The Land Owner, September, 1869
THE RIVERSIDE BOULEVARD.
The oldest and most celebrated cities in the world have obtained very much of their fame through their systems of parks and pleasure drives. Paris would cease to be the gay capital of the world if her Champs Élysées, Avenue de l’Impératrice and Bois du Bologne were obliterated, and to destroy the famous drive to Versailles,through the long vista of historical limes, would blot out much that is pleasant and worth remembering in French history. Florence, the bright capital of Italy, would lose the court were it not for the glorious Lung ‘Arno, along which you may drive, close to the banks of the classic river, until you reach the Cascine, that marvel of parks; and if one could not drive out on the Appian way, in Rome, there would be much less pleasure in visiting the Eternal City.
Chicago is yet young, but will be a giant before Italy is free or Paris contented with its ruler. We have early learned the lesson that a city must have something besides brick walls and warehouses to render it attractive, and consequently prosperous. Our grand system of parks will be the finest in the world before the next quarter of a century, which many of us may live to see. But prominent over all other suburban improvements at the present timei is the great Riverside Boulevard, a section of which we present in this number of The Land Owner, as a cartoon. No enterprise connected with our improvement as a city ever rivalled this in magnitude, or bold conception, and none was ever prosecuted more vigorously than this has been since its first conception.1
This Boulevard will be the approach from the city to Riverside, a beautiful suburban village on the Desplaines, at the crossing of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. Starting at the corner of Reuben and Twelfth streets and running due west until it strikes the old Southwestern Plank Road, and follows it to the new city limits; thence it will run west through the town of Cicero some three miles, and thence southwest on the Barry Point road to Riverside. This drive will be 200 feet wide, will contain a central roadway for pleasure carriages, onr on either side for heavy vehicles, one for saddle horses, and a footpath for pedestrians, as seen in the accompanying cartoon; and will be adorned with rows of elm trees and bordered with grass, forming a beautifully shaded avenue, with roadways whose smoothness and solidity will delight all drivers of horses.
The authorities of Cicero propose to proceed at once to construct their portion of the avenue, and call for proposals for doing the work. The central or principal drive in this town will be completed during the coming fall, as will the remaining portion between this and Riverside. The section from Reuben street to the city limits will probably soon be commenced, the Common Council having authorized, by special act of Legislature, the widening of the streets as proposed, and the property holders being anxious to pay their assessments in advance, so that the drive may be built at once.
In less than a year from this time the grand driveway will be completed sufficiently for public use, and the suburban retreat will have been laid so far laid out and beautified, and so peopled with residents from the city, that it will be one of the most attractive places of resort within reach of Chicago.
To further the construction of this great pleasure-way, the Riverside Improvement Company recently imported from Europe an immense steam roller, which we illustrated last month (right), and which as proved very useful in hardening roads in Europe. This implement may now be seen at Riverside.
Now that we have driven out over this grand Boulevard, and are at Riverside itself, it may be well to see what is there. Everything is green and shady, and the artesian well is discharging clear, limpid water solely for the Riverside people and their guests. The place is beautifully laid out into streets, parks and lawns, and much building and improving is in progress. A beautiful stone church is being erected, an immense refectory, capable of accommodating a large number of people is going up; school houses are also in process of erection, and everything presents a pleasant appearance. Stores are to be erected in a certain prescribed locality, a row of which, designed by Messrs. Olmstead, Vaux & Co., of New York, we illustrate on another page, and which we submit is the most beautiful piece of architecture yet seen in Chicago.
The Riverside Improvement Company has its city office at the corner of Randolph and Clark streets, the company being organized as follows:
- President, Emory E. Childs;
Secretary, L.W. Murray; Treasurer and Attorney, Henry E. Seelye;
Directors, David A. Gage, of the Sherman House;
Wm. T. Allen of Day, Allen & Co.;
A.C. Badger, of A. C. & O. F. Badger;
George M. Kimbark, of Hall, Kimbark & Co.
Front Elevation of a Block of Stores, with Offices on Second Floor, Now under Contract for Erection at Riverside.
Designed by Olmstead, Vaux & Co., New York.
Chicago Evening Post, August 5, 1869
THE RIVERSIDE BOULEVARD.
A Large Portion of the Roadway Contracted for.
A contract has just been concluded between the town of Cicero and G.A. Colby & Co. for furnishing all the materials and doing the entire work of constructing all that portion of the boulevard that runs through the town of Cicero, between the city limits and Riverside. Under this contract the grand central carriage drive, preparing the bids for the construction of the side roads, making the ditches and culverts, is to be performed by this firm within eighty working days; and so certain are the contractors that they will complete the work within the time, that they agree to forfeit $250 per day for every day beyond the the expiration of the specified eighty days it requires to finish it. The Board expect to set out the trees that are to line the drive, this fall. Not only will the property along the line be enhanced in value by the completion of the boulevard, but the city of Chicago must also derive benefit therefrom. The new steam road-roller imported by the Riverside Improvement Company, will be used in the construction of the work
Southwestern Plank Road
The Land Owner, February, 1870
The Land Owner, May, 1870
RESIDENCE OF W.T. ALLEN, ESQ., AT RIVERSIDE.
