Chicago – History Through Maps and Photographs – Part 1 The World Fairs

As we continue to be restricted to any travel the ‘virtual travel’ series is continuing with some history. This posting will detail the history of Chicago through maps and photographs, and take a look at what it looks like now.

 

In 1840 when New York City already had over 300,000 people, Chicago was just starting as a town with just a few thousand. By 1860 is was in the top 10 with over 100,000, and just 30 years later there was 1.1 million people and Chicago was ‘The Second City’, doubling in population from 1880 to 1890.

 

Celebrating Chicago through World’s Fairs

It was around this time that Chicago decided to make it’s presence known on the world stage by hosting a World’s Fair. Local leaders lobbied hard to land the right to host this fair with the federal government, winning out over New York, Washington and St Louis.

The site chosen, Jackson Park, provided the 600 acres required. The lead architect was the famed Daniel Burnham, who was a proponent of the ‘City Beautiful’ movement.

While most of the buildings were designed and built to be temporary, there are a few that remain to this day.

With all of the buildings built in a neo-classical design and painted the same color, it became known as The White City.

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Getting to the Fair

With the incredible growth of the city from the end of the Civil War to 1890, Chicago’s transit struggled to keep up. Initially private companies had built horse drawn trolleys downtown. In 1892 the first of the famed El’s was completed from 39th Street (Pershing Road) to the Loop. The next year the Chicago and South Side Elevated Railway extended this to the fair site at Jackson Park.

The map below dates from the 1930s but clearly shows the line going south before turning left towards the lake, ending at Jackson Park. (Red Lines denote the El). This company failed not long after the fair ended because there was not enough ridership to maintain financial stability, being sold under foreclosure.

Of note this line was originally not electrified, the coaches were pulled by an engine.

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The Chicago History Center has one of the original cars on display.

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Green Line Train today

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Also note the Midway Plaisance connecting Washington Park and Jackson Park (Green strip on map between the parks). This area was the Entertainment section of the park (more on this below).

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Today the Green Line takes a very similar route, although the spur towards the lake only goes to Cottage Grove Avenue, and the southernmost branch is gone.

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As noted in the photo description this is the entrance at the Midway Plaisance.

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The map detail shows some of the highlights of this area, including the famed Ferris Wheel. While there had been a wooden wheel built in Atlantic City in 1891, but it burned down the next year.

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Ferris’s wheel was to be Chicago’s answer to Paris’s Eiffel Tower. It was massive – 264 feet high, with a capacity of 2,160 passengers. So renown was this feature that for many years Ferris Wheel’s were known as ‘Chicago Wheels’

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Today Chicago’s Navy Pier has one that, while impressive, is shorter than the original.

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The Midway Plaisance today serves as a park area next to the University of Chicago. There are a few reminders of the fair.

 

 

The grounds and buildings were magnificent.

 

 

The Palace of Fine Arts was one of the few buildings built to remain after the fair.

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It serves today as the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry

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The Statue of the Republic Was the Centerpiece of the Basin.

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While no longer surrounded by water it is one of the few remaining structures from the fair.

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But Chicago had a second chance at a World’s Fair just 40 years later, when they hosted the Century of Progress, which ran from May 1933 until October 1934, taking the winter off.

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But the city, and world, has had significant change since 1893.

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The Auto Club sponsored ‘Routes’ with fair themed names for automobile travelers to come to the city. In addition they sponsored ‘Motor Villages’, campgrounds and motels on the outskirts of town,.

 

 

Despite the introduction of the automobile, train travel was still the primary way to get to Chicago.

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This Conoco map shows an Illinois Central Railway Station at the entrance to the fair.

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In addition to the station at the fairgrounds entrance, there were another 6 train stations downtown, including the commuter rail stations.

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Today there are 3, two for the commuter rail and Union Station, and even that station is just a portion of what it was.

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Union Station is still very nice, but this grand space above was torn down in 1969.

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Once you were in town the El or streetcar network would take you to where you needed to go.

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El to Fair

 

Including directly to the Fair.

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Welcome to the Century of Progress World’s Fair entrance.

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The skyride took passengers from the main entrance on Columbus Drive to the lake shore. In this photo the Field Museum and the skyline of downtown is clearly visible.

One of the features of the 1933 fair compared to 1893’s is that it was essentially downtown, whereas the Columbian Exposition was a couple of miles south of downtown.

