Page images

Chicago. )



stored in the elevators, in distant parts of the town, its grade determined by the State Inspector; and the purchaser of a dozen or a hundred car-loads pays his cheque to the seller and takes a receipt for the quantity bought, which he can draw at any time from the elevator specified. And so it happens that one may ramble about the city for weeks and not see a sign of the grain which gives it life, or form any idea, from observation, of the magnitude of the traffic.

It is natural that this great capital of the nomads of the West should surpass (as it does) any other cities of equal size, wherever they may be found, in the extent, variety, and splendour of its restaurants. Scores of devices, as yet unheard of in Europe, are employed to serve the comfort of their guests; and the discomforts of homelessness are in part offset by luxuries surpassing the wildest fancies of Sybaris. Even the sturdy republicans of the Plains call these colossal hostelries palaces, and boldly challenge a comparison between them and the royal houses of Europe. The Palmer House, a vast fireproof building, containing more than 700 rooms and halls, cost £600,000; the Grand Pacific Hotel, covering an entire square, cost £150,000; and the Tremont, the Sherman, and others are hardly inferior in size.

The Court-House and City Hall, the llotel de Ville of the Prairie metropolis, is the grandest and most imposing building in the State, erected at a cost not far short of £1,000,000 It is in that modern French Renaissance architecture which the Americans have used so freely during recent years for their mammoth public buildings; and exhibits great store of Corinthian columns, allegorical statuary, and elaborate friezes, the entire edifice being constructed of Illinois marble and Maine granite. Over the centre a tower was to have been built, whose design called for an altitude of 376 feet. It would not only have flattered the civic pride, but might have become a landmark for vessels far down the lake, bound inward to the land of corn and plenty. Unfortunately, however, the city engaged to erect one half of the building, and the county the other half. The latter wanted a dome, and nearly completed the half which rested on county territory; but the city declined to build the other half, and out of this misunderstanding the most amusing law-suits have arisen.

The building erected in Chicago for the reception of the post-office, customs, sub-treasury, and national courts, is a huge quadrangular pile in Venetian Romanesque architecture, richly ornamented, and surmounted by eight beavy towers. Already this mountain of stone has cost more than £1,000,000; and it does not appear that the Government offices will have excess of room, so great is the postal business at this point. But little more than forty years ago, there was only one mail a week to Chicago, which was brought by an Indian half-breed from the little port of Niles, in Eastern Michigan. As this lonely horseman rode through the unbroken forests and over the silent prairies, for day after day, he could not have dreamed of the matchless development of that business which he so easily transacted alone. The halfbreed's saddle-bags contained the seeds of empire.

Importations from Europe pay duties at the Chicago Customs amounting to nearly £100,000 yearly. They are chiefly in various kinds of dry goods and French silks. Large quantities of tin-plate are brought hither from England, and after being made up into ware, are re-shipped to the mother country, whose dealers are clearly undersold by the Chicago agents.

The Lake Park lies to the eastward of the centre of the city, and is a long and narrow

[ocr errors]

strip on the shore of Lake Michigan, a favourite resort for the masses of the people on pleasant summer evenings. The site of this popular pleasure-ground was formerly occupied by water, over which the Michigan Central Railway line passed, on a trestle bridge, well out from (and parallel with) the shore. Much of the débris from the Great Fire was thrown into the space

between the trestle and the beach, and the area thus filled has been converted into a very charming park, about one mile long, and in part bordered by the handsome residences of Michigan Avenue.

Prominent among the means by which the Americans are kept homogeneous, and avoid falling into provincialism, are the great fairs and industrial expositions which are so often held in various sections of the Republic, stimulating the continual interchange of commodities and dialects, goods and opinions. One of the chief temples of these commercial pilgrimages is situated on the lake front of Chicago, near the busiest quarter of the city; and here, every

year, is held a great Inter-State fair, ST. JAMES'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH..

for the farmers and manufacturers of the

interior States to exbibit their wares, and to incite each other to new rivalries, whether in the relative size of pumpkins, or the comparative horse-power of engines of various forms. The buildings are permanent, and exemplify the semi-Moresque architecture which is always held sacred to such purposes, with the customary light domes, and the indispensable lines of flags floating from the roofs. The chief structure is said to be the largest in the world without interior roof supports; but this phrase, “the largest in the world,” is of too common use west of the Atlantic Ocean to be always seriously considered. It is used in a good-natured and patriotic spirit, but surely indicates the lingering of a certain provincial narrowness of vision, which, however, will no doubt disappear ere long.

