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Chicago in 1838
Chicago in 1838

This image presents a latter-day artist's image of the young city of Chicago, Illinois in 1838. Located at the strategic portage between the Great Lakes and the nearby Illinois river system, the site had long been significant to Native Americans. In the late eighteenth century the Haitian-French black man du Sable had opened a trading post at the site. By 1838 the completion of New York's Erie Canal had made Chicago an emerging western transportation hub. Freight and passengers traveling westward from New York City via the canal and the Great Lakes gained access to the American interior at Chicago, located at the Lakes' southwestern terminus. Note the wide variety of ships and boats plying the Chicago River in this image, including canoes, flatboats, sailing ships, and steamboats.

Image source: Newberry library
©Copyright 2002 Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project