The original postcard shows a view of Chicago, Illinois in 1833 from a painting which is signed “Widney” done in 1903. This may be Gustavus C. Widney an illustrator for the Saturday Evening Post during that time.
Today most are familiar with Chicago as a bustling metropolis on the adjacent land to Lake Michigan. But this vintage postcard shows Chicage at its beginnings as a trading post on the frontier which is a great history lesson for us all. This old postcard, shows the normal daily interaction between settlers and native American peoples. The first non-native settler in Chicago was Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable, a Haitian of African and French descent, who settled on the Chicago River in the 1770s and married a local Potawatomi woman.
The Potawatomi were one of the Algonquian peoples inhabiting the area around what is today known as Chicago. This word Algonquian is a more general linguistic or anthropological term used to refer to not only the small Algonquin tribe but dozens of distinct Native American tribes who speak languages that are related to each other including the Potawatomi.
After several wars involving settlers and native’s pitted against each other – including the Northwest Indian Wars and the War of 1812, the Potawatomi ceded the land of Chicago proper to the United States government in August, 1833. The town continued to grow from its humble beginnings shown in this postcard to the grand city that it is today, often known as “The Windy City” due to the fierce winds that blow in from the lake.