100 Years of Gas Service in
100 Years of
THE PEOPLES GAS LIGHT AND COKE COMPANY
122 South Michigan Avenue " Chicago 3, Illinois
The Gas House Gang''
In everyday American language, "gas house gang" is a term of praise.
It has been appHed, for example, to big league baseball teams who play
hard and win championships.
Its original meaning — and its real meaning today — describes workers
whose job it is to make and send out gas, to keep gas service going in all
weather, fair or foul. From the very first, back in 1850, and from then on, the
rigors of the job and their own great spirit have made the "gas house gang"
a determined, effective group.
The traditional tenacity of this public servant inspired the writing of a verse
called "The Gas House Terrier," a few lines of which follow:
He was a grimy Terrier from the gas house "down beyant."
Of chemistry and algebra his knowledge true was scant;
But he'd a horny fist and an honest face and the grit of
a brindled pup.
He didn't go much on photometry, but he kept his holder up.
Today the term "gas house gang" may well be applied to the entire Peoples
Gas "family." With the same spirit as the gas workers of the past, these present-
day people — now more than 4500 strong — not only meet but welcome their
obligations of public service. They are today's "Keepers of the Flame."
[see inside back cover]
OF GAS SERVICE IN CHICAGO
Gas service first came to Chicago on September 4, 1850.
In observance of the Centennial of Gas in Chicago, we
have prepared this booklet, which sketches briefly the
development of gas service in this city, its growth from
small beginnings to its present scop)e and size.
Having reached the 100-year mark, we look forward
to the second century with enthusiasm and confidence;
for never has there been a future to look forward to so
rich in opfX)rtunity for still more complete service — in
more forms — to more people.
In celebration of this Hundredth Birthday, Peoples Gas in coopera-
tion with the Museum of Science and Industry has presented to the
people of Chicago a permanent exhibit at the Museum that tells
THE STORY OF FLAME GAS. It is described on pages 30, 31
and 32 of this booklet. The exhibit is an entertaining and educational
show for people of all ages. You and your family will want to see it
and you are cordially invited to do so.
THE PEOPLES GAS LIGHT AND COKE COMPANY
Highlights in a
Enter the Lamplighter
The Gaslight Era
He Kept the Gas Goin'
"Cookin' with Gas" Begins
13 Companies Become One
Gas Takes a Factory Job
It's a "Natural"
Everybody Wants More Gas!
Third Pipeline Under Way
Today's Plans for the Future
Chicago in 1850 was a rough and
ready frontier town, entirely lacking
in what were considered ordinary
comforts in cities farther east. But it
was already starting to "burst at the
seams" with a phenomenal growth.
Its 30,000 population of that year was
to grow to 109,000 by 1860.
Newspapers announced that Clark
Street was being planked (an early
form of paving) and hoped that this
would take the city out of "the mud
and deeps profound." A few years later
the city fathers were raising the street
levels. The downtown Chicago as we
know it today is several feet higher
than the original.
Lights were dim. Ads in the Journal
during September 1850 offered: Lamp
Oils, Candles, &c; Winter Sperm Oil,
Whale do.: Sperm Candles, Stearine do.
Perhaps the well-to-do burned wax
candles on special occasions, but it
looks as if most people cleaned lamps,
went around their homes in semi-dark-
ness, and were hardened to the odor of
Anyway, September 4, 1 850, brought
crowds into the streets. Word had gone
out that gas lights were going to be
turned on for the first time.
The lamplighter must have felt him-
self an important figure that first night.
There was doubtless cheering when
the thirty-six lamps came on in the
City Hall, and in the homes and
stores of the "125 other customers."
But the uproar must have hit its
climax when the ninety-nine street
lamps in and near Lake Street were
A few days later, the Gem of the
Prairie, weekly edition of The Chicago
Tribune, said, "At about two o'clock
p.m., the gas pipes were filled and
brilliant torches flamed on both sides
of the street as far as the eye could
see . . . The burners in Reed & Co.,
and in Keen's were lighted about the
same time, presenting a bright golden
flame ... In the evening the lamps
were again lighted, and for the first
time in the history of Chicago, several
of the streets were lighted in regular
Citizens view gas-lighted win-
dows of store at Wabash and
Lake Streets, where goods on
display included equipment
for men bound for California
city style. Hereafter she will not 'hide
her light under a bushel.' "
Back of the scenes there must well
have been the usual anxiety and hard
work that go with the starting of a
new project. The new gas plant at
Monroe and Market was manned by
newcomers because Chicago was too
young a city to have "native sons" on
whom to call.
There were bristly-mustached sons
of Scotland who brought their under-
standing of steam engines to the job of
gas making. There were dozens of
brawny Irish immigrants, too. Theirs
was the job of putting gas mains into
the streets and connecting them into
the homes and businesses. More im-
portant, they took over the gas ovens.
These strong-backed sons of Erin
shoveled in the coal used to make the
gas. To them goes the credit for estab-
lishing the tradition of "keeping the
As years went on most of them con-
tinued to live in the shadows of the
gas holders ("tanks" to the layman).
If they saw the top section of the
Chicago's Courthouse in 1850. This picture and
others up to and including page 11, are redrawn
from old prints of the Chicago Historical Society.
holder high in the structure, it indi-
cated that all was well at the works
and a plentiful supply was ready for
the growing demands of the city. And
when any unusual effort was neces-
sary, they were close by.
The Infant and the Giant
Chicago's population in 1850 was
30,000 compared with over 3,600,000
today. To compare gas service in 1850
with today is to compare the first send-
out of 15,000 cubic feet a night with
this year's twenty-four-hour peak send-
out of over 320,000,000 cubic feet.
South Clark Street in the 50's. Wooden sidewalks
and planked streets on different levels — while
Chicago was digging itself out of the mud.
The building on the right is the first gas plant in
Chicago — only picture of it known to exist. The view
is westward on Monroe Street from Market Street.
The Gaslight Era
. . ,An American Saga
The story of gas in Chicago is just as
much the story of the vigorous city gas
serves as it is the record of an industry.
It is typically American, a chapter in
the stirring history of the Middle West
and the men who made it.
