Underground Chicago: Gas and other Utilities

A series of posts describing Chicago’s underground networks. Previous: Railroads Gas mains and pipes: About 4,500 miles--mainly small diameter. The system started in the 1840s and is being continually upgraded. People’s Gas was chartered in 1849 by the state and does not pay Chicago a franchise fee. The other utilities either pay a franchise fee […]

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Underground Chicago : CTA Subways, Freight Tunnels, Street Car Tunnels

Part of a series on underground Chicago. Previous: Sewers and Water   Subway Tunnels: 11.4 miles CTA’s rapid transit system has two lines in tunnels underneath the central area. The Blue line is also underground between Logan Square and Belmont and at O’Hare. Small portions of the system are underground elsewhere.  One unique structure on […]

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Underground Chicago: Tunneling methods

Previous: Early Tunnels Tunneling is generally performed by either boring or the open cut method. Bored tunnels are cut entirely underground. Chicago’s early tunnels used this method. Workers chopped away the clay by hand. Deeper tunnels in the limestone bedrock were drilled and blasted with explosives. Modern tunnels also use boring machines. The open cut […]

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Chicago Municipal Code: How to Find and Research Historical Codes

Spoiler alert: This post is boring (but may be useful to some people). The Chicago Municipal Code is a one- to three-volume book that provides a subject arrangement of Chicago ordinances of a general and permanent nature. It is essentially an encyclopedia of Chicago law. People are interested in the historical codes for reasons legal, practical […]

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Journal of the Proceedings of the City Council of the City of Chicago, A Chicago History Classic

At first glance, a half million pages of dull-as-dishwater ordinances do not seem to qualify as a Chicago History Classic. However, like some people I know, the Journal of the Proceedings of the City Council of the City of Chicago may be said to have some redeeming features. Students and historians who want primary sources or […]

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Report of the Board of Health of the City of Chicago : and a Sanitary History of Chicago from 1833-1870.

Nerdy and perhaps a bit morbid, but health statistics fascinate me. The Reports of the Board of Health of the City of Chicago document Chicago's fight against disease during the 19th century. Often disease won, but over the course of the century, steady progress occurred. After the establishment of Fort Dearborn in 1804, many of […]

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The Chinese Laundryman, a Chicago History Classic

The Chinese Laundryman documents Chicago's role in a shameful, largely forgotten, yet quite recent era of American history. In addition to widespread racial prejudice, Chinese Americans had fewer civil rights than other Americans in the time between the Civil War and World War Two. Legal equality was only slowly achieved between 1943 and 1965. The […]

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