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The 1930s was the height of the Art Deco movement (a favorite of mine), and the advertising for the fair highlighted this.

 

 

The industrialists of the day had major exhibits. GM even built an assembly line.

 

You could see the homes of tomorrow.

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After the fair an investor purchased the homes and moved them by barge to nearby Indiana, and placed them along the lake shore as an attraction to the community he was building.

Time was tough on the homes, but over the last 20 years or so the state of Indiana has sponsored a program where you can lease them for $1 with the stipulation you fix them up (which costs $1m +). The results are fantastic.

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Many Chicago landmarks were part of the fair including Adler Planetarium

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as well as the Field Museum and Soldier Field.

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Chicago has always used their lake shore for the public’s enjoyment, never more so than during the two World’s Fairs. Part 2 of this series in a few days will focus more on the development of the transportation in the city.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virtual Travel – Illinois

Today’s stop – Illinois

1959 – With the Interstate’s recently been started, Illinois was proud to show one of  their’s on the cover. At this time the only freeways in the state were in the Chicago area.

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The Tri-State Tollway was one of the first completed. It was one of the first to built service plaza over the traffic lanes.

 

 

Hinsdale Oasis today

 

 

1961 – Cook County (Chicago) Motor Vehicle Office. From 1900 until 1960 Cook County had the largest population of any county in the United States. It has since been passed by Los Angeles, County, but remains 2nd most populated to this day.

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By 1961 freeways had been built through Chicago to downtown from every direction. This view is the Northwest/AKA – Kennedy Expressway. Amazingly there are reversible express lanes in the middle.

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This view from 2012 looks much the same.

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1968 – Celebrating Illinois’ Sesquicentennial, 150 years of statehood. Who better than Abraham Lincoln for the cover.

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1970 – View of the loop downtown Chicago.

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Jane Byrne Interchange Project, Chicago - Verdict Traffic

 

 

 

1973, 1975 & 1978 – They must have fired the photographer.

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1976 – A tribute to the Native Americans and pioneers. The first European explorers in the region were Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette, which explains the number of French names for towns.

The Native American tribes included the Miami, Winnebago, Fox, Sacs, and of course – the Illinois.

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Cahokia Mounds State Histori Site is the location of a pre-Columbian Native American city that they estimate once had 40,000 residents in the year 1100.

They were, as most tribes in this area, mound builders.

Cahokia Mounds | Enjoy Illinois

 

 

 

1979 – Transportation in Illinois. While Chicago was a center of the early automotive manufacturing by the 1920s much had gone out of business and moved to Detroit.

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Today there are 3 automobile manufacturing facilities in Illinois. The most important is the Chicago Ford Assembly Plant.

This factory is the oldest continually operated factory for Ford.

Ford Chicago Plant Info, Production, Contact, Wiki

 

 

 

 

 

1983 – Frank Lloyd Wright.

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Frank Lloyd Wright had a studio in Oak Park, and design a plethora of fantastic homes and buildings throughout Chicago, and the world.

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1985 – People’s of the Past.

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1987 – Festivals. Chicago has some of the country’s best festivals.

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Chicago Festival

Chicago Summer Music Festivals For Rock, Country and More

 

 

 

1989 – Another year, another Lincoln map.

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World’s largest Lincoln statue. 72′ high, hanging out in a campground.

World's Tallest Abraham Lincoln Statue in Ashmore, Illinois

 

 

1989 – The hill country of Southern Illinois

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1991 – Illinois & Michigan Canal. This canal linked the Illinois River to Lake Michigan, thus providing the first interior route from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.

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When it was in use mules or horses pulled the barges along the canal. (Photo – Chicago Public Library)

 

Today you can rent a longboat and spend a vacation on the canal. (photo – iandmcanal,org)

Water Activities – I & M Canal National Heritage Area

 

 

 

 

1993 – Celebrating Craftmaking.

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1995 – History of Illinois Roads. When the first European settlers began to arrive in larger numbers they made their way inland via ‘traces’. These roads generally followed the Native American paths that had been used for hundreds of years.

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1995 – Showing the Regions of Illinois.

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1997 – Another Lincoln Statue. There are over 200 Lincoln statues in the United States.

This one is in New Salem, Illinois.