Gas service here developed from
tiny beginnings. It was beset from time
to time by adversities, some of which
threatened its very existence. But,
more often than not, what seemed to
be a crisis was turned into an advantage
instead — an opportunity for greater
growth and greater service. As the
second century of gas service in Chi-
cago begins, Peoples Gas stands at the
dawn of an era in which it will have
the opportunity of serving more people
in more ways than ever before.
First steps toward gas service were
taken when five enterprising pioneer
residents gathered on October 16,
1848, to draft a petition to the Illinois
state legislature for authority to form
a gas company that would furnish
reliable lighting. The legislature re-
sponded with a charter and from this
was founded the Chicago Gas Light
and Coke Company, which preceded
Peoples Gas by a few years.
Demand Grows Fast
From almost the very beginning,
anticipating future demand has been
one of the biggest jobs in providing gas
service. The mushrooming growth of
Chicago in earlier years accented this
problem; in more recent times, the
development of numerous new uses for
gas in home, business and industry
further complicated it. A few days
after the first turn-on back in 1850, a
Journal editorial had this to say:
"The company, judging from the extent of the
apparatus, have built for a future day"
That the supply of gas made avail-
able to the city is a matter of vital
Galena & Chicago Railroad Station (later the Chi-
cago & North Western), at Canal and Kinzie Streets.
Lake and Wabash Streets in 1858, a retail, whole-
sale, and manufacturing center of early Chicago.
public interest in modern times as well,
is indicated by the following headline
which appeared in the Chicago Tribune
March 29, 1948:
A second gas oven went into opera-
tion on October 6, 1850, raising pro-
duction capacity to 22,000 cubic feet
— all of which was needed within a few
months. By 1855, mains had crossed
the river to supply the north and west
sides, and a holder was built with a
capacity of 300,000 cubic feet. That
year, when the population had grown to
80,000, a bill was signed by the Gover-
nor which brought into being The
Peoples Gas Light and Coke Company.
These various events added up to
the beginning of the gaslight era which
was to continue beyond the turn of the
century. As recently as forty years ago
Peoples Gas was proudly pointing to
"400 candle power light for one cent
an hour." The flame that lighted Chi-
cago's homes and streets now cooks
several millions of meals a day in
homes and restaurants. Homes that
keep foods safely stored in silent gas
refrigerators and automatically heat
water with gas run into the hundreds
of thousands. Basements have been
changed into recreation rooms follow-
ing the installation of modern gas fur-
naces or boilers.
Business and industry are served too,
in thousands of different ways. Fac-
tories that once used gas to light hun-
dreds of arc lamps now use the same fuel
to run mammoth furnaces. One such
furnace takes as much gas during an
eight-hour shift as the daily demand
of an average suburban town.
The Nation in the Fifties
It was in this decade that the first Pullman
car, first derby hat, first camera, first tele-
graph line, first oil well and first Atlantic
cable were produced. Sewing machines
and washing machines were among the
other inventions of the period. Harriet
Beecher Stowe wrote "Uncle Tom's Cab-
in" and a Swedish "nightingale" named
Jennie Lind thrilled thousands.
Chicago in the Fifties
Chicago's first theater was illuminated
^th gas. Theodore Thomas, later to be-
come famous as a symphony conductor,
was violinist in a small orchestra. Mc-
Cormick >vas manufacturing 40 reapers a
day. By the end of this decade eight rail-
roads ^ere operating in and out of the
city, AA^hich was to become the world's
greatest rail center.
Chicago shoreline in the late 50's, neor where Michigan Avenue runs today. Note the railroad on piling
out in the loke. The present right-of-way of the Illinois Centrol follows the same route.
T^ mL ^^ Kept the Gas Goin'
j^![V. ^ . . . Even Through the Great Fire
As THE gaslight era began to wane in
the nineties, memories of Chicago's
greatest disaster — the Great Fire of
1871 — were still in the minds of many
of its citizens. It destroyed the original
gas plant at Market and Monroe
Streets but the Chicago Company's
new North Station and the 22nd Street
Works of Peoples Gas were spared.
Both continued to ojjerate.
Even in a crisis as great as the fire
which destroyed a large part of the
city, gas service was maintained in
widespread areas. Thus, there has been
no complete interruption in gas service in
Chicago in the entire first one hundred years.
Employes who had retired on pen-
sions used to drop in occasionally to
tell of events of the Great Fire. They
described how a second floor space in
a Company building (at Market and
Monroe Streets) was turned into a
women's and children's infirmary, even
before the walls had cooled. North
Station had long, low coal sheds which
were used as shelters for north side
refugees. The stories that pleased the
old-timers, however, were the ones in
which they played a personal part.
"We kept the holders up" — meaning
they had maintained a sufficient sup-
ply in the gas holders to keep ser\'ice
In 1893, Chicago definitely took its
place in world affairs. It was holding
its glittering World's Columbian Expo-
sition, which drew millions of visitors
from all over the United States and
from many foreign lands as well. It
was then that the gaslight era was at
its peak. Gas burners brilliantly illu-
minated the city's first great "World's
Fair" as well as provided bright, white
light for the city's streets, homes,
Home at northwest comer of Michigan Avenue and
Adams Street (in 1870) before the Great Fire.
Ruins ot the same corner after the conflagration.
The Peoples Gas Building stands there today.
stores and factories. Even then, how-
ever, great events were in the making
and soon the nature of gas service was
to be completely changed. Even at its
peak, the gasHght era was drawing to
The second half of the nineteenth century
brought fwo important inventions to the
gas business. Bunsen invented his famous
burner in 1855. By 1875, the use of can-
dles for lighting had ended in cities. Kero-
sene and gas had taken over, in 1885,
Carl von Weisbach invented the gas man-
tle ^hich made it possible for gas to pro-
vide a whiter, brighter light.
State Street entrance of the Palmer House, as
rebuilt shortly after the Rre.
State Street shopping center in the late 60's. The
growing city's streets still were muddy.
One of the horsecars on which mony Chicagoans
rode to work in 1870.
Courthouse Square and
the streets and buildings
surrounding it in the days
before the Chicago Fire.
''Cookin' with Gas"
Chkagoans by the thousands started
"Cookin' with Gas."
The gay nineties began a great change
for the gas business— a far-reaching
one that would eventually open a big-
ger market for gas than had even been
dreamed of up to this time.
