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From the Clyde to California
Chapter VIII.—The Union Stock-Yards—Water Works on a Gigantic Scale—Boston


On the following day our friend had arranged to drive us to the stock-yards, and to visit several of the public parks by the way. Besides the parks within the city boundary, there are seven on the outskirts, ranging in extent from two to five hundred acres each, and situated from two to four miles distant from each other, all being connected by well-kept boulevards, extending from the one park to the other, and forming over thirty miles of a continuous carriage drive, exclusive of what is within the parks. We were informed that it was in 1869 that the State authorised the formation of this chain of parks, the ground previous to that time being a barren prairie. That such a transformation could be accomplished in so short a space of time is almost incredible. The work is more like the growth of a century. The boulevards, varying from two to three hundred feet in breadth, are beautifully laid out on each side of the
carriage drive, with an endless variety of design in flower plots and shrub beds. In the parks there is an enormous extent of well-dressed lawn, very artistically laid out with carriage drives, serpentine walks, and artificial lakes connected by little streamlets, crossed here and there by rustic bridges. We observed in passing a corner of one of the lakes, under the shelter of a plantation, a wharf and a fleet of boats, with an attendant, kept there for the use of the visitors. There are also conservatories, zoological gardens, restaurants, hotels, and stabling. In short, there is no expense spared to make the boulevards and parks of Chicago a resort where the citizens can enjoy themselves to their hearts' desire.

Paris, with its boulevards, and Versailles, with its artificial lakes, are far behind Chicago. However, there is one advantage that Paris possesses—it is placed, as it were, in a large natural basin, and there are many points where you can get into a position on the elevated rim of that basin, and take in the whole extent of the city at a glance; whereas, Chicago being situated on an extensive prairie, cannot be viewed to advantage except from towers or high buildings within the city.

Leaving the parks, we shape our course for the Union Stock Yards, which are about seven miles distant from the centre of the city, from which there is a conveyance every few minutes by either car or rail. The yards occupy 345 acres of land, all laid out into pens very much in the same manner that a city is laid out with streets, crossing each other at right angles. There is accommodation for over J30,000 head of live stock at one time. Direct communication is had with all parts of the country, eighteen different railways carrying their cargoes direct into the yards. The slaughtering and packing-houses are very extensive buildings, several storeys in height, and placed alongside of the pens, with which they have a connection by an incline gangway leading from the pens to the top flat where the killing is done. We visited one of the most extensive (Mr Armour's work), who has 40 acres of the pens set apart for his own use.

When killing operations are going on, there is a party to keep the incline gangway always full of hogs, which are driven into a pen in the upper flat, at the place of execution. This pen holds from ninety to a hundred hogs, and when closely packed the door is dropped down, and four strong young men step in amongst them, each seizing one by the hind leg, to which he fixes a chain, the other end being' attached overhead to a pulley, to which a man attends and sets it in motion. The hog is suddenly jerked up, being suspended by one of the hind legs and the head hanging down; the chain is then transferred to an overhead iron rail or gallows set on an incline, so that, with a slight push by the hand, it slides forward to the executioner, who stands with knife in hand on a little platform in the corner of a long trough, and with a quick motion of the hand he quietly performs his diabolical work, disposing of five of his victims every minute until the pen is emptied, when it is again speedily filled, and the process repeated. He could easily despatch three times the number, could they only be suspended and forwarded to him. In the intervals, he eyed us with a smile on his countenance, inviting us to try our hand, but we gratefully declined the kind offer. It was difficult to make out what was being said, the noise being such as you might imagine to be in the neighbourhood of a thousand pairs of bagpipes in full blast!

As the carcases passed from the hands of the executioner, the blood flowed into the trough under, from which it is drawn off in the fiat beneath. On reaching the end of the trough, the carcases are dropped into a long cistern full of boiling water, the width of the cistern being the length of a hog. At the extreme end there is a curved iron grating, the full width of the cistern, that is continually dipping down and lifting out the water, and when a carcase is put in at the one end, the grating lifts one out at the other and throws it on a table, where it is passed through a machine which scrapes off the hair. The carcase is again suspended to a rail by both the hind legs, and is passed on where a number of men are kept opening and disembowelling, who in turn pass it on to other men, who divide it in two, when a man seizes each half and carries it to a bench, where another stands with a heavy cleaver in his hand, and with two strokes he severs the fore ham and hind ham from the side. Other three men are kept constantly carrying off, one the fore and another the hind ham, and the third the side, each to separate sets of men who are kept dressing their respective parts.

