Northern Illinois University Press

City of Big Shoulders

A History of Chicago

Robert G. Spinney

"Condensed yet energetic and substantial history of Chicago. Spinney has a firm sense of historical narrative as well as a keen eye for entertaining and illuminating detail."—Publishers Weekly

"A much-needed, brief yet comprehensive analytical history of Chicago."—Journal of Illinois History

This compact yet comprehensive account of Chicago's history links key events in the city's development, from its marshy origins in the 1600s to today's robust metropolis. Synthesizing a vast body of literature, Spinney presents Chicago in terms of the people whose lives made the city—not only the tycoons and the politicians but also the hundreds of thousands of immigrants from all over the world who have kept the city working.

City of Big Shoulders sweeps across the colorful and dramatic panorama of Chicago's explosive past. How did the pungent swamplands that the Native Americans called the wild-garlic place mushroom into one of the world's largest and most sophisticated cities? What is the real story behind the Great Chicago Fire? What aspects of American industry exploded with the bomb in Haymarket Square? Did the 1920s in Chicago roar as loudly as Hollywood would have us believe?

A city of immigrants and entrepreneurs, Chicago is quintessentially American. Spinney traces formative events in the city's history, bringing to life the people, events, and institutions that are most important for understanding Chicago's story. From Fort Dearborn to Cabrini-Green, Pθre Marquette to Mayor Daley, the Union Stockyards to the Chicago Bulls, City of Big Shoulders draws together diverse threads of the city's development, shedding light on underlying social and economic causes of major events and, especially, on the roles of ordinary people.

Engaging and highly informative, this account will interest students and teachers of urban history, as well as anyone looking for a brisk overview of Chicago's history. Historic photographs and informative tables illuminate the narrative.

(2000) 314 pp., illus.
ISBN: 978-0-87580-583-2
paper $18.50s

Table of Contents

1. The Early World of Chigagou, 1600–1750
2. Chigagou Becomes Chicago, 1750–1835
3. Boom, Bust, and Recovery in Early Chicago, 1835–1850
4. Chicago Conquers the Midwest, 1850–1890
5. Life in a City on the Make, 1850–1900
6. The Fire, the Bomb, and the Fair, 1871–1893
7. The New Immigration, 1880–1920
8. Progressivism and Urban Reform, 1890–1915
9. World War I and the Roaring Twenties, 1915–1929
10. The Great Depression, World War II, and Suburban Growth, 1929–1955
11. Richard J. Daley and The City That Works, 1955–1976
12. The Transitions of the Post-Daley Years, 1976–1997

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-583-2
paper $18.50