Chicago at the Turn of the 19th Century was a busy and bustling place that was rapidly expanding. After the fire of 1871 Chicago had to rebuild. It could not do so all at once though, so it took time and lots of manpower. It also required a large infrastructure of motorways and railways to move people and goods through the city. Not only was the city rebuilding, but it was also expanding. This meant that the city was building many public works at the time to accommodate the large influx in people.

A congested Chicago street in the 1890’s as Chicago was rebuilding after the fire of 1871. Taken from the MacAurthur Foundations website on the Marquette Building.  See website references for figure 1 at bottom for website.


These people also needed public spaces to relax and congregate. Public stadiums and squares were built so that ideas could be shared and so that all socioeconomic levels could come to enjoy the same things in one space.

Chicago in 1915- Outside of a stadium. Taken from the Illinois Periodicals online database. See Figure 2 in website references for link to picture


All of the workers and new inhabitants needed food though. Thankfully the Midwestern United States provided lots of grazing land for cattle which supplied the workforce with tons of food. In the 1890’s the butcher shops were smaller and more-so family run but by the 1940’s Chicago needed large industrial sized operations to feed everyone in the city affordably.

Here is a meat warehouse in Chicago in the 1890’s. This is a sizable operation but nowhere near the size of the next photo. Taken from the Illinois State Museum website. See Fig 3 at bottom.
Chicago stockyards in 1947. This goes to show how immense the operation is and how much it has grown over the past 50 years. Taken from the National Archives. See fig 4 at bottom.

With all of the expansion happening in the city at this time, people started to make money, and where there is money to be made, there is always someone there to steal some. People like Al Capone became very powerful and held a lot of influence over the city of Chicago and even the surrounding Midwest.

Al Capone in 1931 on his way to his tax evasion trial. Taken from the Chicago Tribune Historical Photos website. See fig 5 at bottom.

Overall, Chicago evolved immensely during this time, with the influx of people and goods to the area. This allowed Chicago to become an American powerhouse in which it remains today.






Website references:

Figure 1- “THE MARQUETTE BUILDING.” The Marquette Building. N.p., 2012. Web. 24 Oct. 2016. <>.

Figure 2- Illinois Periodicals Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2016. <>.

Figure 3- Illinois State Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2016. <>.

Figure 4- “Pictures of American Cities.” National Archives. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2016. <>.

Figure 5- “Al Capone: Life of Crime.” — Chicago Tribune. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2016. <>.