1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Chicago

CHICAGO (see 6.118). With a pop. in 1920 of 2,701,705, representing an increase of 23.6% over the enumeration for 1910 (2,185,283), Chicago easily maintained its position as the second city in the United States. While the city's growth was greater proportionately than that of New York, which was 17.9%, it was considerably less absolutely. The percentage of increase was less than in any other decade of Chicago's history. It was likewise smaller than that of Detroit, 113.4%, and Cleveland, 42.1%, Chicago's closest rivals in the Middle West. In 1920 the negro pop. was 109,594, an increase of 148.5% over the preceding census. This influx of negroes, largely from the South, was due to the great demand for unskilled labour, especially in the packing industry, during the period of the World War when the European immigration was slight. A shortage of housing facilities for these negro labourers was one of the underlying causes of the race riots of 1919 in which a number of negroes and whites were killed. Much of Chicago's growth in previous decades had been due to immigration; this was sharply restricted after 1914. By the annexation of suburban territory, the area of Chicago (both land and water) was increased from 191.4 sq. m. in 1910 to 200 sq. m. in 1920.

Industry and Commerce.—The value of manufactures produced in Chicago increased enormously during the decade, the greatest advance being after 1914, as indicated by the following table compiled by the Chicago Association of Commerce in which, however, the estimates for 1919 are probably too generous:—

Leading Manufacturers

Industry. 1919
(Estimated)
   1914
(U.S. Census)
All industries $6,500,000,000 $1,482,814,000
Meat packing 3,500,000,000 410,709,000
Iron and steel 600,000,000 27,002,000
Foundry products 265,000,000 85,359,000
Men's clothing 252,000,000 84,340,000
Printing and publishing 203,000,000 97,507,000
Electrical machinery 184,000,000 17,568,000
Agricultural implements  130,000,000 41,000,000
Railway cars 126,500,000 50,931,000
Plumbing, etc. 111,500,000
Furniture 102,000,000 43,600,000
Timber products 73,000,000 28,711,000
Bakery products 68,500,000 34,217,000
Soap 59,500,000 21,255,000

In 1918 the estimated total for all industries was $4,205,914,000. In 1914 Chicago had 10,114 manufacturing establishments employing 386,794 persons, of whom 313,202 were wage earners. The cost of materials was $793,470,000, and the amount paid in wages $174,112,000. The Chicago packing plants increased their output while the World War was in progress, as the following figures show:—

Beef and Pork Packing in Chicago

   No. cattle.    No. hogs.
1905-6 1,988,955 6,027,432
1910-1 1,735,185 6,294,251
1914-5 1,442,870 6,079,473
1915-6 1,962,048 7,256,936
1916-7 2,073,553 7,757,726
1917-8 2,411,750 6,284,586

The extent of the grain trade is indicated by the following tabulation of receipts (bus.):—

1913    1915    1918
Wheat   50,372,000 70,704,000 69,610,000
Corn 127,773,000 95,357,000 100,409,000
Oats 124,405,000 133,475,000 137,072,000

Bank clearings in 1920 were $32,669,233,535, as compared with $16,198,985,174 in 1915 and $13,939,689,984 in 1910. The combined resources shown by the figures of the Chicago banks in 1920 amounted to $1,883,154,592.

The City Plan.—The most striking feature of Chicago's recent history is the formulation of the plan for the physical reconstruction of the city and the progress of the movement for its execution. This plan had its genesis in a report, issued by the Commercial Club of Chicago in 1909, which was prepared largely under the guiding spirit of Mr. Daniel H. Burnham, Director of Works of the World's Fair of 1893. The first step was the appointment of the Chicago Plan Commission, created by ordinance of the city council, and composed of aldermen and citizens. In furtherance of the Chicago Plan, Roosevelt Rd. (formerly i2th St.) was widened to more than 100 ft. between Ashland Ave. and Michigan Ave., a distance of 2 m., at a cost of $8,303,284. Michigan Ave. was widened to 130 ft. between Roosevelt Rd. and the river and to 141 ft. between the river and Chicago Ave. Widening that part of the street between Randoph St. and Chicago Ave. was a difficult matter, involving the taking of valuable private property, and the construction over the Chicago river of a large two-level bascule bridge. The cost of the Michigan Ave. project was in excess of $16,000,000, paid for out of bond issues and special assessments. The new thoroughfare was opened to traffic in 1920. Other street-widening and street-opening projects were under way in 1921.

