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Mapping Chicagoland at the University of Chicago Library

By Greg Fleming, University of Chicago Library

Mapping Chicagoland. Coming Soon from the University of Chicago Library, the Newberry Library and the Chicago History Museum.

The University of Chicago Library, the Newberry Library and the Chicago History Museum were awarded an National Endowment for the Humanities grant in April 2022, for a project to digitize and display over 4,000 maps of the Greater Chicago area. This project is being led by Cecilia Smith of the University of Chicago, who was Maps and GIS Librarian at the time of the award. The project will scan over 4,000 maps from the collections of the three institutions and make them available on the University of Chicago Library site and through the BTAA Geoportal.

The University of Chicago Library is contributing maps from 1853-1940. This includes maps produced by its Social Science Research Committee, many of which have already been digitized, as well as map publishing companies, such as Rand McNally, transportation and utility companies and civic institutions. The maps cover social, urban, and economic features such as land use, parks, and urban planning.
[Columbian Exposition, 1893].
The Newberry Library’s contribution includes land valuation, real estate, and fire insurance atlases, as well as railroad and other city maps. Many maps that are in atlases will be scanned and made available as separate entries in the collection.

Chicago Terminal Transfer Railroad Co. map showing property of railroads in the business center of Chicago / Bradley & Poates, engrs., N.Y. Newberry Library

The Chicago History Museum map collection includes maps of Chicago as early as 1812 and many maps from Rufus Blanchard, one of the city’s first map publishers. These maps show the growth of the city’s area, population and urban features.

The scanning is approximately fifty percent complete and georeferencing work has begun. The project is scheduled to be completed in the Fall of 2024. 

Greg Fleming is the Business and Economics Librarian and interim Map Librarian at the University of Chicago Library.