The Loop (continued)
Chicago continued to grow at a phenomenal rate. The city's population
grew from just under 30,000 in 1840 to 109,260 ten years later.
By the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, over 300,000 people
lived in Chicago. The area that would later become the Loop reached
residential and economic maturity by this time. It was a very
different central city than the one we know today. The area was
not yet segregated by function. It was both residential and commercial.
Wealthy people lived in the central business district, especially
south of Van Buren Street (See Fig. 1). Wabash Avenue
was known as the street of churches because prominent Protestant
congregations built large houses of worship in what is today
the South Loop. Wealthy people lived close to the center of the
city in order to be close to where they worked. Limited transportation
facilities made it desirable to live close in.
Working-class people also lived in the central area. Immigrants
from Ireland, Germany, and Scandinavia lived on the outskirts
of today's business district. Old St. Mary's Church, St. Peter's,
and St. Patrick's remain in the Loop today, or just outside it,
as reminders of this period of development. The poor lived close
to the rich before the Chicago Fire, once again because of limited
Workers walked to work. Immigrant shanty towns and densely packed
tenements stood near the river. Some immigrant workers also lived
in alley slum dwellings behind the impressive looking business
blocks. Residential integration and social segregation remained
the order of the day until new means of transportation and the
Chicago Fire drastically changed the city after the Civil War.
1: Lake Street, between Clark and LaSalle,1860. »