Gustavus Anderson

Gustavus Anderson Interview*

History of Uptown, Ravenswood District, Subdivisions and Improvements Made, Document #59
Source: Informant Gustavus Anderson, a real estate broker with the firm Norman Benson and Company at the time of the interview in December, 1927.
Just forty years ago I made three subdivisions along Clark Street. The first was called the Miller subdivision and was bounded by the following streets: Balmoral, Robey, Ravenswood and North 59th Street. The second was called Lake View lots, and was bounded by the streets East Ravenswood, Walnut, North Clark, and Balmoral. The third was called Culver’s Park Subdivision at Lawrence and Robey. For most of this land I paid about $200.00 an acre. An acre of land will divide into eight lots and I resold these lots for from $225.00 to $500.00 each. Most of them were sold on the installment plan – $10.00 down and $5.00 a month. I bought the Culver’s Park Subdivision from Mr. Gamon of Batavia.
We didn’t do much improving of our subdivisions. We didn’t have the money and people paid so slowly that we couldn’t afford to. All we did was survey the land and mark the lots and streets, and put in plank sidewalks. However, we did give a free ride to the subdivision from our office downtown to all prospective buyers. We took them in a horse and buggy, or on the street car or Northwestern.
My office, like everyone else’s dealing in real estate in the district at that time, was downtown at 153 N. LaSalle, and I lived in Lake View and commuted to work. I am Swedish and it was through me that this whole district became Swedish for I sold my subdivision to Swedish people. Most of them lived near Oak Street and at Belmont Avenue and they were desirous of moving to more open districts. It was through my influence that the Swedish Home for Old People was brought into this district. It was a great improvement and of course brought more Swedish people with it.
Davis, an Englishman, named Argyle and subdivided some of it. A good deal of the land east of Clark was swamp land and that is the reason the first settlements were along Clark Street.
* Gustavus [Gus] Anderson, born 1847 in Sweden, was a trained book binder when he arrived in Chicago in 1868. Like his brother-in-law Isaac Anderson, a cabinet maker, with whom he immigrated, he had the employment advantage of possessing a valuable skill (both men quickly found jobs with manufacturing companies). In 1880 he started his own bindery firm, sold it in 1883, and then started his own real estate company in 1884 after spending some time in the “west” (probably in San Francisco with his youngest brother). In 1886, Anderson and a partner named Wilber Wait, a wealthy grain dealer, recorded the subdivision they named Summerdale, presumably after the railroad station nearby. The subdivision was between Balmoral and Berwyn and Ravenswood and Clark St.  In the interview he called the subdivision the Lake View lots.
His real estate activities generated enough income that he always had a brokerage office in a what appear to have been prestigious downtown office buildings. He never married and maintained a household with his older sister and her husband. His mother and three of his brothers came to United States in 1869, settling in rural southeastern Kansas, where they farmed. His youngest brother, who was a seminary-trained Swedish Methodist minister, lived all over the United States, including Chicago, finally setting in Austin, Texas, where he died in 1938. Gustavus Anderson, also a Swedish Methodist, was active in both the Chicago Swedish and real estate communities. After 1890, he owned and lived in a 3-flat at 1629 W. Foster between 1890 and his death sometime in the 1930s (no county death or burial record has been found). He is probably buried at Rosehill Cemetery with his sister and her family.
Cover page: Documents: History of the Uptown Community, Chicago. Prepared for the Chicago Historical Society and the Local Community Research Committee, University of Chicago. Research under the direction of Vivien M. Palmer; staff investigators Marion Lindner and Beatrice Nesbit. These documents contain data just as it was secured from old residents and from existing documents. A final check of the data will appear in the volume of the Social History of Chicago.
Format: Photocopy of a typescript without page numbers in the Chicago History Museum library; volume 2 of a 6-volume set containing documentary information on 20 Chicago community districts/areas.
Publication date: 1925-1930.