The Railroad Tycoon Who Built Chicago: A Biography of William B. Ogden

By Jack Harpster

William Butler Ogden was once a pioneer railroad rich person, one of many earliest founders and builders of the town of Chicago, and an enormous impression on U.S. westward growth. His profession as a businessman stretched from the streets of Chicago to the wilds of the Wisconsin lumber forests, from the iron mines of Pennsylvania to the monetary capitals in ny and past. Jack Harpster’s The Railroad mogul Who outfitted Chicago: A Biography of William B. Ogden is the 1st biography of 1 of the main outstanding figures in nineteenth-century America.

Harpster strains the lifetime of Ogden from his early studies as a boy and younger businessman in upstate ny to his migration to Chicago, the place he invested in land, canal building, and steamboat businesses. He turned Chicago’s first mayor, outfitted the city’s first railway procedure, and suffered in the course of the nice Chicago hearth. He had different company pursuits that integrated genuine property, land improvement, urban making plans, city transportation, production, beer brewing, mining, and banking, to call quite a few. Harpster, although, doesn't easily concentrate on the enterprise wealthy person; he delves into the guts and soul of the fellow himself—Ogden used to be a devoted kin guy, a famous raconteur, a revered philanthropist, and a chum to some of the era’s wealthy and powerful.

The Railroad mogul Who equipped Chicago is a meticulously researched and nuanced biography set opposed to the backdrop of the historic and societal topics of the 19th century. it's a sweeping tale approximately one man’s effect at the delivery of trade in the United States. Ogden’s deepest lifestyles proves to be as diverse and engaging as his public character, and Harpster weaves the 2 jointly right into a colourful tapestry of a existence good and usefully lived.

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Ogden, who was once the main obstinate within the subject, is now useless, and it isn't possible that his heirs have inherited his own prejudices. ”66 Wentworth, nonetheless defiant, was once against the dam, yet because it was once on Ogden’s estate, he had no recourse. even though the dam helped a bit, it didn't alleviate the matter altogether. the last word resolution didn't come till 1900 whilst town acquired the valuables from Ogden heirs, and the Chicago Sanitary and send Canal was once eventually accomplished. basically, the Ogden-Wentworth Ditch trouble used to be now not certainly one of William Ogden’s finer civic moments. one other parcel of land Ogden bought in 1853 for 6 hundred cash turned one other reason célèbre. sixty seven within the overdue 1840s, through the Potato Famine, a lot of Irish peasants immigrated to Chicago and have become squatters on a bit of land then at the outskirts of town. situated a number of miles up the North department of the Chicago River, approximately among Chicago street at Halsted highway and North road at Magnolia road, this 160-acre thumb of land surrounded on 3 facets by means of the river was once referred to as Goose Island, after the ducks the Irish stored, even though it wasn’t a real island. From earliest days, the northern finish of the island were domestic to commercial companies like lumber milling, cleaning soap making, and shipbuilding. The southern finish was once a grassy, friendly quarter, and that’s the place the Irish had equipped their ramshackle shanties, calling the world “Kilgubbin” after their Irish fatherland. while Ogden bought the valuables, he set approximately “straightening” the river by means of digging a canal up the rest landlocked aspect of Goose Island. while his North department Canal used to be accomplished, the valuables used to be really an island, surrounded on all 4 facets via the river. Ogden used the clay airborne dirt and dust dug from the canal to make bricks for the brick-hungry developers within the urban, and the island grew to become unofficially referred to as Ogden’s Island. over the years, different joined the brickworks, the turbines, and the shipbuilding backyard, and the island turned domestic to tanneries, grain elevators, lumberyards, and at last a gasoline and coke corporation. sooner or later, it took at the nickname “Little Hell” for all of the foul-smelling, smoke-belching companies it harbored. ultimately town outfitted wood bridges at Halstead, department, and Weed Streets to entry the island. someday within the past due 1860s, Ogden bought the land, which by way of then had develop into one in every of Chicago’s so much infamous slums. In 1902 the town council formally replaced the identify to Ogden Island, yet that identify is now out of date, even supposing it seems that nonetheless legally famous because the identify of the old spot. sixty eight whereas all of this was once occurring in Chicago, William Ogden had persevered to nurture his dream of creating a railroad empire. while he used to be eventually able to act, within the mid-1850s, he set a direction that modified American historical past.  nine the easiest of every little thing W illiam Ogden used to be indirectly inquisitive about the railroad enterprise throughout the years instantly following his resignation from the Galena. He saw the railroad from afar or via associates who remained at the board, and he allowed his companions to run the majority of his genuine property enterprise.

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