Prairie Avenue Walking Tour

The history of this area has been closely linked
to that of the City of Chicago for two hundred years.
The Battle of Fort Dearborn took place on August 15,
1812 along the Lake Michigan shoreline in this general
vicinity. A large cottonwood tree at the northeast corner
of Prairie Avenue and 18th Street, dating to the time of
the massacre, became a traditional symbol of the event.
(After the tree died, it was replaced by a bronze statue
commissioned by George Pullman in 1893.) In 1834,
Elijah D. Harmon purchased a 138-acre tract of land
bounded by present day 16th Street, Cermak Road,
State Street, and Lake Michigan. Soon after, he sold a
20-acre parcel to Henry B. Clarke who completed his
Greek Revival home in 1836 in what is now the 1600
block of Michigan Avenue. Having been moved twice,
it survives as Chicago’s oldest house. In the early 1850s
the area was subdivided and in 1853 the first house on
Prairie Avenue was completed for John Staples.
Additional houses were built over the next decade with
building activity increasing dramatically after the close
of the Civil War. In 1870, Daniel Thompson built the
first $100,000 house on the South Side at 1936 S. Prairie
Avenue. George Pullman and Marshall Field both
acquired property on the street and announced plans
to build, firmly establishing Prairie Avenue as Chicago’s
premier residential street. The Chicago Fire of 1871
bypassed the area, and other business and civic leaders,
burned out of their homes, soon purchased lots and
built in the neighborhood.


Event Details:

  • When: 

    Tuesday, August 26, 2014
    2:00 PM

  • Where: 

    Glessner House Museum
    1800 S. Prairie Avenue
    Chicago, Illinois

  • More information: 

    Event website.

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