About this time a new appliance was
beginning to attract widespread atten-
tion here as elsewhere. It was the
kitchen gas range, which had been in
the course of development for some
time. Made possible through an adap-
tation of the Bunsen burner principle,
this stove brought new control and re-
liability to the art of cooking.
Pioneering a New Field
The volume of gas sales for cooking
eventually became greater than the
lighting business which went to elec-
tricity with the appearance of the new
incandescent light bulb.
Although the gas range was "new
fangled" to the public at the start, it
was soon accepted with surprising
rapidity by householders. From about
1898 on into the 1900's demonstra-
tions of gas cooking were conducted on
ranges set up in vacant lots. People
were invited to bring foods they wanted
cooked, and see for themselves how
much better and more easily meals
could be cooked with gas.
Enterprise on a Wagon
One story of the times concerns a
salesman who was even more enter-
prising. He did not wait for customers
to come to him; instead, he loaded a
gas range on a horse-drawn wagon
and carried his message to people on
street corners. He would drive his wag-
on under a street lamp, run a rubber
hose from the lamp to the stove, and
proceed to demonstrate gas cookery.
Soon he was turning in orders for
ranges as fast as they could be filled.
Figures printed in the Peoples Gas
Annual Report for 1898 had begun to
The famous Rush Street Bridge looking northeast in the 60's. Some of the buildings in the background were
warehouses for handling the lake and rail shipping of that time.
reflect the big change that was under
way. They showed that the Company
had sold 20,343 gas stoves in that year,
an impressive total for the time. (Now,
from 85,000 to 120,000 or more mod-
ern gas ranges are sold every year by
dealers throughout the city. Each
year large numbers of new and im-
proved models are purchased to re-
place older types.) From 1900 on, the
swing to gas for cooking was to show
substantial increases year after year.
Before the first World War the im-
portant change to the gas cooking
period was all but completed.
Today Peoples Gas has more than
900,000 customers in the city. More
families than ever are cooking with
gas; hundreds of thousands of house-
holds use it also for automatic water
heating, silent refrigeration, or space
heating, or a combination of such
uses. Commercial and industrial cus-
tomers require gas for thousands of
uses. These other uses have been
made possible by the imagination and
engineering skill of many experts
ceaselessly working in research and
Chicago Day, October 9, at the World's Fair of
1893, when paid admissions totalled over
700,000. Note dense throngs in this view of the
So basic has gas service become in Amer-
ica that sayings (even slang) about it
have become part of our language. A
slogan introduced 30 years ago, "You
can do it better ^ith gas," remains a com-
mon expression today. Six years ago the
entertainment v^orld came out with the
phrase, "Now you're cookin' with gas,"
as an expression of approval.
The gas meter ^as invented and put in
use in 1834. The basic principle of its
operation v/as so simple and dependable
that its design and construction have been
changed but little. It remains one of the
truest measuring devices in use today.
Now, more Chicagoans
than ever are
"Cookin' with Gas."
13 Gas Companies
Become One . . •
Service Is Improved
Gas service in Chicago was not al-
ways provided, as now, by a single
company regulated in the public in-
terest. All the gas utilities in Chicago
were brought under one management
by a consolidation of ten different gas
companies with Peoples Gas in 1897
and 1898, with the addition of two
more in 1907.
A number of companies sprang up
in the eighties and nineties and there-
after, in unrestrained competition.
Some of the individual companies
operated in the same territory. There
was a good deal of wasteful duplica-
tion of facilities. No one of these
separate systems had been installed
with any idea that it would ultimately
fit into a single system supplying all
Peoples Gas engineers solved a real
problem in the early part of this cen-
tury — that of welding together many
different and variously located plants,
holders, and distribution systems. They
Corner of State and Madison in the 90'$ — later to
become known as "the world's busiest corner."
not merely linked all these facilities,
but created a coordinated, efficient,
city-wide system that would best serve
all parts of Chicago.
Creating a single gas system in Chi-
cago operated by a single company
meant an end to costly and senseless
duplication of mains and other facili-
ties. In this way, the step was in the
At the same time, however, it
created a monopoly. Whoever wanted
gas service in the city had to buy it
from the one company. But monop-
olies, as such, are contrary to the
American idea of healthy competition
in a free enterprise system. It was
necessary to preserve the benefits of
single-company operation in the public
The Gas Building shown below occupied the same
site as the present home of The Peoples Gas Light
and Coke Company, which was completed in 1910.
utility field and yet protect the public
from unfair treatment.
The Illinois Commerce Commis-
sion, which was created by the Illinois
Legislature in 1913, regulates public
utilities within the state, including gas
service in Chicago. It prescribes rates
and standards of service, examines
financing plans, and meets numerous
other regulatory responsibilities.
As such, the Commission may be
likened to an "umpire" balancing the
rights and interests of customer, in-
vestor and company as evenly as possi-
ble in the over-all public interest.
The attitude of Peoples Gas in the
matter of state regulation was recently
re-stated by an official of the Company
as follows: "The objective of the Com-
mission and of the Company should
always be the same — namely, to pro-
vide the conditions for a financially
sound company able to render the
best possible service at reasonable
rates. We intend in the future, as in
the past, to work with the Commission
faithfully in achieving that objective."
Today There Is
Competition — Lots of It!
Today Peoples Gas is a monopoly in
the sense that it is the only company in
Chicago selling gas, but it is one in
that sense only. Actually, it has com-
petition — and plenty of it! Competi-
tion with electricity for home refriger-
ation, cooking and water heating.
Competition with coal and oil for
home heating. Competition with oil,
coal and electricity in hundreds of
different industrial uses. If our service
standards were relaxed, or our prices
Mid-Victorian gas-lighted parlor in Chicago.
Drawing follows the authentic details of a recon-
structed room at the Chicago Historical Society.
moved substantially above other fuels,
we would soon risk the loss of busi-
ness.* Peoples Gas welcomes compe-
tition, for it is the life of trade. It
keeps us on our toes. It is the stimulus
that has made American industry the
envy of the rest of the world.
Gas used for cooking costs the
average family in Chicago a
little over five cents a day. For
families vfho use gas for cook-
ing and automatic water heat-
ing, the average cost is only
about 12 cents a day; while
the addition of gas refrigera-
tion to cooking and automatic
v^ater heating in the average
home means only about 3
cents more a day.