The situation with respect to railway terminal facilities had long been unsatisfactory. The fact that Chicago is the greatest railway centre in the world, and that the interests involved were conflicting, made the problem exceedingly difficult. In 1911 the new passenger station of the Chicago and Northwestern railway was opened to service, at a cost of $25,000,000. This station, which is a dignified structure, was the project of a single railway. Other terminal projects authorized later represent greater coöperation, though they materially conflicted in some respects with the ideas of the Chicago Plan Commission.

The railways using the so-called Union Station—the Pennsylvania, the Burlington, the Chicago & Alton, and the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul—had under construction (1921) a new passenger station estimated before the war to cost $65,000,000. The actual cost probably will be nearer $80,000,000. This station is to have a large office building above it. The proposed passenger station of the Illinois Central railway, on the lake front, was planned on a scale large enough to accommodate all the roads—17 in number—using the Illinois Central, Dearborn, La Salle and Grand Central stations. The Illinois Central project also involved a programme of electric operation, beginning with the suburban service in 1927 and including all service, freight and passenger, by 1940. The estimated cost to the railway of the Illinois Central improvement was $80,000,000.

As a part of the combined move for terminal improvement and lake-front development, the Board of South Park Commissioners planned to spend $60,000,000; of which $20,000,000 has been authorized by referendum vote. The board was, in 1921, proceeding to make land by filling the lake outside the Illinois Central right of way, this land to be used for parkways and bathing beaches. The new building for the Field Museum, located on made land on the lake front at the foot of Roosevelt Rd., was completed in 1920 at a cost of $6,000,000, which was provided by the will of Marshall Field. The museum was formerly housed in the old Fine Arts Building, first erected for the World's Fair of 1893, in Jackson Park. The new building opened in May 1921 is 350 ft. wide and 700 ft. long. It is built of Georgia white marble, in the Ionic style of architecture. South of the Field Museum is to be located a large stadium with a seating capacity of 100,000, for which a bond issue of $2,500,000 has been authorized by referendum vote. The outside dimensions of this structure of reenforced concrete will be 2,000 by 1,080 feet. Other important buildings erected or completed during the decade 1910-20 include the following, (name, height in storeys and approximate cost given in order): Atlantic Hotel, 20, $1,400,000; Butler Bros., 14, $1,750,000; Continental and Commercial National Bank, 20, $4,500,000; Fort Dearborn Hotel, 17, $1,100,000; Insurance Exchange, 22, $4,000,000; Karpen, 12, $1,400,000; Lytton, 18, $2,250,000; Mandel (department store), 15, $2,000,000; Monroe, 14, $1,500,000; Morrison Hotel, 22, $2,000,000; North American, 20, $1,800,000; Peoples Gas, 20, $3,000,000; State-Lake, 13, $1,600,000. The present limit of the height of buildings by city ordinance is 260 feet.

One of the most important municipal undertakings of the decade was the Municipal Tuberculosis Sanatorium, consisting of several buildings erected after 1909, in which year a site of 164 ac. was acquired in the north-western part of the city. Its revenues, derived

mainly from taxation, amount to more than $1,000,000 a year; in 1920 there were about 1,000 patients. A notable structure, completed late in 1915 at a cost of nearly $4,000,000, is the Municipal Pier. It projects 3,000 ft. into Lake Michigan just north of the mouth of the Chicago river. The outer portion, 660 ft. in length, is a three-decked structure devoted to recreation purposes. Up to 1920 the new pier had not been extensively utilized by shipping interests; the recreation part of the pier, however, proved extremely popular from the outset.

Education, Art and Music.—The school census of 1916, though not completely reliable, was of interest as showing that the total pop., under 21 years of age, in that year was 996,059. Of these 304,547 were of compulsory school attendance age i.e. over 7 and under 14 years. Between the ages of 14 and 16 there were 96,949 of whom 15,393 were at work and 885 unaccounted for. The total enrolment in the public schools in 1919 was 377,058 (8,558 teachers); in 1910 the enrolment was 300,893 (6,383 teachers). In 1920 there were 288 public schools, in many of which night courses were given to adults as well as to minors. The number of students registered in the Art School of the Art Institute in 1920-1 was 4,267. The number of visitors to the Institute during the year was 1,100,000.

