From 1840 to 1869, Chicago grew rapidly. In 1840, the population was 4,470. Ten years later, it was 29,963. In 1860, the numbers grew to 112,172. The original charter written by William Butler Ogden needed frequent rewrites. It was replaced by new charters in 1847, 1851, 1857, 1861 and 1863. These charters reflected Chicago’s expansion in all directions. With more land on the market, sales and development increased along with cycles of boom and bust.
The 1847 Charter increased the number of wards from six to nine. The city stretched from Chicago Avenue to Fullerton Avenue to the north, from Halsted Street to Wood Street to the west and from 12th Street to 22nd Street to the south. The charter included annual elections for city attorney, surveyor, tax collector and treasurer.
The following three charters—1851, 1857, 1861—extended the city limits and added another ward. They increased the mayor’s authority to appoint officials to civic offices. They established the Board of Public Works from several regulating boards. Two years later, another charter was needed.
The 1863 Charter reflected Chicago’s considerable growth northward, westward and southward. It established 16 wards. Two year terms of office were given to all elected officials. This charter remained in effect until Chicagoans voted to be governed by the Illinois Cities and Villages Act in 1872. Chicago remains governed by this act, and it has been modified to reflect changes in Illinois’ cities and villages.
Land sales, developments and subdivisions were greatly affected by this growth in population. Chicago’s political structure needed to reflect these vast developments. The resulting changes in government policies and procedures affected the real estate industry and Chicagoans. Chicago became one of the world’s fastest growing cities.
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