Early Chicago, 1833–1871
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives

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December 27, 1843

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Chicago's location on Lake Michigan made it the logical western terminus for steamship and sailing vessel routes from the East. As the only adequate harbor on Lake Michigan, it was a thoroughfare for goods and immigrants bound for the interior. In 1839, a regular line of steamships between Chicago and Buffalo made the round trip in sixteen days. Buffalo was the western terminus for the Erie Canal which was completed in 1825, and which connected Lake Erie and the Hudson River and thus the Atlantic Ocean. In 1843, 705 ships arrived in Chicago.

During the following year 1,243 ships docked. The return cargo was mainly agricultural and included wheat, pork, beef, wool, and hides. Thus, the economic interests of Chicago and Buffalo were tied closely.

Points to Consider

Why was Buffalo on such friendly terms with Chicago?

In 1843, how could one get between Chicago and Buffalo most easily?

In 1843, how could one transport goods between Buffalo and New York City?

What relationships would Detroit have had with Chicago and Buffalo at this time?

See Related Document:

6, 7, 16, 29, and 38

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