Map of Chicago; Showing the Parks, Boulevards and Burnt District


Impactful image of the devastation wrought by the 1871 Great Fire in Chicago.

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On many 19th century maps of Chicago, a soft green color is used to denote the city’s excellent system of connected parks and boulevards. On this example, published in 1871 by Colber & Chamberlain, that same shade is used to mark the 2,124 acres destroyed by fire from October 8-10.

The flames started in the southwest but jumped the river in several spots, fueled by strong winds and dry conditions. According to the publishers, “The so-called “Burnt District,” a map of which appeared in virtually every account of the fire, encompassed an area four miles long and an average of three-quarters of a mile wide, including over 28 miles of streets, 120 miles of sidewalks, and over 2,000 lampposts, along with countless trees, shrubs, and flowering plants in a place that liked to call itself “the Garden City of the West.” Gone were some 18,000 buildings and $200 million in property, about a third of the valuation of the entire city.”

In addition to the material cost, the fire killed approximately 300 people and left a further 100,000 homeless in the face of an advancing Chicago winter.

Map Details

Publication Date: 1871

Author: Colbert & Chamberlin

Sheet Width (in): 10.00

Sheet Height (in): 15.60

Condition: B+

Condition Description: Creasing along originally issued fold lines and a narrow left margin. Very good to excellent overall.