Interesting Urbana City Codes from 1898

Seal of the City of Urbana, Ill.Most of us have pondered what things were like before we were born. Luckily for these people, we have city ordinances! This post looks at what the city laws were like for Urbana in 1898. I have chosen to feature ordinances that may be worded strangely, are oddly specific, or just seem like plain common sense.

Usually, when we do this series, I link to the city code’s current equivalent from Municode. For these ordinances, there are no longer close matches within the existing code; however, there are still several codes that deal with hazardous situations and misdemeanors.  

These codes have been taken from Revised Ordinances of the City of Urbana, Illinois, 1898.

Chapter XIX Fire Limits:
Sec 14. No person shall stack or deposit hay, straw, or other like combustible materials within fifty feet of any dwelling house or other building in which fire may be kept, without being so secured and enclosed as to protected from sparks of fire; and every person who shall violate the provisions of this section shall be subject to a penalty of not less than three dollars nor more than ten dollars for each and every offense; and also not less than two nor more than ten dollars for each and every forty-eight hours the said hay, straw, or other combustible material may remain so stacked or deposited, after notice to remove the same.

Chapter XXX Misdemeanors:
Sec. 14. Whoever shall advertise his wares or occupation by painting notices of the same on or affixing them to fences trees or other private property, or on rocks or other natural objects, without permission of the owner thereof or the proper authorities, shall be deemed guilty of erecting and maintaining a public nuisance and shall be subject to a penalty of not less than five dollars nor more than one hundred dollars.
Author’s Note: Signs on rocks? This does not seem like a very solid idea.

Sec. 20. Whoever shall cut, break, mark, or in any manner damage or injure any telegraph post or telegraph wire, or any telephone post or wire, electric light and streetcar poles or wires, shall be subject to a penalty of not less than five dollars nor more than two hundred dollars.

Sec. 68. No person shall unload, throw or place any coal upon any sidewalk of said city. Whoever shall be guilty of a violation of this section shall be subject to a penalty of not less than two dollars no [sic] more than twenty-five dollars.

Others in the Ordinance series include:
Interesting Ordinances from Urbana, 1916
Interesting Urbana City Codes from 1954
Interesting Ordinances from Champaign, 1975

Shalini Smith
Archives Assistant