Nothing could touch Brokmeyer for as long as St. Louis thrived. In 1871, when a massive fire turned Chicago into a pile of metropolitan ash, Brokmeyer failed to hide his schadenfreude. "Chicago was the completely negative city of our West and indeed of our time," Brokmeyer told the group, "and now she has carried out her principle of negation to its final universal consequence; she has simply negated herself."The census that year showed that Chicago had eclipsed St. Louis in population by 150,000 people. Brokmeyer hired a mathematician at Washington University to dispute the census, but the academic could find no wrong.
Brokmeyer was making bolder and bolder predictions about his adopted city, and St. Louis rose to meet them. The city's harbor was second only to New York. Already, between 1820 and 1860, the population had grown seven times over. Meanwhile, he spent the latter years of the decade as Missouri's lieutenant governor.
And then came 1880.
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