Over on the North Side, on the west side of Clark street, a few doors north of Division street, there is an establishment which in some respects is unique. It is reached either by the North side cable cars or by hansom cab, the fare for the latter being fifty cents for each person. This resort is known as Engel’s, and for several seasons past it has been the favorite with the blooded youth of the North side as well as of a large clientele of chance visitors. It was formerly kept by a man named Matthai and adjoining it was a smaller resort kept by a Monsieur Andre. Andre is now dead and his place closed. On the site of Mr. Matthai’s triumphs Mr. Engel now lives and flourishes.
Victims of the Tiger
The facilities for running such money traps are so limited and the risk of arrest and punishment so great that the chances of encountering against a “brace” game are about 100 to 1 against the patron; the only consideration with the “slick” gentry who manipulate the games being how to most expeditiously relieve the wayfarer of his wealth at the least possible risk to themselves.
These dining-rooms are small apartments, neatly partitioned off and graded in sizes to suit parties of from two to twenty. That these are liberally patronized may be inferred from the merry bursts of laughter that are occasionally heard pealing through the carpeted halls as the busy waiters go scurrying to and fro with their piles of well filled dishes. It has been said that it is from the sale of wines that the proprietors are enabled to maintain these private-dining-rooms, consequently it is the proper caper to wash down the very reasonably priced dinner with a bottle or so of one’s favorite style of grape juice if the person can afford it, and if you can’t, why, you have no business there.
The Madison Street Opera House and the Park Theater, which were briefly mentioned in the preceding chapter, are two resorts that may be regarded as occupying a unique position in the amusement roster. The Madison Street Opera House gives two performances daily and its manager, the veteran Colonel Sam T. Jack, is reputed to be coining money. The size of the audiences that fill Col. Jack’s theater twice a day is attributable, possibly, to the fact that the house is devoted entirely to the presentation of burlesque.
The Tiger and its Haunts—Gambling Games Great and Small wherein the Process of Parting the Fool and his Money is Carried on with Facility and Dispatch
THE statue which stands in the Haymarket, the broad square on Randolph Street extending from Desplaines to Halsted, commemorates an event only second in importance in Chicago’s history to the great fire of 1871. It stands as a mark of that awful night, May 4, 1886, when the mouthings of the anarchists culminated in the hurling of a bomb—the only bomb ever thrown in America—into a squad of police, of whom seven were killed and sixty-six laid low with awful wounds.
Aside from the show itself, which is always interesting, there is the pleasant, happy-go-lucky spirit that always pervades great crowds bent on an evening’s fun. The peanut and lemonade venders ply their calling briskly, and come in for the usual share of “guying” that such merchants always excite. In hot weather the out-door spectacles detract from the attendance at the theatres, people preferring to secure their entertainment in the open air if possible.
..most Chicago hackmen are imbued with a praiseworthy desire to earn all they can, and are none too conscientious in their ambitions to acquire riches rapidly, there is a very easy manner in which to avoid disputes, namely: make your bargain with your Jehu before you enter his vehicle.
Speaking of the peanut and lemonade men reminds one that the two great circuses, Barnum & Bailey’s and Forepaugh’s, exhibit in Chicago every summer. They generally appear for two weeks each, and of course parade in due form, according to custom, through the streets of the city on the opening day.
A party of visitors in which there are one or more ladies will unquestionably go on a shopping excursion of greater or less extent, according to the tastes of the fair ones and the length of the purses possessed by their escorts.
The term adventuress is applied to women of careless reputation who, being much too smart to endure the ignominious career of professional demi-mondaines, resort to various shrewd schemes to fleece the unwary. Some of their class work in concert with male partners and in such cases the selected victim generally becomes an easy prey. The confidence man may be dangerous; the confidence woman, if she be well educated and bright, as well as pretty, is irresistible except with the most hardened and unsusceptible customers.
Detailed mention of the magnificent opera house in the Auditorium building has been reserved until now in order that it might take its proper place in the description of the mighty edifice which is the wonder and admiration of the United States, and a topic of comment to some extent in Europe.
The project of the Auditorium, three sides of which face Wabash Avenue, Congress Street and Michigan Avenue, is said to have emanated from the brain of Mr. Ferd W. Peck, a capitalist, who, in a speech to the Commercial Club, outlined the advantages that would be likely to accrue to the city from the possession of such a building. As the Auditorium is one of the sights of the city, it deserves a special description.
Prof. Swing is one of the leading personalities of the religious life of the city. He is a man of exceedingly plain exterior but his sermons are sound and forcible. It would be difficult to analyze his creed or that of the people who go to hear him.
Satellites of the Tiger
The carousel is a form of entertainment which has grown popular with a certain class of people within recent years. The term may be a little obscure to the uninitiated, but they will readily understand its meaning when it is explained that the carrousel is nothing more or less than the old-fashioned “merry-go-round” which we all easily remember as a feature of fairs, circuses and other out-door entertainments.
The Auditorium, Richelieu, and Leland Cafes, together with29 Devine’s wine-room on the other side of Jackson Street, and Colonel John Harvey’s “Wayside Inn” in the alley, form a sort of circuit or beat, which these “rapid” young men (i.e. the “bloods”) travel at all times, including such hours as the sale of cheering beverages is forbidden by city ordinance. Of these, Harvey’s is perhaps the most unique resort, though if one cannot find his friends in one of the places named after midnight he is tolerably certain to encounter them in one of the others.
The “indignant husband” game is a favorite one with adventuresses of the second class, by which term is signified such fair and frail creatures as occupy a somewhat lower place in the plane of rascaldom than the fairy who relies92 solely upon discreet blackmail without publicity for her means of support. This game is usually played upon very green persons for the reason that very few others would fall victims to it.
One has not space at command to cite all the methods by which the unwary are fleeced out of their wealth. Besides, new and treacherous schemes are constantly being invented. It is impossible to tell what plot the genius of the confidence man will strike next. These shrewd geniuses have even gone so far as the selling of banana stalks to farmers for seed.
Under this caption come the entertainments of a more or less unstilted character; that is to say, entertainments that, while being in no wise disreputable, are nevertheless arranged with a view of catering to the tastes of people of both sexes who do not care to spend the evening in the narrow confines and the matter-of-fact atmosphere of a regular theatre.
At the Stage Entrance
Men lined up at the stage entrance to a theatre
Chicago is famous as a theatrical center, and the very best attractions are constantly to be found at one or another of the great play-houses. Just at this stage, therefore, it is meet to utter a few remarks on the leading theaters and the class of excellent entertainment they present to their patrons.
An Ideal Afternoon
If an ordinary dance or ball is enjoyable how much more so is a masquerade—that merry carnival in which identities are mysteriously hidden and all manner of pleasant pranks indulged in by the maskers, whose brilliant and variegated costumes transform the aspect of the thronging floor into a kaleidoscopic expanse of ever-changing beauty. The accompanying illustration depicts the sort of jolly scene to be encountered at a typical Chicago masquerade—a scene which, witnessed for the first time, is rarely forgotten until it is eclipsed perhaps, by another later and even more novel.
It is, nevertheless, a fact that there are still a large number of professional gamblers in Chicago—presumably there always will be—and while there are no notorious houses open the stranger who is yearning for a little action for his spare cash can be readily accommodated. The notorious Hankins castle on Clark street is tightly closed, but every night there may be found in that vicinity any number of “sporty-looking” gentry who will be only too glad to guide the inquirer to a secluded spot where he can be accommodated with as large or as small a game as his inclination may dictate or his means allow.