Early Chicago, 1833–1871
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives

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August 29, 1845

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In 1845, Chicago streets were muddy and filthy. Deposited on them were decaying vegetable and animal matter. There was inadequate drainage and to this were added slops from houses and manure from barns. Dead horses and cattle were piled up along the lakeshore. Dogs, hogs, cattle, and geese ran at large plundering grain from wagons and any other available food. They too fouled the streets. Combined conditions produced a terrible stench and a serious health hazard.

This petition resulted in an amendment to a city ordinance prohibiting sheep, swine, and other animals from running at large. Geese were added to the list and if the pound keeper captured one the owner had to pay a twelve and a half cent fine plus the keeper's fees for the animal's return.

Points to Consider

What were Chicago streets and sidewalks like at this time?

What was the attitude of the petitioners toward the problem?

What problems could have resulted from conditions on the streets and sidewalks?

What were the streets of New York City like at this time?

See Related Document:

14, 15, 17, 21, 30, 31, 32, and 41

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