Thursday, April 26, 2018

South Water Street, Chicago, early 1830s.

This is a rare view looking west on South Water Street possibly in the early 1830s. Hogan’s store was at South Water and Market Streets, while Wolf Point Tavern can be seen in the distance. (from a painting owned by the Chicago History Museum.)
The very first street Chicago ever had was a muddy, narrow trail running east and west along the south bank of the Chicago River. Its name described it as South Water Street. Along this street the first markets and general stores were built, which eventually became a gigantic produce market, only to be replaced by what is known today as West and East Wacker Drive. 

In 1833, when Chicago received its charter as a village, Lake Street was the main street of the town; in this same year, the first Tremont House was erected at the northwest corner of Dearborn and Lake streets. The first store building on Lake Street, a two-story frame structure, was built by Thomas Church. The first Court House followed in 1835 and the City Hotel, later the Sherman House, in 1837. From 1837 to 1842 the first City Hall was located in the Saloon building, a three-story structure at the southeast corner of Clark and Lake streets.

One of the country roads that came into the old Fort Dearborn settlement from the northwest was an Indian trail that was planked by the early settlers of the area to hold their wagons up from the bottomless mud. It was called the Northwest Plank Road. The original Indian trail name was the Milwaukee Trace, which is known now as Milwaukee Avenue.

The first road, crossing the “dismal Nine-mile Swamp”, went west on Madison St. to Whiskey Point (Western Ave. ), thence southwesterly on the Barry Point Trail to Laughton’s Tavern where it forded the DesPlaines River and went southwest to Walker’s Grove, now Plainfield. Portions of it still exist as Fifth Ave. in Chicago, Riverside Drive and Longcommon Road in Berwyn and Riverside, Barry Point Road in Lyons, and Plainfield Road from Ogden Ave. to Plainfield.

There is a dispute about the route taken from Chicago to Widow Brown’s house in the woods on the north branch of Hickory Creek (east of Mokena). One historian asserts that it went southwest (on Archer Ave. to Justice Park), thence southerly through the Palos forests and across the Sag valley to about 151st St., and thence southwest on what later became the Bloomington State Road. Others assert that it went southward on State St. and Vincennes Ave. on the road to Blue Island, and thence southwesterly on what is now the Southwest Highway. These and other dirt roads were superseded or improved by the makeshift construction of plank roads which, although temporary, contributed much toward the growth of infant Chicago.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The History of Moo & Oink Grocery Chain of Chicago, Illinois.

Moo & Oink was a southside Chicago based grocery store chain and wholesaler that catered to the inner-city community and south suburbs
Originally named the Calumet Meat Company, the company was renamed Moo & Oink in 1976.
It became well known for its odd late-night television commercials that ran in the 1980s and mid 1990s, usually featuring dancing people in cow and pig costumes. The commercials often featured a jingle, that started off with: "Moo and Oink! Moo Moo Moo!" and eventually ends with a well-known sign-off "Moooooooooooooo & Oink!"


In 2005, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler sang the Moo and Oink jingle on the "Weekend Update" portion of Saturday Night Live in order to prove to Scott Podsednik that they were native Chicago White Sox fans.


Moo & Oink is also famous for its Chicago-style hot links and hand-cleaned chitlins. 

In April 2010, they revealed a new company logo, replacing the classic cartoon-ish cow and pig logo with a logo featuring animated but realistic-looking animals. 
All Moo & Oink stores closed in 2011, after the company went into Chapter 7 bankruptcy, though there was interest in buying and resurrecting the company. By the end of the year, the brand and trademark were sold to Best Chicago Meat. The stores remained unsold. 

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Celebrating "Chicago Flag Day" on April 4th.

In 1915 Chicago Mayor Carter Harrison, Jr., decided that the time had come for Chicago to join the dozens of other American municipalities that had adopted an official flag. The 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition had come and gone with only a red banner emblazoned with a white pall (Y-shape) to advertise the city’s “municipal colors” (the Y-shape would also be employed in the city’s less recognizable “municipal device”). 

Harrison’s flag commission received more than 1,000 proposals before settling on a design submitted by Wallace Rice, a lecturer in heraldry and flag history at the Art Institute of Chicago. Rice’s original design only incorporated two stars, symbolizing the Chicago fire of 1871 and the Columbian Exposition.
Rice chose six-pointed stars to distinguish them from the five-pointed stars commonly seen on national flags; the points formed a 30-degree internal angle to mark them as distinct from the Star of David. He aligned them to the staff (left) side rather than centering them, assuming that city officials might wish to add more stars at a later date. The city did exactly that in the 1930s, adding two more stars (symbolizing the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition and Fort Dearborn). While there have been numerous campaigns to add a fifth star to the flag (to honor everything from Chicago’s role in the creation of the atomic bomb to its place in the history of the Special Olympics), its current form has remained unchanged since 1939.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.