In his facile, chatty way the author tells of the city's marvelous growth, taking us from the Loop through that Olympus of Chicago, the Lake Shore Drive to Oak Park and South Chicago. The landmarks of the early settlers and the "beauty spots" of the modern city are all described in such a manner that they cannot fail to appeal to even the most conservative of Easterners. Mr. Shackleton in all his books of the cities, shows each one distinctly; its characteristics, institutions, literary traditions, landmarks, and its people. Nothing is too small for him to chronicle—their habits of speech, their eating, ancestor worship. In each city he manages to discover many odd corners not found by the usual sightseer. His is a sympathetic, clear-eyed, often humorous interpretation of the city in each case.
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The Book of Chicago
The book of Chicago, R. Shackleton
Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck
86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9
Chapter I - This is Chicago!1
Chapter II - A City Without Cobwebs. 5
Chapter III - ''We Will Go And Get Them''12
Chapter IV - The Lake Front20
Chapter V - Over Rush Street Bridge. 25
Chapter VI - The Loop Hounds. 34
Chapter VII - Streets And Ways. 42
Chapter VIII - Clubs Are Trumps. 50
Chapter IX – The Passing Of Prairie Avenue. 56
Chapter X - Some Books And Writers. 64
Chapter XI - How Art Came To Chicago. 76
Chapter XII - Some Matters Of Business. 84
Chapter XIII - A Modern Corsair92
Chapter XIV - Traits And Aspects. 97
Chapter XV - Music. 105
Chapter XVI - Where Once Was The White City. 111
Chapter XVII - An Oxford Of The West117
Chapter XVIII - The Dukes Of Chicago. 125
Chapter XIX - A Marquette Cross. 131
Chapter XX - Out In The Suburbs. 139
Chapter XXI - The Extraordinary Making Of Gary. 144
Chapter XXII - The Solitary Dunes. 149
Chapter XXIII - Why Chicago Is!153
Chapter XXIV - The Gold Coast158
Chapter XXV - A Child And Its A-B-C.. 164
THIS is Chicago! The city looks out upon Lake Michigan from a stretch of unbroken flatness. Her morning face shines brightly in the sun.
This is Chicago! An audacious city that audaciously set herself in a swamp: but the swamp long ago was obliterated and only the audacity remains. A city of dreams and with the practical ability to make the dreams come true. A city of energy and strength; of immensity of strength. It was long ago written that a city set upon a hill cannot be hid; yet here upon a plain is a city that cannot be hid.
An interesting city, yet with great areas of the unattractive. An extraordinary city, yet with much that is extraordinarily ordinary. An amusing city, yet with a great deal of dullness. An admirable city, yet in many respects unadmirable in the extreme. A beautiful city in long and glorious stretches, yet in its massing of miseries a terrible city. A gay yet sober city. A bright dull city. A happy unhappy city. A light-hearted, buoyant, vivacious, debonair city, a city with an air! — in fact, in another sense, a city with airs that are often very fierce ones, blowing straight in from the lake, with drenching rain or pitiless cold.
I shall write of the people as well as of the city for in a peculiar degree the people have made their city. I shall write of their character and characteristics. I shall aim to set forth the city and the spirit of the city. I shall describe the city in its present seeming and at times the descriptions of the present will summon up remembrance of things past.
A city with much of charm, with much of dignity, with much of beauty. A very human city, with pleasantly piquant peculiarities. A city of the well-bred, of people of cultivation, yet also a city of the contrary of all this. A city all alive, vividly alive.
All this is Chicago. A city, one sees, of contradictions, and of contradictions more than usually conspicuous. A city to be loved. A city where people live in careful comfort while their neighbors live beyond their means — and sometimes, die beyond their means. A pretentious city; with a vast deal of unpretentiousness even on the part of such as might be pardoned personal assertion. Important city that it is, it is filled with a sense of that importance; and its people are naively ready to tell of it at any time and at any place and to any person. To the Chicagoan, Chicago is the most important subject in the world, so why should he or she not speak of it frankly and unabashed! That Chicago novelist understood this who described a young woman as "a true daughter of Chicago; she had rather talk to a stranger about her own town than about any other subject." And it is a very old story that tells of a funeral in New York at which the clergyman, not having much to say, asked any of those present to offer a few words about the departed, whereupon there was silence until a stranger arose and remarked that, as no one seemed to want to talk of the deceased, he would take the opportunity to tell them something of Chicago.
Ready though Chicago is to exploit herself, even to vociferation, it is one of the oddest contradictions of the city that although there is a firm here which makes a feature of guidebooks for principal American cities, it publishes no such book of Chicago! I was told that a few years ago a Chicago guide was published by them, and that it was under consideration to do so again. And I think it may safely be said that this is the only opportunity for exploitation that has ever been missed.
