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public libraries of the United States, one-thirteenth belong to Illinois. In newspapers, she stands fourth, with a yearly increase truly marvelous. In 1850, 500,000 copies were issued; in 1860, 27,590,000; in 1870, 113,140,000.
In 1860, she had eighteen colleges and seminaries ; 1870, eighty.
There is but one record of a duel between citizens of Illinois on her own soil. Alphonso Stewart and William Bennett were the principals. The seconds agreed to make it a sham, and provide blanks. Stewart was in the secret. Bennett mistrusted, and, unobserved, slipped a bullet into his gun, and killed Stewart, then fled the State. Afterward, he was caught, convicted and hung. This terminated the use of the code of honor in Illinois.
“Queen city of the lakes and the prairies,” positively, indeed, and commercially the marvel of the world.
Through the greatest calamity of modern times, that destroyed her in a day, she arose like a miracle of resurrection, instinct with unparalleled energy, majestic with courage, beautiful and mighty. The youngest great city of the world. What is a Damascus of all the centuries in comparison with her to-day? What are the thousand years of Icelandic settlement, in comparison with Chicago's less than fifty?
All cities shuddered, all lands trembled, all hearts suffered, when Chicago lay smouldering in the ashes of her unequaled prosperity. “To have struggled and suffered amid those fiery scenes is as distinguishing as to have fought at Thermopylæ, or Salamis, or Hastings, or Waterloo, or Bunker Hill.”
In 1796, a mulatto from the West Indies, named Jean Baptiste Pointe au Sable, came here to trade with the Indians. John Kinzie was his successor, in 1804, the year in which Fort Dearborn was built. It remained only a trading post from that time, until the period of the Black Hawk war, in 1832. In 1833, the settlement about the fort was incorporated as a town. Voters were divided-twelve voting for, one against it. Four years later, it became a city, embracing 560 acres. En 1869, it occupied 23,000.
Grain was imported from the East, until 1837. The first exportation was made in 1839. A board of trade organized in 1848. It did not grow strong before 1855. Grain was sold by the wagon-load in the street. day, one-tenth af all the wheat grown in the United States is handled in Chicago.
In 1854, the exports of grain from Chicago exceeded those of New York, doubled those of St. Petersburg, and the other largest grain markets of Europe.
Chicago is, indisputably, the great railroad center of the world. Examine a complete map of the State, and see the eighteen trunk lines, exclusive of eastern connections.
At the present There are more than 10,000 miles of railroad tributary to this city. All these roads have centered here, by the instinct of capital. The city has never given a dollar to secure one of them.
The commerce of the city, in 1871, had reached $450,000,000. In 1875, it was double that.
It is stated that one-half of our imported goods come directly to Chicago. Her banking capital is $24,431,000. Her wholesale business, in 1875, was $294,000,000. Notwithstanding the general depression throughout the country, a greater volume of business was transacted in 1876 than in any preceding year. The total trade of the city, for 1876, was measured by $652,000,000. It is a loss of eight-tenths of one per cent., in currency, from 1875, but a gain, if reckoned on a gold basis. Our manufacturers report $200,500,000 for the same year. Chicago is the commercial focus of the great Northwest.
As the country prospers, so the city must thrive. The welfare of one depends on the other. If the farmer has poor crops, or receives but low prices for what he has to sell, he is less able to invest in luxuries or necessaries, and the city merchant and manufacturer miss the farmer's trade.
With the single exception of hogs, the products of the farm commanded relatively low prices in 1876; but on the whole the produce trade compares favorably through the year with former years. The principal falling off was in wheat.
Up to a very recent period, New York controlled nearly all the foreign trade of the United States, with much of that between the seaboard and the West. The prominent class in England and on the continent of Europe known as “importers,” used to send their orders for wheat, flour and bacon to factors in New York, who filled those orders there, and insisted on having the produce of the West offered to them at their doors and nearly on their own terms. Now the majority of those foreign buyers have found that they can do far better to deal directly with the West, and are sending their orders to Chicago. Commanding, as she does, a large part of the produce of the Northwest in the places where it is raised; possessing the ability to hold it in the country till wanted, and the facilities for storing it in immense quantities within her own limits; the center of so vast a network of railroads, with a capital sufficient to control the movement in every stage, Chicago holds the key to the situation, and has literally forced the merchant princes of the Old World to come hither, as to the greatest primary market in the world. It is true she has powerful competitors in other countries, but that competition tends to enhance the importance of Chicago.
The same arguments apply to the trade of the Eastern States, which used to be supplied mainly from New York. Now the bacon from Chicago goes directly South, and corn goes direct to the New England consumer without the intervention of New York merchants. It is found that the inspection systems of Chicago throw safeguards around the trade in grain, flour, pork and meats, which are worth more than the handling charges here.
There are now nineteen elevators for the handling of grain in Chicago. In addition to these, there are immense storehouses for all kinds of produce. Four hundred and fifty pairs of hands are employed in the public grain elevators, besides the inspectors and the men who move the cars on the track, etc.
The pork trade was not so well controlled by capital through 1876 as 1875. Chicago packs as many hogs as Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Louis, Indianapolis and Milwaukee combined, and she has become the model for operations outside, as well as the center for provision trade. There is a strong tendency to concentrate stocks here, where they will command the speculative and consuming trade of the world.
There was a decided increase in receipts of flour for 1876, viz. : 3,014,286 barrels, against 2,625,883 barrels in 1875. The mills of the city have been running nearly to their full capacity all the year. The milling capacity of the West has greatly increased during the past few
years. Kansas flours come here more sparingly now than they used to do. They are not as readily sold as those made in other sections; they are good, but not white enough to suit the majority of trade. Recently Nebraska millers have sent flour to Chicago for the first time. The article is generally liked, and it meets with a ready sale.
