Smithsonian

Telegram from Chicago businessman to the President

Telegram from a Chicago businessman to President Truman on September 18, 1948, in response to Chicago’s first highway project, which would run through low-income and slum neighborhoods. Using plans that were developed as early as the 1920s, the city took advantage of its expanding powers of eminent domain to acquire, condemn, and demolish a wide swath of residential, commercial, and industrial properties all along the eight-mile route by 1950.

Transcript: “I am taking the liberty of bringing to your attention the eviction of hundreds of Chicagoans on September 25 to make way for a super highway with government aid. This area is occupied by family of very limited incomes small business concerns whose proprietors will lose their investment and students some partially incapacitated by military service. Will you please use your influence to postpone these evictions until these people can find other living and business accommodations."