Chicago Evening Post, April 4, 1867
An attempt was made last week1 to give some general information concerning the suburbs of the city, and some particular information concerning such of them as are situated on the line of the Illinois Central railroad. In the present article further particulars will be given concerning towns on other roads. Having commenced with the Illinois Central, it will be natural to “swing around the circle” from the east and south to the west and north; and as no inhabitable town is known to exist on the lines of the Michigan Southern and Michigan Central roads, within easy reach of the city, we come next to the
PITTSBURGH, FORT WAYNE AND CHICAGO RAILWAY.
Not much can be said of this. For fifteen miles it runs parallel with and close to the track of the Michigan Southern road, and for these fifteen miles the ground is very low and sandy, so much so that it is almost totally uncultivated and uninhabited. Beyond, it recedes gradually from the lake and the ground along its line is habitable and at last very desirable. This very desirable land, however, is so distant from the city as hardly to be reckoned suburban. The accommodation train on this road which runs six times daily to and from the stock-yards is one of our main main connections with this very important suburb. Its depot near Madison street bridge, is quite convenient, but its track runs for four miles through the city, and most of the way, where the streets are almost constantly thronged with men and teams. Consequently it is compelled to run very slowly. Advantage might be taken of this line, which passes scores of lumber yards, docks, warehouses and manufactories, where thousands of laborers are employed, to establish a village south of the stock-yards, especially for the convenience of laborers.
The first depot on the line of the road is Clark Station, which is twenty-four miles from the city. It is a small village in the midst of a sparsely settled country. Thirty-three miles form the city is Hobart. At these places there is a little timber. Valparaiso, forty miles from the city, the first express station, is a fine thriving town of several thousand inhabitants. The country around it is beautiful and well-cultivated, and if the place was not so far off it would make a delightful summer residence.
Next west of this line we find the
Chicago and Great Eastern Railway.
This road is comparatively new. It has been in operation less than two years, and the country on its line is not so well known as it deserves to be. At present this road enters the city on a track parallel to that of the Galena division of the Northwestern, and occupies the depot of the Milwaukee road, which is close to the Kinzie street bridge, half a mile north of Madison street, half a mile west of Clark street, and nearly a mile from the Court House. This station it occupies but temporarily, but its permanent depot will probably be built near te corner of Carroll and Canal streets, which is but a few rods from the Milwaukee depot. This location of the depot will make the towns on this rosd especially accessible to those who do business on the West Side and on those streets of the North and South Sides which are near the branches of the river. To those whose business is as far east and south as the Court House it will be less convenient, for not many are willing to go a mile after having spent half an hour or more on the cars. As it leaves the city by the most direct route, running onlu two miles and a quarter within the limits, it is hindered by the slow running necessary in crossing streets less than most railroads. Its trains reach the city limits in a quarter hour or less. From the limits it turns directly to the south.
It has been said that the country on this road is little known. This year arrangements have been made to make it unusually accessible and available. The railway company have made arrangements with the Chicago and Lansing Transit Company, by which Messrs. Ebberts and Garfield are granted a lease on the road as far as Lansing, near the Indiana line, for the purpose of running trains for the accommodation of the way passenger and freight business that place and Chicago. Without flattery it must be conceded that these lessees have acted very wisely. They have purchased large tracts of land on the line of the railroad, on which they are laying out suburban villages. It is thus in every way important to them that the country be rapidly improved and thickly settled. If the railroad is made a convenient means of communication, the towns on its line will grow rapidly, and the lessees will be profited by the rise in the value of the land. If the population increases, the business of the road will be increased, and they will be enriched by the traffic on it. In order to secure these results they have put upon the road an accommodation train, which makes two trips each way daily, stopping at every station, and carrying passengers and freight at rates which seem exceedingly low. The commuted rate of fare is but 1¼ cents per mile, and arrangementsb will soon be made to affors a reduction even on this rate. Notwithstanding these low rates, and the present sparsely settled condition of the towns on the road, the lessees assure us that this train is already self-sustaining, a fact in railway economy which deserves the close attention of other railway officials.
The country on the line of this road is somewhat varied. A little of it is flat, but most of it quite rolling, and at several of the stations the surface is beautifully diversified and adorned with fine groves of trees.
