H I C A G O
R I B U T E
businessman who became Chicago's first mayor, William Butler Ogden helped
to write the city charter, oversaw construction of nearly 100 miles of city
streets, and built Chicago's first railroad.
many early settlers, Ogden was a Yankee. He came to Chicago when it was
still a frontier village surrounded by swamp and prairie. Within a few years,
Ogden made a fortune in real estate and as owner of a brewery and other
businesses. He was elected mayor during the Panic of 1837. Although the
country plunged into a recession, Ogden kept the city solvent and persuaded
Eastern investors to maintain faith in the young city.
office, Ogden turned his attention to transportation.
In 1848 he built the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad to link the prosperous
mining town of Galena in western Illinois to Chicago. When Eastern investors
proved skeptical, an undeterred Ogden financed the line by selling shares
to farmers and merchants along the route.
energetic leadership helped Chicago become the railroad capital of the nation
and led to the city's tremendous growth.