William Ogden was a well known entrepreneur in the Chicago area in the 1800’s. He was born in Walton, New York in June of 1805.. He spent his early life in the New York area. He served one term in the New York State Assembly in 1835.
He relocated to Chicago in 1835 and soon was involved in multiple projects. He was a promoter and an investor in the Illinois Michigan Canal. He developed the first swing bridge on the Chicago River. He served one term as Chicago mayor 1837 to 1838.
As one of the members of the Chicago Land Company, he pushed for purchase of a parcel of land east of the North Branch of the Chicago River near North Avenue in 1853. Initially, the land was used as a source of clay for brick manufacture. Ultimately, a channel was dug arising in the North from the Chicago River and extending South to again join the river. The canal was completed in 1857. It was 50 feet wide and 10 feet deep. This project resulted in a man made island called Goose Island.
As a principle in the Chicago Canal and Dock Company, he was responsible for development of Ogden’s slip. This is a boat slip paralleling the Chicago River on the north.
Ogden shifted his interest from water transportation to railroad. He helped to establish a railroad link to the North Branch Chicago River. He was instrumental in creating the Galena and Chicago Union Line. He served on the board of the Missippi and Missouri R.R. For a time, he was president of the Union Pacific RR.
In 1871, he lost most of his property in the Chicago Fire. He relocated to New York. He died on August 3, 1877.