The year 1872 marked the beginning of a new era in the railroad history of Chicago. Even as late as 187I, the railroad companies had comparatively little confidence in the realization of the hopes of the citizens, that Chicago was destined to be the great inland commercial metropolis of America. Such a lack of faith is not, however, a matter of surprise. Not even the most sanguine of prophets, looking over the ruins of 1871, could have imagined that before two decades had passed, a new city would arise, in greater beauty and added wealth, to become like Rome, the point to which all roads should lead.
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General Time Convention
The growth of the railroad systems centering in Chicago has been so rapid during the period since the fire of 1871, that the corporations, while enlarging their terminal facilities and extending the length of their side tracks, still complain of a lack of adequate accommodations in the city.
Previously, towns & municipalities set their clocks according to the solar noon, which resulted in a multitude of “local” times scattered throughout each state. As train travel became faster and travel times shortened, accurate timekeeping became more relevant. The time zone system was developed by William F. Allen, secretary of the General Time Convention, an organization of American railroads concerned with coordinating schedules and operating standards which eventually evolved into the American Railway Association.
In 1883 the US railroads called a General Time Convention to develop a more coordinated and orderly system. In October of 1883 delegates met at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Chicago and on 11 October 1883 adopted the Standard Time System which went into effect on 18 November 1883. Although the US Congress did not officially recognize the Standard Time System until 19 March 1918 when it passed the Standard Time Act, cities, states, and the federal government began using the system soon after the railroad implemented it.
Railroad time is to the time of the future. The Sun is no longer to boss the job. People—all 55,000,000 of them—must eat, sleep and work as well as travel by railroad time. It is a revolt, a rebellion. The sun will be requested to rise and set by railroad time. The planets must, in the future, make their circuits by such timetables as railroad magnates arrange. People will have to marry by railroad time, and die by railroad time. Ministers will be required to preach by railroad time – banks will open and close by railroad time – in fact, the Railroad Convention has taken charge of the time business, and the people may as well set about adjusting their affairs in accordance with its decree. … We presume the sun, moon and stars will make an attempt to ignore the orders of the Railroad Convention, but they, too, will have to give in at last.
— Indianapolis Sentinel, 21 November 1883
Chicago’s railroad boom was also the home of the General Time Convention which established the four time zones. Afterwards, Chicago became a major airline hub.
The Iron Horse in Chicago
Chicago: The Greatest Railway Center in the World
Chicago and the Railroad System of the Middle West
Steam Railway Maps of Chicago, 1848-1910
Steam Railway Map of Chicago, 1915
Chicago’s Railroad Stations
At the End of the Line
Chicago Railways Company Routes
North Chicago Street Railroad Company
West Chicago Street Railroad Company
Chicago, Joliet & St. Louis Electric Railway
Chicago & Alton Railroad
Chicago Burlington & Quincy
Chicago & Northwestern Railway
Chicago’s Elevated Railroad
Chicago Railway System in 1884>
Chicago and South Side Rapid Transit Railroad Company
Union Loop Nuisance
The Grand Crossing
Chicago Surface Lines
Chicago Tunnel Company
State Street Subway
Chicago Elevated Maps
International Conference on Aerial Navigation, 1893
Some Aeronautical Experiments by Wilbur Wright, Chicago, 1901
Chicago Midway Airport
Chicago Aviation Center
Northerly Island Airport (Meigs Field)
1910 Aviation Carnival
1911 Aviation Show
1933 American Air Race
1937 Amelia Earhart