W.L.B. Jenney, Architect.
Among the numerous elegant residences now in process of erection at Riverside, is one for W.T. Allen, Esq., of Day, Allen & Co., who proposes to leave his new and elegantly appointed dwelling on Wabash Avenue, in this city, for a country home on the banks of the Aux Plaine river; in the artistic suburb of Riverside, where capital has called for its aid the best talent it could secure, and is creating a rural park-like village of great beauty.
The dwelling is an excellent example of a country home; commodious and convenient, offering ample means for the exercise of hospitality; with broad, deep bay windows, and a conservatory, to render the house cheerful in weather too cold or unpleasant to permit the enjoyment of the verandas or lawns.
The parlor, 15x 28, is connected by broad sliding doors with a sitting room 15×16, which by similar doors communicates with the dining room, 15×24, forming a continuous suite of rooms of over sixty-two feet in length. These are the rooms for entertainment. On the opposite side of the hall are the more private rooms: the library, opening into a conservatory, a large bed room, toilet-room, etc.
In the rear extension, are the side porch, the servants’ dining-hall, the kitchen and dependencies; all on a scale to correspond with the ample arrangements for guest in the main part of the house. The rear of the main hall is a rotunda shut off by glazed panel doors, and opening into the dining-room and side-hall, thus allowing a communication from the dining-room with the side-hall and the working department without entering the main hall. The same occurs in the second story in connection with the nursery, which is over the dining-room.
The house is provided with all the conveniences of the best appointed city dwelling: recessed wash-basins, bath-rooms, gas, etc.; amd although nothing has been neglected in this respect, and all the work and material the best of its class, and only the best mechanics employed, still the house is, in an architectural sense, studiously simple, relying for effects on dimensions, general forms and proportions, instead of costly ornamentation, as can be judged by its low cost, being only eighteen thousand dollars. W>L.B. Jenney, Esq., of Chicago, is the architect, who also designed many other delightful structures now in process of erection in this popular suburb.
The Land Owner, June, 1870
HOW PURE WATER BENEFITS LAND—THE RIVERSIDE WATER WORKS.
Our illustration shows the water tower at Riverside, now being erected from the designs of Jenny, Schermerhorn & Co., architects and engineers.
The iron tank, 35 feet in diameter by 12 feet high, is supported by masonry walls and iron girders, at a height of 55 feet above the surface; the supply being from an artesian well flowing 200,000 gallons daily. The water is elevated by steam pumps, the smoke-stack passing up through the centre of the tank, and forming the crowning feature of the tin roof.
The height and capacity of this tank is such as to insure abundant supply of water to every dwelling in this elegant suburb, and forms one among the long list of luxuries and conveniences that the projectors of this bod enterprise has provided, almost regardless of expense, for the dwellers in this rural, park-like village.
The advantages of this great head of water will be apparent to every one. It not only insures abundant supply, but sends it into the attic if desired, by means of fire plugs and a few yards of hose, gives every man a fire engine always ready for any emergency; and also enables him to have his ground watered, and to preserve his lawns fresh, bright and green through the hot dry season, when otherwise they would be parched, dry and unsightly.
It is to frequent and systematic waterings that the Paris parks and gardens owe much of their beauty, as we showed by an illustration last month. The brilliant velvety surfaces of these lawns is a constant source of remark; and the numerous bright spots scattered throughout that city have contributed perhaps more than any other one thing to render Paris the most beautiful city on the globe.
Riverside abounds in open spaces and tastefully laid out parks, besides which there are broad lines of turf and planting, with pleasure walks wandering through them, separating all the lots from the road-ways. In a few places is water so much needed, and it is for that reason that the Riverside company have unhesitatingly incurred the large expense of providing a supply sufficient for all demands.
There is a circular stair-case on the interior of the water tower, leading to a gallery on a level with the floor of the tabk, from which a beautiful view of the surrounding country can be obtained.
When the numerous buildings, both public and private, that are now projected, are completed, when the private grounds are embellished, as they soon will be, and when the thousands of trees already planted have thrown out their foliage, this view will amply compensate for a half-hour’s stroll on the balcony above.