We were then taken to where the sausages were being made, and to the curing and packing. Considering the nature of the work, it was surprising to find in all the departments everything so scrupulously clean. This may be accounted for owing to there being a plentiful supply of hot water for washing, and steam power keeping fans in motion, sending a current of fresh air through ice into every part of the works. Our visit was in the month of July, when least business was being done. The daily killing at the time of our visit was three thousand hogs and five hundred head of cattle, employing about thirteen hundred men in the work. In the cool season, Armour's daily killing averages eleven thousand five hundred hogs and seven hundred and fifty head of cattle, employing three thousand workmen in the different operations. Within the stock-yards there is a large hotel and stabling for several hundreds of horses, as well as a bank and an office of the Board of Trade.

Throughout the whole work, in every department, the strictest regard is paid to the division of labour—the extent of the operations rendering such comparatively easy. In the immediate neighbourhood of the yards there is a large town inhabited by the employees and their families. Returning to the city, the most direct course is by Halsted Street, which passes the stock yards right through the city, and is fourteen miles long in one straight line. By the way, there was pointed out near the centre of the burned district the only house that had escaped the great conflagration. Seeing that it was constructed of wood, we inquired how it had not shared the fate of the others, and learned that the proprietor, when the fire was distant, seeing that danger was approaching, set to work and stripped the inside of the house of carpets, bed-clothes, table-cloths, &c., and spread them over the outside of the house, and kept them well saturated with water while the fire was raging in its vicinity.

Leaving the straight course, and passing through Lincoln Park, we reach the City Waterworks, which are the most gigantic and marvellous of the kind that have ever yet been undertaken. Lake Michigan being the fountain from which the water is taken, the supply is inexhaustible. In order to avoid the impurities of the Chicago river, the water is drawn from the lake fully two miles distant from the nearest land. There a building, one hundred feet in circumference, rises above the surface of the water, which at that point is about thirty-five feet in depth. That building is founded on the bottom of the lake, and is surmounted by a lighthouse and signal station for the accommodation of vessels navigating the lake. In this building there are fitted up apartments for the waterman and his family, the centre being reserved for the shafts that admit the water to supply the city.

The first tunnel, begun in 1864 and completed in 1867, is about two and a-quarter miles long, and five feet inside diameter. The second tunnel was completed about six years ago, and is six miles long by seven feet in diameter. Both tunnels are water-tight, built of brick, and in each case fully two miles of the tunnel is carried out under the bottom of the lake at a depth of seventy feet from the surface of the water.

Each of the tunnels has an upright shaft rising in centre of the building on the lake, where the inlet of the water to the tunnel is regulated by the superintendent. The water being admitted there, flows through the tunnel to the pumping station, where it rises to the level of the surface of the lake in a large receiver near the pumps. The station we visited is on the short tunnel, and has four steam engines constantly at work, these having a combined power of three thousand horses, throwing at each stroke 2750 gallons of water into a large upright iron pipe or tower 175 feet in height; from this tower the water gets its pressure for distribution over the city. Round the outside of this iron pipe is built a stone wall with a space all round, where a spiral stair ascends to the top of the tower which terminates with a balcony that is free to visitors, and from which there can be had a very good view of the lake and city.

This is not the only source from which water is got. Many manufactories, some of the parks, also the stockyards, get their supply from Artesian Wells. Several years ago a party who had been affected by the oil mania commenced to bore in the hope of finding oil. Though disappointed in their expectations, they were rewarded by the discovery that an abundant supply of water could be obtained at a depth of from seven to nine hundred feet, and there are now between forty and fifty of these wells throughout the city, some of them supplying large quantities of water.