And after all, I think that Chicago, in the matter of self-assurance, never really surpassed Boston, judging by a Boston newspaper reference to one of its churches, built less than a century ago, as the "Westminster Abbey of Boston"! And this is remindful of an impression which has come more and more to assert itself; and that is, that there is much of essential likeness between Boston and Chicago, much of likeness in spirit between the old city of the Atlantic coast and this new city which gazes off, as if into a glorious future, across the shimmering sweeps of Lake Michigan. And, evoked by this mention of Boston, comes the odd fact that I have seen more ''Boston bags" in Chicago than anywhere else except in the city which gave that extremely serviceable and good-looking leather bag its name.
The old-time Chicagoan who alliteratively expressed his faith in "women, wine, whiskey and war," spoke, broadly, for his city. And it may well ask, — leaving out the three last items and taking just the first — what other city can boast of the contemporary and diversified activities of three such leaders as Frances Willard, Jane Addams and Mrs. Potter Palmer!
In Chicago, money talks. And it was a clever Chicagoan who observed that when money talks it talks offensively. And yet, usually, in this unusual city, there is a disarming frankness, or even childlikeness, about it. As, just the other day, the son of a chewing-gum maker, in telling to a newspaper of his acquisition of a house on the Lake Front, says: ''My father bought it from Brewer Blank, and now its mine. A gift from my father 1 No! I paid him a hundred and twenty-five thousand for it, in good hard cash. My father's city home will be at the Hotel So-and-so" (naming the most expensive). "But he spends most of his summers at Lake Geneva, and he's got a winter home in Pasadena, and he owns all of Catalina Island. " This, you notice, with wealthy insouciance; rather desirous, one would gather, of taking the world into his wealthy confidence; and ending with the delightfully unexpected Catalina touch!
Chicago is a hospitable city. One who comes with introductions, as the friend of some Chicagoan's friend, or who is known, is given a fine and cordial welcome. And not only is the coming guest 'welcomed, but a guest's parting may be unexpectedly speeded: as, when a man, not with proper credentials — for he was an absconding bank cashier from New York — crept with hesitation into the hall where was in progress a Saturday night meeting conducted by a Chicagoan who, as the head of an educational institution and as an essentially undenominational preacher, is in the habit of capturing the hearts of his hearers. The absconder, deeply moved, sought a private talk with him at the close of the meeting, and made confession of his misdeeds. He had left New York by a Friday evening train. Not until Monday morning would there be discovery of his crime. With a Chicagoan, to think is to act. Convinced that the trembling man before him felt genuine remorse and was of potential honesty of purpose, the preacher said: "You will go back to New York to-night. I will go with you. We will take the midnight train; and when the bank opens on Monday morning you and I will be together there to meet your directors. " And they were.
The seal of the city mingles the present and the past. A sheaf of wheat is in the middle; and, oddly and of course quite unintentionally, there is something about the way in which it is presented in midair, which suggests the idea that it is held on a pair of hidden horns. There is a ship under full sail before a brisk northeast wind; and sailing ships are now an uncommon sight here in these days of steam. There are rippling waves represented, and this, naturally, the city still has in its view; although many a Chicagoan, some in jest but most of them in very serious earnest, have lamented the presence of the lake as something which has prevented the laying out of streets to the eastward. And you will be told that thousands and thousands of Chicagoans have never seen the lake; this being literally the case, because immense numbers of foreigners, living to the west of the river, do not readily get to the Lake Front even if they come to the central business section.
The seal of the city also bears the representation, au naturel, of a Chicago baby, on a Botticelli half-shell; and, for contrast, there is a standing Indian, clad sedately in trousers: and this restraint can scarcely be credited to modest Victorian influence, for Chicago received her charter as a city and became the Queen of the Great Lakes in the very year in which Victoria became Queen of Great Britain.
That the Indian stands on a bluff seems to be wrong, for Chicago is too uniformly level to have a bluff; and then comes the thought that it is precisely right after all, for Chicago, from the beginning, has made bluffs and has successfully stood upon them.
The motto of the city, upon the seal, ''Urbs in horto," seems curiously at variance with the swiftness of the city's life; but it brings up thoughts of the charm of the past, when Chicago won the name of the ''Garden City"! And still the influence of those early days successfully persists, in the continued building of detached homes, instead of houses built closely one against another. And with that spirit of charming open living, still so prevalent, there was a friendliness of life which has had much to do with the city's progress; there came a fine simplicity, which gave the characteristic first-name intimacy, and set the ideal of public school education as co-education. A home city, a garden city — one sees, again, that this city of gigantic business is a city of contradictions. And although gardens are not now common, and although most of the old-time houses have disappeared, one may come, here and there, upon some delightful reminder of the ''Garden City" of the past, as when I noticed, well out on Lincoln Avenue, a spacious old square-front house; a house with more than a suggestion of the dilapidation that so readily comes with age; with great ancient hedge of lilac, and, yes! an ancient garden.
