“Chicago Shocks British Writer,” 1902

July 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

I’m always up for a good report back to the civilized readers on the amoral cesspit that was Chicago–at least to many writers.  Here’s Yorkshire Post correspondent John Foster Fraser, writing in 1902 and quoted with relish in the Chicago Daily:

“Chicago is too busy money making to attend to civic improvements.  And here is where Chicago stands apart from other cities.  The people of other cities hunt the dollar as hard as they know how.  But they do not like to be regarded merely as money makers: they like you to think, at any rate, they have a passive if not a platonic admiration for worthier things.

“Chicago, however, is out and out pagan….Chicago people are really on earth to make money.  And they make it.

“It is the most interesting of all dramas to watch Chicago at this money making.  Commercial morality, such as old fashioned British business men believe in, does not exist.  Here is a town where it is no disgrace to be a swindler, no disgrace to have been in prison—provided you still have plenty of money.  To start a bogus company and defraud the public is smart.  To invite a man to dinner at a restaurant and to slip away and leave him to pay the bill is cute.  Young girls, supposed to be well reared, pocket every silver spoon on the table, not secretly but with a laugh.  To steal a spoon on a railway dining car is a girlish foible.”

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