Encyclopedia ofChicago
Historical Source
Historical Source
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Galena & Chicago Union Station, c. 1849

 

 

 

Galena & Chicago Union Station, c. 1849

Chicago's first railroad depot, the Galena & Chicago Union, stood on Kinzie Street just north of the Chicago River. The telegraph poles suggest that this photo was taken several years after 1848. By the early 1850s the railroads had drawn nearly all passenger traffic away from the canal. Freight traffic by both canal and rail provided a significant boost to Chicago as an agricultural entrepot, and the rapid development of the railroad network and of midwestern farms in the 1850s enabled Chicago's commodities market to grow to unprecedented levels of activity. The Board of Trade, little more than a club for businessmen in its first few years, began regulating the grading of grain by the end of the 1850s. Twenty years later its innovative futures market would begin to transform the economics of agricultural production and distribution.