of Chicago incorporated, March 4, 1837.

On March 4, 1837, the City of Chicago was incorporated.

On August 12, 1833; Chicago was incorporated as a town of 350 people. The town's boundaries are DesPlaines, Kinzie, Madison and State Streets.

On January 23, 1837, a charter was approved to incorporate Chicago as a city. On March 4, 1837; the charter was approved and Chicago became a city of 4,170 people. William B. Ogden was elected its first mayor.

Fort Dearborn, the first government building in Chicago; stood here

This is 360 North Michigan Avenue /London Guarantee Building ... A Chicago Landmark ... It stands exactly on the spot where the historical Fort Dearborn once stood [1803-12] ...

Fort Dearborn was the first government building to be built in Chicago – a U.S. Military Garrison – named after US Secretary of War, Henry Dearborn ... Its purpose was to protect the settlers against attacks by Native Americans. It ushered in an era of peaceful trade in the area. It was destroyed in war with Great Britain [1812] and then rebuilt in 1816. However after the U.S. troops abandoned the Fort in 1837, it was torn down in 1858, and whatever remained was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1871.

First non-native settler

The signage in this shot reads ..."Honorary: Du Sable Founders Way" ...

Its named after the first non-native settler of Chicago was Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, an African American from Sainte Domingue, Haiti ... In 1779 he built the first permanent home on the northern banks of Chicago River ... which is about this area ...

He married a local woman of Potawatomi tribe and they had a son and a daughter. He was into fur trade and became very rich. However when he failed in an effort to become a Potawatomi Chief, he sold his property and moved to St.Charles. In 1912, the city of chicago placed a marker in his memory at the corner of Kinzie and Pine streets.

I was shocked to find out that the population of Chicago was just 100 in 1830 ...

First European explorer of Chicago region

The Marquette building was named after Father Jacques Marquette ...

Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet were the first Europeans to map the Chicago area ...

In 1673, Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet, two Frenchmen, passed through Chigagou, and met with the local Illinois Indians. Marquette and Joliet, though not the first white men to see Chigagou, were the first to map the territory. They had hoped to find a river connecting the Mississippi River to Lake Michigan, but instead found a swampy area which required a five to ten mile portage between a portion of the Des Plaines River and what would become known as the Chicago River.

The reason that only one river (the Chicago) flowed into Lake Michigan dates back to glacial times when most of the metropolitan area was submerged beneath Lake Chicago. The beaches and sand dunes associated with this lake left ridges that kept water from flowing east into the lake. Joliet realized in the 1670’s that if a canal could be built through the portage, the city could become the great city of the Midwest. Though he never saw his dream realized, Joliet’s vision was finally completed in 1848. The Illinois and Michigan Canal was an all water route, between Lake Michigan and the Illinois River, that finally connecting the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River. Coinciding with the increases in trade brought on by the construction and completion of the canal, improvements were needed along the lakefront to allow ships to call on Chicago as a port city.

The original shoreline of Chicago is unrecognizable today under the skyscrapers, museums and parks that have been constructed on the 5.5 square miles of landfill created since the 1800’s. Man-made alterations included new piers, beaches, peninsulas, and even changing the course and flow direction of the Chicago River.

Reference "Chicago Shoreline".

Read more "American Experience", Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet.

Origin of the name : Chicago

Looking at this shot, it's hard to imagine that once, not long back, in the early 1800's ... this place was a swampy, boggy, muddy piece of marshland ... which covered the land almost 20 miles inland of Lake Michigan ... The area was inhabited by Native Americans mostly of Potawatomi tribe and was sparsely populated, [1830 population was 100*] ... There was always a smell of onions in the air ... so much so that the name Chicago originates from the Checagou [Chick-Ah-Goo-Ah] ... which in Potawatomi language means, "wild onions". So Chicago gets it's name from wild onions that covered this marshland.

The Municipal Flag of Chicago

The Municipal Flag of Chicago consists of 3 White stripes separated by two stripes of Blue with four Red six-pointed stars on the center stripe of White...

The 3 White stripes:
Top White Stripe represents the North side of the city.
Center White Stripe represents the West side of the city.
Bottom White Stripe represents the South side of the city.

The 2 Blue stripes:
Top Blue stripe represents Lake Michigan and the North Branch of the Chicago River.
Bottom Blue stripe represents the South Branch of the Chicago River and the Great Canal.

The 4 Red stars on the Center White Stripes represent something as well as each of the points on the stars themselves:
The First Red Star represents Fort Dearborn (added in 1939).
The Second Red Star represents the Chicago Fire of October 8-10, 1871.
The Third Red Star represents the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893.
The Fourth Red Star represents the Century of Progress Exposition of 1933 (added in 1933).


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Chicago A prairie bog AND raising Chicago

This piece comes from ... Chicagology ...
a very intersting site I discovered ...

Read "Raising Chicago", click here. Below is largely an excerpt from this piece ...

Chicago being a prairie bog, the early citizens faced many problems. Early on, Chicago’s population and commerce growth was hindered by lack of good transportation infrastructure. "During spring Chicago was so muddy from the high water that horses would be stuck, past their legs in the street. It was dependent largely upon a few dirt roads so bottomless and hazardous much of the time that one of them — marked by broken wheels, wrecks of wagons, and the bones of dead horses — was called the Slough of Despond".

