Revised Charter, City of Chicago, Chapter 7, Section 43 (1863)

“Sec.43.   No encroachment shall be made upon the land or water, west of a line mentioned in the second edition of an ordinance concerning the Illinois Central Railroad, (which line is “not less than four hundred feet east from the west line of Michigan avenue, and parallel thereto,”) by any railroad company, nor shall any cars, locomotives, engines, machines or other things belonging to any railroad or transportation company be permitted to occupy the same, nor shall any cars or machinery be left standing upon said tract fronting any part of Michigan avenue south of Madison street, nor shall the city council ever allow any encroachments west of the line above described. And any person being the owner of, and interested in any lot or part of a lot fronting on Michigan avenue, shall have the right to enjoin said company and all other persons and corporations from any violations of the provisions of this section, or of said ordinance , and by bill or petition in chancery in his or their own name, or otherwise, enforce the provisions of said ordinance, and of this section, and recover such damages for any such encroachment or violation, as the court shall deem just; the state of Illinois by its canal commissioners, having declared that the public ground east of said lots should forever to remain open and vacant, neither the common council of the city of Chicago, nor any other authority shall ever have the power to permit encroachments thereon, without the assent of all the persons owning lots or land on said street or avenue.”


In 1870, Illinois wrote a new constitution, which halted the practice of granting individual charters to cities. For the next 100 years Chicago and all municipalities in Illinois were subject to the Cities and Villages Act, a general incorporation act that enumerated the governing powers given to all cities and villages in the state, forbade special legislation to meet specific urban circumstances, and reserved significant powers to the state legislature. Decades of hostility between Chicago and the state legislature over Chicago’s political and fiscal powers ensued.

Chicago gained new home rule powers only with the passage of a new state constitution in 1970. Chicago remains one of very few special charter municipalities in the state, meaning that it retains the municipal governing structure established by a charter issued prior to 1870. (Encyclopedia of Chicago, 2004, p.127-128)


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