Although Chicagoans speak in superlatives in praise of their city, there is now and then an exception, who will animadvert upon it with savagery, in some New York or Boston interview or article; as for example a poet who, complaining poignantly of his city, was asked why he continued to live there, to which he replied, "with a hopeless gesture," and with modest poetic implication: "Why did Dante stay in Florence? Because it was his particular hell. Chicago is mine."
"And he has really opened up his heart," said a Cliff Dweller to a Cliff Dweller group, who were discussing the interview.
"No," countered another, with a smile; "he merely opened up his spleen."
THE Chicagoan considers that his city's zone of influence is very wide. Within a radius of five hundred miles, he will tell you, there live fifty million people, able to leave their homes in the evening and breakfast in Chicago the next morning. And this to the Chicagoan is a statement well rounded and complete. That the fifty million do not all take advantage of the situation merely means that they do not, all of them, all the time, rise to their opportunity.
Chicago is "the greatest railway center in the world." No Chicagoan asks you to prove this; they do not need proof. And Chicago is immensely proud of the fact that all the trains which enter the city stop there; that it is, for all, the terminal.
The first railway timetable of Chicago, so it is still kept in mind, dates back to 1858; and this is remindful of other firsts in the career of the city. For, although I am writing of the Chicago of today and of what I see and hear around me, the spirit of the present is so closely interwoven with the spirit of the past that the past, to some extent, cannot but be considered.
It was in 1804 that the first white child was born here; less than a century and a quarter ago; and no one need smile because the firsts of Chicago are recent. Rather, there should be amazement, that from such recent beginnings such vast results have come. Every city must have a beginning. Romulus and Remus and the wolf and the lupine luncheon were once quite as new as the happenings that have made Chicago. And as to wolves, their cries were still heard on the Lake Front, now lined by hotels and business blocks, little more than a century ago, as they pawed over the neglected and bleaching bones of the victims of the massacre by the Indians in the war with England. And to me it more than anything else represents Chicago's youth, that Joseph Jefferson, the lovable ''Joe," so recently dead that his vivid personality seems still alive, walked this very Lake Front, as a little boy, with his father who, gun in hand, hunted for wolf or wild duck.
While hunting was thus possible along the lake, a near-by section was busy with saws and hammers. Boy that he was, little Joe was impressed by the rawness and newness. Everywhere, as he describes it, boardwalks were going down and frame buildings were going up; there were wooden houses, wooden hotels, wooden churches, and a wooden theater in which the family fortunes were sunk.
All about were sand dune and morass and swamp and prairie; and from those early days has come down the local use of the word ''prairie" as meaning, not a broadly smiling sweep of grass and flowers, the picture evolved elsewhere by the word, but grim, bare, level stretches, or endless miles of scrub growth, wicked and wet.
What was outwardly but a rough and raw little place, made formally a city in 1837, as soon as the necessary handful of population had gathered, did not choose for its first mayor a man of corresponding roughness of aspect, but one who had just distinguished himself by building the first house in Chicago from an architect's plans, and whose thoughts turned naturally to culture and art and European travel. From the first there was a surprising leaven in Chicago's loaf. And tales have come down, almost mystically vague — for already the rise of Chicago seems almost fairy tale — of men and women in broadcloth and silks and diamonds attending parties in the hastily put together frame houses such as those of which Jefferson tells, and of the talk often turning to the best books and writers.
And the very first book to be printed and bound and published in Chicago was the city directory! Could anything be more delightfully characteristic — publicity for every Chicagoan in the first book!
The first coroner of Chicago, one learns, was a certain Clark, and his first inquest, as the old record somewhat tautologically tells, was on ''the body of a dead Indian." Nowadays, one may hear the charge — or boast! — that the city, in this twentieth century, averages a murder a day.
The first Sunday liquor law went into force in 1834, and although activity was encouraged by giving the informer half of the fine, which was five dollars, there seem to have been no particular results. That the first steam fire engine was put into use in 1857 under the mayoralty of the redoubtable Long John Wentworth is still remembered, as is also the fact that he promptly put it to a use not intended by the inventor; the literal washing out of an unsavory settlement just at the edge of the city. For although Chicago proper was not at that time very large, Chicago improper was looked upon as being very much too large indeed, and so, to the glee of a good share of the population, or rather of a bad share of the population, who looked on as at a show, the fire engine was made to turn its hose on some poor little shanties, with their women denizens, on the shore just north of the site of the present great recreation pier; and the hose stream drove wreckage into the lake, while the wretched human wreckage, drenched and miserable, crept, drenched and miserable, away.
The first water main was laid in 1836 — two miles of wooden pipes; but it was not until twenty years afterwards that the first sewers were laid. And I place these two facts together because I have just read the claim that at present the combined water and sewer mains of the city are longer than the combined length of the Mississippi, the Ohio and the Missouri.
