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Raising the grade of the streets was one of the remarkable features of the city's growth, this being a necessary step in drainage and for providing a firm foundation for the pavements, but the process extended over many years, and was done in piecemeal fashion, and at great inconvenience to business men. The Chicago Tribune of April 9th, 1857, took up the subject vigorously. "What effect is this new grade going to have on buildings already erected in this city?" it asked. "The streets and sidewalks must be raised some seven feet above the natural surface level. In other words, every house now built must be raised about the height of the Mayor above its present foundation, or be entered through doors cut in its second story. [It will be remembered that "Long John" Wentworth was the mayor at this time.] The proposed grade would damage immensely all our citizens who have built those magnificent brick and stone blocks within the past three years. These buildings have been erected to correspond with the present grade. The grade would throw their floors some four feet below the sidewalks, while their second floors would be five or six feet above the street surface, and their cellars would become dark pits or dens underground.

"It will be a costly job to raise all the streets and sidewalks of Chicago six to eight feet within the space to be drained by sewers-a space of more than twelve hundred acres. Where are the millions of cubic yards of earth to come from to fill them up to the second stories of the present buildings? And how many millions of dollars is it going to cost the tax payers? What sort of 'up and down' sidewalk will the establishment of this new 'thirteen or fourteen' foot grade create during the next twenty years?"


A prominent instance of the difficulties to be met with in raising the grade was the new five story brick hotel, on the south east corner of Lake and Dearborn streets, known as the Tremont House. At first it was built to the grade of the period, but as there was now and then a new grade established it at last left the ground floor of the hotel three or four feet below the surface of the street in front. About this time there came to the city an enterprising young contractor who had had experience in raising buildings in the east, by the name of George M. Pullman, and he became actively engaged in the work of raising heavy buildings. Raising frame buildings was a comparatively easy task, but it was considered a most remarkable feat to accomplish the raising of so heavy a building as the Tremont House; it was successfully done, however, by young Pullman. It was the first brick building raised in Chicago, and the raising cost the proprietors, Ira and James Couch, forty-five thousand dollars. It was raised without breaking a pane of glass, although the building was one hundred and sixty by one hundred and eighty feet in size. Guests of the hotel were not conscious of the slightest jar throughout the entire proceeding.

Afterwards an entire block on Lake street, between Clark and La Salle streets, on the north side of the street, was raised at one time, business in the various stores and offices proceeding as usual. The facility with which buildings, light and heavy, were raised to the grade established became the talk of the country, and the letters of travelers and correspondents for newspapers abound with reference to the work going on and the odd sensations of going up and down as one passed along the streets.


During the month of July, 1857, there was completed the first piece of "Nicholson Pavement" that had been laid in Chicago, a kind of paving which afterwards attained a remarkable vogue here. The Nicholson pavement was made by setting up on end blocks of wood on a suitable foundation, usually of well packed earth, covered with a layer of planking, between each row of which there was placed a narrow strip of wood to keep one row apart from the other, and in the space thus left a filling of tar and gravel was added to produce an even surface. The blocks of wood were sections of three or four inch sawed planking, and when the pavement was completed it presented a most pleasing appearance to the eye, and indeed seemed to promise a lasting service. The wearing quality of the Nicholson pavement, however, was not as great as had been anticipated, and although extensively constructed it was gradually superseded by macadam or stone block pavements. The latter in fact held the preference for a long term of years, and was more extensively built than any other style of pavement in use.

On Lake street the Nicholson pavement could be seen in all its glory; there were no car tracks on the street, and when the pavement was new, for it was renewed several times, it presented a most inviting appearance and was the especial pride of the Chicago people of that day. The attention of visitors was called to the wonderful pavement as soon as they arrived, and it was considered, with the water works and the grand view of the lake on Michigan avenue, one of the sights of the city. Lake street was preferred above all other streets as the route of processions, which were much more numerous in those days than they are to-day. Lined as it was with gorgeous retail establishments it was the busiest and most attractive street in the city. During the war it was the favorite highway for passing troops, and the citizens often saw marching regiments either starting for the war or returning to their homes, the discharged troops usually reduced in numbers and sadly lacking in the fresh and tidy appearance they bore at the time of their departure.

