Saturday, August 30, 2008

Little Cheyenne

After the Great Fire, the South side of Chicago became known for its criminal elements. The area known as "Little Cheyenne" ran several block along S. Clark Street, south of Van Buren, and was described by one Chicago detective as "about as tough and vicious a place as there was on the face of the earth. Around the doors of these places could be seen gaudily-bedecked females, half-clad in flashy finery, dresses which never came below their knees, with many colored stockings and fancy shoes. Many of them wore bodices cut so low that they did not amount to much more than a belt."

Little Cheyenne was so called because it had all the lawlessness of the Old West and was lined with every sort of dive, saloon, gambing house, and house of ill-repute. In response, the residents of Cheyenne, Wyoming, referred to their own red light district as "Little Chicago."

This stretch of Clark Street, between Van Buren and Congress, may be all that's left of Little Cheyenne, the way it once was. A men-only SRO hotel, a pawn shop, a liquor shop, and a greasy spoon seem out of place in the shadow of the Sears Tower and Chicago financial district.

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