The trustees of the Art Institute administer the Ferguson Monument Fund, consisting of the income from $1,000,000, left by the will of Benjamin Franklin Ferguson, a Chicago business man, to be used for the erection of enduring statuary and monuments in Chicago. Among others, two notable pieces by Lorado Taft have been purchased; one, “The Fountain of the Great Lakes,” stands just to the S. of the Art Institute; the other, “The Fountain of Time,” will stand at the head of the Midway, between Washington and Jackson parks.

Chicago was the first American municipality to adopt the policy of giving direct official encouragement to local art by using public funds for that purpose. In 1914, at the suggestion of Mayor Harrison, the city council appropriated $2,500 for the purchase of paintings and works of plastic art, the production of resident artists and sculptors, and an appropriation for this purpose has been made each year since. The purchases are supervised by a commission named by the mayor; it consists of seven members, of whom six are appointed on the recommendation of different art groups of the city, including the Art Institute.

The most notable development in music since 1910 has been the establishment of the Chicago Opera Association, at first known as the Chicago Grand Opera Co. The company gives a 10 weeks' season of grand opera each year in Chicago, five weeks in New York and five weeks in other places.

Parks and Bathing Beaches.—Before 1910 the facilities for bathing in Lake Michigan within the city limits were meagre. In 1920 there were 12 public bathing beaches, 3 maintained by park boards, and the rest by the city government. Clarendon Beach, managed by the city, is the largest. It has nearly 10,000 lockers and has been used by as many as 23,000 bathers in one day. The small park and playground movement, which was well under way in 1910, developed largely in the following decade. In 1920, in addition to several large parks, there were 195 small parks and playgrounds maintained by the city and by park authorities. Outer park areas for Chicago were enlarged by the purchase, beginning in 1916, of wooded tracts in Cook county, nearly all of them outside Chicago, to the extent of 18,028.77 ac.; these tracts are known as the Forest Preserve District. The total purchase price was $7,221,754.78, or an average of $400.57 per acre. The members of the Board of Cook County Commissioners are ex-officio the commissioners of the Forest Preserve District. The plans call for the acquisition of about 30,000 ac. all told. A 3OO-ac. tract of land near Riverside was donated by Mrs. Edith Rockefeller McCormick for the establishment of the Chicago Zoölogical gardens.

Finance.—The city's corporate finances suffered severely from causes incident to the World War, and more particularly from the loss of revenue from saloon licences, which once contributed as much as $7,000,000 annually. A summary of the more important city revenues and expenditures in 1919 follows:—

Purpose. Revenue.    Expenditure.
Corporate purposes $32,541,758 $32,084,658
Sinking-funds for bonds 4,324,346 4,200,342
Municipal water-works 8,007,851 6,643,958
Schools 27,701,826 24,167,362
Public Library 847,095 848,764
Municipal tuberculosis sanatorium 1,054,076 1,287,755
Special assessments (street improvements)   10,757,148 9,449,038
All purposes[1] 129,432,896 99,142,349

History.—Carter H. Harrison (Dem.), who was elected in 1911 to his fifth term as mayor of Chicago, was succeeded in 1915 by William Hale Thompson (Rep.), who was reflected in 1919. After the United States entered the World War, Thompson was sharply criticised for various actions that seemed to indicate a reluctant support of the war policy of the Government.

The disappearance from the newspaper field of the Inter-Ocean and the Herald left Chicago for a time with only two English-speaking morning dailies, the Tribune and the Herald and Examiner. In 1920 the Chicago Journal of Commerce was established as a morning paper for business men, with no Sunday edition. The Joseph Medill School of Journalism was opened in Feb. 1921, with over 100 students, as a part of the Northwestern University. The Chicago Tribune, of which Joseph Medill was founder, agreed to underwrite the deficit of the school for a five-year period.


  1. This does not include expenditures for the larger parks, for the sanitary district, or for some other purposes which are in the hands of separate taxing bodies. The division of each dollar of taxes in 1918 was as follows: city corporate, 17¼ cents; state, 14¼; county and towns, 9¾; sanitary district, 5½; schools and education, 19, school buildings, 10; parks, 10; tuberculosis sanatorium, 1½; pensions, 2; public library, 1¼; and interest, 9½.