Road to Perdition - CHICKAGOU

CHICKAGOU (Illustration) American History History Social Studies Native-Americans and First Peoples  Film

In January of 1898, Harper’s Weekly published this view of “Chicago’s Levee District at Night.” Online, via Library of Congress. Click on the image for a better view.


By the end of the 19th century, it was no longer smelly vegetation that was an issue for the city by the "big lake." Chickagou had become Chicago, then America’s second largest city. As gateway to an undeveloped western wilderness, Chicago was often the last place where young bachelors could buy supplies.

Some parts of town, like "The Levee," gave those soon-to-be pioneers a chance to “let off steam” before they left the “civilized” world. Saloons, brothels and gambling parlors were so numerous by the 1870s that a directory was published to help visitors find their vice of choice.

After the Great Fire in 1871, even people who lived in Chicago drowned their misery in drink. Public drunkenness was such a significant problem that a group of leading citizens created the “Committee of Seventy.” Their purpose was to combat both crime and the liquor industry.

Joseph Medill, the city’s mayor, supported laws that closed bars on Sundays. He also tried to shut down the gambling parlors.

But, as people say, "where there’s a will there’s a way." So when the leading citizens of Chicago tried to clean-up their town, a different group of folks made sure the liquor still flowed and the brothels were fully staffed.

Organized crime had found its way to Chicago. The meaning behind the Potawatomi name still rang true.

0 Question or Comment?
click to read or comment
2 Questions 2 Ponder
click to read and respond
0 It's Awesome!
vote for your favorite

Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jul 01, 2002

Updated Last Revision: Feb 03, 2015

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"CHICKAGOU" AwesomeStories.com. Jul 01, 2002. Jan 20, 2020.
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Show tooltips