Edward M. Burke, Alderman: In truth, she was a very decent, honorable, hard working lady who was trying to raise her family in very difficult circumstances. Connolly: They didn't want to lose their investors, and so it was easy to, I think, find a scapegoat and say "Oh, well we know the reason the fire started - and you know these Irish were not clean, they were throwing their garbage out.
And most of them are burned out too. They did say that. They've moved out of the city. The slums are going to be cleaned up. We don't have to worry about them anymore. So it was really a terrible thing for her to have endure. She just died, I think, heartbroken. They come today to prevent the city of Chicago from re-enacting the incident of Mrs.
O'Leary's cow. This float won the coveted national trophy. Narrator: In , after years, the Chicago City Council investigated the fire and formally absolved Mrs. O'Leary of responsibility. Alderman Burke: And the true villain in this case was Peg Leg O'Sullivan who broke into the O'Leary barn to steal milk from one of her cows to mix up a batch of whisky punch which was fueling a local gathering of some of the lads down the street from the O'Leary home.
Narrator: The rubble was swept into Lake Michigan to create more real estate. Chicago began to rebuild. Marshall Field dreamed of a new store on State Street as he removed hay and dung from a brick barn and set up display counters. Potter Palmer would replace his grand hotel, the Palmer House, with millions in loans secured only by his good reputation. Cyrus McCormick, the Reaper King, vowed to rebuild his plant on a vaster scale.
He said "These businessmen in Chicago are reckless, and they fail a lot. But failure doesn't bother them. Catastrophe doesn't bother them. They bounce right back. The fire happens, and believe it or not, in the newspapers it's seen as an opportunity. Chicago hops right to it after the fire, and rebuilds itself in an astonishingly short period of time. It's about a 2-year period. Ann Keating, Historian: We didn't have a mythological past, so we're building one, in To some degree, it's the city grows so quickly, and then it's creating a past and thinking about a past and the fire provides a mythology: Chicago's going to rise out of the ashes, it does arise out of the ashes.
How much of the city is actually burned? Well, you know, only a very small part of the actual city is burned.
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But that's not the way we think about the fire. Narrator: There was an outpouring of aid from around the nation and from 25 foreign countries. England sent 8, books. Alderman Burke: And even Queen Victoria personally donated books and inscribed them to the people of Chicago. And they had assumed, of course,that in the great fire, Chicago would have lost its library. There was only one problem. Chicago didn't have a library. Narrator: Two years after the fire, a 17 year-old came to Chicago from Boston with dreams of becoming an architect. Though he found the buildings unimpressive, he was impressed with the recovery.
Tim Samuelson, Chicago Historical Society: He wrote in his autobiography about stepping off the train, seeing the city before him--part of it's still in ruins from the fire--and thrusting his hand up in the air and saying, "This is the place for me. Narrator: The city "shouted itself hoarse," Sullivan would write. Gustavus Swift would be another. Swift got his start as a teenage butcher on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Ed Swift Jr. And then slaughtered the heifer and went and sold it to local residents in the Cape, and came back, and his father asked him, How did you do? And he said, Well, I sold the meat for 20 dollars.
And his father said, Well, you didn't make any money at it, then. He said, Well, yes I did. I sold the hide for two dollars. And the reason I like that story is that eventually he discovered that the big picture, that in the livestock business you didn't make money or much money selling the meat, but you made it in the byproducts.
Narrator: Swift became a cattle dealer who followed the market west. In he moved his pregnant wife Ann and five children into a rented house near the Union Stock Yards. He was so frugal, for 30 years he would not allow her to buy curtains until she threatened to leave. Even then not for his bedroom.
Swift wanted to be closer to the source of cattle. The source was no where near Chicago.
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It was more than a thousand miles away in Texas. Later it spread north - across the great plains - to Montana. After the railroad reached Abilene, Kansas in , cowboys began herding Texas longhorns north along the Chisholm Trail to the railhead. They were loaded on cattle cars bound for buyers in Chicago like Gustavus Swift. Swift would revolutionize the beef industry. What Americans and much of the world ate. When they ate it. Where they bought it. How little they paid for it. Once a luxury, he made beef affordable and commonplace. He bought his cattle at the Union Stock Yards and shipped them East to butchers he knew in Massachusetts.
But there were problems shipping live animals. William Cronon, Historian: They have to be fed. They have to be watered, which they don't do very happily in a railroad car, which means that they're constantly losing weight. And many of these are animals with long horns, stuffed into cattle cars and gouging each other.
