Throwback Thursday: Chicago Is Planned & Recognized

August 4th, 1830 is a day regarded by Historians in Illinois as the day Chicago was recognized. Given Chicago’s location by the Great Lakes, financiers looked at the land as an opportunity for a transportation hub. The Illinois legislature appointed James Thompson to survey and plat the town which had a population of about 100 people. He laid out the town for Canal Commissioners in preparation for the sale of lots to finance a proposed Illinois and Michigan Canal; its first sales on Sept. 4, 1830. The filing of the plans marked the first recognition of the municipality of Chicago.

James Thompson plat of Chicago

Originally the area was inhabited by native Algonquian people including the Mascouten and Miami. The name Chicago came from a French version of the native word Shikaakwa, or Stinky Onion, due to wild garlic growing abundandlty in the area. The first known reference of the area of Chicago came in a memoir from 1679 by Robert De LaSalle, noting the abundance of Chicagoua. Chicago’s first permanent, non-native settler is a black man that goes by the name of Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable and regarded as the founder of Chicago. The farm he built at the mouth of the Chicago River near Lake Michigan is now a national historical landmark at what is now 401 N Michigan Ave, Pioneer Court.

On August 12th, 1833 the Town of Chicago was established with a population of 350. One year later the first Schooner named the Illinois from New York enters the harbor, marking Great Lakes trade relationship between the two booming cities. Rich farmlands attracted many Yankee settlers that overnight created a city through real estate and trade. The city quickly grew demanding warehouse, rails and dock yards to be built for transportation and trade. By 1850’s over 30 rail lines entered the city making Chicago the transportation hub of the United States. Chicago was granted a city charter by the state of Illinois on March 4, 1837 and the city of Chicago was born with over 4,000 to its population.

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