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This lively history of the Midwest's great metropolis resembles Lloyd Morris' Incredible New York far more than it does E.J. Kahn's rather deprecatory Chicago, The Second City. This is social--and sociological--history at its best--with no chip on its shoulder but plenty of facts up its sleeve. Hearty and lively in style, it tells the story of Chicago in the 1830's when it was still essentially an Indian village, through the furious real estate activities in pre-Civil War days which laid the foundations of so many fortunes, and the exciting years of '61-'65, when dedicated abolitionists and the Confederacy-sympathizing Sons of Illinois rubbed uneasy elbows. Then there is the great fire that burned nearly two days and left the wooden city razed to heaps of glowing ruins; the new, more soundly-built city where the fresh-made millionaires furiously studied etiquette on elegant Prairie Avenue, while the ""Levee"", the local tenderloin, printed its own newspapers and even issued its own Sporting and Club House Directory. Then came the recurrent waves of immigrants, the rise of labor, and the good works of such real citizens as Jane Addams and Mrs. Louise De Koven Bowen. With the 20th Century, Chicago's hair was somewhat slicked down, but there was still to be Harold McCormick's romance with the millionaire-collecting singer, Ganna Walska, Insull's towering rise and even more spectacular fall, the Chicago Opera with Mary Garden its great star, the second World's Fair, the rise of a new school of writers, and, of course, in that other world of the 18th Amendment, Johnny Torrio and his pupil, Al Capone. The author, who is Assistant Sunday Editor of the Chicago Sun-Times has certainly written a convincing answer to Mr. Kahn's assertion that his city is suffering a ""second best"" neurosis.

Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 1953
Publisher: Random House