Wednesday, February 3, 2016

February 3, 1902 -- U. S. Supreme Court Backs the City in Battle with the Illinois Central

February 3, 1902 -- A dispute between Chicago and the Illinois Central Railroad is finally resolved after being dragged through the courts for nearly two decades. The United States Supreme Court found for the city in a case that involved "made land" running from Sixteenth Street to the river, land which did not exist when the city granted the railroad a 200-foot easement in the lake to build a trestle in the mid-1860's. When over the years that section of the lake lying between the trestle and Lake Park -- toady's Grant Park -- to the west was filled in, the Illinois Central assumed ownership of the new land. If the case had gone the other way Chicago would be a much different city today because the railroad would have been given control of one of the great stretches of urban shoreline in the world. BUT the Supreme Court found that the Great Lakes were to be preserved for the COMMON GOOD, and no private encroachment was to be allowed. The photo above gives a good look at what the lakefront looked like in the mid-1890's. The building closest to the railroad tracks with the squared dome and cupola is the Interstate Exposition Building, which was torn down in 1890 to make way for the Art Institute of Chicago.

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