The first of the stations on the line iof this road is
This place is pretty well known to the people of Chicago. Part of it is within the city limits, and the station is about 6-3/4 miles from the Chicago depot. The ground there is flat, and there are but a few dwellings. The Brighton House and the race-course are the chief attractions of the place. Its chief recommendation is its nearness. The trains reach it from Chicago in half an hour, and fifty fares may be bought for $4.25.
is the next station. It os chiefly famous for the great “Tremont House Farm,” which, in fact, is a kitchen garden half a mile square. The land here is low and flat, but well drained and of excellent quality for gardens, with which it is covered for a distance around. There is no village there and not even a town laid out. Land can be bought and probably at low rates. The station is ten miles from the city, and fares are sold at $13 per hundred.
is 2¼ miles farther south. The station was formerly called Evans, from Dr. John Evans, who has a large tract of land there. General Hunter has a large farm there. There is no town there. The country is covered with cultivated farms, small tracts of which, near the station, can be bought at reasonable rates.
Less than a mile south of Sheridan, and 13¼ miles from the city is
a place which, if all that is said of it is true, has a more diversified and beautiful surface than any other ground in Cook county. This station is near the northern extremity of that remarkable ridge of ground known as Blue Island. This “island” is a high ridge of land, about a mile wide and six miles long, extending from north to south through an ocean of flat prairie. Upwood, which a few days ago bore the name of “Morgandale,” comprises about a square mile of the Morgan estate, which for twenty-two years has been the residence of a well-known wealthy citizen. This section of the estate has been suffered to remain almost in its primitive condition. It is the highest ground in Cook county, tye tops of the hills being seventy=five feet above the surface of the lake. The surface is diversified by deep ravines, and most of it is covered with a heavy growth of magnificent forest trees, many of them two or three feet in diameter. The forest has hardly been touched by the axe, and the ground now stands in all its original beauty. The station is two miles west of of the head of Calumet Lake, and exactly six miles south of the southwest corner of the incorporated city. It overlooks the low and flat lands in the vicinity for miles, and, where the trees will permit, the city can be seen distinctly. A town will be laid out here this spring, or rather a cluster of small farms. Probably none of the lots will be less than ten acres in extent. If the design is carried out the place will become a magnificent park, lacking only the lake view to make a perfect country home. Doubtless the projectors of the town will make due announcement when it is brought into the market. As fares are commuted on the accommodation train, it costs eighteen cents to get there.
is one mile south of Upwood, and fourteen and a quarter miles from the city. Like Upwood, it is situated on Blue Island, and the ground is high and rolling, just as at Upwood, but the trees have been mostly cut off. At this place the Transit Company owns 320 acres of land, all on the east side of the railroad. The surveyor commenced laying this out last week. Forty acres in the center are reserved for a park, and ten acres in the center of this park will form a public square. From this square avenues will extend diagonally to each corner of the town. The distance from the station to the most distant corners of the town will be about three-fourths of a mile. The ground is to be laid out in acre lots. The prices of these lots have not been fixed, but the founders are anxious to have the place grow rapidly, and the price will probably be not more than $200 per lot during the present season. The fare to this place, at the commuted rates, is 20 cents, and it is an hour and three or four minutes from the city, at the present slow running time. The beautiful and healthful situation, together with the low rates at which lots are to be sold, promises to make this town on paper a flourishing village in reality, in a short time.
Rock Island Crossing
is a little more than a mile further south. This is about three miles from the town of Blue Island. There is no town laid out here, and the surrounding country is not thickly settled. The ground, and doubtless land could be bought cheap. Fares are sold at the rate of $21.50 per hundred.
is three miles farther south. The station is situated on a handsome wooded ridge. A tract, 320 acres in extent, surrounding the depot, has been laid out into a village during the past week. The lots contain about an acre each, and are so arranged that five of them may be bought together in one field. The soil here is a light sandy loam, which makes excellent gardens. The country in the vicinity is all finely cultivated. Lots will be for sale soon at very reasonable prices. The station is a little more than eighteen miles from Chicago, and it takes an hour and twenty minutes and 23½ cents to get there.
