HAMMOND (598.5 alt., 83,048 pop.) is in the extreme northwest corner of the Calumet region and merges with Chicago on Indianapolis Boulevard. The Grand Calumet River traverses the city from east to west, and Wolf Lake is partly within the corporate limits. The width of a street separates Hammond from Calumet City, Illinois, and it is only two blocks from the dividing line to the heart of Hammond's business district, at State Street and Hohman Avenue. When Calumet City was incorporated in 1893, nine years after Hammond was advanced to the rank of city, the effect was to place a part of what was considered Hammond proper in a city of another State. There are few landmarks in Hammond reminiscent of the past. A network of railway tracks in the downtown commercial district dominates the scene, cutting diagonally through the principal streets. Traffic in the shopping district often waits for a train to pass.
A slaughterhouse, built in 1869, was the beginning of industry in Hammond. Previously called Hohman for an early settler, then State Line, because of its geographical location on the Indiana-Illinois Line, Hammond was finally named in honor of George H. Hammond, a Detroit butcher, founder of the local slaughterhouse and originator of refrigeration of dressed beef for shipment. When the Davis brothers, of Detroit, invented a refrigerator box to ship fish in good condition from Lake Huron and Lake Superior to Detroit, it occurred to Hammond that dressed beef might be transported in the same way, with great economy as compared to the old method of shipping live cattle. He organized a company and in 1869 bought the site where the original slaughterhouse was erected.
With the establishment of the packing plant, butchers, carpenters, and laborers came to the community. The coming of the Erie and Nickel Plate Railroads in 1882 and the Monon in 1883 helped to develop Hammond. As a result it was incorporated as a city in 1884, and by 1900 it was a lively city of 12,000. In 1901 the packing plant was destroyed by fire, and thousands of families moved away. However, in 1903 and 1904 other factories began to arrive and Hammond again expanded, new factories being built even during the panic of 1907. The industrial growth of the entire Calumet region has contributed to the increased importance of this city since 1910.