Map of Chicago Incorporated as a Town August 5 1833


A historically dubious look at Chicago published a souvenir for the 1933 World’s Fair.

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Dubbed “the Century of Progress,” the 1933 World’s Fair held on Chicago’s lakefront was designed to celebrate the city’s meteoric rise to a global metropolis over a short span of merely 100 years. This map was one of countless souvenirs created for sale at the fair, and highlights (and perhaps exaggerates) the tremendous “progress” experienced by Chicago in the preceding century.

The image shows a small city of only twelve square blocks and the accompanying Fort Dearborn; hemmed in on three sides by the Chicago River. Small vignettes surrounding the map highlight particular contemporary features like the first draw bridge and and one of the earliest churches. The population is listed at 350, and views of State and Water streets (primary commercial thoroughfares in the 1930’s) show a small, scattered assortment of rough frame buildings. Other historic elements, such as the etymology of Chicago, the site of the Fort Dearborn massacre, and the regional topography are also noted.

Despite the view’s apparent authority (Caroline McIlvaine, historical adviser, is credited in the lower left) on the city in 1833, it is misleading in a number of ways. The population of white males may have been approximately 350, but there were numerous people of color, women, children, and Native Americans who would not have been counted in the census. Even in 1833, the city was larger than the 12 square blocks, and as many as 200 buildings were already constructed at the time of incorporation. The historical views are largely lifted directly from published accounts (primarily that of A.T. Andreas) and contemporary interpretations.

Published in 1933 by O.E. Stelzer and Walter Conley, and based off an earlier black & white version, but incorporating several changes presumably proposed by the historical consultant (who is not referenced in the earlier version).

Map Details

Publication Date: 1933

Author: Walter Conley & O.E. Stelzer

Sheet Width (in): 28.00

Sheet Height (in): 20.25

Condition: A

Condition Description: A few extraneous creases from where the map was previously rolled, and the sheet is faintly toned from age. Near fine condition.


1 in stock