March 13, 2009
On Chicago: Bad City - Good People
"Chicago is one of the most miserable and ugly cities which I have yet seen in America, and is very little deserving of its name," Queen of the Lake"; for, sitting there on the shore of the lake in wretched dishabille, she resembles rather a huckstress than a queen. Certainly, the city seems for the most part to consist of shops. One sees scarcely any pretty country houses, with their gardens, either within or without the city—which is so generally the case in American towns—and in the streets the houses are principally of wood, the streets formed with wood, or, if without, broad and sandy. And it seems as if, on all hands, people came here merely to trade, to make money, and not to live. Nevertheless, I have, here in Chicago, become acquainted with some of the most agreeable and delightful people that I ever met with anywhere; good people, handsome and intellectual; people to live with, people to talk with, people to like and grow fond of, both men and women; people who do not ask the stranger a hundred questions, but who give him an opportunity of seeing and learning in the most agreeable manner which he can desire; rare people! And besides that, people who are not horribly pleased with themselves and their world, and their city, and their country, as is so often the case in small towns, but who see deficiencies and can speak of them properly, and can bear to hear others speak of them also."
Milo Milton Quaife
The Development of Chicago, 1674-1914 (1916)
Milo M. Quaife was an Iowan who received his PhD from the University of Chicago. He was a prolific writer and historian. From 1914, when he was 33 years old, to 1919, he was the director of the Wisconsin Historical Society.