Several years ago in Naples, Florida, I bought a used book entitled Old Monroe Street published by Central Trust Company of Illinois in 1914. The bank was located at 125 West Monroe Street. The book describes the street from “the river to the lake” listing the history of various buildings and the companies that occupied them.
A map of Chicago dated 1830 shows the village clustered around the old Fort Dearborn. Monroe was then in the country. Originally, the street was located in what was known as a School Section. Section No. 16 in every township was given to the State for the use of schools. In 1833, in order to raise money for schools the 140 blocks (640 acres) was auctioned off for a total of $38,619.47 or an average of $6.72 an acre.
When Chicago was incorporated as a town, Monroe street was not within the original limits. Chicago was incorporated on March 4, 1837. Later the following ordinance was passed: “That the first street in said town, south of Washington Street, be named Madison Street; the second street shall be named Monroe Street; the third shall be named Adams Street and the fourth shall be named Jackson Street.” And, so it remains.
This is part of the listings in 1855:
Mrs. Hendee - Boarding House
Dr. Thos. Bryan
J.A. Kent - Perfumer
Elizabeth Brock - Boarding House
Thomas Milner - Builder
Wm. Goldie - Manufacturer of sashes, doors and blinds - 216 Monroe, besides the gas works.
Miss S.A. Heath, Select School at 186 Monroe.
“Across the alley, east of State Street lived a clairvoyant. The only information which we have been able to definitely establish about her, from reliable witnesses (men) is that she was good-looking!”
The Sinai Congregation built their first temple on the north side of Monroe Street, just east of LaSalle Street. It was about 50 feet wide and 80 feet deep. The building was dedicated on June 21, 1861. The congregation later moved to Grand Boulevard and 46th Street. Wonder if that building is still there?
The post office was at Dearborn and Monroe (1860s) on the northwest corner. Congress appropriated in 1855 a total of $84,000 for the building. When it was finished in 1860, the cost had risen to $243,000. Sounds familiar! The building was destroyed in the Great Fire, 1871.
At #65-9 on the north side was Campbell, McNellis & Campbell, linens; and Illinois Soap Stone Stove Co. Saloon in the basement. Sounds like a Scottish thing.