Monday, April 26, 2010

Laflin Street in Chicago

Laflin street runs 1500 west from 356 north to 12258 south. It was named for Matthew Laflin (1803-1897). This Scottish family came through northern Ireland and finally on to America. Matthew was born at Southwick, Massachusetts.

His father was a manufacturer of gunpowder and Matthew learned the trade. He was attracted to Chicago because of the construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal and hoped to sell gunpowder to the construction companies. The first home in Chicago for him was at old Fort Dearborn, because no other shelter could be found.

Early on, he began to purchase real estate and once owned 140 acres within the city limits. He bought the land for $300 and lived to see it worth millions. In 1849, he purchased 100 acres of land on the west side, extending eastward from Madison street and Ogden avenue. Here he built the Bull's Head Hotel. He also built barns, sheds, and cattle pens. It was the first stock yard in Chicago.

Mr. Laflin built one of the first plank roads, known in those days as the Blue Island toll road. He operated the first omnibus line to carry his hotel patrons to the stock yards and the State Street markets. He also established the first water works system in Chicago by building a pine-log reservoir at Lake Street and the lake shore. Water funneled into the reservoir was distributed through wooden pipes to the city.

His gift to Chicago was a building to house the Academy of Sciences in Lincoln Park. It is called the Matthew Laflin Memorial Building and still exists.

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