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The Railroad Tycoon Who Built Chicago

William Butler Ogden was a pioneer railroad magnate, one of the earliest founders and developers of the City of Chicago, and an important influence on U.S. westward expansion.

His career as a businessman stretched from the streets of Chicago to the wilds of the Wisconsin lumber forests, from the iron mines of Pennsylvania to the financial capitals in New York and beyond.

Jack Harpster's The Railroad Tycoon Who Built Chicago: A Biography of William B. Ogden is the first chronicle of one of the most notable figures in 19th-century America.

ogdenbook.jpg

Harpster traces the life of Ogden from his early experiences as a boy and young businessman in upstate New York to his migration to Chicago, where he invested in land, canal construction, and steamboat companies.

He became Chicago's first mayor, built the city's first railway system, and suffered through the Great Chicago Fire.

His diverse business interests included real estate, land development, city planning, urban transportation, manufacturing, beer brewing, mining, and banking, to name a few.

Harpster, however, does not simply focus on Ogden's role as business mogul; he delves into the heart and soul of the man himself.

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From Wikipedia:

Ogden was referred to as "The Astor of Chicago."

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"In 1860, Ogden switched his loyalty to the Republican Party, which shared his views regarding slavery, although he left the party over a dispute with Abraham Lincoln. Ogden felt that the Emancipation Proclamation was premature. Following his defection from the Republican party, Ogden retired from politics and moved back to his native New York."

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"On October 8, 1871, Ogden lost most of his prized possessions in the Great Chicago Fire. He also owned a lumber company in Peshtigo, Wisconsin, which burned the same day."

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on December 4, 2018


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