ILLINOIS STATE ARCHIVES
Early Chicago, 1833–1871
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives
PETITION FOR A FREE LICENSE FOR A MUSEUM
November 12, 1844
In 1844, Chicago's population was approximately 8,000. Amusements and pastimes took many forms. There were horse races, shooting matches, cricket games, bowling, billiards, balls, cotillion parties, church fairs and tea parties, balloon ascensions, literary societies, public lectures, social clubs, newspapers, and traveling clowns, magicians, humorists, and circuses. On holidays, which included the Fourth of July, May Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day, celebrations sometimes included fireworks and parades. The Chicago Theater opened in 1839. Taverns were plentiful and the city had a few fine restaurants such as the Lake House at Michigan and North Water which offered printed menus, napkins, and a varied cuisine. The council granted the petitioners a free license.
Points to Consider
Why did the petitioners believe that they were entitled to a free license for their museum?
Specifically, which kinds of things would you expect to have been on display at this museum?
What could have been "the necessary perquisites to the proper officer issuing" the license?
What other amusements were available in Chicago in 1844?