Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Interpretive Digital Essay : The Plan of Chicago
The Plan of Chicago
Chicago in 1909
Planning Before the Plan
Antecedents and Inspirations
The City the Planners Saw
The Plan of Chicago
The Plan Comes Together
Creating the Plan
Reading the Plan
A Living Document
Popular Diversions
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Like any major city, early twentieth-century Chicago supported a wide variety and range of places for large gatherings, entertainment, and recreation.



The fantastically castellated Coliseum at 15th and Wabash was an all-purpose arena used for large-scale meetings, expositions, and sporting events. One of several national political conventions that took place there was the one that nominated Republican William Howard Taft in 1908, though perhaps the most famous was the 1896 Democratic convention at which William Jennings Bryan delivered his "Cross of Gold" speech.

See also: Chicago Stadium

Steinmetz Saloon, South Loop, 1898


While downtown Chicago boasted many fine "resorts," as fancier establishments were called, small saloons like this one, featuring inexpensive food and cameraderie as well as alcohol, were a vital element in the social texture of urban life.

See also: Drugs and Alcohol

Arcades on South State, c. 1912


Dime "museums" of curiosities, cheap theaters (one here claiming to feature "exotic" dancers from the Midway at Chicago's World's Fair), and penny arcades catered to working people with limited means.

See also: Leisure; Loop

Portion of the South Side Levee, 1910


The Levee, with its "sporting clubs" of all sorts, was the city's most notorious vice district. The names of many of the businesses suggest the unapologetic allure that scandalized and outraged "proper" Chicagoans.

See also: Crime and Chicago's Image