Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Chicago Historical Facts!

I have some time before school starts and I thought it might be a good idea to take some history lessons. I have been doing a little bit of traveling in the different neighborhoods of the city and I thought it might be a cool idea to learn more about Chicago. I think one can learn a lot about a place from its history. Here are a few facts and figures of the Windy City.


--- A black man from Haiti named Jean-Baptiste Pointe du Sable, a fur trader, founded a settlement called Eschikagou on the north bank of the Chicago River. (He was not officially recognized as the city's founder until 1968.)


--- On August 12, the town of Chicago was incorporated with a population of 350.


--- The first issue of the "Chicago Tribune" came off the presses on June 10.


--- On April 3, the Chicago Board of Trade was opened at 101 South Water Street by 82 local businessmen.


--- Northwestern University, the first university in the Chicago area, was founded.


--- Lincoln Park was designated as a recreational area. The 120-acre cemetery at the site had most of its graves removed and would be expanded to include more than 1,000 acres of woodlands, bridle paths, playgrounds, golf courses and museums. The cemetery had held the bodies of nearly 10,000 Confederate Civil War soldiers who had died in Chicago prisons - these were relocated to other cemeteries in 1870.


--- The Great Chicago Fire raged from October 8 to 9th. It destroyed 3.5 square miles of the city, killing perhaps 250. The fire lasted 27 hours and destroyed 17,450 buildings.

--- Queen Victoria and the people of Britain shipped cartons of books to Chicago. English novelist Thomas Hughes helped organize the books, which were the basis of the city's first library.

On October 7, 1997, the Chicago City Council approved a resolution which absolved Mrs. O'Leary's cow of all blame for the Great Chicago Fire.


--- The new Palmer House opened to replace the one burned in the 1871 fire. The new building was the first fireproof hotel ever to be constructed. The lavish dining room's menu included broiled buffalo, antelope, bear, mountain sheep, and blackbirds.


--- The 10-story Home Insurance Company Building, designed by William LeBaron Jenney, was the first tall building ever built supported by an internal frame of iron and steel rather than thick masonry walls. (It was demolished in 1931.)


--- Chicago's first elevated railway "The El," went into operation to begin the "Loop" that would circle the city's downtown area.

--- The 16-story Monadnock Building at 53 W. Jackson Boulevard was the city's first skyscraper.


--- The University of Chicago opened on October 1 with an enrollment of 594 and a faculty of 103.

Famous Firsts from the fair...

# Aunt Jemima Syrup
# Cracker Jacks
# Cream of Wheat
# Diet carbonated soda
# Juicy Fruit gum
# Pabst Beer
# Shredded Wheat
# The carnival concept was born.
# The hamburger was introduced to the United States.
# The United States produced its first commemorative stamp set.
# The US Postal Service produced its first picture postcards.
# US Mint offered its first commemorative coins: a quarter, half dollar, and dollar.


--- The first automobile race ever seen in the United States was held in Chicago. The track ran from Chicago to Evanston, Illinois. The winner was J. Frank Duryea, whose average speed was 71/2 miles per hour.


--- The flow of the Chicago River was reversed. In 1887 it had been decided to attempt a bold engineering feat and reverse the Chicago River in order to improve Chicago's sewerage system and to reduce the epidemics of diseases caused by poor sewers. To reverse the flow of the Chicago River, a 28-mile canal was built from the south branch of the river through the low summit and down to Lockport. It was completed in 1900. The flow in this canal, commonly known as the Sanitary and Ship Canal or main channel, is controlled by locks at the mouth of the Chicago River and at Lockport. Rudolph Hering was the chief engineer of the drainage and water supply commission during this period.


--- The first Rotary Club in America was founded in Chicago.


--- Around the turn of the century, architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed and built a studio for himself and home for his wife and five children at 951 Chicago Ave., Oak Park. In 1909, Wright scandalized Oak Park society by embarking on what he described as a "spiritual hegira" to Europe with the wife of one of his clients Edwin H. Cheney. Her name was Mamah Borthwick Cheney. Wright returned to Oak Park in 1911 and converted his old studio to an apartment so his wife could rent it out for extra income. When that project was finished, he left Oak Park for good. In the 1970s, the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio Foundation acquired, renovated and opened the Wright residence to the public.


