ILLINOIS STATE ARCHIVES
From the Ashes, 1872-1900
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives
COMMUNICATION FROM TEACHERS OF THE HOLDEN SCHOOL IN REGARD TO THE HAZARD OF CATTLE IN THE STREETS
May 25, 1875
The Holden School was located at the corner of Deering and Thirty-first Streets. Its district included all that part of the South Division lying west of Halsted Street. The Union Stockyards were opened on Christmas Day 1865. They covered 175 acres and were located south of Egan Avenue and west of Halsted Street. Until the mid-seventies Chicago's packing houses remained at their established locations along the South Branch of the Chicago River, east of Halsted Street. Then many of the larger operations moved south and just west of the Union yards. Thus in 1875 the Holden school district was situated in the middle of a high traffic area between the yards and the packing houses.
In response to this communication the council passed an ordinance concerning the driving of cattle through the streets. Between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. of each and every day it became unlawful to drive or lead to or from the Union Stockyards on any street or alley in the city more than three head of cattle. Each offense carried a fine of from $10 to $100. An exception was made for milk cows which were being driven to pasture.
Chicago's location as a hub for the West had made it the center of the country's livestock industry. With an abundance of cattle and hogs, the meat packing industry grew naturally along side it with various companies treating and packaging beef and pork. Fresh meat was the preferred product however and for a time this only could be shipped in the form of fatted live animals. Refrigeration first was introduced in 1869 and this innovation revolutionized the packing industry. Thereafter fresh dressed meat could be shipped economically. As the use of refrigerated railroad cars became commonplace over the following two decades, the meat packing industry flourished. In 1870 the dollar value of Chicago packers' products was 19,153,851. By 1880 it has reached 85,324,371 and by 1890 it stood at 194,337,838, a 900 percent increase over twenty years.
Points to Consider
What was the gender of most of the teachers at the Holden School and what was the ratio of teachers to students?
How could school children have been endangered by the livestock and meat packing industries of Chicago in 1875?
How did the Texas cattle in question find their way to Chicago?
After being processed at slaughterhouses, what were the final destinations for the beef from Texas?