Wednesday, December 27, 2017

December 27, 1877 -- Michigan Avenue ... "A Beauty of a Street"?



December 27, 1877 – A Chicago Daily Tribune editorial takes exception with Mayor Monroe Heath’s assertion that Michigan Avenue is “a beauty of a street.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, December 27, 1877] Calling it a “champion mud-puddle” with an “unctuous and nasty top-dressing,” the editorial suggests that there is something shady in the work of the contractors “who load seven and a half tons of this alluvial on a car and then charge for ten tons of gravel.”  The writers suggest that the mayor “roll up his pants, start form the Exposition Building, and walk through the middle of the avenue as far south as Twelfth street.” If he still needs evidence, the paper suggests that he “keep on until he reaches Twenty-second street.  If by that time he is not the nastiest object on the face of the earth, and is not convinced that even our own black alluvial is preferable to this red and yellow sticky stuff from Joliet, we shall believe that he is sincere in his admiration of Michigan avenue as ‘a beauty of a street.’”  The above photo shows Michigan Avenue three years after the editorial appeared.


December 27, 1865 – The first shipment of hogs arrives at the Union Stockyards, opened officially just two days earlier.  The vast facility that would come to occupy land bordered by Pershing Avenue, Halsted Street, Forty-Seventh Street, and Ashland Avenue, got its start in 1864 when nine railroad companies purchase 320 acres of swampland on the southwest side of the city.  [www.chicagohs.org]   Fifteen miles of railroad track brought the critters to the stockyards, and 500,000 gallons of water from the river were pumped into the yards each day, with waste water dumped into a channel flowing back into the river, that channel now known as “Bubbly Creek”.  From the 320 acres in 1865 the stockyards grew to 475 acres by 1900 and contained 50 miles of roads with 130 miles of railroad track at its perimeter. 16 million animals a year were processed in the stockyards during the peak years of World War I, an average of nine million pounds of meat every single day.  The above photo shows the Union Stockyards in 1867.

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