We now take the train for Boston, distance about 960 miles, fare £4 and time 36 hours. Boston bears a great name as a fine city, with many attractions. However, we were not so favourably impressed with it as with some of the other cities we had the pleasure of visiting. No doubt it has attractions in the shape of extensive business premises, fine buildings, beautiful parks, and within the ast ten years the business part of the city has had the advantage of the purifying influence of the flames. Still, the Local Authorities have not availed themselves of that opportunity of having it re-modelled. Fine buildings have been re-erected on the old lines. The streets are narrow and very irregular, with a great many triangular blocks—so much so that it is almost impossible for a stranger to pilot his way without the assistance of a guide. In the central part of the city, near to the Post Office, is a large fire-proof block, known as the Equitable Building, which is deserving of notice on account of its being used as the vaults and offices of the "Security Safe Deposit Company," who carry on a business that is scarcely known in this country, while with the Americans it is almost indispensable on account of the combustible materials of which the greater number of their buildings are constructed. This building is thoroughly fire-proof. The roof and floors are altogether stone, brick, and iron, and the stairs are marble and iron, there being little or no wood used in the erection. As a building, it has altogether a very neat, substantial appearance. Notwithstanding that, the strong iron gratings of the external openings, embedded in the stone walls, with the heavy iron door and shutters, and the court-dressed officials that guard the entrance are more sug-

gestive of a prison than of a place of business. On entering, you pass into a large, handsomely-finished hail, where attendants are in waiting to receive customers and assist them in getting access to their property, and to restore it to the safe, when they have their business done. The vaults containing the safes have all double doors, constructed of iron and secured with combination locks, which no one man can open. It requires two men acting together to effect an entrance, and that can be done only during business hours, which are from 9 A.M. to 4 P.M. These doors have in addition self-acting time- locks, which fasten on the doors being closed, and are governed by clock-work, and when closed at 4 P.M. it is impossible for any one to open them; even those who know the combination of the other locks cannot effect an entrance before nine o'clock next morning. There is also direct electric telegraphic communication between these locks and the nearest police station, so that should there be any tampering with the locks, the alarm is at once given at the office, and the police are speedily at the point of attack. These premises are always under the supervision of armed watchmen, who are constantly traversing round the vaults. At short intervals, each watchman has to lass over his beat, at each extreme of which there is a recording electric clock, which communicates with the manager's residence. Should any of the watchmen neglect to be at the clock at the right time to record his visit, the alarm is sounded at the manager's house, and information conveyed to him on whose beat the neglect has occurred.

The business of this company is to receive for safe keeping, against either fire or burglars, all kinds of valuable property, such as wills, title deeds, bills, bonds, money, jewellery, &c. All classes patronise the company—private individuals, trustees, merchants, corporate bodies, and bankers—some of whom, we are informed, deposit their money and valuable documents with the company every evening and remove them back to their place of business every morning. Adjoining the vaults, there are comfortable rooms of various sizes, where any person who has documents deposited can have a room to examine them at his leisure. There are larger rooms, where trustees or corporate bodies can meet and hold consultations and examine their documents without the necessity of removing them from the premises. There is also a spacious reading-room, where the merchant patrons can consult the daily commercial papers, and also have telegraphic communication with every important city in the States. Within the walls there is still a considerable quantity of unappropriated space where safes can be fitted up when required.

Depositors can be accommodated to the extent of their requirements. The safes in the vaults being divided into various-sized compartments, the smallest size being two and a-quarter inches high by four and three-quarter inches wide by twenty-one inches deep, for which the rent is £2 per annum; while one at twenty- one inches high by fourteen inches wide by twenty-one inches deep, is £20 per annum. There are several sizes between these two. That rent entitles the depositor to the use of a room and assistance of a servant at any time he requires to examine his property. At the above rate, a safe nine feet wide by eight feet high, divided into the smallest size, will yield an annual rent of over £1,100 sterling. Some of the safes are divided into larger compartments, so as to hold tin cases or trunks, silver-plate, paintings, &c., and when deposited in such packages are charged one per cent, on the owner's estimate of the value. If an extra bulk compared to the value, then special rates have to be arranged for.


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