There were comical signs to warn people of the mud ...
“Fastest route to China” or “No Bottom Here” ...

Folklore has it ... A gentleman who, passing by a street, discovers a man buried up to his shoulders in mud. The gentleman asks the man, “Can I help you?” ... “No, thank you,” the man replies, “I have a good horse under me.”

To address these transportation problems, the board of Cook County commissioners, decided to improve two country roads toward the West and Southwest. The first road went west, crossing the “dismal Nine-mile Swamp,” crossed the Des Plaines River , and went southwest to Walker’s Grove, now known as Plainfield. There is a dispute about the route of the second road to the South.

In 1855 the city council decided that the streets should be raised to a level of four to fourteen feet above the lake. This meant adding several feet of earth under the existing structures. The process took more than 20 years to complete and was accomplished by literally raising the city. Buildings were lifted up by “dozens of men turning dozens of jacks in unison so that new foundations could be built underneath.

The task of raising Chicago was best reported by the Chicago Press & Tribune in their 20 March 1860 issue...
The entire front of first-class buildings on the north side of Lake Street between La Salle and Clark streets is now rising to grade at the rate of about twelve inches per day. It will be at its full height by tomorrow night, when it will constitute a spectacle not many of our citizens may see again, if ever, a business block covering nearly one acre, and weighing over twenty-five thousand tons resting on six thousand screws, upon which it has made an upward journey of four feet and ten inches. Probably its parallel enterprise cannot be be found the world over. It will be worth seeing tomorrow, and the contractors are, we learn, preparing to accomodate the public and give them an opportunity of looking and passing in among the forest of iron screws.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Interesting facts

Chicago: Its not a political hub like Washington D.C., not a financial capital like New York, doesn’t have the glitz of Hollywood & is proudly not close to the sin-city Las Vegas ... However it’s a city of superlatives – highest, largest, biggest, busiest, first & even the fattest !!! This modest city has a lot to boast about .....

- The food-loving Chicagoans make for America’s “fattest” city - 2006
- It is the birthplace of “Deep-Dish” pizza
- Hosts world's largest free outdoor food festival “The Taste of Chicago”
- It is also the birthplace of fast food giant - McDonalds, chewing gum giant -Wrigley’s & also cell phone giant Motorola
- Chicago stages world's biggest free blues, jazz and gospel festivals
- It has world’s busiest airport - O’Hare
- America’s most trafficked highway - Dan Ryan Expressway [I-90/I-94]
- Chicago is the birthplace of skyscrapers ...
- It has North America’s tallest building “Sears Tower”, [110 floors] and from its Sky-deck at 103rd floor; you can see all the way to neighboring states of Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin … 40 to 50 miles ...
- America’s highest indoor swimming pool is on the 44th floor of the “John Hancock Center”[100 floors]
- It is home to the largest building in the United States (excluding the Pentagon): the “Merchandise Mart" spread over 90 acres of floor space ...
- Highest steeple in the world – United Methodist Church
- “Buckingham Fountain” in Grant Park; is one of the world's largest fountains.
- “The Millennium Park “has one of worlds largest sculptures the "Cloud Gate”: 66 feet long and 33 feet wide.
- World’s largest public library is located here … the “Harold Washington Library Center” … houses about 2 million books
- The “Art Institute”, has the largest collection of French Impressionist paintings outside of Paris, France
- “Chicago Cultural Center” has the largest Tiffney stained glass dome in the world
- “Shedd Aquarium” is the largest indoor aquarium in the world, home to beluga whales, eels, penguins & leaping dolphins
- Next door to the aquarium is the “Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum”; which is the first ever planetarium built in the Western Hemisphere.
- Close to the acquarium is the “Field Museum”; with 9 acres of exhibition space. In 1997 it purchased "Sue”, the world's largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus-Rex [T-Rex] skeleton ...
- Lincoln Park Zoo, just north of downtown, is the world's largest admission-free zoological garden
- Chicago made a $110-million investment to move an eight-lane freeway to create a "Museum Campus" connecting three world-class museums – [1] the Field Museum of Natural History, [2] the Adler Planetarium, and [3] the John G.Shedd Aquarium and Oceanarium.
- Chicago also has the only river in the world that flow backwards. Engineers reversed the Chicago River in 1900 for sanitary purposes.
- Al Capone ... The street gangster ... made Chicago his home ...
- Hometown of Oprah Winfrey – the best talk-show hostess & also Jerry Springer – host of the worst talk show on TV
- Hometown of Hollywood biggies – Harrison Ford, John Cusack, Charlie Kaufmann, Jim Beluchi , Bill Murray …
- Chicago based firm – “ R.S. Owens and Company” makes The Oscar statues and thousands of awards and for everything from sports and corporate awards to music like the Emmys & the MTV awards,
- Movies filmed in Chicago …
I-Robot, Chicago, Untouchables, My Best Friend’s Wedding, The Negotiator, The Fugitive, What Woman Want, American Beauty, Chain Reaction, When Harry met Sally, Sixteen Candles, Ocean’s 11 & 12; Home Alone- I, II & III; Barbershop, Ferris Bueller’s Day off, Bad Boys, A league of their own ...
Another interesting fact - Chicago also has the largest Polish population outside of Warsaw, Poland!