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Old 04-03-2009, 03:30 PM
 
Location: Chicago
6,360 posts, read 7,641,453 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chicken.or.the.nugget View Post
someone said they think chicago might have been the biggest city if the fire didn't happen but i disagree. NYC was already so much bigger.
couple of thoughts:

1. without the fire, Chicago would never have progressed to where it is today. The lakefront would be an industrial waste and the city would not be inviting. It certainly wouldn't have had the great architects that came after the fire to work on the blank slate left behind. No fire. No Burnham. No city capable of setting forth new directions in the late 19th century.

2. Chicago was actually poised to pass NYC in population. The fire hardly slowed Chicago down in population growth. All those southern and eastern European immigrants kept right on coming and were soon to be joined by the Great Migration of blacks. The incorporation of Greater New York at the end of the 19th century by the state of NY, which brought the Bronx, Queens, Bkyn, and SI into the city that had previously been only Manhattan was a desire, in part, to keep ahead of Chicago as the nation's largest city.
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Old 04-03-2009, 03:40 PM
 
Location: Arizona
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manigault View Post
Chicago without the lake would be St. Louis. The Midwest without Chicago would be Milwaukee-ish.
St.Louis is a slim comparison to Chicago.
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Old 04-03-2009, 05:38 PM
 
Location: Chicago
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i would like to see someone answer an issue i raised earlier:

a region doesn't need to have a dominant city. the assumption here has been that if Chicago didn't rise above the others, some other city would have.

Why would that have to be?

I used the South as a comparison. If the South is viewed as the old Confederacy (an area comparable to the Great Lakes and Great Plains states that make up the Midwest), no city has truly risen to dominate the whole region.

I would identify the real contenders in the region as Atlanta, Miami, New Orleans (admittedly more of a player a half century ago), Dallas, and Houston (not really seeing any legit claims from Charlotte, Tampa, Jacksonville, Birmingham, Memphis, or San Antonio), not a one has left the others in its dust.

And out west, LA competes with San Francisco in a way that Chicago doesn't with any regional city here in the Midwest.

So why would we automatically assume another rival would have automatically taken our place? Isn't it just possible that, for example, St. Louis could have led the way in transcontiental transportation, Detroit in industry and perhaps Cleveland in white collar jobs?
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Old 04-03-2009, 06:16 PM
 
Location: Chicago
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It has already been explained to you why some city or another would have risen to prominence: to serve as the major trans-shipment hub for the vast amounts of ag products the region was producing. The invention of the airplane has made us better able to decentralize transportation and shipping, but that didn't happen until after Chicago rose to its prominence. It's no coincidence that every major city that rose to prominence before the airplane did so at a water port. Even the inland cities formed on rivers that provided access to coastal shipping ports. Cities like Vegas and Phoenix virtually could not exist without planes and cars.
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Old 04-03-2009, 08:43 PM
 
Location: Chicago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drover View Post
It has already been explained to you why some city or another would have risen to prominence: to serve as the major trans-shipment hub for the vast amounts of ag products the region was producing. The invention of the airplane has made us better able to decentralize transportation and shipping, but that didn't happen until after Chicago rose to its prominence. It's no coincidence that every major city that rose to prominence before the airplane did so at a water port. Even the inland cities formed on rivers that provided access to coastal shipping ports. Cities like Vegas and Phoenix virtually could not exist without planes and cars.
you miss my point. I'm well aware that a transportation hub in the midwest was no doubt inevitable. but transportation is not the whole of Chicago's dominance. Atlanta serves as the air hub for the South, but the city doesn't control the region.

Sorry, Drover, but I personally have no desire to degrade others here. I wouldn't say anything as condescending as "It has already been explained to you " to you...or to others here.
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Old 04-03-2009, 08:48 PM
 
Location: Chicago
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First, grow an epidermis.

Second, no, I don't miss your point. You are correct, transportation is not the whole of Chicago's dominance. Then again, nobody ever said it was. But that's what started it. Processing and manufacturing followed, and so did the financial markets, the insurance industry, and the legal industry, and other support & service industries, and so on. Atlanta doesn't have the same clout in the South because transportation and especially communications had already been substantially decentralized by the time the south started to become an economic power region.
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Old 04-03-2009, 08:56 PM
 
Location: Chicago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drover View Post
First, grow an epidermis.

Second, no, transportation is not the whole of Chicago's dominance. But that's what started it. Processing and manufacturing followed, and so did the financial markets, the insurance industry, and the legal industry, and other support & service industries, and so on. Atlanta doesn't have the same clout in the South because transportation and especially communications had already been substantially decentralized by the time the south started to become an economic power region.
I have an epidermis. All I said was I don't use statements like "we tried to tell you." I can disagree with you without being disagreeable, Drover. And I can also respect you if I disagree with you. You can feel comfortable in posting any way you want and that is your right, but I took it as condesending and that is something I try to (but may fail) not to do to others here.