The Illinois Central Crossing
is less than a mile farther farther south, on the banks of the Calumet river. The Calumet ice-houses are at this point. The ground is high and handsomely timbered. There are cultivated farms there; no town, but a good place to make one.
is on the banks of Lake Calumet, one mile from the Central crossing, and twenty miles from Chicago. The ground is high, prettily timbered and has a fine lake view. Ho. A.H. Dolton is building a hotel there, and a store will be built this season. A town will be laid out there soon, and great inducements will be offered to those who will go there and build. Fares to this place cost $26 per hundred.
is a mile and a half farther south. There is no town there, either actual or prospective. The ground is dry, but quite level.
is 24½ miles, and an hour and forty minutes from Chicago. The railroad crosses the river at this point. The country here is high and handsome, and a fine farming country, but there is no town here, and no present attempt to make one.
the terminus of the line on which the accommodation trains= runs, is a village with twelve or fifteen houses, a hotel and two or three stores, all built within the past year. It is twenty-seven miles from Chicago, and about half a mile from the Indiana State line. There is a fine dairy country in the vicinity, and an extensive milk trade with the city is already begun there. The town is laid out into quarter-acre lots, and these are sold generally for about $50 per lot. The cars reach it from Chicago in two hours, and the fare, at the rates of commutation, costs about 35½ cents.
It will be noticed that what has been done on this road is only a beginning. To make the more distant places convenient for people doing business in the city, it will be necessary to run the trains faster. This it is the intention of the lessees to do as soon the settlement of the towns on the line by Chicago people is fairly begun. Then it is proposed to run from Chicago to Lansing in one hour, which would make Upwood and Washington Heights as convenient, as far as time is concerned, as Indiana avenue near Thirty-first street. It is intended soon to issue yearly, half-yearly and quarterly tickets on this line which will reduce even the low rates at which fares are commuted now. The rates to Upwood will be about $60 per year, permitting the purchaser to ride as often as he pleases. This would be little more than eight cents per ride to those who come into the city and go out daily.
This train accommodates some people who live in the city. It stops just outside of the city limits, at the crossing of Madison street, and again on Lincoln and Halsted streets to take on let off passengers. From these places passengers are carried at street-car rates and with much more than street-car speed and comfort.
THE CHICAGO, ALTON AND ST. LOUIS RAILROAD
is the next in order. This road runs out from the same depot as the Pittsburgh and Fort Wayne road, and, for some distance, on the same track. For a long time it has run an accommodation train which comes into town early and goes back before evening; but this has been supported by people from the country who come into town occasionally, and not by people from the city who come in daily to work and go out to live. The advantages and disadvantages which it has on account of its track for a long distance through a busy portion of the city, it has in common with the Fort Wayne road, as heretofore noted.
The first station is
with its hotel and race track and frequent frolics. It is five miles from the Chicago depot. The pace has been spoken of in connection with the Great Eastern Railway.
distant twelve miles from the city, is the next station. Like all the rest of the stations on the road, this side of Joliet, it has the canal and the Desplaines river on one side. The ground here is high,—nearly the highest in the State,—and it is moreover somewhat rolling. The town is small and has not yet attracted the attention as a suburban village. There is a fine farming country there. John Wentworth has a magnificent farm of 2,500 acres within a short distance of the depot.
is seventeen and a half miles from the city. It is a little village in the midst of a well cultivated farming country. To the east of the railroad the ground is high and dry. Between it and the river there is a strip of low, flat land.
twenty-two miles from the city, is at the crossing of the feeder of the canal. The ‘sag” extends from the river around to the lake. The grounds there here is low and marshy. There is no town there, and probably never will be.
three miles and a half further south, is only a flag station. The ground on the east side of the railroad is favorable for residences, if any one should take the trouble to build any there. A considerable amount of ice is cut there, and this its chief claim to recognition.
os twenty-five and a half miles from the city. It is a fine town of a few thousand inhabitants, handsomely situated on the left bank of the river. It has a very large trade with the surrounding country, the farmers coming there for twenty miles around with their grain, on account of the cheap freights on the canal. There are few pleasanter towns so near Chicago. Several Chicago business men have theor homes there.
the county seat of Will county, and a city of several thousand inhabitants, is one of the largest and most thriving places between Chicago and St. Louis. It is famed especially for its great quarries of excellent building stone and for the State Penitentiary, where so many of our fellow-citizens are provided with homes and employment. It is about forty miles from Chicago, too far to be suitable for most business men. Several of our merchants, however, have their residences there. It has plenty of churches and an excellent system of public schools, and these, with the beauty and healthfulness of the place, prove strong attractions.
The prices of commutation tickets to these places for three months, six months, and for one year are given below:
These commutation tickets give the purchaser the right to ride at will on all passenger trains, for the time for which they are sold.
