From the Ashes, 1872-1900
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives
DOCUMENT 42MAYOR'S COMMUNICATION REGARDING RAILROAD ACCIDENTS
April 8, 1895
As the transportation hub for the West, Chicago had twenty-one trunk line railroad terminals in 1892. Most were in or near the main business center and from them tracks radiated outward. These tracks crossed even with streets at nearly 3,000 locations throughout the city. With a population of approximately 1,295,000 inhabitants navigating these intersections daily on foot and in horse drawn vehicles, accidents were common. In 1892 alone over 300 persons were killed and thousands injured. Another problem was the traffic delays these crossings caused.
City government investigated this situation and determined that eastern cities including Philadelphia, Boston, Hartford, Rochester and Buffalo all had required railroads to be elevated at intersecting points with city streets. And on February 23, 1893 the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance requiring the same. Three districts were established within the city's boundaries. Railroad companies were to install elevated crossings in the first district by 1895, the second district by 1897, and the third by 1899.
Points to Consider
How many different railroads are represented in this document?
Why were there so many railroad accidents in 1895?
Why was the mayor reporting on these accidents?
On March 16, 1895 James Zazicak's legs were cut off by the Pan Handle train at Fifty-first Street. How could Zazicak have expected to support himself for the remainder of his life?