The cost of gas for heating
an average six room home in
Chicago estimated as of Jan-
uary 5, 1950, is $1 19, as com-
pared with the cost of $166 to
heat the same home with the
cheapest form of No. 3 oil, and
with $127 for the cheapest
form of coal.
Gas, a Household Worker
Soon after the close of World War 1,
a decision was reached by Peoples Gas
which was to broaden greatly the use-
fulness of gas wherever heat was re-
quired. The change from lighting to
home cooking had begun more than
twenty years before. Now it was de-
cided to expand the use of gas beyond
the home and to promote volume
sales of gas as the best fuel for indus-
trial and commercial use.
Here was another move so broad in
scope that time and hard work were
needed to achieve success. To develop
the new market required research,
education and sound selling to make
sure each user's needs were served
better than he expected.
So, using the slogan, "You Can Do
It Better with Gas" — which even now
is a catch phrase embedded in every-
day language — Peoples Gas sales engi-
neers set out to convince hard-headed
executives and practical shop super-
intendents that gas offered important
advantages which could improve prod-
ucts and increase profit. Other spe-
cialists concentrated on the hotel and
restaurant field, bakeries and other
commercial establishments to prove
gas could do the job better there too.
As its success in one type of industry
was demonstrated under actual oper-
ating conditions, the interest of other
manufacturers was kindled. From a
few uses back in the earlier twenties,
gas as early as 1929 had become
a giant in industry and commerce.
But, even then, heavy duty utiliza-
tions undreamed of at that time lay
The step-up of the industrial tempo
as the country entered the prepara-
tions-for-defense period in late 1939
and 1940 put a new premium on pro-
duction efficiencies. When America
This 65-foot rotary kiln uses gas In the lowering of
moisture content in moss moteriols used in the
Into this mammoth furnace, a building in itself, great
metal tanks are moved on flat cars to be stress-
relieved by gas heat.
Takes a Factory Job, Too
i\ I ii>i ill III I I in.
entered World War II, with all-out
production immediately following, still
more and more ways were found to
make gas serve industry.
Today gas has more than 12,000
uses in Chicago industry and com-
merce. Fifty-eight per cent of all the
gas consumed within the city goes for
these purposes. Its uses range from
mass production to the most exacting
precision work — everything from pro-
viding heat for a vast outdoor stress
relieving furnace large enough to
hold a railroad flat car to burners
used in the accurate shaping of
tiny metal devices for straightening
Here are but a few of the uses of gas
in Chicago industry and commerce :
Firing of decorated china, pottery, lamp
Providing fuel for all forms of heat
treating of gears and hard-wearing parts
used in machinery, automobiles, airplane
motors and agricultural implements.
Shaping precisely the glass tubes used in
radio and television.
Annealing copper and brass in manu-
facture of housewares, auto parts and ma-
Baking of cookies, cakes, bread and
crackers in automatic ovens sometimes ex-
tending 275 feet.
Firing steam boilers in huge generating
plants and in the packing industry.
Drying of inks on fast press runs and
preventing static in printing operations.
Melting great masses of materials in the
production of chemicals.
Smoking, curing and processing meats.
Supplying heat in small amounts for the
intricate uses of medical laboratories and
Heating drying ovens in dozens of in-
Supplying closely controlled heat to
Chicago's candy industry.
Furnishing the fuel for the variable cook-
ing demands of hotels and restaurants,
large and small.
Gleaming gas ovens such as these play a major
part in turning out bread, pies and cakes in
Chicago's large bakeries.
Executive chef at the Stevens Hotel checks the
enormous quantities of beef roasted with gas in
efficient modern stainless steel ovens.
A Big New Supply
. . . Ifs a '^Natural
The great industrial activity of the
year 1929 found Peoples Gas facing a
problem the reverse of that which had
confronted it in previous periods. A
dozen years earlier, for example, it had
struggled to create a demand for all the
gas it could produce. The job in 1929
was somehow to find a supply that
would meet this increased demand.
Fuel from Texas
Natural gas, one of America's major
resources, offered one of the most log-
ical means of bringing supply up to
demand. But it called for a pipeline to
tap the great subterranean storehouse
of energy in the Texas Panhandle,
close to 1000 miles away. The pros
and cons of such a pipeline had been
examined and weighed by engineers
and other technical experts for many
months. When Peoples Gas decided to
pay a portion of the construction costs
of this great energy transmission line,
it embarked on one of the most am-
bitious public service projects ever un-
dertaken for Chicago.
A Unique Undertaking
Other cities were already using
natural gas, it is true, but nowhere was
the undertaking of such magnitude
and significance. This was to be the
first long distance, high pressure steel
pipeline extending all the way from
the Southwest to a major northern
metropolitan market of the size of Chi-
cago. Peoples Gas provided its share
of the $75,000,000 in construction costs.
To build the line required 209,000 tons
of specially fabricated 24-inch diam-
eter steel pipe (6500 freight car loads).
It took the labor equivalent of 2500
men working every day for a year. The
leff — Traveling cranes lay large-diameter steel gas pipe that has first been coated and
wrapped with corrosion-resisting material. Right — Construction in progress on a new station
for conditioning and pumping gas.
-Across the plains and prairies of
itates goes the natural gas pipeline.
pipeline had to be brought across 100
streams, including mighty rivers like
the Mississippi and the Missouri. The
right of way involved leases on 2600
separate tracts of farm land.
"Change-over" a Mammoth Job
New buildings and other installa-
tions had to be provided before the
new gas could be used in the Com-
pany's more than 3700 miles of dis-
tribution mains. These included facil-
ities for blending natural gas with the
manufactured gas in correct propor-
tions. Another huge job was the effi-
cient adjustment of the millions of
appliances in use throughout the city.
The new gas entered the mains all
over Chicago at 4 p.m. on October 16,
Chicago is served with a mixed
gas — a blend of natural gas
and manufactured coke oven
and ^ater gas. Peoples Gas
engineers developed such a
mixed gas because it pro-
duces a flame applicable to the
greatest number of uses. It also
permits maximum use both of
natural gas and manufactured
gas facilities, ^hich is in the
1931, and the change-over was made
with a minimum of inconvenience to
hundreds of thousands of customers.
