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Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Loop Cattle Path
Text by Wayne Lorentz
One of the odder pieces of real estate in Chicago's Loop belongs not to the bulls, or the bears, but to the cows. Much of the Loop we know today was once part of the William Jones farm. As the city expanded from its roots around Fort Dearborn (Michigan Avenue at Wacker) he sold off patches of his property to developers. Though this could have made him the city's first real estate mogul, he remained a farmer at heart and needed to make sure his cows has a place to graze. So as part of one of his sales, the contract included an easement for cattle to pass from his farmstead to a pasture not far away. Of course, neither the farm nor the field exist today, but the cattle path does. In the early 20th century a court ruled that the easement is still legally binding, even though the cows have moved to greener pastures, and thus there are building in the Loop which are build astride, along, and even above this cow trail.
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