Title: Chicago: Satan’s Sanctum by L. O. Curon
Location: Internet Archive Date: 1899
It seems Obi-Wan was wrong. There was a more retched hive of scum and villainy and its name was Chicago.
An utterly different sort of book is “Chicago, Satan’s Sanctum,” by L. O. Curon (Chicago: C. D. Phillips & Co.). It is a sensational description of the crime, immorality, police inefficiency and political corruption of Chicago. We are not in a position to say that the picture is exaggerated, though the author cites no corroboration for most of his statements save newspaper articles. Whether he writes throughout from personal investigation or largely from hearsay he does not say. The language he uses is brutally plain, and readers of sensitive nerves would better leave the book alone. What removes such a book, hastily thrown together and unrestrained in its superlatives, to the opposite pole from Jacob Riis’, is the fact that the author sees no bright side, recognizes no progress, proposes no definite and practical remedy. What he says, in effect, is “The city is going to the devil and the devil laughs at the people who don’t know it.” Two classes of people are likely to read the book, and neither class will derive much benefit from it: the morbidly curious will perhaps learn a few new sorts of wickedness to investigate, and the Christian citizen will look in vain for any suggestion “toward the reform of the evils described.
From: The Standard, Volume 47, 1900 (a Baptist Newsletter)
The following selection from the book is actually the very first sentence – and I mean that literally. The book opens with one sentence describing the history of Chicago and what it has come become. Amazing…
Chicago, with its world-wide fame as the most marvelous product of American enterprise among municipal creations in the nineteenth century, with its wonderful growth, from an Indian trading post in 1837 to a modern city of the second size in point of population in the year 1898, with the record of its stupendous strides in reaching its present commercial and financial position among the commanding trade centers in the world, with its strong civic pride, its numerous and admirable religious, educational and charitable institutions both public and private, its cultured development in literature, music, the arts and sciences, with its memorable disaster in the great fire of 1871, its speedy recoupment from that disaster, and its brilliant achievement in the organization and management of the magnificent “White City,” the wide range of the classified exhibits of which covered the entire and progressive contributions of mankind to all that goes to make up the civilization of the age from the earliest period of the commencement of that civilization, this Chicago, grand, philanthropic and patriotic, suffers, as for years it has suffered, from the most extensive and persistent advances in political power, along the lines of their respective crimes, of the criminal classes, until, from the wealthy bribe-giver to the lowest sneak thief and sexual pervert, these classes carry elections, corrupt the corruptible in the Common Council, sway justice in the forum of the lower courts, and govern the police force until it has become a municipal aid to the perpetration of crime.