Thursday, November 29, 2018

Chicago History Today: A 102-Year Legal Tangle (1-28-1836)

Did you realize the plot of land that makes up the Chatham Village Cooperative was part of an almost century long real estate dispute? Let's allow Chicago history blogger J.R. Schmidt told this story back in January 2016.
The blocks between 83rd and 87th Streets, from Cottage Grove west to St. Lawrence, are subtly different from the surrounding neighborhood. The reason is a convoluted property-title mess that dragged on for over a century.

In 1836 Chicago was a community of a few thousand people gathered around Fort Dearborn. But speculators saw a bright future, and were buying land—even ten miles out on the open prairie.

On January 28 John L. Wilson purchased the 80-acre property mentioned above from the federal government. He paid the established price of $1.25 per acre. Five days later, Wilson sold the property to Charles Pettit for $3 an acre. For an initial investment of $100, Wilson now pocketed $240.

It’s not known whether Wilson had even seen the land he’d flipped. His agent, Isaac Palmer, had actually carried out the purchase with Wilson’s money.

Meanwhile, speculation was running wild. Six months after buying the land from Wilson, Pettit mortgaged it for $3,000, which he soon paid back. In October, Pettit took out a new mortgage for $1,500.

Then the bubble burst. The so-called Panic of 1837 was America’s first great depression. Land prices plummeted. Pettit couldn’t pay back the $1,500, and his creditor foreclosed.
I don't want give the rest of his post away, however, how it starts doesn't seem much different than what happened in the recent financial crisis of almost a decade ago. However, one of the major developments in this area has a long history before the housing was finally developed. Read the whole thing.

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