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Becoming the Second City

Becoming the Second City: Chicago's Mass News Media, 1833-1898

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Becoming the Second City
    Book Description:

    Becoming the Second City examines the development of Chicago's press and analyzes coverage of key events in its history to call attention to the media's impact in shaping the city's cultural and historical landscape. In concise, extensively documented prose, Richard Junger illustrates how nineteenth-century newspapers acted as accelerants that boosted Chicago's growth in its early history by continually making and remaking the city's image for the public. Junger argues that the press was directly involved in Chicago's race to become the nation's most populous city, a feat it briefly accomplished during the mid-1890s before the incorporation of Greater New York City irrevocably recast Chicago as the "Second City."_x000B__x000B_The book is populated with a colorful cast of influential figures in the history of Chicago and in the development of journalism. Junger draws on newspapers, personal papers, and other primary sources to piece together a lively portrait of the evolving character of Chicago in the nineteenth century. Highlighting the newspaper industry's involvement in the business and social life of Chicago, Junger casts newspaper editors and reporters as critical intermediaries between the elite and the larger public and revisits key events and issues including the Haymarket Square bombing, the 1871 fire, the Pullman Strike, and the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09018-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. vii-xvi)

    Chicago has long been a butt of newspaper and magazine jokes. When a New York paper mocked a report that a wolf had been seen running loose on a Chicago street in 1840, a hometown editor couldn’t resist the retort that Chicago “was growing so fast that the wild animals just can’t keep out of the way.” A popular mid-nineteenth-century newspaper tale told of a St. Louis man who died while visiting Chicago. St. Peter, seated at the Pearly Gates with a “goodly mug of steaming whiskey toddy” at his side supposedly asked the man, “Where did you live down...

  4. 1 From Zero to 29,963 in Just Fifty-five Years
    (pp. 1-27)

    If the intent of the original Congress had prevailed, much of Chicago, its north and western suburbs, and cities such as Galena and Rockford would today be a part of Wisconsin. The original border between what would become Illinois and Wisconsin, set by the Congress of Confederation in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, was sixty-one miles south of where it presently lies, stretching from the southwesterly bend of Lake Michigan westward to Rock Island on the Mississippi River. Astute early Illinoisans led by territorial delegate-to-Congress Nathan Pope saw the illogic of such a division in 1818 even if none of...

  5. 2 “Chicago is the Head-Centre, the Mecca, of All Creation”
    (pp. 28-56)

    A crowd of men and women gathered on the chilly morning of January 15, 1848, at the Salon, a large wooden-frame hall at the southeast corner of Lake and Clark streets, to witness history being made. Their attention was riveted to a shining metal-and-wood device connected to a long copper wire running outside of the building. The previous evening, the final leg of the Erie and Michigan telegraph line had been completed between Milwaukee and Chicago. Without fanfare, the device sprang to life, and the city’s first telegraph operator began jotting down letters, then words. Sent by William Cramer of...

  6. 3 The Victory over St. Louis
    (pp. 57-90)

    Among the usual police reports of drunkenness, brawling, and petty mayhem common in mid-nineteenth-century Chicago newspapers, a new type of crime began to appear with greater frequency beginning in the late 1840s. “We warn the farmers and others visiting the city to keep their eyes open for mock-auction sales,” theGem of the Prairiecautioned readers in 1848. “Swindling on a wholesale scale has become the order of the day among a class of Hackman [taxi drivers] in this city,” theChicago Tribunewrote in 1856. “It appears that he made the acquaintance of a very clever, sociable chap on...

  7. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  8. 4 Chicago Radicalism, Nineteenth-Century Style
    (pp. 91-124)

    The Haymarket Square bombing, the first major domestic bombing in American history, touched the lives of many Chicagoans, but none more intimately than one Nina Van Zandt. Born of affluent Yankee parents, Van Zandt was one of Chicago’s earliest young socialites. An attractive woman, she was a graduate of Vassar College who played music, was well traveled, spoke French, German, and Italian, and stood to inherit a goodly fortune.New York Worldreporter Charles Edward Russell described her as “slenderly fashioned, handsome, always exquisitely gowned,” andChicago Daily Newsnewspaperman Charles H. Dennis considered her “intensely romantic, self-willed and adventurous.”...

  9. 5 The Beauty
    (pp. 125-155)

    The Haymarket executions emboldened a new generation of American newspapermen and reformers, but none quite like twenty-seven-year-oldChicago Evening Postcolumnist and second-generation Irishman Finley Peter Dunne. Writing under the guise of a fictional Bridgeport saloon keeper named Martin J. (or Mr.) Dooley, Dunne called anarchism a “humbug” or unproven political philosophy, hardly a threat to the American democracy. To Dunne, the anarchist’s mentality was surprisingly similar to that of the mainly Irish Chicago policemen they were supposedly trying to kill. “Did ye iver see an American or an Irishman an arnychist?” Dunne had Mr. Dooley ask his saloon regulars...

  10. 6 Second City
    (pp. 156-194)

    Chicagoans have long associated the emergence of their world-class city with the timing of the 1893 World’s Fair, for it was that event which brought together the diverse talents, energies, and ideas then percolating within and without the city. “That first year in Chicago [in 1893] was a picture so kaleidoscopic, so extravagant, so ridiculous,” journalist and author Edna Ferber wrote in her 1924 novelShowboat. “Magnolia [her main character] had her first real evening dress, cut décolleté; tasted champagne; went to the races at the Washington Park race track; sat in a box at Hooley’s [theater]; was horrified at...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 195-226)
  12. Index
    (pp. 227-236)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 237-240)