Dec. 16, 1803 Southwick Hampden County Massachusetts, USA
May 21, 1897 Chicago Cook County Illinois, USA
Matthew Laflin was an American manufacturer of gunpowder, businessman, philanthropist, and an early pioneer of Chicago, Illinois.
Laflin street in Chicago runs 1500 West from 356 North to 12258 South. It is named for Matthew Laflin (1803-1897).
His father was a manufacturer of gunpowder and Matthew Laflin learned the trade. He was attracted to Chicago because of the construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal and hoped to sell gunpowder to the construction company. The first home in Chicago for Matthew Laflin was at old Fort Dearborn, because no other shelter could be found in the "embryo city."
Early on, he began to purchase real estate and once owned 140 acres of land within the city limits. He bought the land for $300 and lived to see it worth millions. In 1849, he purchased 100 acres of land on the west side, extending eastward from Madison Street and Ogden avenue. Here he built the Bull's Head Hotel. He also built barns, sheds and cattle pens and so established Chicago's first stock yards.
Matthew Laflin built one of the first plank roads, known in those days as the Blue Island toll road. He operated the first omnibus line to carry his hotel patrons to his stock yards and the State Street markets. He also established the first water works system in Chicago by building a pine-log reservoir at Lake Street and the lake shore. Water funneled into the reservoir was distributed through wooden pipes to the city.
His gift to Chicago was a building to house the Academy of Sciences in Lincoln Park. It is called the Matthew Laflin Memorial Building.