Chicago: Past, Present, Future.


Chicago boosterism at its finest, just before the Great Fire.

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Chicago’s favorable geographic location is one of the several reasons why it was one of the fastest-growing cities on the planet in the second half of the 19th century. Access to two major water networks via the Mississippi and Great Lakes, large western prairies perfect for railroad construction, and easily accessible commodities in the nearby farms, forest, and mines of the upper Midwest went a long way towards helping Chicago earn the title of America’s ‘Second City.’ Some of the growth, however, was prompted by loud choruses praising the economic and industrial opportunities available, due in large part to the aforementioned advantages and healthy flow of capital.

According to the Encyclopedia of Chicago, “Nowhere else in the United States did booster rhetoric rise to such brassy grandiloquence. Of the countless speeches and tracts that boomed Chicago’s prospects, few outstripped the hyperbolic optimism of the thick volume Chicago: Past, Present, Future, subtitled Relations to the Great Interior, and to the Continent, first published in 1868 by John S. Wright.”

This is the second edition of Wright’s famous tract, published in a limited issue of 500 copies in 1870 for overseas distribution by the Chicago Board of Trade. Apart from the flowery, often bombastic, text, the volume includes numerous charts, tables of statistics, and a fold-out titled “Railway Map of the Middle and Western States by Gaylord Watson.”

The image includes the upper United States between the Atlantic seaboard and the Rocky Mountains and highlights Chicago’s location as a center of geography, transportation, and western expansion.


Map Details

Publication Date: 1870

Author: John Wright

Sheet Width (in): See Description

Sheet Height (in): See Description

Condition: A

Condition Description: Second edition. Professionally rebound with new marbled boards, quarter leather spine, new endpapers, and small paper repairs. 432 pp. + 6 pages of acknowledgements to the Chicago Board of Trade and fellow citizens. Includes a fold-out map that measures approximately 22.5" x 12.4" with very light spotting and a small tear on the right (binding) edge, professionally repaired. Very good to near fine overall.


1 in stock