So that a number of them will arrive wounded or dead, by the time they reach their final destination. These are all reasons not to want to ship live animals. Swift: Gustavus Swift was shipping, via the railroad, steers that weighed about 1, pounds. He only was able to sell pounds of that animal through the meat.
And so, there were pounds that was just costing him money. Narrator: Swift decided to slaughter the cattle in Chicago and ship only the dressed beef East. In that decision he took risks greater than any Chicago entrepreneur had ever taken. Cronon: If you're not going to ship live animals, how are you going to ship the beef so that it doesn't rot along the way? And there, the answer to the riddle has already been provided by the pork packers in the 's, this immense network of ice-storing places that cut ice in the winter from Indiana, Wisconsin, deliver it to Chicago.
Ifyou could simply get that ice into railroad cars, insulate those cars, and then send a jet of cold air across whatever the contents of the railroad car would be, you could ship any meat anywhere in the country without it rotting. Narrator: Ice loaded in Chicago would not last to New York. This forced Swift into the ice business.
He created five depots along the tracks. Every ton of dressed beef needed a ton of ice at each of his five depots. The railroads he used for livestock had invested in cattle cars and charged by the pound. When Swift bought his own refrigerated cars, the railroads conspired against him. He retaliated by dropping their more direct route to new York that ran south of Lake Erie. Instead he shipped through Canada to Montreal and then south to Boston and New York, arranging for ice along the way.
For dressed beef, the longer trip didn't matter. Transportation was only the first challenge. Cronon: Americans were used to eating their beef fresh. They were used to pork being in a packed form, whether it was ham or bacon or salt pork or what have you. But the way they'd had beef up until this time was by going down to their local butcher, who had slaughtered that cow the night before, and so the meat was still just within 24 hours of having been a living, pulsing animal. And Swift was asking them to buy beef that was at least a week old, which did not sound like healthy beef to most Americans.
Pacyga: New York butchers, Boston butchers, Philadelphia butchers, don't want to carry this meat. In fact, they're giving it a bad rap. They're calling it embalmed meat. And they're really afraid of being put out of business. Narrator: Butchers in Fitchburg, Massachusetts told Swift they would not sell Swift dressed beef if all Fitchburg were starving.
Miller: The old man gets on a train, goes East, goes to Lowell, sets up a railroad siding, unloads a whole hell of a load of lumber, builds a butcher shop, hires a workforce, and drives a number of the local butchers out of business. Narrator: It is all right to lose money, Swift told his agents, "just don't let them nose you out. His huge volume ensured low prices. Competition from other Chicago packers like Philip Armour forced prices lower still.
So low that Swift and his competitors sold their meat at a loss. The Chicago packers earned their profits on the margin - from what local butchers threw away. Cronon: Things that the local butcher had had to give away because there just wasn't enough of them and there weren't enough-enough customers for them to sell, could now be gathered into one location and turned into tons and tons of that material. You could hire scientists to figure out how to turn that material into soap or buttons or new forms of meat that had never been sold before.
Narrator: Hides were tanned to leather, hair stuffed cushions, horns became combs; guts, tennis racquet strings; tails, paintbrushes, hooves, Jell-o. Nothing was wasted. Swift: Gustavus Swift would walk out to Bubbly Creek, which was this terrible little sewer that ran out of one of his plants, with his top hat, his dark suit, he'd have his pants tucked into his Wellington boots, and he would wade into Bubbly Creek to check what was coming out of the sewer.
And if he saw any grease or fat then he knew that was waste because you could have turned that into lard. And he'd go back and he'd find the source of how that happened and correct it. He was a very hands on manager. Nancy Koehn, Historian: You can't understand industrial capitalism without understanding the importance of pennies, half cents, a tenth of a cent, a hundredth of a cent. And when you think about millions of pounds of beef being processed through a single plant in a year, you begin to understand why a hundredth of a cent was something that kept Swift and Armour and other industrialists up at night.
Narrator: There were two ways packers could cut costs. Speed up the process and slash wages. They did both. In each of the most skilled workers, the splitters, split 32 carcasses a day. Ten years later each split 75, double the work for less pay. It took fifteen minutes from the kill to the chill room. Low paid immigrants from Eastern Europe, even children, replaced the skilled butchers.
More than people would each do a small, routine job. When skilled Irish or German workers went on strike, Swift and Armour quickly replaced them. Cars packed with dressed beef heading East passed immigrants heading West in what were little better than cattle cars.
