The Christmas Tree Ships

Chicago may not have an ocean, but we do have Lake Michigan. We are a maritime city. This is one day to remember that tradition, with the story of the Christmas Tree ships.

Around the turn of the 20th Century, the German custom of decorating Christmas trees was taking hold in Chicago. The closest evergreen forests were in northern Wisconsin and upper Michigan.

Each November a few lake schooners loaded up with trees and sailed them down to Chicago. Customers would come over to the Clark Street dock, go aboard a ship, and select their tree. It was fun way for city families to get into the holiday spirit.

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