The federal government directs the nation and the states, but cities are governed by their home state. State constitutions specify a city’s governing structure, political offices, financial controls, taxation powers and home rule limits.
Eleven years after Illinois (1818) became a state, the legislature commissioned James Thompson, a surveyor, to survey and plat out the Chicago area. Thompson’s maps and charts, showing 58 plats, were filed on August 4, 1830, giving official recognition to Chicago as a municipality. On August 12, 1833, Chicago’s first town charter was filed. Two years later, a second charter was in force.
With the Treaty of Chicago ratified in 1835, the federal government opened a land office. The state of Illinois chartered a state bank with a branch in Chicago, offering credit to real estate investors. Land prices soared, and settlers and investors flocked to Chicago. This land boom skyrocketed for the next three years.
The city of Chicago was legally incorporated in 1837, and the City Charter was written by William Butler Ogden, who became Chicago’s first mayor. Butler had come to Chicago in 1835 to oversee his brother-in-law’s real estate investment and settled in the city. His charter divided the city into six wards, and it provided for the office of mayor for a one-year term.
Whigs and Democrats in Congress and in the State Legislature worked together to aid Chicago because government aid would lure East Coast land investors. These easterners understood the necessity for government assistance and sought actively to obtain it.
With the Native American emigration completed, the government land office open for business, the state bank established and the federal and state governments on board, real estate became the biggest business in newly incorporated Chicago.
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