Scandinavians, Poles, Lithuanians. Many settled "Back of the Yards" in Packingtown. Four room apartments would house families of twelve. Often a border slept in a bed while another worked a different shift. By the s Packingtown had become the vilest slum in Chicago. One boundary was the largest garbage dump in the city. Children played there.
And women scavenged. Pacyga: One of the aldermen said, "Hey, that whole neighborhood smells. Where are we going to put garbage dumps if we don't put it there? Because here you had Bubbly Creek which was this open sewer for northern boundary. You had the stockyards which left off this odor. And then you had this garbage dump. And then the railroad yards along the south, where children would get killed all the time as they were trying to cross the lines to go to school.
Miller: There was a big place called the hair field there, where they kept the hair, you know, from some of the animals, to dry out in the fields. They had these enormous sewerage ditches there. Men often drowned in the sewerage ditches. They'd get drunk at a local shebang, you know, they get down there, they fall into the ditch. Even the lawyer, Armour's lawyer, said the best thing you can do with the yards is burn them down. Even his lawyer said that. Narrator: There were hundreds of saloons back of the yards, three on every block.
Many were on Whiskey Row at the gate of the stockyards. Pacyga: When the bell rang at , men would run out to Whisky Row, which was the major street just to the west of the stockyards, and they would get a beer, and a shot, and then they could have a free lunch. So there'd be usually huge steam tables in these taverns in which they'd come in. And there you had your pickled hogs feet and your eggs and your Polish sausage and your ham and whatever. You'd make a sandwich, and you'd eat, and you'd go back into the packinghouses.
Narrator: The saloons on Whiskey Row served everyone. On the side streets the saloons were strictly ethnic. A Polish newspaper recounted the fate of a drunken German who wandered into a Polish tavern. Pacyga: The newspaper article reports that something magical had happened. A bottle had come to life. It hit the German on the head and dragged him out and left him in the sewer.
And then jumped back up on the bar. And there were various witnesses who said this is exactly what happened. And the bottom line of the article was, "Drink in your own bars. If a Pole had walked into an Irish tavern or a German tavern, God help the Jew who walked into any tavern on those streets. There would have been a clash. Narrator: Swift and the meatpackers, like all of Chicago's entrepreneurs, depended on the railroad.
In , in the midst of a depression, railroads cut workers salaries up to 40 percent. Just 12 years after slavery was abolished, workers considered themselves wage slaves. They went on strike, spontaneously, from West Virginia to Chicago. Pacyga: These workers were feeling that their means of production were being taken away from, that they had no control over those railroads.
They had no control over their lives. And so that struggle in was central to new understanding by working class people what this new capitalism meant for them. Miller: And now the New York Times and Tribune are pointing out the predominant issue is no longer the race issue; it's the labor issue, labor and capital, the relationship of labor and capital. It's still a property issue, like slavery.
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Who controls property? When I control a concern, do I control the employees as my property? Are they working on my property and hence have no rights to bargain with me for better conditions, because it's my property? And so it raises all these kinds of issues. Narrator: The threat to property was more acute in Chicago because of sympathy strikes organized by socialists.
Workers emptied factories and packinghouses. On July 26, Bohemians, socialists from what is now the Czech Republic, left their jobs in the lumberyards to battle the police. They demanded an eight-hour day and restoration of wages. The Tribune described the mob stoning the police as "Bridgeport and Stockyard plug uglies. Marshall Field loaned his retail store delivery wagons to the police to move their riot squads.
He later headed a Citizens Association which bankrolled four Napoleon cannons and a Gatling gun for the police. Businessmen urged General Phil Sheridan, stationed in Chicago after the Civil War, to call in federal troops who were fighting the Sioux in the Dakotas.
Miller: The fear of revolution. There's a fear of socialism. There's a fear spread of anarchical ideas in the city. There's a fear that capitalism itself is fearfully vulnerable. This is in the middle of the Great Depression, and maybe the system's not quite working the way it should. New wealth has arisen, a new class of plutocrats. This is a real watershed moment in American history. Narrator: There had been a mass meeting before the violence began. The chief speaker was a typesetter at the Chicago Times , a socialist, named Albert Parsons.
His ancestors had arrived on the second voyage of the Mayflower. He had fought for the South in the Civil War. Miller: After the war, he says in his autobiography, he felt so guilty about fighting to retain slavery because he had been brought up by a black woman, a slave, a black nanny, and he claims that he went to her personally and apologized.
