20 photos of Chicago in the 1950s | Home + Life + Health
The largest city in the Midwest and the third most populous in the country, Chicago is a beacon of culture and commerce on the country’s plains. In 1950, 3.6 million people, or 2% of the country’s population, lived in Windy City. Unfortunately, as is the case with many large American cities, suburbanization had a decidedly negative effect on it, and by the end of the decade Chicago was facing a steep decline in population and prosperity.
Towards the end of the 1950s, many of the city’s biggest industries, such as meatpacking and steel, began to pull out of the urban center, in search of cheaper places to settle. This meant that many related factories closed, which meant that jobs and money disappeared, and single-family homes – the dream of many Americans – also disappeared. As a result, the wealthier residents, who could afford to move, left town, as did their tax dollars. Crime has increased and the ability to fight it has diminished. In the 60s and 70s, Chicago was not the nice, family-friendly place it had been in previous decades.
That being said, the early 1950s was something of a golden age for Chicago. The economy was booming, foreign and domestic immigrants were arriving at a rapid pace, allowing for a rich and diverse culture, and the city was growing, literally. New skyscrapers regularly dotted the horizon.
It’s hard to describe exactly what life in Chicago was like in the 1950s using words alone, so Giggster combed through historical archives to compile a list of images of life in the city during the decade to give you a better idea. From everyday activities like eating out to historic events like the 1959 steel strike, these photos are sure to transport you to another era.