The arts and graces of a high and finished civilisation are at last being added to the other acquirements of the community, and with a rapidity and audacity which promise well for the future. It would not surprise an American to hear that a syndicate of Chicago men were negotiating for the Vatican Gallery, or had made an offer for the British Museum. The Government has given the old Custom-House to the city for a public library, and one of the ablest librarians in America has been engaged to conduct it. There are already more than 60,000 volumes on its shelves. The Historical Society, which was so great a loser in the fire of 1871, has made new collections of old relics, some of them extending back for almost three decades. There is also






an Academy of Art; and several scientific societies, of various sorts, unite the devotees of the crucible and microscope.

The study of music has received much attention ; and four large conservatories are maintained by the students who flock hither from the North-Western region. Another group of educational institutions is devoted to the study of medicine, to which four colleges are dedicated. The hospitals of Chicago are numerous and extensive, the chief of them being the vast Mercy Hospital, which is under the care of the devoted and beloved Sisters of Mercy. Another group of institutions, semi-charitable and semieducational, is found in the convents and monasteries, of which there are twelve, mostly of the modern orders of nuns.

The public schools are large, costly, and efficient, giving free instruction to scores of thousands of pupils, and strongly aiding in the desirable amalgamation of this Anglo-Dane-Scandinavian-Teutonic-Celtic community into a homogeneous (as well as harmonious) unity. The cramming process, which is so universal in the Northern States schools, is in full flower here, and if the children can effectively learn half of what they say by rote, their intellectual life is well-founded. But one lesson is fairly and surely taught, and that is equality. The child of the navvy is seated alongside the heir of the grain-king, and has the same privileges and opportunities, so far as the schools are concerned.

No small share of the marvellous success and influence of Chicago is due to the conspicuous ability of its newspapers, which are circulated throughout all the North-West, and sound the glories of the Garden City over the remotest prairies of Dakota and Nebraska. The Tribune and the Times are the largest of these, and sometimes contain in a single number twenty pages of the size of the London Times, closely printed, and treating a great number of topics, usually with marked ability and enterprise. They give not only the chronicles of these fresh-water States, but also the latest news from the British Isles and Europe, the daily whims of the Sublime Porte, the battle-records of South Africa and Central Asia, and the politics of Australia and Japan, all of these topics being handled with noteworthy breadth of treatment and clear comprehension of the subjects. Madrid, Constantinople, and Calcutta are practically nearer to these editors than they are to those of Berlin and Paris. The Inter-Ocean, another daily newspaper, has a telegraph-line of its own running to Washington, 800 miles distant, which is the longest wire in the world under journalistic control.

[ocr errors]


In the Northern suburbs, not far from Lincoln Park, is the spacious park which surrounds the Presbyterian Theological Seminary of the North-West, a school of the prophets to raise up clergy for the new-born States. The park and buildings were purchased with money sent out by religious men of New York and New England, and the seminary was founded among the dim and remote days of 1559. Fronting on L'nion Park is the handsome Norman building of the Theological Seminary pertaining to the Independents, a sect which has great power among the New Englanders in the West. There is also a divinity school for the education of Baptist clergy, situated not far from the University

The religious men and women of Chicago are very active, and carry into the labour of evangelising the same direct and business-like methods which they employ in conquering new territories for commerce. They have need of vigilance and diligence, for a large part of the population is composed of easy-going and pleasure-loving Germans, agnostic on all points except as to the virtues of the North-Western lager-beer, and regarding the venerable Anglo-American institution of a quiet and worshipful Sunday as a remnant of long-outgrown superstition. In spite of the best efforts of the religious people, a Chicago Sunday is a compromise between St. Paul and Epicurus, Edinburgh and Vienna, the church and the beer-garden.