Meanwhile, the general business de-
pression had settled down over the
land, and the Company was faced with
the challenge of finding a market for
the huge quantities of gas it had con-
tracted to receive daily. That the
market was found is another illustra-
tion of the resourcefulness of the gas
utility industry in particular and Amer-
ican business in general.
l^^K^^^^^ -SSt^i^ i^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Sh^^B^^^^ "'V'fl^^J^K^j^- ''>'*^^^^^^^^^^^^^^|
^^^" ^*^|^^''^|^9^^^ "'^^^H^^^l
Station at northern end of pipeline (near Joliet)
where gas is metered and delivered for distribu-
tion in Chicago area.
Interior of a pumping station. Powered by gas engines, seventeen com-
pressors pump the fuel on its way to the Chicago market.
Gas and More Gas
— the Cry of the 40 's j
The abundance of natural gas that
was first brought to Chicago from
Texas in 1931 had been expected to
prove a great boon in meeting the
community's needs. But the great de-
pression then held the entire country
in its grip. The big new supply tem-
porarily became an over-supply.
But, all that seems part of the dis-
tant past now. As general conditions
improved in the mid-thirties, factories
reopened and the thousands of Chi-
cago families who had felt the effects
of the depression re-won their accus-
tomed standards of living.
Many installed gas for heating their
homes, which marked the opening of
another mass market for Peoples Gas
service. Company billboards blank-
eted the city showing the "head of the
house" comfortably established in his
easy chair and announcing to the
world in letters three feet high: "NO
WINTER WORRIES FOR ME—
I GOT GAS HEAT." The Company
received a few letters objecting to the
grammar in the message, but it was
typical of the expressions Mr. Chicago
was using in voicing relief over his
escape from furnace-tending.
Families installing gas heat fre-
quently converted their basements to
recreation rooms, which further en-
couraged their neighbors to join the
swing. By 1940 gas for space heating
was entrenched in Chicago.
Large numbers of families also were
turning to an intriguing gas appliance
that already had received wide accept-
ance in other parts of the country — a
silent gas refrigerator, which used the
heat of a small gas flame to produce
In addition, as the operating effi-
ciency of automatic gas water heaters
The clean blue gas flame used in the modern gas
range makes baking and all other cooking easy
for Mrs. Chicago.
Gas-heated water . . . plenty of it ready at all
times . . . makes dishwashing, housecleaning and
laundering easier by far.
was further improved, more and more
Chicago families found that they could
have constant hot water service at the
turn of a faucet at surprisingly low
cost. What's more, they didn't have to
run to and from the basement to turn
the heater on and off. The automatic
kind did that by itself.
So, with the coming of the forties,
gas was now helping with "the four
big jobs" of housekeeping — cooking;
heating water for dishes, cleaning and
bathing; refrigerating foods and freez-
ing ice cubes; and heating the house.
Meantime, as told elsewhere in this
booklet, the industrial boom preceding
and continuing through World War II
was on, and gas had its work cut out
for it there too.
All of this soon added up to the fact
that gas, which was in an over-abund-
ance in the preceding decade, was now
in short supply. "Gas — and more
gas," was the cry of the forties, a cry
which is heard even more persistently
now that we are in the fifties.
Here is how Chicago now uses gas
in the home:
For cooking 985,000 families
For automatic water
heating 165,000 families
For refrigeration 117,000 families
For home heating 69,000 families*
*78,000 Chicago families are on the wait-
ing list for gas heat because the demand is
greater than the supply. It has been neces-
sary since 1946 to limit the attachment of
additional space heating customers in order
to protect the vast public already dependent
upon gas supply.
Most people know that it takes a large
sum of money to provide gas service in a
large city, but few realize the actual
amount. Peoples Gas has more than
$150,000,000 invested in plant and prop-
erty alone — just a portion of what is
needed to run the business. This figure
does not include additional millions in-
vested by affiliated companies in pipeline
facilities used primarily to bring gas to
Few groups of people come as close to
perfection as does our force of 180 meter
readers, who in the first six months of
1950 had a record of 99.95 per cent
accuracy. Our champion meter reader,
William Morgan, ^ho hasn't made an
error in sixteen years, received fan mail
from throughout the Middle West ^hen
his record ^as mentioned on an NBC
radio broadcast. The Company receives
many complimentary letters from custo-
mers concerning the courtesy of these men.
Gas refrigeration . . . silent and with no moving
parts in the freezing system of the refrigerator . . .
has shown a great gain in public acceptance.
Setting temperature at the touch of a finger. The
Chicago families using efficient, convenient gas
heat now total 69,000.
Can't Meet the Demand
Headline in Chicago Daily Sun-
Times of June 1 5, 1 950.
As WE ALL REMEMBER, that "post-war
slump" people were talking about at
the end of World War II somehow
failed to arrive.
Factories remained busy; families
had money to buy many things they
had long wanted.
What all this meant to Peoples Gas
was that the demand for service —
already at a peak — remained where it
was; oil and coal prices soared while
gas heating rates remained unchanged.
New families by the thousands were
added to the waiting list for gas heat.
More Natural Gas
A struggle to obtain scarce materi-
als, particularly steel pipe, was finally
won and a second natural gas line was
completed in 1949 — paralleling the
first from the Texas Panhandle and
western Oklahoma fields, and creating
a dual system with a daily capacity of
more than 500 million cubic feet, most
of it delivered to the Chicago area.
Just prior to the completion of this
second line. Peoples Gas, late in 1948,
acquired all the stock of the two pipe-
line companies which had been gath-
ering and transmitting natural gas
to it since 1931, and in which it had
had a minority interest during that
time. * Peoples Gas thus obtained con-
trol over its source of supply and of the
fully integrated physical system, which
starts hundreds of feet below the
earth's surface in the gas fields of the
*These companies are Texoma Natural
Gas Company, the producing company in
the Texas Panhandle field, and Natural Gas
Pipeline Company of America, which oper-
ates the dual high pressure pipeline system to
the Chicago area.
The great natural gas pipeline is carried across a
river by a suspension bridge. Frequently, however,
the pipelines are buried in the bed of a stream.
