Monday, January 29, 2018

The History of the Charles Dickinson Inn and Tavern in Today's Portage Park Community of Chicago.

The Chicago Portage Park community was once the site of an American Indian portage used for transport from the Chicago to Des Plaines Rivers. The land in this area would flood easily when it rained, creating this shallow portage navigable by canoe.

In the 1816 Treaty of St. Louis the Nations of Chippewa, Ottawa, and Pottawatomi Indians (the Council of Three Fires) ceded a 20 mile wide and 70 mile long strip of land to the United States, which connected Chicago and Lake Michigan with the Illinois River, which including the portion now known as Portage Park.
Indian Boundary Road in the Rogers Park Comunity of Chicago.
Though the land was originally intended to be used for a canal and military road, the government opened the land for "settlement" in 1830. After the completion of a government land survey in 1837, land sales began in earnest. In 1841, E.B. Sutherland built one of the first permanent structures along the Northwest Plank Road, now known as Milwaukee Avenue, where Milwaukee Avenue intersects with Belle Plaine Avenue.
The Chester Dickinson Inn and Tavern was located at the current intersection of Milwaukee and Belle Plaine Avenues in the Portage Park community of Chicago.
In the late 1840s and early 1850s, a private company had run this wooden plank road for  distance of 23 miles, making formerly impassable roads somewhat more navigable for new settlers. In 1845, Chester Dickinson purchased Sutherland's Inn. Dickinson's Inn and tavern was also home to the local post office and interim town hall. The tavern served as a central hub of activity for Jefferson Township after it formally formed in 1873. Despite the preservation efforts of local residents, the Dickinson Tavern was razed in 1929.
It is said that both Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas were frequent guests of the Dickinson Inn and Tavern in their travels through the area.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

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