The first vaccination was in 1848, and it was the great topic of conversation until 1850, when classical music, or at least opera, was first presented. That the town assumed, in 1833, such dignity as attends the making of a fire warden, does not imply that one was not needed still earlier; and it was not till 1841 that it bourgeoned with the greater glory of its first city marshal.
As the city gives the impression of having an astonishing number of drug stores, it being really difficult to get away from the sight of one or more of them at every moment, it may be remarked that the first drug store was of 1832; though it need not be supposed that there was any difficulty in getting terrific boluses or terrific doses of firewater for the terrific attacks of fever and ague inseparable from a new settlement in such a wet place.
The year 1833 was notable religiously, for in that year the earliest Presbyterian church was organized, the first Baptist church was built, and the first permanent Roman Catholic parish was organized. There also began, that year, Chicago's first newspaper, a weekly: and it was in 1839 that a new newspaper announced, with a cheerful earnestness that would not forego a pleasantly punning expression of it, that "We now launch our bark on the great ocean of the world, with plenty of sheet, but still with no certainty of sale. " It was some years after this that the press was offered that public subject of discussion, a detective department, for not until 1850 did Chicago have its first detective, which is not to say that many a wrong-doer was not previously detected; the first formal detective being one Allen Pinkerton, afterwards not unknown to fame, particularly for discovering the supposed danger which made Lincoln, on a memorable occasion, turn up his collar and pull down his hat and make his way into Washington unobserved. And mention of the emancipator is remindful that the first white settler of Chicago, as distinguished from explorers and temporary abiders, was, as Chicagoans themselves express it, a black man; but just a West Indian negro, as they will explain, after you have been properly surprised.
There is poetic vagueness about what is said to have been the city's first university; most Chicagoans look upon it as a myth if they have heard of it at all; and if there is to be a city myth it is certainly a charming imagination to have it a supposititious university of ''St. Mary's of the Lake." It is more interesting from its very vagueness than it would be with date and endowment definitely discovered, if it ever really had a date and an endowment, or with the idea of its existence definitely destroyed.
Whatever others may think of the city, Chicago has always prided herself, on the whole, with efficiency of city government, and this in spite of terrific political contests in which the bitterest charges and countercharges have been made; and in spite of the most extreme statements regarding jobbery and corruption. But in the matter of street cleaning, or atmosphere cleaning, no Chicagoan has been harboring prideful feelings. The thick dust, driven in clouds from uncleaned streets, the thick black smoke emerging in clouds from myriad chimneys, with much of it heavily sinking to the level of the pavements and swirling in evil blotchings, mark what, as I write, is the most apparent of the city's delinquencies. Soap is the prime Chicago necessity. But the people have so triumphed as to keep themselves a spotless folk, after all, in this so far from spotless town. And yet Monday morning does not show a clothes-line aspect, either on the roofs or in the yards. So sooty is the city that drying must needs be done in kitchen or basement or attic. The white waist of an elevator girl lasts for two days' use.
It has been an important factor, in the development of Chicago, that the business section of the city is practically where it was a half century ago, or even a century ago. Where Chicago began, she has continued. There could be no greater contrast between New York and Chicago in this particular. New York having swept ceaselessly on for miles and miles with its constantly shifting merchandizing headquarters.
In the very early days, before Chicago established herself here, the place was avoided even by the Indians themselves as a marshy terror, even though the importance of the Chicago River portage was in early days recognized. Yet the site upon -which Chicago was to arise was claimed by three States: naturally enough, Chicagoans will concede, in view of the consequence that was to accrue; indeed, they deem the only matter for surprise to be that Chicago was not claimed by more than three!
The claim of Virginia was by right of conquest, George Rogers Clark, a Virginian, having led Virginians in the marvelous campaign which secured the Northwest Territory for the United States. (Clark Street is named for him.) Connecticut claimed by right of its charter, which gave ownership due west to the Mississippi. New York claimed by conquest; but the conquest was quite by indirection, New York having humbled the Iroquois and claimed rulership over them, and the Iroquois having previously extended their claims of dominion over the Indians of the Illinois region. But Virginia, Connecticut and New York agreed rather gracefully to unite in turning over to the United States Government their claims to the Illinois country.
But, for a time, this locality was actually governed as part of Virginia. Delightful old Marietta, in Ohio, was the seat of the government for a time under the Ordinance of 1787, for Illinois; and a little later Vincennes, in Indiana, became the center of government for the Chicago region; and the long-faced, long-headed fighter, William Henry Harrison, later to be known an "Tippecanoe," and still later to be President and the grandfather of another President, was made governor.
