Weird Laws of Chicago

I was recently asked to do an article for the upcoming ARMCHAIR GUIDE TO CHICAGO about weird old laws in the city – and found some neat stuff. Among laws that were once on the books:

– The 1893 municipal code restricted the height of buildings to 130 feet (by then, there were several taller than that).

– It is STILL illegal to fly a kite downtown (when most of the weird laws were overturned in the 70s, an alderman who tried to get this one overturned was told to “go fly a kite.”

– If you are caught with less than a dollar, you can (or could be) arrested as a vagrant.

– Until the 70s, it was illegal to “indecently display a stud horse or bull.”

– At one point, you could be arrested just for walking the streets if you were “diseased, maimed or ugly.”

– It is illegal to flush kitchen waste or garbage down a toilet

– According to a state law from 1923, it’s actually illegal to speak english! THe state mandate decreed that the language of the state would be referred to not as “English” but as “American.”

– In the 1878s, a city cour declared that the ordinance prohibiting selling booze to minors was illegal!

– one oft-sited law decrees that it’s illegal to take a french poodle to the opera.

Most of the weird laws on the books were overturned in the 1970s, when the aldermen decided to try to clean up the law books, but some are probably still on the books!

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2 thoughts on “Weird Laws of Chicago

  1. I read about a weird law in Chicago, last night on the Chicago Crime Scenes Project. It was illegal to get married again within one year of a divorce. Not such a bad idea in some ways!

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