Became very active in Texas politics in the 's, on the side of the radical Republicans, which are pushing for the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, giving blacks civil rights and the right to vote. They're fighting the Klan. Pacyga: He married a woman of mixed race, a black woman, Lucy Parsons. He had to get out of Texas because of that. And he came to Chicago. And Chicago, of course, was on the very cutting edge of this industrial change and this industrial revolution. All the questions that were bubbling up inside of Parsons were also bubbling up inside the city.
So he was really already beginning to question capitalism. Narrator: Parsons saluted the "Grand Army of Labor," and asked workers to join his party to secure state ownership of industry. William Adelman, Historian: Albert Parsons was taken to City Hall and was cross-examined by the businessmen, and asked who he was, what he was doing in town, his background, and things of that kind.
Richard Schneirov, Historian: They questioned him, and the police chief took him aside and said, "They're going to string you up if you don't get out of town. Narrator: That night Parsons went to the Tribune to discuss the strike with his typesetter friends. One of them said 'Shut up or we'll dash you out the windows on the pavements below. Now go. He would solve it through social engineering.
Unruly workers, he felt, had behavior problems stemming from their squalid surroundings, especially the saloons. To build Chicago's sewers in the s he had helped raise the entire downtown with jacks while people went about their business. Then he tackled a problem that bothered him. After the Civil War Americans traveled everywhere by train. And it was miserable. Koehn: He conceives of the idea for a sleeping car, what he will later call luxury for the middle class, when he's sleeping on a wooden shelf on a railroad, thinking that it's got to be more comfortable than this.
Narrator: Pullman envisioned what he called Palace Cars with gilded lamps, chandeliers, and velvet hangings. Travelers could luxuriate in rotating lounge-chairs. And in thick cotton sheets on the pull-down berths. Investors were skeptical. Would people pay for a car that cost four times as much as an ordinary passenger car? Would they know how to behave? Miller: The average person traveling in a car might be a salesman, for example. He's been out selling McCormick reapers somewhere, tromping around in a field.
His feet are filled with mud. He's got a chaw of tobacco in his mouth. He's going to get on your car, sleep in your car. What's going to prevent him from spitting on the floor? Koehn: Skeptics told him people would go to bed with their boots on, they'd spit on the velvet curtains, they'd chew tobacco and dribble on the--on the cotton pillow cases.
Pullman was having none of it. Narrator: Pullman's fledging company got a boost when a Palace Car carried the funeral cortege of Abraham Lincoln from Chicago back to Springfield in As Swift had done in meatpacking, Pullman extended Chicago's reach across the nationby leasing his sleeping cars to America's railroads. He hired only Black porters to wait on passengers. Former slaves, he felt, knew how to serve. Pullman's response to the great uprising of was to build a model town and factory based on the principle of the Palace Car - beauty uplifts behavior.
The town of Pullman, on the prairie 12 miles south of the grime, the brothels, and the saloons of Chicago, housed 12, workers. Drinking was not allowed. There was a bar in the Hotel Florence, named for his favorite child, but it was off limits to workers. His managers lived in single family houses, the workers in attractive row houses. Blacks, hired as waiters, lived in boarding houses. Koehn: He really believed that he saw an answer that flew in the face of everything, in some sense, around him. And it had to do with taking care of workers.
He was a great industrial utopian thinker in that sense, and, like many utopian thinkers, he was fueled by fantasy as much as reality. But he built his town to try and realize that utopian vision. Keating: He builds this town in which he doesn't want workers to be able to drink. He wants them to have what he considered decent housing with indoor plumbing and amenities like near-by stores and a church that he was going to build and parks and recreational facilities and a library.
Koehn: Education for children. It's got every state-of-the-art service that he can conceive of. And the idea there is that if workers are satisfied and taken care of in a planned community, they will find their work with Pullman satisfying, enterprising, perhaps indeed ennobling. They'll have no need of unions, or strikes, or any kind of discord that has characterized a lot of industrial and worker relations in Chicago up to that point.
Narrator: Pullman bought the Corliss engine, the world's most powerful engine, the chief exhibit at America's Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in It would power his new plant to make sleeper and freight cars.
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On April 2, Pullman's pride and joy, Florence, pushed the button. Victoria Brown, Historian: To have his favorite daughter pushing the switch to make it go on, the pride that he must have felt in his own achievement, in what he'd worked to create, is indescribable. Narrator: Pullman's factory was the most modern the new industrial age could offer. With a beautiful town and factory, he said "the disturbing conditions of strikes The press applauded what it saw as enlightened capitalism.