When Illinois took on the dignity of Statehood, after a probational period as a Territory, Chicago was almost put into Wisconsin! For the bill declaring Statehood designated a line along the southern end of Lake Michigan, by which the then village of Chicago was to be left out of Illinois and put into Wisconsin! But an Illinois territorial delegate to Congress succeeded in having the line so altered as to leave Chicago in Illinois: the delegate being a certain Nathaniel Pope; who was later to achieve another kind of fame by becoming the father of the Civil War soldier. General John Pope.
To name the counties in which the place was located would surely make Chicago seem a lost sort of place. For a time it was in Illinois County, later in Wayne; then, for a few years, in no county at all, owing to some geographical oversight. Later, Chicago became, in turn, in Madison County, in Edwards, in Crawford, in Clark, in Pike, in Peoria; and only after this bewildering succession of changes did the city, in 1831, settle into homely Cook.
It has more than once occurred to me that the names of the counties of Illinois not only represent the home-loving Americanism of the State, but have themselves had an influence in encouraging the admirable homely and patriotic qualities. Cook County, indeed, is prosaically named; and not far away is the likewise prosaically named Bureau County! And glancing further at the map, it will be noticed that there is profusion of names of homely and intimate quality, as, Edward County, Will County, Henry, Alexander, Edgar. No wonder that a first-name intimacy is such a common feature, here beside Lake Michigan. And a further homely touch comes in the recognition of Mrs. Grundy in Grundy County!
But patriotism in county names is even more marked. There are Washington and Jefferson and Hamilton, Moultrie and Greene, Knox, McDonough and Madison, Marion and Hancock, Franklin, Schuyler, Boone and Wayne, Pulaski and Fayette, Gallatin and Warren and St. Clair and Perry, Randolph, Marshall, Putnam and Stark. The name of Burr is intentionally absent; Illinois would have nothing of him! But there is, instead, a Jo Daviess County in honor of the man who, in Kentucky, prosecuted Burr for treason in the early days of the conspiracy, when Burr was still in control of wealth and power. Daviess died at Tippecanoe: a battle which somehow seems to have furnished a Battle Roll for Chicago.
A Chicago poet who won considerable fame, Moody, sang of his own city in what was meant to be swinging phrase:
"Gigantic, willful, young,
Chicago sitteth at the northwest gate,
With restless violent hands and casual tongue,
Molding her mighty fate."
When Joaquin Miller wrote of San Francisco as being at the western gate it meant something. But Chicago is not at any particular gate. She is not even at the foot of Lake Michigan, where every easterner thinks she stands, but on the western shore, some miles above the lower end of the lake, so that her lake frontage is not to the northward but altogether to the east. The city is not a gateway, which implies a place to pass through, but is markedly a stopping point, as several million folk have demonstrated.
Chicago is an extremely cosmopolitan city. Both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are hers. The Chicago newspapers advertise, impartially, sailings to Honolulu or Plymouth, to Japan or France. There is a sort of insouciance about it. And also there is insouciance in her evident determination to remain young no matter how the years are piling up. With all the intense absorption in work, there goes also an intense absorption in play; and you will notice such advertisements as that of the ''Fisherman's Special," whose times are so arranged as to take Chicagoans, with equipment of dining cars and sleeping cars, from Friday night until Monday, on long trips up among the lakes of Wisconsin.
With all its rush, of work and play, the city is not too busy to be honest, so one would gather from the great number of advertisements of purses lost; for this would seem to indicate a well-founded assumption as to the likelihood of recovery. Or is it merely indicative of a sort of naive trustfulness? — for I notice very few advertisements of purses found. And there are so many advertisements of lost dogs that it must needs be that excellent kind of a city, a dog lover's city; even though, in these days of motor ears, dogs are seldom seen except in the parks. Pick np any newspaper; in the first one are advertisements for an Airedale named Rip; for a Pekinese named Bubbles, light brown with two white front paws; don't you wish you could find the faithful Pip, and don 't you wish you could restore the white-pawed Bubbles to his mistress? And in the same paper I notice that there is a lost ''little black and tan dog, named Daisy." All good homely names, too; and the naming of dogs is an indication of character — of the owners, not of the dogs, except in the sense that dogs usually follow the character of their owners. I like to think of the names of George Washington's dogs, such as Juno, Mopsey and Truelove.
Chicago is justly known as the Windy City. Great winds come sweeping from the lake. And Chicagoans laugh, and say that they blow cobwebs from the brain. But even while thus jesting, they never for a moment believe that Chicago brains have any cobwebs. And I knew that the Chicagoan who soberly remarked to me that the winds thus take the place of vacuum cleaners meant it for humor only. Constantly, one notices examples of the city's quick and uncobwebbed thinking. For example, not long ago a man entered his motor-car with two thousand dollars that he had just drawn from a bank; three men boarded his car as he started off, and attacked him; two of the men dragged him from the wheel, and held him down, fiercely struggling, while the third put the car to top speed. But a man in the conning tower of a lift bridge saw the approaching car and saw that there was something very wrong, so, instantly, one hand reached for the lever that closed a gate across the roadway and the other hand instantly set in motion the mechanism that started the bridge upward, and thus the car, desperately braked, and skidding, was stopped.
