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A Smelly Start

Chicago was shaped by strong mayors and industrialists, right? Not entirely. Excrement was the driving force for dictating the city's growth patterns, starting with the raising of 1850s Chicago by several feet to allow for a modern sewer system. This established Chicago as the envy of the suburbs, which couldn't afford such a fancy system, writes Chicago Mag's Whet Moser. Shortly thereafter, Lake View, Hyde Park, and Lake Townships allowed themselves to be annexed and the infrastructure expanded accordingly. Eventually the 'burbs got their act together. And that's about when Chicago's footprint froze. Moser also mentions the river's perverse flow and the repercussions. As with today's civil engineering, smaller municipalities often lack funds and scale for revolutionary advances. [Chicago Mag]