This print of Chicago, Illinois was drawn and published by Arno B. Reincke in 1916. Chicago emerged near the west banks of Lake Michigan from Potawatomi tribal lands in the 1830's.
Its transportation importance began in the 1840's with the building of the Illinois and Michigan Canal connecting the Mississippi River with Lake Michigan. The Galena & Chicago Union Railway was instilled to enhance shipping of the many agricultural products that were beginning to be grown in the region. Cattle, hogs, grain and other farming products were abundantly grown and traded as well as a number of dependent branch manufactures such as milling, slaughtering, packing, rendering, soap and candle making, tanning, brewing and distilling.
The Great Fire of 1871 slowed Chicago’s growth, but the town emerged from the ashes with an improved infrastructure and fresh water system. The city began to attract business endeavors of all sorts and after worldwide recognition received with its staging of the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, Chicago moved closer to becoming the major city that it is today.
This map was published one year after the SS Eastland disaster stunned Chicagoans as the passenger boat loaded with Western Electric employees and their families setting off for a company picnic in Indiana rolled over while still dockside, trapping and drowning hundreds in the Chicago River.
The map featuring Chicago’s central business section includes labeled streets, buildings, bridges and waterways. It portrays port activity and includes railroad routes.
Carl Sandburg who moved to Chicago in 1912, published his poem "Chicago" in 1916 amid his first collection of poems. Chicago:
Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders:
They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities;
Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his ribs the heart of the people, Laughing!
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.
- Carl Sandburg.