F) Direction & Capital

Empire: its metaphors form the very core of booster rhetoric. For American patriots of the nineteenth-century, the line from Bishop Berkeley's famous poem was less a cliche than an incantation: "Westward the course of empire takes its way." (41-42)

"What built Chicago?" asked the booster Everett Chamberlin in 1873. "Let us answer, a junction of Eastern means and Western opportunity." From the perspective of eastern capital, it was second nature that Chicago should become gateway to the Great West. (63)

The lake city's Daily Democratic Press described the festivities celebrating the Chicago and Rock Island's arrival at the Mississippi by noting,

"The faces of the men of business of the valley of the Upper Mississippi, who have heretofore looked Southward and downward, will now look upward and Eastward, and their affections are already turning from the mother city, St. Louis, to her glorious rival, Chicago. They will turn away from the former with many regrets.... But how can they resist it?" (297)

The immediate implications of the rails pointing back toward the eastern horizon should by now be so familiar that they barely need repeating. The railroad meant speed. It meant regular, predictable schedules. It meant year-round movement, even in winter. It meant escaping the river. It meant the East, and not the South. It meant Chicago, and not St. Louis. It meant the future. (325)

Nature's Metropolis (1991)
William Cronon