Streeter Runs Ashore



Captain Streeter bought and repaired an old boat, he named it the Reutan. The maiden voyage of his boat took place on July 10, 1886; on that trip were the Streeters, an engineer, and several other passengers (155). They encountered stormy weather, and after being tossed around for a couple of hours, they eventually crashed into a sandbar approximately 450 feet from Superior Street. Soon the storm passed and the Captain began evaluating the situation. Since he had little money, he decided to leave the Reuten where it was and live on it for a while because he wouldn’t have to pay any rent (155). Building developers were looking for a place close to the downtown area to dump debris and old building materials, Streeter allowed the developers to empty the junk onto the beach near his boat for a fee. He had no authority to do this, but he claimed that the land "’twas a separate commonwealth, under the direct jurisdiction of the United States government" (Journal of Illinois 572). Due to the large amounts of debris being dumped and natural erosion, the area between the Reuten and the Chicago shoreline quickly filled up. Then Streeter began renting this land to people who wished to live there. However, the rich landowners around "Streeterville" were complaining about the smell and the shacks that were located there because they were lowering the property value of the area. Then the city began to step in. The first battle occurred in July, 1889, when five police officers tried to evict Streeter and his wife, Maria (572). The constables were driven away by rifles. The next battle took place in 1899; five policemen managed to capture the captain, but Maria threw boiling water on the policemen which allowed Streeter to grab his rifle and drive them away (572). The following year 500 policemen surrounded the district and captured Streeter and his army; Streeter and his army were aquitted.

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