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New Salem State Historic Site is a reconstructed town that Lincoln lived in from 1831 to 1837. It was from here he was first elected to public office. (Photo from Wikipedia)

 

 

Once again in the late 90s and early 2000s a state has chosen to have nondescript scenes on their maps.

 

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2005 – War Memorials throughout Illinois.

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2007 & 2011 – Again celebrating the regions of Illinois.

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Chicago is easily the most visited part of the state. The architecture here is second to none.

Some highlights

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2009 – Lincoln Presidential Library      2015 – Lincoln (again)

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Located in Springfield it is an impressive building in a state full of Lincoln tributes.

 

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2013 – Modes of Transportation

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O’Hare Airport in Chicago in 1956 (photo from Airways Magazine). For you airport code trivia fans, most have seen baggage routing tags with ORD for this airport.

It was originally a small airport for a factory known as Orchard Place, and gained that code then. ORchardD.

 

Today

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2015 – Mississippi River Bridge. It can easily be forgotten that there the Mississippi River runs the entire western boundary of Illinois. This bridge connects St Louis with southern Illinois.

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2017 – Our last stop is at a Lincoln Cabin made out of …. Lincoln Logs.

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Chicago – February 2020 – Spring Comes Early at a Flower Conservatory

Lincoln Park and Garfield Park are both city parks in Chicago that have impressive glass conservatories. This time of year both are having their spring flower shows.

We start with Lincoln Park.




































And now it was on to Garfield Park





































Garfield Park’s is larger, with more rooms, including an impressive cacti collection.







































Chicago – February 2020 – Cool and Quirky Cars of the Klermont

Larry Klermont is a 90 year old who made a fortune in real estate in Chicago. With this money Larry started collecting cars, but not until he was in his 70s. His collection is housed in a 100,000 square foot former printing facility (that at one time printed Playboy!).

The collection includes many of the classic, but also a number of cool and quirky cars. As noted on the previous posting this is day 1 with a new point and click camera, so it gave the chance to have many more low angle photos.













































































































Chicago – February 2020 – Incognito Photography

While most of the photos on this blog were taken with a Canon DSLR camera there are times where a large camera doesn’t work, like when you are trying not to be noticed on the streets of a city like Chicago.

The previous ‘point and click’ camera has too many issue, so it was time for a new one – a Canon G5X. This is the first attempt at seeing how it performs in the field. As it is new most photos were taking on ‘Auto’ while learning the additional functions.




































And now for the tougher test – night time.















It does not perform like a SLR, but with some learning it will do the job.







Chicago – October 2019 – Open House V3.0

Late October means it is time for Open House Chicago – our 3rd straight year! As always there were hundreds of volunteers making sure your visit to over 250 buildings went well.



This year ended up having an emphasis on theaters and churches. We started with the Goodman Theater.







Just around the corner is the Nederlander Theater. Built in 1926 and operated for nearly 100 years as the Oriental Theater, it was recently renamed for James Nederlander, the founder of Broadway in Chicago.



It is the most ornate theater I have ever seen.






Our morning of theaters ended with the Lyric Opera Theater.





Chicago was for many years the mail order center of the world, and as such had a massive main post office, located next to Union Station. Today it is being redeveloped into condos.







The Monroe Building is located along South Michigan Avenue. Built in 1912 it has one of the largest collections of Rookwood Pottery tiles in the world.





The Seventeenth Church of Christ is a modern style church located amongst the skyscrapers of Wacker Drive. Completed in 1968, it has a unique look for a church.



For something totally different we made a visit to the Prairie Concrete Company. It is the largest volume concrete dealer in the country, with the capability of creating enough concrete for a 2 car garage every 90 seconds!

This is their only pink cement truck.









The hundred year old Motley School was closed and refurbished into apartments.





Our final stops were churches in Ukranian Village.













Elmhurst, Illinois – October 2019 – Mies at the Museum

The Elmhurst, Illinois Art Museum is located in on a small campus in suburban Chicago. In addition to a couple of galleries, they have a space that local artists continue to work.










We did not however make the trip out to the ‘burbs for the paintings. We were here to see one of the few houses that famed architect Mies Van Der Rohe designed. Designed in 1952, it was moved in the 1990s to the art museum campus.

It is considered one of the classics of mid century modern.



The museum has done their own interpretation of the furnishings and artwork throughout.