|An 1844 Telegraph Key by Alfred Vail used to tap out Morse Code for messages.|
|July 25, 1850 - A Telegraph Communication|
|Telegraph Poles; Looking East from Clark Street, Chicago. May 10, 1869.|
Completion of the Transcontinental Railway Celebration.
Most railroad stations served as telegraph offices, so residents of most neighborhoods and suburbs could send important messages anywhere in the metropolis. To get in touch with a group of employees near suburban Riverside, for instance, George Pullman instantly proposed sending a telegram. On the other hand, Evanstonians seeking information on the Great Chicago Fire were frustrated because the local telegraph office was closed.
In 1869 private line service became available in Chicago, and the American District Telegraph Company soon offered affluent Chicagoans a home service allowing them to summon a firefighter, private policeman, or messenger. Telegraphic communication with other Chicagoans was facilitated by the company's network of neighborhood offices and messengers.
In 1865, the Chicago Fire Department contracted to build fire alarm boxes employing telegraphic signals. Located throughout the city, they allowed citizens to report fires quickly. In 1880 the Chicago Police Department began using call boxes on the streets. Citizens could report crimes, though only after obtaining keys to the boxes, which were selectively distributed; relatively few crime reports were made. More important, the boxes facilitated official communication among the police. Patrolmen were obliged to make hourly “duty calls,” and were thus subject to stricter supervision. They could also summon a paddy-wagon in the event they made an arrest. The call boxes used an innovative combination of telegraphic signaling for routine messages and the telephone for unusual messages, a design adopted by police departments throughout the country.
|Telegraph operators with Barclay telegraph instruments, 1908.|