The year was 1833. Still nearly four years away from officially being chartered as a city, Chicago consisted of a sparsely populated rural territory with approximately 350 inhabitants. Fresh off of a stint as a carpenter involved in the construction of the Erie Canal, one of the region's early settlers, Willard Jones, migrated from New York and decided to set down roots.

For a mere $200, he purchased several plots of land in the area that today comprises the Central Loop business district of downtown Chicago. Willard proceeded to construct a farm and successfully operated it on this terrain for a number of years.

Chicago was incorporated as a city on March 4, 1837. As the population started to grow and early industry emerged, real estate began to gain in value as early developers looked for ways to utilize land in ways more profitable than agricultural use.

In response to this phenomena, Willard Jones began selling off parcels of his land in 1844 in the surrounding vicinity of what today encompasses Clark Street on the east, LaSalle Street on the west, Monroe Street on the south and Washington Street on the north. On this land, some of the original commercial properties in downtown Chicago were erected and this ultimately planted the seeds for the birth of the Loop business district.

Willard Jones continued to operate a smaller version of his farm in the vicinity of the present day intersection of Clark and Monroe. Amidst the new developments, he needed to maintain a dedicated path for his cows to access a nearby pasture. Therefore, when he sold off these plots of land, he included in the sales deed an easement for cow access. No construction was permitted which would obstruct this "cow path" in any way.

As downtown Chicago began to develop over the upcoming decades, the easement was held legally binding by the Illinois Supreme Court in 1925. When the 22-story office tower known as 100 West Monroe was built on this landsite in 1927, the building had to be built around and over the path. A plaque was placed on the building which read as follows: "Historic Cow Path: This areaway 10 x 177 x 18 feet is reserved forever as a cow path by the terms of the deed of Willard Jones in 1844, when he sold portions of the surrounding property. Erected by Chicago's Charter Jubilee and Authenticated by the Chicago Historical Society, 1937."

This unique bit of Chicago history still exists today.

We proudly pay tribute to Willard Jones with the formation of Willard Jones Real Estate to help bring recognition to his role as one of the pioneers and founding fathers of downtown Chicago commercial real estate.

Willard Jones Farm Plot