Sunday, September 4, 2011

Raising Chicago

After the chapters about EE in Chicago--the early years, shall we say--and then his sojourns in Rockford, Springfield, etc. which led to his eventually being able to create the U.S. Zouave Cadets, are rewritten, they must be joined. I have mentioned things in one chapter that should have been in the other, and vice versa, so it is frustrating and time-consuming, to say the least. It is like making a quilt, sort of: there is the general, allover design, then the individual blocks have to be pieced together, and finally the quilt-top if constructed. If that is any good, then I have to do all the finish work or there is no quilt at all--just a mess of blocks stitched together. It is sometimes quite daunting. I lose confidence in myself--now I know how General Hooker felt after the Battle of Chancelorsville--only I have no concussion upon which to lay the blame. Actually, I don't think he ever blamed his head injury, but now that science has shown us how serious even one bad concussion can be, it is no wonder that he "lost all sense" of what was happening.

The picture above is of Chicago. As the population of the city began to swell--all those Self-Made Men, etc. coming to work there, Chicago began to have sanitation problems. This resulted in a terrible cholera outbreak in the 1850s. Chicago itself is built on a very flat plain, and there is no natural runoff anywhere except the lake. So, the gallant engineers of Chicago--perhaps including those with whom EE travelled when he left NYC, decided to raise the city. Yep! Raise the city. And they did it, too. Block by block, the entire city of Chicago (at that time) was raised and filled in underneath so that a durable and workable infrastructure as regards water and sanitation could be built. No one in the South would ever have come up with that particular idea, much less have pulled it off. Yankee ingenuity indeed! And a picture to prove it!

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