The bank runs, city riots and business failures in the East and West gradually decreased after the Panic of 1857. In the nation, the rift between the North and South was growing wider. Southerners believed their plantation economy was superior to the business and industrial economy because they survived the panic relatively unscathed. This confidence led them to demand legislative concessions for slavery in Congress. Eventually, these differences were decided by the Civil War. In Chicago, business and banks recovered easily as the city grew, developed and prospered in the 1860s, in part because of the Civil War.
Chicago became the hub between the East and West. Railroad shipments from the East and West were reloaded and transferred to their destinations in Chicago rail yards. Merchandise that needed to be stored was kept in Chicago’s warehouses near transportation lines. Lumber from Wisconsin and other northern states was shipped to Chicago and processed in local mills. Coal was transported to Chicago from Southern Illinois. Wheat from farms throughout the Midwest was shipped all over the nation. Chicago became the handling, processing and distribution center for the nation’s resources.
Factories were built for farm machinery like the McCormick harvester. Stock yards were constructed in 1865 for the meat packing industry, like the Union Stock Yard and Transit Company and other meatpackers.
Land values increased and improvements were made to solve the city’s flooding problems. Sewer systems were constructed to solve marshy land and difficult waste problems. Starting in 1856, plans were developed to elevate the city’s downtown area. Buildings were literally jacked-up four to five feet. The 22,000 ton, five-story Briggs Hotel was lifted to alleviate its flooding problems. It remained open for business during the lifting process.
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