THE ROCK ISLAND RAILROAD
is the next in order. Its depot in the city is quite convenient to many business men of the South Division, and its running time to the city limits is less than on some other lines, though it runs three and a half miles within the city. Most of the ground on its line is good, but there is but one thriving village this side of Joliet. The first station is
seven miles from the depot in the city. This is the point where it begins to diverge from the course of the Michigan Southern railroad. There is a village of perhaps a dozen houses here on the prairie, which is low and flat and sandy and partly covered with a growth of trees. Some land about forty rods from the depot, but close to the place where the dummy on the Ft. Wayne road stops, was sold lately for $1,000 per acre. This tract is on the corner of Wentworth and Junction avenues. Another lot forty or fifty rods from either station was sold for $500 per acre. The trains run to this station in twenty-five minutes, which makes it quite convenient to those especially whose business is near the Chicago depot.
sixteen miles from the city, is reached by express in fifty minutes. It is a large village with a population of between one and two thousand. It is one of the oldest towns in the vicinity of the city. Its position is at the southern extremity of the high ridge known as Blue Island, and the ground there is high and rolling. The place would seem to be well situated for suburban residences, but only a few citizens live there. Tickets to this town, good for twenty-rides, are sold for $10.
The next stations are Bremen, twenty-three miles, and Mokena, thirty miles distant. Knowing nothing, the writer will say nothing of these towns; and of Joliet, the next station, enough has been said while speaking of the Alton and St. Louis railroad.
Going forward, we next reach
THE CHICAGO, BURLINGTON AND QUINCY RAILROAD.
This road, certainly one of the most complete and best equipped in the Unites States, runs through 265 miles of the handsomest as well as the most fertile country in the State, and the forty miles of it west of Fox river runs through many fine villages, beautiful for situation and desirable homes. With all its advantages, it has one disadvantage which operates seriously against the convenience of these towns as residences for city men. For nearly five miles and a half its track is within the city limits, and half an hour is generally consumed in running from the depot, at the foot of Lake street, to Western avenue. This objection does not operate against such persons as do business anywhere in the South or West Divisions in the vicinity of Eighteenth street. Its trans stop at Canal street, and again at State street, and they reach these streets generally a quarter of an hour or more before they arrive at the depot. Outside of the city the trains run rapidly and there are many of them.
For thirteen miles west of the city, as far as the Desplaines river, the road runs over a low and perfectly flat country, being, in fact, a continuation of the plain on which Chicago stands. No town has been established on this ground as yet, but it presents decided advantages, especially for a village of laborers; for one might be established near the city containing numerous factories, packing houses, lumberyards, docks, etc., where thousands of men are employed. The trains now stop just outside the city limits, and if they ran at the proper hours to accommodate laborers, a village might be rapidly built here. This stopping place is nearly 5½ miles form the Central depot, but less than 2½ miles from the river, where there is employment for so many. In the town of Cicero, nine miles from the Central depot, there is another stopping place, but the first place which is occupied as a suburb is
thirteen miles from the city, on the east bank of the Desplaines river. This place is especially noted as the residence of David Gage, of the Tremont House. This gentleman has a beautiful county seat there, and there he keeps his splendid stud of blooded horses. The ground is level but not high, but is finely wooded, and the river which bounds it adds to its attractions. Most of the ground convenient to the station is the property of Mr. Gage, and is not now on the market. There is a small population of citizens there now, however, and its nearness to the city can hardly fail to attract more when lots are offered freely for sale. The accommodation trains, of which there are two each way, reach it, by the regular running time, in forty minutes.
West of the Desplaines river the ground rises and becomes high and beautifully undulating, presenting as desirable a surface as can be found on any route so near the city. Two miles from Lyons is the “milk station,” called Salt Creek, where the early train in the morning stops to take on cans of milk, and where the late train in the evening puts off the empty cans.
a mile farther west, and sixteen miles from Chicago, is said to be the highest point of land between Chicago and Burlington. Here, as four miles further west, the ground is diversified by handsome swells and hollows, which are exceedingly beautifl, though entirely destitute of trees. Land can be had there in quantities to suit, from a lot to a farm, at prices not much greater than are paid for farming lands. Its chief claim to distinction at present is a store—almost the only building at the station. Most of what has been said of Hazel Glen may be said with equal truth of Bushville, which is not a town, but only a good place to build one. Land is cheap and plenty, and good, the surrounding country is occupied by fine farms, and all three of the stations mentioned—Salt Creek, Hazel Glen and Bushville—will probably soon claim the attention of all the accommodation trains. They have been created by the heavy milk trade of the vicinity, which has caused the establishment of these “milk stations,”—originally nothing but platforms to put the cans on—and the running of the “milk train,” early in the morning and late in the afternoon.
