Early Street Names in Chicago

Lonely Ol’ Charles Carroll. Early Chicagoans
didn’t forget you, Chuck

John Adams, one of our founding fathers, died on July 4, 1826. His last words were something like “Thomas Jefferson survives” (though the last word was indistinct; it might been “smells” for all we know). However, Jefferson had died himself only a few hours before. Perhaps neither knew, nor cared, that another signer of the Declaration of Independnce, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Georgia, was also still alive. When I was doing The Smart Aleck’s Guide to American History, I had a lot of fun with ol’ Chuck Carroll, just because his portrait makes him look so dour.

But people in the midwest hadn’t forgotten Ol’ Chuck; the early settlers in Chicago even named a street after him. According to an early Chicago history, the first streets were given the following names for the following reasons:

Dearborn Street, for General Dearborn
Clark street, for George Rogers Clark, the “conqueror of the Illinois country.”
LaSalle Street, for the great explorer
Wells Street, for Captain William Wells, who died in the Battle of Fort Dearborn
Franklin Street, for Benjamin Franklin
Clinton Street, for DeWitt Clinton, New York Governor
Randolph Street, for John Randolph of Roanoke, a prominent statesman of the day
Carroll Street, after Lonely Ol’ Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Fulton Street, after the inventor of the steamboat
Kinzie Street, after John Kinzie, an early settler

“The names of State and Market,” the 1912 text states, “were doubtless chosen from the general stock of names in use by cities in other parts of the country.”

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