Wednesday, May 20, 2015

HGB Road Trip Day 3 and 4 - Crime Scenes, Cemeteries and Haunts of Chicago, Illinois

Chicago’s first permanent resident was a trader named Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, a black man apparently from Haiti. He arrived in the late 1770s. In 1795, the U.S. government built Fort Dearborn at what is now the corner of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive, a major area in downtown Chicago today. Ft. Dearborn was burned to the ground by Native Americans in 1812, rebuilt and demolished in 1857. Chicago was incorporated as a city in 1837. Chicago was in a great spot to become central to westward expansion. The completion of the Illinois & Michigan Canal in 1848 created a water link between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. Railroads then took over and today O’Hare International Airport makes Chicago an aviation powerhouse. In the 1850s, they raised many of the streets five to eight feet to install a sewer system. Unfortunately, the buildings, streets and sidewalks were made of wood, and most of them burned to the ground in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The Chicago Fire Department training academy at 558 W. DeKoven St. is on the site of the O’Leary property where the fire began. 2000 acres were burned and nearly all buildings in its path were destroyed. The Chicago Water Tower and Pumping Station at Michigan and Chicago avenues was one of the only structures to survive. Chicago became known as the White City after this and rebuilt quickly. Much of the debris was dumped into Lake Michigan as landfill, forming the underpinnings for what is now Grant Park, Millennium Park and the Art Institute of Chicago. Only 22 years later, Chicago celebrated its comeback by holding the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. The hosting of the World's Fair is connected to a couple of haunted sites we visited on this road trip. Chicago was home to gangsters. Crime and tragedies have led to Chicago gaining a reputation as a haunted city. We visited several hot spots, which included Resurrection Cemetery, the site of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, Hull House and the Murder Castle. Is Chicago haunted? That is for you to decide!

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