The Land Owner
nineteen miles from the Central Depot, is an accomplished fact. It is the first station on high ground at which all trains stop. The land is 174 feet above the level of the lake, and is beautifully undulating, with a handsom swell to almost every acre, furnishing many most desirable building sites. Around it are some beautiful groves of natural timber, and a fine stream runs near by.
One year ago the village was commenced; since which time about 240 acres have been sold in lots, at from $100 to $200 per acre, all for actual occupation. About twenty houses have been built. A fine stone school building, at a cost of about $7,000, was completed last fall by Wm. Robbins, Esq., and an academy is maintained in it with about sixty scholars in attendance. An arrangement has been made to carry scholars to it from Chicago for ten cents, thus giving to city children good schooling and fresh air altogether, at a cheap rate. Religious services are held two or three times every Sunday in the hall of the academy.
It is claimed that it is economical to live in Hinsdale. Indeed it is said that a large lot with a comfortable cottage can be bought and paid for with the money which it would be necessary to pay for three or four years’ rent in the city. The founders of the place designed to make of it an eminently respectable place, in which people would have no occasion to be ashamed of each other, but where neighbors could truct each other and live without interference from rowdies and blackguards. To secure such a place the sale of liquor is absolutely prohibited by the conditions of the deeds. Every effort is made by the inhabitants and by the proprietors of the unsold property, to encourage schools and churches and legitimate means of instruction and amusement, but they do not reckon saloons with these.
The trains reach this town in just about an hour, and they all stop here. It has grown and is growing so rapidly, and is attracting so many of our business men, that it can hardly fail to become one of our most important suburbs, as it now, doybtless, the most important of those on this line of railroad. The proprietors of the town are William Robbins and O.J. Stough, the latter of whom has an office in the city, at No. 18 Smith and Nixon’s building, where he will be glad to give additional information.
is four miles further west. The ground is perhaps not quite so high as at Hinsdale, but it is handsomely rolling, and is further adorned by a fine grove. There is a little village here, nearly all of which has grown up since the railroad was built, a few years ago. The white spires of its three churches pointing up through he trees on the south side of the railroad make one of the prettiest pictures to be seen on the line of the road. There are lots in abundance ro be had here, at from $50 to $100, but it has been intimated that the place would have grown faster if they had been sold cheaper heretofore. At all events the pretty village is the home of but a few city families, though it would be hard to find a more desirable place at that distance from the city. The fastest trains reach it in an hour and five minutes; the slowest in an hour and fifteen minutes.
is twenty-six miles from the city. It is a new and and a small village with plenty of handsome ground to grow on. The trains reach it in an hour and a quarter, or a little more.
Albert Ruger & J.J. Stoner
the present county seat of Dupage county, flourished and was great in the days when the farmers hailed their grain to Chicago, for a large share of them spent the night at its hotels and bought goods at its stores. Since the completion of the new line of the Burlington road, it has recovered something of its old life, and is a thriving business point. There is a large German population here, and the place famous for its lager beer along the whole line of the railroad. The place is built on both banks of the Dupage river. It has a population of a few thousands, and is duly provided with schools, churches, an academy, a Court House and a jail. The station is a little to the north of the old town, and residences there are quite retired. There is a large country trade, but only a few Chicago business men make their homes there.
It is thirty miles, and about an hour and a half from the city.
is much more important as a city as a suburb, itys distance making it inconvenient to most of those who do business in Chicago. It is certainly one of the most of that beautiful chain of towns which adorn the banks of the beautiful Fox river. It covers a great extent of ground on both banks of the river and on the island which here divides the stream into two channels. Its large trade with the country and the various factories which make it one of the most important manufacturing points in the State, are of less importance to those who look to it only for a home and not at all for occupation than its numerous churches and its excellent schools, which rank with the very best in the State. Property there is higher than in most towns which are only places to live in and not places to work in, but rents are not more than half what they are in Chicago. The country around the city is highly cultivated, and up and down the river, especially, it is exceedingly beautiful. It is becoming celebrated for its fruit gardens. There are about 150 acres odf strawberries planted here—more than at any other place in the State except Cobden. Large vineyards hae been planted here also.
