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

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May 25, 1855

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By the terms of its charter, the city was authorized to issue a maximum of $100,000 a year in bonds. In 1855, Chicago had over 80,000 residents. Numerous improvements were introduced in that year. A new engine house and the first high school were built. A contract was awarded for the construction of a city hospital. The police force was increased from forty-nine to eighty officers and they were divided among the city's three divisions. The Board of Sewerage Commissioners was created to plan an improved system and supervise construction. This last measure along with the establishment of quarantine grounds was in reaction to a deadly cholera epidemic which had taken place in 1854. Also in 1855 the city purchased the Chicago Hydraulic Company's franchise and contracted with the Chicago Tunnel Company to construct an artery beneath the Chicago River.

Points to Consider

Which kinds of improvements were planned for 1855 and what does this document say about economic conditions?

Why was only $100,000 being requested?

What was the population of Chicago in 1855?

What were quarantine grounds and why were they being purchased?

See Related Document:

2, 3, 5, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, 21, 24, 25, 30, 32, 35, and 41

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