"Blowing" a natural gas well to clear it of liquids
and other matter so that the passage of the gas
will be unobstructed.
We're Building a
1330 Miles Long
PttSWT DUAl nPEUNS
SYSTEM FROM TEXAS PANHANDU
AND WESTERN OICLAHOMA
Southwest 1000 miles away, and ends
at the appliances of the hundreds of
thousands of Chicago customers.
Peoples Gas, reaching out across
five states to insure a supply for its
Chicago market, thus became the ma-
jor company in a 1000-mile dual pipe-
line system supplying customer com-
panies in an extended area of the
Middle West having a population of
But, of more importance to Chica-
go, acquisition of the pipeline com-
panies by this op)erating utility helped
speed plans for construction of a third
pipeline, this one to run from the Gulf
Coast area of Texas, south of Houston,
a distance of 1330 miles. Necessary
approval to build the line was obtained
by a newly formed Peoples Gas afhii-
ate, Texas Illinois Natural Gas Pipe-
A pipeline being laid along ttie right-of-way. Just
a partial indication of the variety of country and
soil conditions encountered.
line Company in June, 1950, from the
Federal Power Commission.
As these words are written, con-
struction pf the new line is under way.
Completion is scheduled for late fall of
1951. Initial capacity ofthe line will be
305 million cubic feet daily, 80% of
which will come to the Chicago area.
Ultimately, the capacity is expected
to be increased by acquisition of new
gas reserves and addition of com-
pressor stations for pumping the gas,
to 518 million cubic feet daily — which
will be more than equal to the total
capacity of the present dual system
from the Texas Panhandle and western
In laying the third pipeline, experi-
ence of affiliated company engineers
is playing an all-important part. The
new line will follow a course of its
own, over new terrain, crossing swamps,
rivers, rock-studded hills and deep
valleys. Foul weather and all the ob-
stacles common to this work will be
surmounted by the construction crews.
A rowboat is used to get around inside
the water tank of a gas holder when an
inspection is in order to make sure that
everything is structurally right.
Rowboafs to Airplanes..
gas to the more than 900,000 customers
132,000 acres of leaseholds in the Texas
Panhandle gas field. These holdings
supply 50 per cent of the gas transmitted
by Natural Gas Pipeline Company of
\Vh.'\t facilities are required to pro-
vide gas service? A vast network of
mains beneath almost every Chicago
street. Huge coke ovens and water gas
manufacturing works. Hundreds of
miles of natural gas pipeline stretching
all the way to Texas and Oklahoma.
These are among the first to come to
The following properties of the Com-
pany and its affiliates are presently
used in bringing natural gas to Chi-
cago, in manufacturing gas here, in
mixing the gases and distributing the
blend of natural and manufactured
230 producing natural gas wells
2600 miles of field gathering lines and
high pressure transmission mains
2 gasoline extraction plants
12 field and main line compressor stations
15 production and distribution stations
17 gas storage holders
3700 miles of distribution gas mains
18,681,000 feet of service pipe
When the third natural gas pipeline
from the Texas Gulf Coast region to
the Chicago area is completed, certain
of the above figures will, of course, be
Such facilities are basic, but a sur-
prising variety of additional equip-
Left — Aerial view of the Company's huge
Crawford Station — its principal gas
Below — Partial view of the Division Street
Station, one of fifteen production or
It's All in a Day's Work
ment is needed too — things that the
public would scarcely associate with
gas service. Even rowboats and air-
planes play a part.
Rowboats are used in — of all places
— the interior of the "water-type" gas
holder. When gas is displaced by air
for internal inspection, a workman
slides through a hatch into the inte-
rior of the holder. Entering a small
rowboat tied inside, he rows around
the interior circumference of the holder
examining the structure.
Airplanes are used both for inspect-
ing and photographing rights-of-way
for new cross-country natural gas pipe-
lines and for patrolling the pipelines to
discover possible damage from erosion
or evidence of leaks.
A major project in itself is a soil con-
servation program carried on by Nat-
ural Gas Pipeline Company of Amer-
ica, an affiliate of Peoples Gas, in co-
operation with the U. S. Soil Conser-
vation Service and farmers along the
pipeline right-of-way, which extends
across five states. Bulldozers, plows
Airplanes are used over the natural gas
pipelines — selecting right-of-way and
patrolling completed lines.
and seeders play a part in this job.
Initiated twenty years ago, the pro-
gram protects the pipeline from dam-
age. Erosion caused by weather and
poor farming practices has to be
checked. Thus, working in the inter-
ests of good gas service, the pipeline
company in effect goes into "partner-
ship" with the farmer in such work as
contour plowing and planting "cover"
crops — and both the farmer and gas
Vast sources of natural energy and tre-
mendous man-made facilities are com-
bined to make possible the miracle of
modern gas service. That such service —
available 24 hours a day, 365 days a
year — is taken for granted by the people
of Chicago, is gratifying to Peoples Gas
because it indicates public confidence.
The composite photograph below shows some of the facilities required to provide gas service to a
metropolis the size of Chicago. The picture is by no means complete — and it should be remembered that
many of the Company's properties are below ground.
"It Must Be a Good
Place to Work"
One can well understand that we are
pleased when a metropolitan newspa-
per speaks of Peoples Gas as it did in
the quotation reproduced on this page.
Now, 1086 of its 4567 employes have
been with the Company over 25 years.
Length of service in many cases runs
far beyond the quarter-century mark.
Seventeen employes have more than
45 years of service, while 233 have less
than 45 but more than 35 years.
There are 979 who have been with
the Company more than fifteen years
but less than 25. Those with ten years
or more of service number 2419 — more
than half of the total employed.
The 1 086 employes with twenty-five
years or more are members of the Peo-
ples Gas Quarter Century Club, which
meets annually to welcome new mem-
bers to its ranks.
Mutual respect between employe
and employer constitutes the corner-
stone upon which Peoples Gas has
built its employe relations program.
Some of the policies and practices in-
cluded in the program are:
In all, 976 employes out
of 4,331 have been with the
big Chicago utility 25 years
... It must be a good
place to work.
— The Chicago Daily News, November 26, 1 948
■ As a matter of general policy promotions
are made, whenever possible, from
within the ranks.