Notwithstanding its distance, there are several business men in this city who make their home there. Among them is Philo Carpenter, who has a magnificent residence in the place. The accommodation trains reach Aurora in an hour and three quarters.
The rates of commutative tickets on this railroad are as follows:
In addition, tickets for twenty-five rides, good for three months, and which can be used by any member of the purchaser’s family, are sold at half regular rates; i.e., to Lyons, $6.25; Salt Creek, $7.50; Hazel Glen, $8.15; Hinsdale, $10; Downer’s Grove, $11.90; Lisle, $13.15; Naperville, $15; Aurora, $20.
As trains run at present, there are four passenger trains each way, daily. One reaches the city ten minutes before six in the morning. This is altogether too early for comfort, and most of those who come into the city for the day arrive at nine a.m. and leave either at three or at five p.m. If they spend the evening in the city, they can leave by the express at midnight.
It has been proposed to run a train as far as Downer’s Grove which would arrive earlier than nine o’clock. The company authorities have the matter under consideration, and it is possible—perhaps it would be nearer the truth to say probable—that such a train will be put on this summer.
In this examination of our suburban towns we have filled several solid—some of them, doubtless, heavy—columns, and yet have swung but half around the circle. We next reach the various branches of the Northwestern railway, two of which carry a greater suburban population to and from the city than all other lines put together, with the exception of the Illinois Central. The towns on the three divisions of the Northwestern railway will form the subject of another article.
Chicago Evening Post, May 4, 1867
So long ago that many readers of this article will be likely to forget them, articles were published in The Post descriptive of the suburban villages on the different lines of railroad which enter Chicago, with the exception of the three divisions of the Northwester railway. At the time the last of these articles was published, another article was promised to complete the subject. This is that other article.
We began with the Illinois Central railroad, on the shore of Lake Michigan, and proceeded to the west and north, speaking last of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railroad. The country north of this road and west of Lake Michigan is intersected by three railroads, now all owned and managed by the Northwestern Railway Company. The first if these, the old Chicago and Galena Union railroad, runs straight west from the city; and the third formerly known as the Chicago and Milwaukee railroad, runs almost directly north and follows the lake shore so closely that it is rarely so much as a mile from the bank.
THE GALENA DIVISION,
which is the name now given to the Chicago and Galena Union railroad, is the oldest of the railroads that enter the city. Its track runs over the flat prairie on which Chicago is situated as far as the Des Plaines river. This ground, however, is higher here than farther south. West of the Des Plaines, the land is very much the same as on the line of the Burlington road—high, rolling, and well cultivated. Although the stations on its line are old for Western railroad towns, they are all small until you reach Rox river. Almost every one of them is finely situated, and of late years they have attracted, much attention as suburban residences. It is not alone the beautiful and healthful locatoons which are attractive. The truth is that no other line of road, except the Illinois Central, forms so rapid and convenient a line of communication with the country. In the first place, its depot, within a block of the Wells street bridge, is but five blocks from the Court House and within a few minutes’ walk of the best business portions of the North and South Divisions.In the second place, it has a shorter distance run within the city limits (about 2½ miles) than any other road, except the Great Eastern, which runs on the same track. It reaches the city oimits in fifteen minutes, or even less, without difficulty. Once across the briver, it has little to obstruct it; for there is very little business over its crossings.
Another advantage of this line is the frequency of trains, established for the especial benefit of dwellers in the ciountry, but chiefly express trains; for over this oad for thirty miles run the trains f two different routes,—the Iowa and Nebraska route, which continues straight on to the Mississippi river and through Iowa to the Missouri, and the Galena route, which diverges to the north thirty miles from the city and crosses Fox river at Elgin. There are two daily express trains on each of these routes, so that those who live within thirty mies of the city have the benefit of four express trains daily.