There are a lot of factors that determines a city's dominance in its own region. For all NYC's power, much based on its own advantageous geography that cities like Philly and Boston did not have in the new nation era, it shares a region with Washington which, as capital, would cut into the power of any city in which it were to share a region. Including Chicago.

I fully believe that Chicago had enormous transportation advantages in the Midwest, but I am not convinced that that, in and of itself, would have automatically led to the dominance the city has today int he region.
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Old 04-03-2009, 08:59 PM
 
Location: Chicago
38,704 posts, read 95,333,152 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edsg25 View Post
I have an epidermis. All I said was I don't use statements like "we tried to tell you." I can disagree with you without being disagreeable, Drover. And I can also respect you if I disagree with you. You can feel comfortable in posting any way you want and that is your right, but I took it as condesending and that is something I try to (but may fail) not to do to others here.
Fine. I'm really broken up that I wounded your delicate sensibilities and I feel ever so awful about it. Can we move on now?

Quote:
Originally Posted by edsg25 View Post
There are a lot of factors that determines a city's dominance in its own region. For all NYC's power, much based on its own advantageous geography that cities like Philly and Boston did not have in the new nation era, it shares a region with Washington which, as capital, would cut into the power of any city in which it were to share a region. Including Chicago.
Washington's power is strictly political. Nearly all other economic activity in Washington revolves around that. In that way, NYC and Washington don't really compete with each other except for human capital.

Quote:
Originally Posted by edsg25 View Post
I fully believe that Chicago had enormous transportation advantages in the Midwest, but I am not convinced that that, in and of itself, would have automatically led to the dominance the city has today int he region.
Then why do you think Chicago rose to the prominence that it did? In an era where transportation and communications were not nearly as diffuse and decentralized as they are today, where and how do you think all the various commercial, manufacturing, shipping, etc., activities would have taken place?

Last edited by Drover; 04-03-2009 at 09:12 PM..
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Old 04-03-2009, 09:17 PM
 
Location: Chicago
6,360 posts, read 7,641,453 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drover View Post
Then why do you think Chicago rose to the prominence that it did? In an era where transportation and communications were not nearly as diffuse and decentralized as they are today, where and how do you think all the various commercial, manufacturing, shipping, etc., activities would have taken place?
i fully agree with you that transportation was the key pin. But there is a lot that goes into the destiny of any city that cannot be attributed to just natural advantages of location. I don't see an automatic would fall into place just due to transportation alone.

I have stated earlier that the fire allowed chicago to be incredible laboratory for new urbanism in the critical late 19th century era when American cities were on the rise. How the fire contributed to the Burnham Plan and the open lakefront contributed to the quality of life that we were able to offer that made the city an attraction.

I also think that the Loop's tight water boundaries were somewhat akin to Manhattan's island status that allowed both New York and Chicago to centralize with density that contributed to its urban power.

I don't disagree with you that first transportation was a huge issue for the city's development and second that arguably no American city built its success on transportation to the degree that Chicago did. I'm only saying that there are other factors that determine whether a city can rise to regional apex and that some regions, as noted, have no one powerhouse.

Cities are still people and they are organic and the success of any is never assured. All the advantages that Chicago had would have been meaningless if it hadn't been a real huckster type of town that always had the ability to sell itself.
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Old 04-03-2009, 09:42 PM
 
Location: Chicago
38,704 posts, read 95,333,152 times
Reputation: 29787
Nobody ever said Chicago's rise was "automatic," so I don't know why you keep bringing it up. Obviously there's a little more to it than "build it and they will come." Obviously, the city would not be what it was if they just built the canal and said, "OK, we're done here, let's all go home." At this point I have to wonder if you're being deliberately obtuse.

And you still didn't answer my question: In an era where transportation and communications were not nearly as diffuse and decentralized as they are today, where and how do you think all the various commercial, manufacturing, shipping, etc., activities would have taken place? IMO the only other contender would have been St. Louis, but it didn't have the advantage of being right on the Great Lakes and the subsequent ability to easily access the entire Great Lakes region from Minnesota and Ontario to Montreal and Quebec, and eventually the Atlantic, and all of the natural resources available there, particularly lumber. That's a huge advantage St. Louis didn't have.

As for the Chicago fire, it may have given the city a "fresh start" but its population trajectory was already on a very steep upward slope before the fire.
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