General Plan of Riverside, IL
Riverside Improvement Company
Chicago Tribune, June 18, 1871
While there has been so much talk about the cost of the improvement of the parks and parkways about the city, comparatively very few persons are aware that over four miles of as fine driving road as is to be found in the United States has already been completed, by private enterprise, on the Riverside Boulevard, from its initial point, at the junction of the city limits with Twenty-second street, to the town of Riverside. The reason why nine-tenths of the people of Chicago are ignorant of the existence of so fine a road as the Riverside boulevard, is that the city has been dilatory in improving Southwestern and Ogden avenues to connect the city pavements with the boulevard at the city limits. Ogden avenue, however, is now being graveled, and in a few weeks there will be good driving on it from the junction of Western avenue and Twelfth street to the eastern end of the boulevard. But even now, those who find their way over the natural roads, following the genral course of Southwestern and Ogden avenues to the eastern end of the boulevard will be well repaid for their trouble. From the city limits it runs directly west along the line of Twenty-second-st., a broad park-way, 200 feet wide, in the center of which is a carriage road as smooth as the famous “shell-road” from New Orleans to Lake Pontchartrain, or the Cliff House from San Francisco, and so straight nearly the whole four miles can be taken in at once glance. Adjoining the western limits of building improvements of the city—which now are about coincident with the line of the Great Eastern railroad—the vast expanse of level prairie where the view is unbroken by hills or groves, discourages the extension of building improvements. Building extends outward from the city in long radiating lines, along good thoroughfares, and men, when they build, like to have some objective point toward which the line of buildings is progressing. These requisites for overcoming the natural disadvantages of a dead-level prairie are furnished by the Riverside boulevard, which, besides being one of the finest imaginable driving roads, has a most attractive terminus in the town of Riverside itself. The natural result of the construction of the boulevard will be to make it the line along which will be the choicest suburban property west of the city limits.
Riverside Improvement Company
The Inter Ocean, October 16, 1876—Abridged
THE RIVERSIDE DECISION.
Judge Williams, of the Circuit Court, on Saturday unburdened his mind of his opinion in the long-contested Riverside Improvement Company litigation. The difficulty of the task may be understood when it is considered that the matter included four original and eight cross-bills, and that there were virtually twenty different cases argued by twenty-four lawyers. The decision occupied 103 pages of legal cap, and did great credit to the able Judge.
Judge Williams said, after referring to the impossibility of starting all the points at issue:
- We have now corporations within corporations, ‘wheels within wheels.’ Riverside, as a suburban retreat, was started in 1868, and in 1868-9 charters were obtained for the Riverside Improvement Company and the Riverside Water and Gas Works Company. The companies were in debt from their first organization, and the indebtness was constantly on the increase. There was nothing to pay this indebtedness, except the small sum realized from the sale of a few of the many hundred lots into which the village plat was subdivided. Loans were made, acquired by mortgages and trust deeds upon the lots, and the most enormous interest was demanded in many instances by the lenders and paid by the borrowers. In the year 1871, but little more than two years after the charter of the twin corporations of Riverside, it was thought necessary to issue bonds to the amount of $1,600,000, secured by the Greenbaum trust deed. After this the above two companies conveyed all their property to the Great Western Railroad Land Company, out of which transaction arose the Jewett trust deed given to secure the issue of a large amount of bonds. The Pecks, which is the real case, together with its bills in which the present decision is given, bought 100 bonds for $1,000 each, on which $110,500 is now claimed to be due.
The Pecks loaned their money, secured by 100 bonds, with the express understanding that in case of sale they were to be first paid. ll parties knew or gave consent to this agreement. If by reasons of prior liens and encumbrances this provision cannot be fully enforced, it should be enforced as against all parties to this suit who have not such lien. There will, therefore, be a foreclosure under the Jewett trust deed at the suit of the Pecks, and there will be a reference to the master to compute the amount due them on the original notes to which the first 100 bonds are collateral, and upon a sale to be made subject to the prior lien as hereafter defined, the indebtedness on these notes will be paid first. If the proceeds of the bonds shall be sufficient for such payment. The Pecks should be subrogated to the rights of the Prescotts to the extent of their payment, and Gage is in the same position.
The court concluded by stating that the original stockholders of the Riverside Company never advanced more than $30,000 in cash, and yet they divided among themselves $1,600,000 in stock—all done upon credit. Of all the extravagant expenditures of modern times, a case cannot be found where so great an indebtedness was incurred in so short a time, and where there was so little to show for it.
A few of the other lawsuits involved were, Page vs. Stevens, David A. Gage vs Riverside Improvement Company, the Cross-Bill of the City of Chicago, William T. Allen, the cross-bill of H.H. Hubart, C.M. Smith’s cross-bill, C.A. Gregory, W.H. Parks, etc.
1 The Newberry Library collection of pre-fire issues of The Land Owner are missing several pages. The illustration of the Riverside Boulevard is among the missing.