■ A retirement annuity program has been
in effect since 1912 and a group life in-
surance program since the early twen-
■ The Company pays the entire cost of
the retirement annuity program.
■ The Company pays 35 per cent of the
cost of a broad hospitalization and
surgical benefit plan for employes and
■ After fifteen years service, employes are
given three weeks vacation with pay,
four weeks with pay after 25 years.
■ The doors are open to all employes at
Peoples Gas has always recognized
that the well-being, loyalty and effi-
ciency of employes are indispensable
in maintaining the high standards of
service which the public has a right
One of the gatherings ofter-hours in the Employes'
Recreation Room in the Peoples Gas Building.
Scene at a bosket picnic held by the Peoples Gas
Club, of which all employes are members.
Own Peoples Gas
More than 14,700 stockholders, liv-
ing in all of the forty-eight states and
in several foreign countries, are the
owners of The Peoples Gas Light and
Coke Company and the vast facilities
with which it serves almost one million
gas consumers in Chicago.
Of them, 7139 live in Chicago. The
total living in Illinois, including those
in Chicago, is 9412.
Almost all walks of life are repre-
sented — the baker, the dentist, the
financier, the physician, the school
teacher, the housewife, to list only a
Most of them own a relatively small
number of shares, 6674 owning ten
shares or less. Only 1994 own 100
shares or more.
Additional thousands besides stock-
holders have indirect but real finan-
cial interests in Peoples Gas, including
shareholders in investment trusts own-
ing Peoples Gas stock and holders of
insurance policies in insurance com-
panies owning bonds of Peoples Gas.
The confidence of the investor is
essential for Peoples Gas credit.
Without credit — the ability to raise
capital — Peoples Gas could neither
satisfy its obligations to serve the pub-
lic nor maintain good jobs for its em-
The Chicago Herald-
American, April 6, 1950.
Peoples Gas has more than 14,700
stockholders located in all states of
the Union and a number of foreign
The stockholders, both individual and
institutional, are o cross section of
American life. They include the doc-
tor, the housewife, the laborer, the
banker and the investment trust.
Nine life insurance companies own
the $55,500,000 principal amount of
Peoples Gas bonds.
°fse ^ ^""^
. I was in the mid-
dle of the street and
your truck came to a
dead stop to protect me
from the traffic . . .
board n""^ your .
n-lad -to To®
ra^^^^ service can't
and the ser
Brickbats . . •
The young man did
I fine job . • -I
jaked a sponge cake
vith wonderful re-
sults . . .
Peoples Gas service man explaining oper-
ation of new range in customer's home.
Everybody worth his sah likes to do
his job well. In business, this is par-
ticularly true. The corner delicatessen
and the large company are as one in
that both must please as many of their
customers as possiljle.
What this amounts to is getting
along with people by supplying them
in a friendly way, at a fair price, with
what they want, when they want it.
We of Peoples Gas have some good
things said about us — and we catch
some complaints too. We take pride
in the fact that the complaints repre-
sent a very, very small minority of the
expressions we receive from the public.
We are deeply concerned because
more than 78,000 families are on a
"waiting list" for gas heat. Not only
because it is clean, convenient and fully
automatic but also because it is the
cheapest way to heat in Chicago, so
many families want it that we cannot
meet the demand. This is the case
even though the capacity of the pipe-
line system between Chicago and the
Texas Panhandle and Oklahoma has
been doubled. Even with completion
of the third pipeline between the Gulf
Coast area of Texas and Chicago, con-
struction of which is now under way,
we may still be unable to supply all
who want gas heat.
The building of the third pipeline
is not the end of our efforts to solve the
ind Bouquets ^
From the Chicago Tribune
of March 29, 1948.
Two Other extraordinary efforts to
solve the problem are now in progress:
1 . Our engineers, working with geologists,
are looking for empty gas and oil wells
near the pipelines' terminals. Such wells
could be sealed up as natural storage
areas into which huge quantities of
natural gas could be pumped during
the low demand periods in summer to
provide a reserve against peak demands
2. A Peoples Gas research group also is
experimenting with the idea of mining
limestone in some suitable location, so
that a huge artificial underground stor-
age area would be created. Such an
area would serve if no natural area be-
comes available. On the scale which
would be required, however, the mag-
nitude of such an undertaking almost
defies the imagination. For the pres-
ent, such a project must be considered
as entirely in the exploratory stage.
Both the search for a huge natural
storage area and the experiments with
a vast artificial one are, however, evi-
dence of the untiring efforts of our
engineering and research men to sup-
ply all Chicago with as much gas as it
wants whenever it wants it.
And, if neither of these two plans
proves out, the public can rest assured
that these men will be — in the true
"gas house gang" tradition — working
on still other ways to find the answer.
and this man put
-^ -pnne work"
^Y,e stove m fine w
ing condition . • •
} should r ^^d 7Qnl ^
Questions about service are answered
promptly and courteously when customers
come in, write or phone.
Our Home Service Has 15,000
Few indeed are the housewives who
have not passed some of their favorite
recipes on to neighbors and friends.
Our Home Service Department carries
this tradition even further by giving
out to Chicago homemakers on re-
quest thousands and thousands of re-
cipes each year. It has a basic file of
15,000 recipes on which to draw, cov-
ering practically all American dishes
and many from foreign lands as well.
A call to "Martha Holmes," (the
business title of our Home Service Di-
rector) WA bash 2-6000, makes avail-
able to Chicago women almost any
information on cookery they desire.
Planning, preparing and serving
nourishing meals is one of the most im-
portant "musts" in the family's well-
being. It is because Peoples Gas sup-
plies the heat which cooks the meals
of almost every Chicago family that it
maintains its Home Service Depart-
ment as an added public service.
The department was founded back
in 1922 and is one of the pioneers in
Tens of thousands of women have
attended Peoples Gas cooking schools
conducted by Martha Holmes and her
staff of home economists. As many as
4500 women have attended single ses-
sions of large Peoples Gas cooking
schools presented at neighborhood
The welcome mat is always out dur-
ing regular business hours for Mrs.
Chicago at Peoples Gas Home Service
Headquarters, 122 South Michigan
Portion of a typical audience at a Peoples Gas Home
Service Cooking School held in a neighborhood theater.