And there comes to mind the homely comment of a Chicago paragrapher upon a labored editorial of a famous New York editor, who loves lengthily to plummet the abstruse; this editorial he worked out with more than usual labor and argument to the triumphant conclusion that ''Therefore, the egg came before the hen or else a miracle happened"; upon which the un cob webbed paragraphical comment was the brief but overwhelming, " No, the egg came after the hen or else a miracle happened. "
CHICAGO cares nothing for grandfathers. It is not a city of ancestor worship. It is not a city of descendants, for the very idea of descent is repugnant to all for which Chicago stands. A descendant is one who goes down, and Chicagoans will not admit the thought. A descendant is one who, descending, looks back at lofty peaks. But the ascendant — and every Chicagoan is or hopes to be an ascendant! — looks forward, as he climbs, to brilliant heights — although the literal minded may object to the use of such terms in regard to this city of absolute level. And this is one of the delightful contradictions: that, with every citizen on the same level, all are climbing. The vital and important matter, in regard to any Chicagoan, is not what his grandfather did, or who his grandfather was, but what he himself is now doing to advance himself and the city — the two interests being deemed to be the same.
But although the present outweighs the past, there is, -at the same time, an unusual degree of present-day interest in the events of the past. I do not know of any other city where the local historical museum is considered to be a matter of such importance and worthy the close attention of the most advanced men and women. And though ancestry is subordinated to present-day achievement, ancestry combined with present-day achievement may be highly regarded.
A politician would like, if he could, to claim descent from the first Irishman of Chicago, who came in 1830. And any citizen would like, as a matter of pride and interest, to be able to point to his father's or grandfather's name on that first formal tax roll of the little place, of 1825, when the property was valued at $4707 and the total tax was fixed at $47.07 and apportioned among thirteen taxpayers. And so recent is that date, that until a few years past a few Chicagoans could claim a birth-date antecedent to that of the tax-roll.
One of the most interesting visitors to the World's Fair, in 1893, was a charming lady, under sixty, who, her home then being in the South, was the invited guest of the city because she was a Kinzie, descended from the earliest and most important of settler families. She was so closely connected with the past that when she died, so recently as 1917, and then only 82 years old, she had for years enjoyed the distinction of being the oldest living white child born here. Her face looks out, charming iv its sweetness and youth, from a portrait of 1856, by Healy, the painter who put Chicago on canvas. And it is such dates and the realization of the dates which point out the extraordinary recentness of old Chicago. There are a number of Chicagoans, some ten in all, still alive as I write, who were born here previous to 1840. There are business houses still in existence which date back as far as the incorporation of Chicago as a city. The yesterday of Chicago is thus today; or, as a practical philosopher put it, today is the to-morrow that we were wondering about yesterday.
In an effort to connect Chicago with the men of the Revolution some have claimed, and the story is once in a while repeated, that George Washington once remarked to Anthony Wayne that at the mouth of the Chicago was to arise one of the great cities of the future. Benjamin Franklin really did say that about the mouth of the Cuyahoga, where Cleveland has since risen, and he was thoughtful enough to put it on paper, and Chicago would fain do better than Cleveland in the way of prophecy. But nobody really believes the Washington tale; and Chicagoans prefer to point out, with a laugh, the place where Washington would have had his headquarters had he ever come to Chicago.
Chicago does not need visionary associations with the past. Not only is there the Battle Roll of Tippecanoe — and it is a striking fact that Chicago names should figure as prominently as they do in the story of that brilliantly fought battle of 1811 — but there was also the little Black Hawk War, which made Chicago a center of importance for a time, and which had the participation of many men of future prominence. All were in Chicago as much as they could be, for small though it was it was full of life. And it ought to be remembered that Chicago, though really but a village, organized and sent out four companies to the war.
Among the future great men was Zachary Taylor, afterwards to be President, and he was in Chicago as lieutenant-colonel. Abraham Lincoln was here as captain of volunteers. And Jefferson Davis was in the war, and in Chicago, as lieutenant in the regular army. Likely enough, Davis and Lincoln passed each other on the muddy road beside Fort Dearborn, which stood near the mouth of the river: and it is curious to think how little either of them thought of the conflict, then thirty years away, in which they were to be opposing leaders and Presidents.
