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Train Chants Resuming

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Train Chants Resuming
Train Chants Resuming, originally uploaded by swanksalot.

Kinzie Street and Clinton.

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Yahoo Maps/Flickr lists this as being in Killgubbin, Chicago. There is an alternative spelling of Kilgubbin, which was also known as Little Hell. Used to be predominately Irish immigrants, many from the Irish town of Kilgubbin.

GapersBlock wrote about the area a few years ago;

So where do the Irish come in, and how did the name transfer?

In the mid-1840s a devastating blight struck the potato crops in Ireland, leaving hundreds of thousands hungry and penniless. Perry Duis writes in his book, Challenging Chicago, that, as a consequence of the famine, “three large landholders in Kilgubbin, County Cork, and County Mayo evicted their peasants and paid for their passage to America.” (93) These Irish peasants made their way to Chicago.

Jobs in Chicago in the late 1840s were scarce, and the Irish arrived with little money or resources. As a result, they became squatters, erecting a shantytown on unoccupied land just north of the river, near the site of the “original” Goose Island. When the Irish moved their settlement northwards to the present-day Goose Island, they took the island’s name with them.

Accounts from the period clearly state that the Irish settlers raised livestock on the island, including cows, chickens and pigs. Whether or not they actually raised geese in their backyards is a bit unclear, but that certainly became the popular story.

By the 1890s, Goose Island had developed an unsavory national reputation for its slums, crime and industrial pollution. In 1896, a news item in the New York Times about a fire at the American Varnish Works on the island described Goose Island as “a dilapidated locality.” Partly in an attempt to combat this image of the neighborhood, Chicago alderman considered making “Ogden’s Island” the official name in 1891, but the change apparently was never made. (Duis 107) Goose Island persists as the accepted name for the area.

In addition, the neighborhood has entertained many other nicknames throughout its early history. The Irish settlers gave the area the name “Kilgubbin” for the home they left in Ireland. In the 1860s, flames and smoke from the Peoples Gas coal plant on the island gave the neighborhood the name “Little Hell.” And, finally, the fumes from tugboats moored at the island in the early twentieth century gave one unfortunate area the name “Smokey Hollow.” (Duis 103)

[Click to continue reading Gapers Block: Airbags – Goose Island]


“Challenging Chicago: Coping with Everyday Life, 1837-1920” (Perry R. Duis)

Written by swanksalot

October 5th, 2009 at 9:27 am

Posted in Photography

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