THE SECOND 100 YEARS
. . .Today's Plans for the Future
Gas service has come a vast distance
in its first hundred years in Chicago
from a tiny lighting business to a great
service reaching into practically all of
Chicago's hundreds of thousands of
homes, and into thousands of business
houses and industries as well.
This progress in the first century and
the devotion to duty of past generations
of gas workers, which made it possible,
provide an inspiration as we begin the
second hundred years.
Truly, the era in which Peoples Gas
will have its greatest opportunity for
public service is just now beginning.
More people are finding gas service an
essential of modern life in more ways
than ever before.
On the occasion of the centennial of
gas service in Chicago, we re-dedicate
ourselves to the task — and the privilege
— of serving the Chicago public.
We will continue to devote our
energies to the immediate task of in-
creasing the supply here to the end
that everybody can have all the gas
service he wants whenever he wants it.
We will continue to maintain and im-
prove present high standards of service.
It is said that "the first hundred
years are the hardest." Whether this
will prove to be true during the second
century of gas ser\dce in Chicago
would require prophetic vision beyond
mortal power. During the first cen-
tury gas service spectacularly devel-
oped and served the public by uses
undreamed of one hundred years ago.
The same development could happen
in the second century also.
THE PEOPLES GAS LIGHT AND COKE COMPANY
Downtown Office — 122 South Michigan Avenue WAbash 2-6000
846 WEST 63RD STREET 3315 NORTH MARSHFIELD AVENUE
4829 SOUTH ASHLAND AVENUE 1520 NORTH MILWAUKEE AVENUE
45 EAST PERSHING ROAD 1608 NORTH LARRABEE STREET
11031 SOUTH MICHIGAN AVENUE 4839 WEST IRVING PARK ROAD
In celebration of Chicago's Gas Cen-
tennial the Company has presented to
the people of Chicago a permanent ex-
hibit that tells the STORY OF FLAME
GAS. Designed and built in coopera-
tion with the Museum of Science and
Industry, it presents a complete story
of gas production, transmission and
utilization, which is interesting to visi-
tors of all ages.
Admission to the Museum is free,
and it is open every day of the year
except Christmas Day. Every facility
is in the building including grill and
lunch rooms. Chicago families will
want to see and enjoy the Gas Exhibit
and many other wonderful operating
exhibits covering eight acres of floor
The Story of Flame Gas begins with
A general view of the exhibit showing the STORY OF FLAME GAS. In modern color, lighting and design,
it tells the story of gas from its source to the thousands of uses in home and industry.
its discovery and early history. Some
of the individual features are equipped
with push-button devices enabling the
visitor to see many interesting subjects
demonstrated in actual operation.
The early scientists and engineers who
developed and put gas fuel to work
are pictured in a portion of the
space. Every basic phase, from the
natural gas sources deep in the heart
of Texas to the delivery and use of the
clean blue flame, is shown. Of distinct
interest to both young and old is the
scale model showing the complete sys-
tem of supply — the natural gas pipeline,
the different processes of gas produc-
tion and the distribution system which
criss-crosses Chicago beneath its streets.
The Museurn of Science and Indus-
try j oins with Peoples Gas in inviting all
Chicago and visitors from far and near
to see this newest exhibit at the Mu-
seum, Lake Front at 57th Street.
The exhibit took fourteen months to
produce, from early planning to final in-
stallation. The first six months required
the skills and experience of designers,
architects and artists. Consultation with
engineers >vas continual and varied.
Skilled artisans were called upon for
general construction v/ork and the vari-
ous operating features. Details >vere
carefully developed so that the com-
pleted whole would present a true pic-
ture of the Story of Flame Gas.
Prominently displayed is a large mahogany carv-
ing of Prometheus, first "Keeper of the Flame."
Mythological Prometheus is the symbol of fire as
the oldest servant of man. According to legend,
he supplied mankind with fire token from Mount
A center of attraction is the three-dimensional
pictorama of Chicago's integrated system of gas
supply. Schematic models in vari-colored plastics
take the visitor from the gas fields of Texas, through
the various gas production systems and the final
transmission of gas to homes, shops and factories.
PEOPLES GAS DESIGN
The exhibit was designed and executed by
Peoples Gas Display Department, which also
directs the activities of the Home Planning
Bureau. The photo shows the headquarters
of this service in the Peoples Gas Building.
Here, suggestions and advice on kitchen plan-
ning are given to the public.
The newest type gas holder ("tank" to the layman)
is exhibited in a cut-away model operated by the
Museum visitor. In holders of this design, millions
of cubic feet of gas are confined beneath a mov-
ing plate similar to a piston.
A push-button activates a steel-treating cycle. A
gas burner, similar to thousands used in industry,
heats a strip of metal to a cherry red. It moves
into a water spray, which hardens it by quenching.
It then moves through another burner where a heat
application of shorter duration anneals it.
A gas meter is put into operation. Here one may
see how this simple but accurate measuring device
operates. The outer case is made of transparent
plastic so that the bellows and mechanism are seen
measuring the gas as it flows through.
A gas exhibit would be incomplete without a
modern kitchen. Here, in odvanced styling and
color, is a smart little kitchen with basic planning
and equipment combined to provide cooking com-
fort and convenience.
Special Service Man John
Williams checks the trays
in a gas dryer before ad-
justing the burner.
Close watch on the dials is
kept by John Moloney at
the Division Street Station.
Daniel Kilgallon uses a
special jack to push a
service pipe into position.
Gas House Gang... 1950
(See Inside Front Cover)
Marion Nelson types a list-
ing of customer sales or-
ders of the preceding day. > '
William Trahey sits at one
of the 54 telephone desks
and handles customer or-
ders with courtesy ond
Roger McKnight sets I-
beam in purifier box at
the big Crawford plant.
The flying fingers
of Alma Morgan
add, divide and
subtract figures for
the Accounting De-
John King adjusts valves
on a water gas machine.
John is a gas maker.
Keen eyes and steady
wrists help Francis Kucera
on the job as crane en-
This flame design
typifies the clearly efficient
and highly controllable energy
of the gas flame.
'A'«'»> _ _ ^ •»■••- a. «\^. » - — .«, Mar^