--- The National Football League franchise transferred from Decatur, Illinois, to Chicago. The team took the name, Chicago Bears or, as we say in the Windy City, "Da Bears."


--- Al Capone was found guilty of evading $231,000 in income taxes. He was sentenced on October 24, by a Chicago federal court to 11 years in prison, and fined $50,000.


--- The first All Star Game in baseball, played at Comiskey Park, brought out a capacity crowd of 47,595 fans to see such players as Lou Gehrig, Gabby Hartnett, Al Simmons, and Jimmy Foxx. The first home run in All Star Game history was hit by Babe Ruth off pitcher Wild Bill Hallahan.


--- Chicago became the home of the 1st US blood bank.


--- In the 1st night game at Comiskey Park, the White Sox beat the Browns 5-2.


--- Dr. Enrico Fermi and his team of scientists released the first controlled atomic nuclear chain reaction on December 2. The team's nickname was the "suicide squad."


--- The national tradition of organ music at baseball games began in Chicago when the Chicago Cubs installed an organ at Wrigley Field.


--- Originally called Orchard Place, O'Hare Airport was named in honor of Lieut. Commander Edward H. "Butch" O'Hare who earned a Congressional Medal of Honor in 1942 for having shot down 5 Japanese bombers and crippled a sixth, but died in 1943 at the age of 29. By 1961, O'Hare Field surpassed Chicago's Midway to become the world's busiest air travel facility.


--- The first McDonald's franchise restaurant, owned by Ray Kroc, opened in the suburb of DesPlaines.


--- Chicago's last meat packing house closed.

--- The 1st of the Playboy Clubs, featuring bunnies, opened in Chicago.


--- The 100-floor John Hancock Center was built.


--- Sears Tower opened with 3.6 million square feet of rentable space. The $200 million 110-story structure rises 1,455 feet into the sky.


--- August 18 - The longest baseball game played at Wrigley Field in Chicago, went 22 innings before the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Cubs 2-1. The game had started the previous day and had been postponed after 17 innings because of darkness.


--- On April 13, the "Great Chicago Flood" occurred when 124 million gallons of Chicago River water poured through a crack in the forty-seven-mile network of freight tunnels under the central business district. After filling the tunnels, the river water rose into the basements of many downtown buildings, knocking out electric power and natural-gas service. The flood occurred because in September of 1991 new wooden pilings had been driven into the riverbed next to the Kinzie Street drawbridge to protect the bridge from passing barges and other traffic on the north branch of the Chicago River. The pilings had been placed in the wrong spot and punctured the ceiling of the freight tunnel below. On August 11, 1995, the city agreed to pay up to $36 million in damages to settle lawsuits brought by the owners of buildings damaged by the flood.


--- The first game and the opening ceremonies of the first World Cup Soccer championship in the United States were held in Chicago.

Some other facts . . .

The 4 stars on the Chicago flag represent Fort Dearborn, the Chicago Fire, the World's Columbian Exposition, and the Century of Progress Exposition.

Chicago has 29 miles of lake frontage and 15 miles of public beach.

Chicago is home to the world's largest population of Poles outside of Warsaw.

The Chicago Public Library is the world's largest public library with a collection of more than 2 million books.

The world's largest cookie and cracker factory, where Nabisco made 16 billion Oreo cookies in 1995, is located in Chicago.

The central water filtration plant, located on the lakefront north of Navy Pier, is the largest in the world.

Shedd Aquarium, is the largest indoor aquarium in the world.

The Chicago Post Office at 433 West Van Buren is the only postal facility in the world you can drive a car through.

The official flower of the city of Chicago is the chrysanthemum.

The Art Institute of Chicago holds the largest collection of Impressionist paintings outside the Louvre in Paris.

The Chicago River is always dyed green on St. Patrick's Day.

Jesse Owens, Frazier Thomas, "Wheaties," and Muddy Waters all have a Chicago street named in their honor.

Stephen Douglas, who beat Abe Lincoln in debates by defending the rights of slave owners, lies buried beneath a monument to him off 35th Street at South Shore Drive in the heart of Chicago's South Side black community.
the heart of Chicago's South Side black community.

Current population - ~3Million

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