One woman remarked: "With the terrible temptations of the open saloon gone my husband has stopped drinking and now we have a beautiful home with comforts and luxuries. Keating: Pullman is seen as one of a vanguard who is providing an answer to the problem of urban poverty and the problems of urban workers. He is written up in press account over and over and over again. Koehn: And Americans and others around the world, want to believe that there must be a way to reconcile the material possibilities of capitalism with what seemed to be extraordinary costs.
Schneirov: Not only did it seem that he was doing something about it, but he was showing that you could make money at it, while also being a reformer. So, a lot of people praised him as being a practical reformer. So, he's changing the system, he's improving it for the workers, and he's making a profit. So maybe this is the new way to go. Narrator: Pullman lived downtown on Prairie Avenue with tycoons like Marshall Field and Phillip Armour, but his mansion was considered "grandest of them all.
He lunched and played poker with Field and Armour at the "millionaires table" at the Chicago Club. They were among his few friends. He upbraided his staff at work for the slightest failings. George Pullman controlled everyone. He could certainly control his workers. Pullman's office was atop the 10 story Pullman building, a skyscraper in downtown Chicago, the busiest, most concentrated business district in America.
When a visitor from China first saw it, he was appalled. Miller: And he says that he almost froze up when he got off the train and entered the city. The El system's up, and it's roaring overhead like crazy. There's swirling smoke in the city. The soot coming off the street.
This cloud of smoke hanging over the city. The rush of people, this cavalry charge on the streets. Streetcar lines all over the place. Trolleys going along. Let's say there's a dray in front of it with four horses. They just pick it up and push it to the side. Horse and team spin over like that. Peddlers on every corner. The circus is in town. Elephants down the street, clowns, you know, big animals shitting on the street, lions and tigers. Skyscrapers going up a story every three days, you know. And they're spectacles in the sky, and people are watching them like urban shows, you know, watching these buildings going up.
The sound of rivet guns, which were just invented at the time. Bang-bang-bang of the rivet systems. Lots of immigrants who came to the city went downtown for the first time and just couldn't believe the spectacle. It just seemed like one vast construction site. Narrator: The congestion was due in part to the El, the elevated transit that brought people downtown from all parts of the city. By Chicago had the best urban transit system in the world.
Twenty years earlier it was a mess. It took longer to get downtown in by a horse car than to Milwaukee by train. The genius behind these changes was Charles Tyson Yerkes. Yerkes had done time in Philly for embezzlement and would leave Chicago the most vilified public figure in its history.
zaki.vot.pl/img/jailbreak/hec-rastrear-celular-pelo.php Miller: He was this big, corpulent, handsome man, very arrogant, and made it known to Chicagoans that, he said, this place is a hell hole. And I'm going to live here for a while and make a million, and I'm going back to where I can live regally and well, in New York. Narrator: In , just after Yerkes arrived, Chicago opened its first cable car line. Marshall Field invested in cable cars that headed for his store, looped around and headed back south. Since then The Loop has been synonymous with downtown Chicago. The rest of the city had horse cars. Backed by Philadelphia cohorts, Yerkes consolidated these private transit lines and replaced horse cars with cable cars.
He cleaned up two water soaked tunnels under the river to avoid the delay of swing bridges. He introduced electric trolleys. And then elevated them. But no one liked him. City tax relief is available for commercial buildings, and the Wheeler Mansion was the first beneficiary of a Cook County property tax abatement program for renovators of historic buildings--taxes are cut in half for ten years.
The state of Illinois also offers some tax breaks for residential and commercial restorations, says Kent Haag of the Illinois Historical Preservation Society, but it gives cash grants only to nonprofits, mostly museums. Yet tax breaks and even cash can only do so much--and not much is left to save on Prairie Avenue. Apart from its two museums, the district's best reminder of the past is a series of plaques set into the wrought-iron fence surrounding Hillary Rodham Clinton Park.
The plaques describe some of the homes that once stood there. Each plaque provides a photo or a drawing, and some have pictures of the former residents. They tell stories about the families who lived in the homes--some are personal, others explain the social customs of the era. One plaque offers a vivid description of a lavish party where some of Chicago's first electric lights wowed hundreds of guests. The plaques are helpful in conjuring the long-gone world of Prairie Avenue's gentry, but reading them can also be strange--and weirdly fitting.
The experience resembles paging through a scrapbook: faded pictures are as close as we'll ever come to the charmed lives enjoyed by a privileged few on Prairie Avenue. Showing 1- 1 of 1. Add a comment. Switch to the mobile version of this page. The Chicago Reader. Showing 1- 1 of 1 Add a comment. Subscribe to this thread:.
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