The average wholesale price for the year (1876) was about $1.75 per barrel for shipping extras, $5.75 on Minnesotas.
The receipts of wheat, as reported by the Secretary of the Board of Trade, in 1876, were 17,491,057 bushels, against 24,206,370 bushels in 1875. The inspection into store, as reported by the State authorities, was 42,624 car loads, which, at 350 bushels to the car, would equal 14,918,400 bushels. The difference between this and the Board of Trade report is due to grain consigned on track, and wheat billed through to Chicago.
Receipts for oats were 12,654,621 bushels, against 12,916,428 in 1875, and shipments 11,688,471 bushels, against 10,277,134 bushels in same year. This falling off was owing to the relatively low prices during 1876, in addition to poor quality of the crop.
The demand for rye was light through the greater part of 1876, while the volume offered for sale was unusually large. The receipts were fully doubled, being 1,401,121 against 699,583 bushels in 1875. Nearly all the distilleries of Chicago were closed during most of the year, and the shipments were greatly increased from those of 1875.
The barley market has not yet recovered from the demoralization that set in after the panic of 1873, and the character of the crop has not tended to improve the trade. Receipts were 4,750,176 bushels in 1876 ; 3,107,297 bushels in 1875. Shipments, 2,868,468 bushels, against 1,868,206 bushels the preceding year.
The records of the Union Stock Yards and Transit Company show that the volume of business transacted there during the Centennial year was in excess of any previous twelve months. The total arrival of cattle, hogs and sheep was 5,669,420 head, or 417,519 head more than reported for any former year. It is a well-known fact that in many of the live stocks of the country the business for 1876 was a decline from 1875.
1876 was more than ordinarily favorable for the dairy interest. The production in the West of butter and cheese was in excess of any former season. The healthy character of the butter trade was owing to the existence of a largely increased export demand. Receipts of cheese in Chicago were about 23,280,000 pounds, against 12,000,000 pounds in 1875. Receipts of butter, 35,384,184 pounds, against 30,243,247 pounds in 1875.
The season closed with the West nearly cleared of wool. About 50,000 pounds of old wool were brought into the new season. More Colorado wool was handled in Chicago in 1876 than any previous year. This city bids fair to be the great distributing center for the wool of Illinois and the surrounding territories. The quantity of California wool sold here is increasing. The Western consumption of wool is also increasing.
The hay crop of 1876 was an average one in the West, and secured in excellent condition. Timothy hay of the crop of 1875 sold at $8.50 to $14.00; prairie at $6.00 to $11.00. Timothy of 1876 has ruled steady at $8.00 to $11.50, and prairie at $5.50 to $8.00 per ton.
We have enumerated these statistics of the commerce of Chicago and the Northwest, for the years 1875 and 1876, for convenient comparisons in the future. We do not expect to enlighten the patrons of this book by presenting all these details of figures, for the farmers of Illinois are not an ignorant class of people who neglect libraries and fail to patronize and read the newspapers of
Chicago now embraces thirty-six square miles and has thirty miles of water front besides the outside harbor of refuge of 400 acres, inclosed by a crib seawall. The water provided for the city from the lake is as pure as any in the world. It is received through two tunnels extending to a crib two miles from the shore. The supply is brought from thirty-five feet below the surface, and is always clear and cold. The closest analysis detects no impurities in the water reservoirs. The first water-tunnel is five feet two inches in diameter, and two miles long. It can deliver 50,000,000 gallons per day. The second is seven feet in diameter and six miles long. It runs four miles under the city and can deliver 100,000,000 of gallons per day. The water is distributed through 110 miles of water-mains.
One-third of the city has been raised an average of eight feet, making the sewerage pitch 263 miles. In 1844, the streets were little better than quagmires, and for years the reputation of the city for health was anything but favorable. Now, it is emphatically one of the healthiest cities in the Union. Wooden block pavements were used in 1857. In 1840, water was delivered by peddlars in carts or by hand. Afterward, a twenty-five horse-power engine pushed it through hollow logs laid along the streets, till 1854, when it was carried into the houses by new works.
The first fire-engine was used in 1835; the first steam fire-engine in 1859. Gas was used for lighting the city in 1850. The Young Men's Christian Association was organized in 1858, and horse railroads constructed in 1859. A museum was opened in 1863; the alarm telegraph adopted in 1864; the opera house built in 1865.
In 1831, the mail was taken twice a week from the city by a half-breed Indian, on foot, to Niles, Michigan. He brought back what news he could gather. In 1846, often only one mail a week went from and reached the young city. A post office was established in 1833. The Post Master nailed up old boot-legs on one side of his shop to serve as boxes for those who could afford to pay rent for them.
The mail matter of Chicago has reached a daily average of 6,500 pounds. Its distribution to the territory immediately tributary to the city is seven times larger than the amount distributed in a corresponding region around St. Louis.
The three grandest engineering exploits of the city have incalculably settled their advantages for the future. The construction of the tunnels under the lake was a glorious triumph of art and artisanship. The city, safely supplied with pure water above all contingences of failure, possesses one of the most important elements of health and perpetuity-mighty as an armed host.
Whole squares at a time were lifted up several feet, on jack-screws, without interfering with the daily business conducted in the buildings.
Mark Beaubien established a ferry over the river and put himself under bonds to carry all the citizens free for the privilege of charging strangers. Now twenty-four large bridges and two tunnels will convey both citizens and strangers "free" across the enlarged river.