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Excerpt from: Chicago Antiquities  Henry H. Hurlbut  1875
French trappers, Native Americans, soldiers, and new pioneer settlers from out east, all
huddled in a dinky log cabin playing carom games? Boy, what a scene that must have been.
One can only imagine what a good photograph from inside that room would have looked like.

Unfortunately though, the author gave no real indication as to who might have built the shanty.
Nor are we told whom the billiard table actually belonged to or where the table came from. So
in a sense, the table's mere presence at all conjures up more questions than it answers.

Was it
really the very first table in Chicago? We may never really know for certain, but it sure
does look that way given the primitive state of the town at the time. (and it's unlikely that any of
the other fledgling businesses had space to spare for a 12 foot table)

Ironically though, billiard tables were probably still illegal in Illinois at the time. Which might
explain why it wasn't located inside someone's hotel or tavern, but rather in an "out-building"
away from the other businesses. (a southern tradition) But on the other hand, Chicago was a
somewhat wild frontier town, where certain rules and etiquette handed down from the zealots
out east did not apply. Most certainly billiards was the least of their sins.

First table or not, we
can conclude, however, that billiard games have been enjoyed in Chicago
for at least 180 years now. Some things never change :)
The First Billiard Hall In Chicago

"... a little, low, log shanty.."

The three-million-people-strong metropolis that is now Chicago
first began taking shape as an actual town almost 200 years ago,
with just a handful of people, a few log cabins and some teepees
at the mouth of  the
Chicago River.  

The new town's strategic location on both the river and Lake
Michigan made it an ideal rest and supply point for natives,
soldiers, trappers, travelers, new settlers and canal builders. So
trading posts, hotels and taverns were primarily the first
commercial buildings to appear.

From the Encyclopedia of Chicago:
The first three taverns, Caldwell's Tavern (built by James
Kinzie), the Miller House, and Mark Beaubien's tavern, soon
known as the Sauganash Hotel, arose at Wolf's Point at the fork of
the Chicago River during 1829 and 1830.

The illustration and narrative (excerpt) below describe the lay of
the land at the time and provide an interesting profile of who and
what was going on during the early years of Chicago, including
the appearance of the first billiard room in town.