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 Chicago, Illinois



Book Introduction

     "We struck the home trail now, and in a few hours were in that astonishing Chicago—a city where they are always rubbing a lamp, and fetching up the genii, and contriving and achieving new impossibilities. It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up with Chicago—she outgrows her prophecies faster than she can make them. She is always a novelty, for she is never the Chicago you saw when you passed through the last time.” -- Mark Twain, “Life on the Mississippi”, 1883.

     Even in 1883, the Chicago that Mark Twain loved was already a remarkable midwestern city, poised to become one of the greatest cities in the  world;  but, nothing had come easy. The Great Fire of 1871 made sure of it. The fire raged 27 hours, killed hundreds of people, and destroyed over 17,000 buildings.

      When the smoke cleared, the only surviving structures were a limestone water tower, a seminary, and three churches. Amazingly, that was enough for Chicagoans to pin their hopes on. Like the Phoenix, a new Chicago rose out of the ashes with an iron will, an unbroken spirit  and the tenacity of a prize fighter.

     With a rapidly growing population, Chicago soon faced another catastrophic problem. The sewage in the Chicago River, which flowed slowly through the center of Chicago into Lake Michigan, was polluting the city’s drinking water. By 1900, eighty-thousand Chicagoans were dead from the waterborne diseases of typhoid and cholera.

     To quote Mark Twain again, the city engineers “contrived and achieved a new impossibility.” They reversed the flow of the river.  An engineering marvel for its time, it saved thousands of lives and, more than any other single event in the city’s history, secured Chicago’s future.

     Chicago continues to impress the world with its accomplishments. It is a city of superlatives, home of the “the best,” “the biggest,” “the first,”  “ the oldest,” and “the tallest.”  Thanks to home-town benefactors such as Montgomery Ward, Marshall Field, David Rockefeller, Max Adler and John Shedd, Chicago is blessed with world-class museums, an internationally acclaimed planetarium and aquarium, magnificent public parks, and outdoor sculptures created by the world’s greatest artists—Picasso, Miro, Calder, Chagall and Henry Moore.

     Chicago: A Photographic Portrait introduces you to a great midwestern city with vivid photographs of its crowning achievements along the shores of Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. It may be known as the "Second City," for its long-time rivalry with New York City, but you'll realize that there is nothing second-rate about Chicago.


The Wrigley Building was constructed in 1920 as the headquarters for chewing gum magnate, William Wrigley, Jr. It was patterned after Seville Cathedral’s Giralda Tower in Spain.

Public parks along Chicago’s thirty miles of lakefront reward visitors with spectacular views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline.


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  Chicago, Illinois