A half century after the Black Hawk War — in 1881, to be precise — Jefferson Davis was again in Chicago. He was on his way from New Orleans to Montreal, and stopped over, in Chicago, to see the Duke of Sutherland, who was passing through: and, as the English reporter expressed it, in his story (it was Russell, of the London Times), Davis sent word that "he would be glad to pay his respects to the Duke of Sutherland, if His Grace would receive him." I should not like to think that an American who had made, though on the wrong side, a great figure in our national life, really sent a message thus phrased; and, indeed, Russell as a correspondent was never to be altogether trusted, especially when ''Your Gracing." But he was probably right when he described Jefferson Davis as being at this time almost white-haired, with close-cut beard and mustache. On the very day of the call of Jefferson Davis on the duke, Chicagoans were setting in place a memorial tablet on the site of Fort Dearborn, and the Times man makes Davis say that he had once been in command of the fort: a statement which, of course, Jefferson Davis could not have made, as he was never in command at Fort Dearborn, but was for a time in command of another fort, Winnebago, in Wisconsin.
Another lieutenant who was here, for the Black Hawk War — like Davis, a dapper West Pointer — was Robert Anderson; and when, long afterwards, after his defense of Fort Sumter, he met President Lincoln, and was asked by him if he remembered their first meeting, Anderson replied that he did not remember ever having met him before, whereupon, slowly, the tall, sad man replied, ''Thirty years ago, you mustered me into service in the Black Hawk War." How such essences and flavors of history add delight to a region! And how whimsically delightful, among other historical memories, was the great contrast between Lincoln and Douglas, between the giant Lincoln and the "little giant" Douglas, between "six feet four and four feet six" as Chicagoans like to express it; and Lincoln was really well over six feet and Douglas was barely more than five.
It was in Chicago that Lincoln was nominated for the first time for the Presidency; and this is remindful of the proud record of Chicago for national political conventions and of the general success of Chicago-made candidates. And what, Chicagoans ask, can New York show, in the matter of such conventions, and the national leadership that they represent?
Grover Cleveland was nominated in this city for the two times that he was successful in the Presidential race, leaving to St. Louis the unenviable distinction of nomination for failure. Benjamin Harrison was nominated here for his winning campaign, and it was a Minneapolis nomination from which he went down in defeat. Roosevelt was nominated here for victory; and if he was afterwards given a nomination here for defeat, it was for an election at which it was another Chicago nominee, Taft, who won. And this gave Chicago the chance, which it cheerfully seized, of putting an addendum to a popular pleasantry. For Chicagoans had loved the simple humor of the story of the two citizens disputing as to the merits of the at one time contemporaneous Illinois Senators, Mason and Cullom; of Cullom's giving up his seat in a street car to a lady and Mason's giving up his seat to two ladies: and now that Taft had, in an important sense, joined the Chicago political family, he was made to give up his seat to three ladies.
It was here in Chicago that Harding was nominated. Hughes was nominated here for his unsuccessful race. Bryan was given his first nomination here, and here it was that he electrified the country and leaped to fame as an orator with his pejorative crucifixion and cross of gold. Grant was nominated in Chicago for his first election; and it was here that this mighty son of Illinois made the third term effort which so bitterly aroused national feeling. But how superbly the effort was made, with the holding together, throughout two days and thirty-six ballots, of the unbroken and unbreakable Three Hundred! The blood stirs with the thrill of that battle; and those Three Hundred might well be versified by some American Tennyson, even though they went down to defeat in a wrong cause, but as it is, the only verse in connection with it, I believe, is that which, declaimed by Conkling in his nominating speech, aroused the delegates and spectators to wild acclaim:
"And when asked what State he hails from,
Our sole reply shall be,
He hails from Appomattox
And its famous apple tree. "
Garfield was nominated for a winning election in Chicago. McKinley received in Chicago the nomination for his first election. And it was in Chicago that Blaine was nominated, when Robert G. Ingersoll, that orator of Illinois, always associated with Chicago in the mind of Easterners, won a magnificent oratorical triumph with the speech in which the outstanding phrase was that in which Blaine was personified as the Plumed Knight.
And all at once, at this thought, the misty years roll away, and the site of the future Chicago is seen, in the light of two centuries before that speech, as literally aglow with the armor and glory and costumes and plumes of literal knights.
The word ''Chicago," has come down through the centuries almost unchanged, in the effort to reproduce Indian pronunciation: "Chicajo," Chachajou," "Chekegou," "Chassagoac." The word meant, in the Indian tongue, "strong"; assuredly an admirable word to characterize the city that was to be. The "strong," some have suggested, came from the prevalent wild onion; others think it came from the quite as prevalent swamp-cabbage. It would seem, more probably, that the word came from the name of a great Indian chief, if the chief did not take his name from the locality. "Chicagou" was an Indian chief who went to Paris in the reign of Louis the Fifteenth, about 1725, and it was set down in early annals, by one of the French priests, that the chief was given a splendid snuff-box by the Duchess of Orleans; a sufficiently odd feature to be the outstanding reminiscence of a curious visit.
