Chicago as a Trading Post
During the 18th and 19th centuries, Chicago evolved from being merely a portage for the fur trade canoes, to the site of an important trading post. Jean Baptist Pont Du Sable, a merchant of mixed African and French parentage, was the first to appreciate the business value of Chicago. By 1779, he had established a successful trading post in cooperation with the Potawatomi Indians, who lived along the North Branch of the Chicago River. Other fur traders followed, and by the 1820s Chicago was the most successful trading area on Lake Michigan.