The general rate at which commutation tickets are sold, on this as well as on all other lines of the Northwestern railway, is two cents a mile, or just one-half the regular fare. Yearly and quarterly tickets are sold to some places at lower rates.
the newest as well as the nearest town on this road. It is situated on the summit between the Desplaines and the Chicago rivers, six miles from the Welss street depot. The place was founded only a year ago, when the United States Clock and Brass Company bought forty acres of land there and commenced the construction of their factory buildings. A full description of the manufactory was given in the papers last February, when a party of gentlemen went there and had a supper and made speeches, and when Mr. William A. Giles, the Secretary of the company, was presented with a watch and chain worth $1,500—perhaps the most elegant time-piece in the United States. Those who read these accounts will remember that facilities are provided there for manufacturing 100,000 clocks and a vast quantity of brass yearly. and that a large number of men are occupied in the works. Primarily with a view to accommodate these workmen, the company laid out the village of Austin and built there twenty-four neat cottages and a boarding house. These dwellings the company rents them to the workmen for $150 per year. They would bring about three times as much here.
But it is not intended that none but workmen in the clock factory shall live in Austin. The company has laid out its land into quarter-acre lots. and is ready to sell them at from $75 to $500 to any one who will build on them, but to bo one else. Mr. Austin and others who own the land in the vicinity will sell tracts within three-quarters of a mile to the depot for $200 per acre.
The great advantage of the place is its nearness. Trains from the Wells street depot reach it in twenty minutes, and there are many trains each way daily. You can leave Austin at seven in the afternoon, spend the evening in the city, and return at ten o’clock. The fare at the commutation rates is but 12½ cents. It is designed to make it a neat, tasteful, and quiet village. Two parks have been laid out, and a profusion of shade trees have been planted. The place seems especially desirable to men of small means. It will probably never be an aristocratic suburb, but it will always be a very convenient one. Some wealthy citizens have been attracted there. Mr. William A. Giles, of the firm of Giles Brothers, has his home there, and during the present season will erect an elegant residence at a cost of nearly $20,000 and Mr. Warner, of this city, is about to build a residence which will be nearly as costly.
better known in the city as Harlem, is celebrated for the numerous changes of name which it has undergone. In primitive times it was called Kettlestrings’ Ridge,” from a Mr. Keetlestrings, the first settler, who pitched his tent there in 1833, and, by the way, is still a resident of the place. Afterwards it was called “Noyesville” for a time. This name was exchanged for “Oak Ridge,” until about the time the railroad was built, when it was dubbed Harlem. This name stood by it very well; but, unfortunately, there is another postoffice in the Sate by that name, and so the office there was called “Oak Park.” It was found inconvenient to have the name of postoffice different from that of the town and station; but as the office could not take the name of the town, the town was compelled to take the name of the office.
Oak Park is nine miles from the Wells street depot, and the express trains are advertised to reach it in 28 minutes—a little less time than it takes to ride to Union Park. There are three stations in the village, the first called Thatcher’s, is a half mile east of the Desplaines river; a mile farther east is Harlem; and half a mile still farther is Oak Park. In this way the grounds for a distance of three miles along the road are brought close to the stopping places of the trains. The site of the town is a ridge 56 feet above the level of Lake Michigan, and one of the great watersheds of the continent. The water on one side of it is drained into the Chicago river, and runs into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, while the other side it seeks the Gulf of Mexico by way of Desplaines, the Illinois and the Mississippi. The soil is sandy and loamy, and is very warm and excellent for gardens. About a hundred families reside here, of which number probably forty belong to Chicago business men. There is in the town a “Union” church, and a beautiful Episcopal church is nearly finished. Besides these a Catholic church and three German Protestant churches are projected. The people there claim to have the best district school building in the State. A portion of it has been tendered to the Board of Supervisors for use of the County Normal school. The grade of the district school is to be raised to the level of the Chicago High School. There is considerable activity in real estate at advanced rates. Prices vary from $200 to $2,000 per acre. Most of the residents own their own houses, and there is rarely an opportunity to rent one. Twelve new houses, some of them very desirable ones, are now in process of construction. The place is very handsomely situated. The elevated position gives it a commanding view of the surrounding country and of Chicago. Single fares to Oak Park cost thirty-five cents. The commuted rates are just one half of that price. A pass for one person for a year is sold for $60 for six months, $31.50; for 3 months, $18. The trains run so fast that the people can attend evening entertainments int he city, take the cars at 10:20 p.m., and reach home before eleven o’clock. Many prominent citizens reside there, and there is very choice society in the place.
sixteen miles, or three quarters of an hour, from the city, by the express trains, is the next town on thew road. The six passenger trains which run over the line all stop at this station. The place is elevated and rolling and commands the surrounding country for miles around. It is a large but not a populous place; for its few hundred people are scattered over a space of about a mile square. The soil seems to be especially adapted for fruit growing, and some of the finest young orchards in Northern Illinois are there. Much attention has been paid to fruit trees of late, and already there are many orchards of Richmond cherrie, some of which contain thousands of trees, which bear abundantly. In the vicinity are many pleasant drives, nd the roads are good. The water, as is the case generally on this road, is excellent.
