I don’t normally give vintage maps that I’ve digitally restored their own blog post, but this one is just too amazing not to share in full detail. It’s an absolutely stunning bird’s-eye view of central Chicago in 1898 – just one year after the opening of the elevated Union Loop – and it has some of the most intricate detail that I’ve ever seen in one of these maps. Every building, factory, railroad station, streetcar, train, horse, tree and lamp post in the city seems to be shown with absolute precision and clarity.
Prints for sale from $29 Zoomable Preview of Map
It helps that the original map (sourced from the Library of Congress maps collection) is huge, measuring some 37 inches high by 57 inches wide. It’s so large that I suspect that the original engraving was done on multiple separate metal plates that were then joined together on the press for printing: there are areas where the linework abruptly ends at an edge or doesn’t quite line up with what’s next to it. Here’s a few of my favourite details from the map:
Dearborn Station (built 1885) with its original steeply-pitched clock tower and headhouse roofs. The main building still survives as office and retail space, while the land once occupied by the main shed and yard is now Dearborn Park.
The elevated Madison/Wells station, demolished in 1994 along with the adjacent Randolph/Wells to be replaced by the current Washington/Wells station. Note the extensive connecting streetcar services, including multiple car trainsets.
The elevated wye at Van Buren and Wabash streets, with the original State/Van Buren station (closed 1973, demolished 1975, rebuilt and reopened as Harold Washington Library – State/Van Buren in 1997) at the top of the image and the old Congress/Wabash station (demolished 1949) to the left. Streetcars running along Wabash underneath the El can be seen.
Restoration of this map included piecing together the four separate parts of the original map as best as possible, a lot of age spot cleaning and cloning and the usual brightening and sharpening of the scan.