Before Barack Obama, only one U.S. President had called Chicago home. As a boy, Ronald Reagan lived on the first floor of the building at 832 East 57th Street.
The Reagans moved into their apartment in January of 1915. They’d come to the city from the western Illinois village of Tampico. Jack Reagan, Ronald's father, got a job selling shoes in the Loop. His wife, Nelle, stayed home with the two boys, 6-year-old Neil and little Ron–called “Dutch”–who was going on 4.
The University of Chicago was a few blocks east, but the area where the Reagans settled wasn’t fashionable. Nor was the building–their flat was lighted by a single gas lamp, which operated when a quarter was deposited in a timer. They probably picked the location for its easy access to the Cottage Grove streetcar line.
After living in tiny Tampico, Chicago was a brave new world for Dutch Reagan. He was excited to see all the people and activity. When a horse-drawn fire engine clanged by his apartment window, he decided there could be no finer profession than Chicago fireman.
All was not pleasant for Dutch. He came down with bronchial pneumonia and nearly died.