Land can be bought within a half a mile of the station—most of it within a quarter of a mile—at from $150 to $250 per acre, and there is plenty of it for sale. There are no houses to rent there; but there is a demand for them, and capitalists could invest money in buildings here very profitably.
There is an Episcopal church in the place and a good public school. Among the well known Chicago business men who have residences there may be mentioned T.B. Bryan, J.W. Lathrfop, Andrew Shuman, C. Wade, A.S. Brownell, Nathan Sheppard, H.W. King and John R. Case. The place is growing constantly but not with great rapidity.
Four miles beyond Cottage Hill and twenty miles from the city is
a village of three or four hundred people, scattered over a wide extent of beautifully rolling land, variegated by deep ravines and a fine grove of oaks. Four trains each way stop there daily. The earliest of these reaches the city at 8:45, and the next at 11:10. Going out, one train leaves the city at 4 o’clock, another at 5:30, and another at 10. The running time is about an hour—a little less on the express trains. At the present time twelve Chicago families live there. Messrs. Isaac Claflin, J.T. Reed, A.B. Risley, G.B. Green and Gen. B.J. Sweet are among those who have residences there. Most of these have built or are preparing to build very tasteful frame houses. A new church, under the auspices of a “Union” congregation, is about to be erected. There is a good school house and a graded school will be maintained in it. Land within one-fourth or one-half a mile from the station can be bought for $100 per acre. As at Cottage Hill, the ground here is exceptionally favorable to the growth of grapes, cherries and other fruits, and large orchards, especially of cherries, have been planted. Within three-fourths of a mile is the Dupage river, which abounds in ducks and fish. Most of those who live there have a fee acres of land each. A lawyer of the city who moved there as an experiment a year ago now says that nothing could induce him to bring his family back to the city. Yet the place is a country residence and not properly a suburb. That is, its distance and its connections with the city are such that a resident there—at least the family of the resident—has but little benefit from the schools, churches, the society, and other means of culture of the city. Life in such a town is purely country life, and has all the advantages and most of the disadvantages of country life.
The regular fare to Babcock’s Grove is 80 cents, commutation tickets are sold at half this rate, and a yearly pass, good for all trains, may be had for $80—about twenty-five cents a day.
Of the towns on this line farther west a few words must suffice. They are, without exception, on high, rolling ground, and are many of them prettily situated. DAnby is twenty-three miles from the city, and is distant sixty-three minutes by express. It is a little country village, and has attracted but little attention from the city of late, though there are one or two Chicago families there. Wheaton, twenty-five miles and seventy minutes from the city, isw better known. There is a college there and several churches. For several years it has been the home of Benjamin F. Taylor. Junction, five miles further west, is at the point the Galena and the Iowa branches of the road separate. It is very handsomely situated. Geneva, on Fox river, if not in Northern Illinois. It contains about 3,000 inhabitants, is the county seat of Kane county, and is noted for its neatness, its quietness and its good society. In spite of its distance from the city, several Chicago men have been tempted to make their residence there. Several miles north of Geneva, forty-two miles from the city on the Galena road, is the lively little city of Elgin, abounding in trade, having some very important thriving manufactories, and moreover one of the prettiest placs in the Fox river valley. It is almost too far for the convenience of Chicago business men, yet some of them have homes there.
THE WISCONSIN DIVISION
of the Northwestern railway seems to have attracted but little attention from those who have built suburban homes, Why this is so it would not be easy to say. It runs through a desirable country, which is almost everywhere settled and highly cultivated. Its depot is just west of the Kinzie street bridge—not so convenient as the Wells street depor; but most of the trains on the Milwaukee road runs through some of the most popular suburbs of the city. The fact remains, THere are several pleasant stations on the line of the Wisconsin Division of the Northwestern railway, within twenty-five miles; but in none of them is there any collection of Chicago citizens.
1Chicago Evening Post
March, 1867 not available online.
Dec. 17, 1866—Dec. 21, 1867