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

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September 14, 1855

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In 1852, the Chicago Drainage Commission was incorporated by the state legislature and the council established new gradings in 1855 and 1856 which required buildings to be elevated above the water level of the Chicago River. Various types of street surfaces were experimented with including wooden planks, cobblestones, and macadam. John Loudon McAdam (1756-1836) was a Scottish engineer who had invented a street surface that provided a well-drained roadbed. By his method, layers of small broken stone were compacted into a convex form. Those whose property adjoined streets paid for their improvement.

Points to Consider

How was this street physically to be constructed?

Who was going to pay for this work?

How was the collector going to be paid?

Why would this type of street be an improvement over a street of wooden planks?

See Related Document:

12, 14, 24, 35, 39, and 44

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