|Illinois Central Railroad Links to Chicago
Before widespread automobile ownership, migration from the South generally followed water and rail routes. Chicago's popularity as a destination rested in part on the breadth of the Illinois Central Railroad network. By the time World War I opened employment opportunities for African Americans in northern cities, the Illinois Central and its feeder lines had penetrated many of the plantation regions where black population was most concentrated. Other railroad lines also offered access to Chicago from these and other parts of the South. Until 1916, black Chicagoans were likely to have roots in the upper South. Beginning in 1916, Chicago drew its African American population from the Deep South, especially Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and western Georgia.
The Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago © 2005 Chicago Historical Society.
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