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Chicago's Greatest Year, 1893

Joseph Gustaitis

Publication Year: 2013

A hybrid work that straddles popular history and serious scholarship, “1893 Chicago” focuses in some depth on important people, places, events, and developments that made 1893 one of Chicago’s greatest years. In addition to the famous Columbian Exposition that took place that year, there were also a surprising number of impressive developments in art, architecture, literature, sports, education, business, political reform, sanitation engineering, medicine, and more. In a sense, 1893 was the year in which Chicago transitioned from being simply a busy Midwestern city to a world metropo

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press


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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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p. 4-4


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pp. 5-7


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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-xii

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pp. 1-12

The year is 1893. Chicago’s elite intends the Columbian Exposition to make their young metropolis world famous. It does. That majestic fair becomes the most magnetic event in the city’s history and draws visitors from home and abroad. Whether they view Chicago as glorious or startling, the crowds of fairgoers find the city unforgettable ...

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1. The White City and the Gray City

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pp. 13-30

The Scottish writer James Fullarton Muirhead, author of the 1899 Baedeker’s guidebook to the United States, summed up Chicago as a “city of contrasts.” He knew that many outsiders called Chicago “Porkopolis” in reference to its slaughterhouses, but he warned, “Chicago ought never to be mentioned as Porkopolis ...

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2. Three Museums and a Library

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pp. 31-56

Any city that wants to be taken seriously in the twenty-first century has to have at least one notable museum, either an institution from the Gilded Age or an edifice designed in high modern style by an architect with a name—or better yet, both. It’s where locals go on a Sunday, it’s something that tourists come to see, ...

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3. Sears, Roebuck and Company

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pp. 57-75

A huge city like Chicago affects many more people than the ones who live in or near it. For example, Chicago’s aggressive and efficient meat packers transformed the High Plains prairies into cattle country, induced farmers to turn millions of acres over to the raising of corn for feeding animals, and put independent cattle raisers in the East out of business. ...

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4. Frances Willard’s Bicycle

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pp. 76-94

When you’re a fifty-three-year-old woman in 1893, you’re ready for the rocking chair. Or so many people thought at the time. But Frances E. Willard of Evanston, Illinois, decided she was going to perch on a different kind of seat—the saddle of a bicycle. ...

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5. Open-Heart Surgery

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pp. 95-112

After the Fourth of July in 1893, the weather in Chicago turned oppressive. The temperature reached ninety-four at five in the afternoon on July 8, the hottest day yet of that year. A policeman riding a streetcar was hit by sunstroke and fell from the conveyance at the corner of Halsted and Indiana. ...

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6. A Church for Father Tolton

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pp. 113-132

From Italy they came. From Ireland, Poland, and Slovakia. From Bohemia, Lithuania, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, French Canada, Bavaria, and the Rhineland. They were Roman Catholics, and they were dramatically altering Chicago, changing it from a city founded mostly by Protestant fortune seekers from New England and upstate New York ...

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7. The Illinois Institute of Technology

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pp. 133-150

When the light is right, its russet bricks gleam as you make your way along the Dan Ryan Expressway near Thirty-Third Street. It’s a commanding Romanesque Revival hulk, with pyramidal roofs, prominent gables, round-arched windows, and heavily rusticated walls. ...

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8. The Birth of Urban Literature

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pp. 151-180

The February 1893 issue of the New England Magazine carried an article entitled “Literary Chicago.” Written by William Morton Payne, it stated that the city was emerging from its rough-and-tumble origins and was launching “the positive growth of the literary spirit.” ...

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9. The West Side Grounds

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pp. 181-202

What was the best baseball team of all time? The 1927 Yankees, with Ruth, Gehrig, Lazzeri, and Meusel? Or one of Cincinnati’s Big Red Machines of the early 1970s, with Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, and Joe Morgan? What about the Dodgers when they had Duke Snider, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges, and Pee Wee Reese? ...

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10. The Chicago Hot Dog

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pp. 203-220

The words “icon” and “iconic” are easily thrown about, but if anything deserves such language it’s the hot dog. Although it has long been a symbol of American life, General Motors probably cinched the deal in 1975 when it devised the jingle, “Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Chevrolet, They Go Together in the Good ’Ole USA.” ...

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11. Wrigley’s Gum

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pp. 221-236

Although William Wrigley, who began selling Spearmint and Juicy Fruit in 1893, became the most famous name associated with chewing gum, he didn’t invent it. Humans have been chomping on naturally derived sticky substances since the Neolithic period ...

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12. The Chicago School of Architecture

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pp. 237-264

On the very first day of 1893, the Chicago Tribune published an article titled “Chicago’s Great Buildings,” in which it proudly noted, “The remarkable down-town building activity of 1890 and 1891 was equaled if not outclassed by that of the year just closed. ...

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13. Reforming Chicago

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pp. 265-284

Anyone curious to see how much a city can change in a century can walk down South Federal Street just south of the Loop in Chicago. It’s in the heart of what’s now known as Printers Row, where condo conversion has been transforming this once commercial district into one of Chicago’s hotter neighborhoods. ...

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14. Epidemics and Clean Water

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pp. 285-300

Chicago suffered its first epidemic before it even was Chicago. In 1832, a year before the state legislature incorporated the tiny settlement, a ship arriving at Fort Dearborn brought troops to fight in the Black Hawk War; these troops brought cholera with them. ...

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Epilogue: Chicago’s Next Great Year

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pp. 301-308

In its issue of April 19, 2010, Newsweek magazine published an article entitled “100 Places to Remember before They Disappear.” To the surprise of a lot of midwesterners, Chicago was one of those places. According to the piece, which pictured what might happen to the planet if climatologists’ predictions of climate change turned out to be accurate, ...


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pp. 309-336


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pp. 337-346

Back Cover

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p. 362-362

E-ISBN-13: 9780809332496
E-ISBN-10: 0809332493
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809332489
Print-ISBN-10: 0809332485

Page Count: 328
Illustrations: 90 b/w halftones
Publication Year: 2013