There was a Chikagou or Chassagoac, a chief on Lake Michigan, some half a century before that; and it may be taken as probable that the first chief of that name was the father of the second, although, as no ages are mentioned, they may have been one and the same; remindful of the two skulls of St. Peter shown to the tourist in Rome, one of the saint when he was a young man and one when he was old.
At any rate, the great La Salle, most picturesque, most daring and most romantic of the wonderful Frenchmen who plunged far through the Western wilderness while the English colonists were still hugging close to the Atlantic coast, had long conferences with Chassagoac, as he understood the name, the then great chief of the Illinois country. He was known by name quite as early as was the Chicago Portage; and it is therefore probable that the locality was given its name from him. And the probability is greatly strengthened by the reference, by Father Marquette, to a chief Chachagwession at the southern end of Lake Michigan.
La Salle and Chassagoac talked much together, on the shores of the lake, and together they made the first trade agreement of Chicago, the scene of what myriad of trade agreements since! And, indeed, one sees that romance and trade went hand in hand in the beginnings of Chicago, just as they have continued to do.
Chassagoac and La Salle agreed together upon the exchange of furs for merchandise, and La Salle consummated the agreement by handing to the Indian — with such delightful detail has the story come down — some hatchets, some knives, one kettle, one red blanket. How absolutely delightful to know that it was red! And the first business agreement of Chicago had thus to do with hardware and dry-goods and furs.
La Salle wrote from here to the Governor-General of Canada a letter dated, "Du portage de Checagon 4 Juin, 1683. " And in the winter of 1682-3 he built here a log house and a stockade — vanished long, long ago.
Another chief of the Chicago region, or the same chief with the name somewhat altered by the priestly chronicler (after all, names were necessarily set down by sound, and the excellent priest may have been a little deaf in one ear), declared that in the course of his life; a life, as he said, of long wars and great affairs; he had known but three great captains: Monsieur La Salle, Monsieur de Frontenac and himself. And never was there a more typical Chicago declaration!
Naiveté is a cheerful characteristic of Chicago. Turning over the pages of a Chicago book, I noticed a street view, a view of Monroe Street, with a note stating that it was from an old engraving, "in the eighties"! I think that no other city, young or old, could so naturally refer to the eighties as ''old." For, of course, being a street scene of Chicago, it was necessarily to the eighteen eighties that it referred, and not to the seventeen eighties, when George Rogers Clark had just completed the heroic campaign that not only gave the Northwest Territory to the United States, but, as another result, brought about the setting aside of school lands, still owned by the city of Chicago, from whose rentals a considerable part of the daily expenses of the present-day public schools is secured: a most curious connection with romantic bravery of the past.
Nor did that ''old" picture of Chicago mean the sixteen eighties, the period of the glorious La Salle, who first reached Lake Michigan in 1679 and whose deeds and personality dominated the Chicago and Illinois region till his death, less than ten years later, in 1687.
The history of Chicago has a background of proud memories and picturesque tradition. Nor does this mean that picturesqueness can belong only to the distant past. Chicago of the present may at any moment offer picturesqueness, and the picturesqueness may be very fine indeed; as on a day during the strike of April, 1920, when fifteen hundred striking carpenters of Chicago marched to Melrose Park, a suburb that had suffered devastation from a hurricane, and worked all day at building and repairing, gladly giving their labor free. Those fifteen hundred men, marching and working without pomp or display, make a fine and memorable picture.
This city, young though it is, is also a city of age, and of pictorial age. Winds come blowing, straight from the land of romance. One thinks again of the days of La Salle. "What costumes and what finery, here at the mouth of the Chicago! The noble banners, the white fleur-de-lis, steel corselets flashing in the sun, leather jerkins, colorful scarfs, gallant plumes! And, in picturesque contrast, the priestly robes of black or gray. We see La Salle himself, not like his ineffective statue in Lincoln Park, but splendid and stern, in steel breastplate and with belted baldric and sword; we see him in a scarlet cloak with gold facings, a figure noble and superb; we see him, in the pages of another chronicler, in scarlet cloak thick-edged with gold, a man of scarlet gorgeousness. And he had a costume of white and gold which he donned only for occasions of special impressiveness and display. A stately, commanding, always effectively clad figure, there in the distant wilderness. La Salle appreciated to the full, as George Washington later appreciated, the value of finely-clad dignity.
The purple and gold of chivalry, the strange and haunting scenes, the devotion of friend to friend, the magnificent enterprise, the gay bravery, the instant readiness to engage in either battle or barter, the personal bravery of those early men, the marvelous things they attempted and performed!
Near Niagara La Salle built a ship, Le Griffon, and it was the first to sail into the waters of Lake Michigan. At Green Bay he loaded it with furs. It set out upon its Eastward way. And the imagination is instantly aflame with the picture of that boat, the first sail boat on Lake Michigan, setting out to return through the profound loneliness.
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