There are about 250 churches in the city, the chief sects being the Methodist, with 41 societies; the Roman Catholic, 31; the Baptist, 26; the Presbyterian, 24; the Episcopalian, 17; and the Congregationalist, 11. As to nationality, as shown in the language used in preaching, there are 32 German churches, 19 Scandinavian, 2 Danish, 2 Bohemian, 2 Polish, 2 Welsh, and 10 Jewish synagogues. Chicago will be remembered as the scene of Mr. D. L. Moody's religious labours for many years, and the citizens at one time erected a tabernacle for him, seating 10,000 persons. It has also been the home of Robert Collyer, the famous Unitarian preacher, whose youth was passed at work in an English smithy.

There are many handsome stone churches here, rich in decorative carving, and with spires that are seen from far off on the lake. Among these are two cathedrals-Roman and Anglican—but their standing is purely official, and there is nothing of the venerable majesty of the English cathedrals to sanctify them. It may be different, however, when Christianity has dwelt in Illinois for eighteen centuries. The social element is connected with the churches in a remarkable manner, and there are suites of parlours and other rooms connected with the sacred buildings, in which frequent assemblies are given under the best and noblest auspices. The mission Sunday-schools are enormous institutions, where thousands of the children of the poor are gathered in beautiful halls, and taught something of the sweetness and light which came into the world so many centuries ago, and yet has been hidden from such vast, sad majorities of the people.

The residence quarters, south of the business district, and out in the North Division and about the smaller parks of the West Division, are chiefly attractive for their spacious and ornamental grounds, surrounding the houses of the old families, whose histories date back, in some cases, as far as 1830. For many years the broad street called Michigan Avenue, parallel with and fronting on Lake Michigan, was the fashionable quarter, but the advance of trade has driven the homes backward, and now the finest houses are on




and near the southerly extension of the avenue. These beautiful suburban roads, with their lines of trees and shrubbery, have given rise to the title of “ The Garden City,” which Chicago greatly prizes.

Not far from the beginning of the boulevard leading to the South Park, in a small square on the shore of Lake Michigan, is the mausoleum of Stephen A. Douglas, over which rises a tall and graceful pillar, surmounted by a bronze statue of the famous Western orator. This man was a fair type of many of the leaders of the new States, and received the heartiest homage of the people, who delighted to call him “ The Little Giant.” Born and educated in New England, he emigrated to the West at an early age, and rose from the humble duties of an auctioneer's clerk to the highest positions in the gift of the State. For fourteen years Douglas was a Senator of the United States, and just before the breaking out of the Civil War, he became a candidate for the Presidency. Abraham Lincoln, another lawyer and politician of the same State, whom he had defeated in the contest for the Senatorship, easily beat him in the race for the greater prize, and became Chief Magistrate of the Union. Soon afterwards, when the deadly flames of sectional battle were beginning to crackle all over the country, the Little Giant died, and was honoured with a royal sepulture among the people whom he had so long represented.

Near the Douglas Monument are the handsome and commodious stone buildings of the Chicago University, occupying a domain which was given for the purpose by the Senator himself. The various departments of this institution contain several hundred students, many of whom are women; and the academic faculty is affiliated with other groups of professorships, forming schools of law and medicine. The observatory has one of the largest equatorial telescopes in the world; and doubtless the genius loci will not be entirely content until it is quite the largest, and has a lens of unapproachable dimensions. The University was founded in 1858, and has already attained a position of great influence. The buildings are of the beautiful Athens marble, which is quarried not far away, and has been extensively used in the rebuilding of Chicago ; and their spires and towers rise high over the surrounding groves of oaks. The proximity of Lake Michigan, with its sea-like expanse of blue water, and of charming semi-rural residence-streets, affluent in trees and lawns, makes the locality very pleasant and attractive, and in high favour as a place for homes.

In this district is the beautiful little enclosure of Aldine Park, surrounded by handsome houses, and adorned with abundant trees and shrubbery. Union Park, Jefferson Park, and other urban enclosures of the West Division, are similarly surrounded and ornamented, and form very pleasant features among the long and densely-peopled streets. The first-named, Union Park, contains 23 acres, and the expenditure of £20,000 has made a pretty landscape garden out of this bit of dull prairie, including some creditable hillocks and a gracefully winding pond. The pleasant residence-quarter of the West Division surrounds the park on all sides.

It was once said by an eminent orator in Boston (and it is as true in Great Britain and Western Europe as in America), “ There is not a man here the beef upon whose table yesterday was not the cheaper to him because these people laid out their world-renowned and wonderful system of stock-yards. There is not a man here the bread upon whose table


« PreviousContinue »