At the time of the Great Fire of 1871, the Nicholson pavement, which by that time had been laid on many of the business and residence streets of the city, suffered much injury from burning material from the adjacent buildings. Masses of hot bricks and flaming woodwork falling upon it burned cavities in the surface, and left the pavement charred and partially burned away in many places. This gave rise to a report, frequently repeated by correspondents, that the street pavements in Chicago took fire and were the means of carrying the flames across and along the streets. But this was not the case, as the wooden blocks composing the pavement were too deeply imbedded to become the means of spreading the conflagra



Some consideration of the trade conditions existing in Chicago in the fifties is appropriate in this place. When William Bross issued a thin volume in 1876, published by Jansen, McClurg & Co., and called it a "History of Chicago," he crowded within a limited space a great variety of interesting facts regarding the city's development. Much of what he wrote was from his own knowledge and observation,

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and written as the history is by a man of superior intelligence and possessed of a fluent style, it has a special value for the historical investigator.

Bross came to Chicago in 1847, and writing of this period he says that "the business of our merchants was confined mainly to the retail trade. The produce that was shipped from this port was all brought to the city by teams. Some of them would come one hundred and fifty miles. Farmers would bring in a load of grain and take back supplies for themselves and their neighbors. Often has it happened that they would get 'sloughed,' or break their wagons; and between the expense of repairs and hotel charges, they would find themselves in debt when they got home. During the 'business season' the city would be crowded with teams. We have seen Water and Lake streets almost impassable for hours together.

"The opening of the canal, in 1848, made a considerable change in the appearance of the city, and when the Galena railroad was finished to Elgin, the difference was very striking. The most of those old familiar teams ceased to visit us, and we heard some few merchants gravely express the opinion that the canal and railroads would ruin the city. The difference they have made is simply that between a small and a large business, between a retail and a wholesale trade. One of the jewelry establishments of the city, in 1845, did a business of three thousand dollars; last year [1852] the same house sold goods to the amount of one hundred and twenty thousand dollars. Drug stores, whose sales eight years ago were from five to six thousand dollars, now do a business of from fifty to a hundred thousand."


In a historical review written by Mr. Bross, in 1853, he makes some interesting and startling comparisons between the values of lots between the time that the first sale of lots took place in 1833, and those of the year under review. "Our citizens," he says, "have all noticed the splendid drug store of J. H. Reed & Co., No. 144 Lake Street. The day it was opened, October 28th, 1851, we stood in front of the store, conversing with the owner of the building, Jeremiah Price, Esq. Pointing to one of the elegant windows, said Mr. Price, 'I gave one hundred dollars in New York for that center pane of French plate glass. That is exactly what I paid Mr. J. Noble for this lot, eighty feet front, on a part of which the store stands, when I purchased it in 1833.' That lot cannot now be bought for $64,000. Wolcott's addition, on the North Side was bought in 1830 for one hundred and thirty dollars. It is now worth considerably over one and a quarter millions of dollars.

"Walter L. Newberry bought the forty acres which forms his addition to Chicago, of Thomas Hartzell, in 1833, for $1,062. It is now worth half a million of dollars, and what is fortunate for Mr. Newberry, he still owns by far the largest part of the property. So late as 1834, one-half of Kinzie's addition, all of Wolcott's addition, and all of block one, original town, were sold for twenty thousand dollars. They are now worth, at a low estimate, three millions of dollars. Any number of similar instances might be given of the immense appreciation of real estate in Chicago.

"From the great appreciation which these figures show, many may be led to suppose that no more money can be made on real estate in Chicago. Exactly the

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