Section 35.39.14 And S.E. 1/4 Sec 34.39.14 [Chicago]


One of Chicago’s oldest green spaces, and the future site of Burnham Park.

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This fabulously detailed map of several city blocks in Chicago’s Douglas neighborhood was published in response to the devastating fire that rampaged through the city between October 8-10, 1871. Elisha Robinson, its creator, was one of the numerous publishers who issued atlases specifically for the fire insurance industry. In order to properly assess risk, insurers needed information on building size, construction material, and the availability of water. Surveys were painstakingly performed, usually on foot, and the results are among the most complete snapshots of the city’s physical makeup in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In theory, every single building that existed at the time of publication is outlined within the borders of the map. Color was applied by stencil and shows the construction material of each structure; pink is brick, yellow is wood, brown is stone, and blue is iron. Crosses on a building footprint indicate its use as a stable, or otherwise likely to hold combustible materials. Water and sewer lines, street elevation (which affects the flow), fire hydrants, and cisterns are also all noted.

The image is bounded by Grand Boulevard (Martin Luther King Drive), the city limits at Pershing Road, 35th Street, and Lake Michigan. It depicts an affluent neighborhood clustered around Ellis Park, established in 1855. Brick buildings, several with stone facades, line paved streets nearest to the park, but as one moves towards the lake (and railroad), the composition changes. Numerous locations of interest are labeled, including Cottage Grove School, several churches, a skating rink, St. Joseph’s Orphan Asylum, and a malt house.

The map was issued as plate 22 from Volume I of Robinson’s Fire Insurance Atlas. Published in Chicago by Elisha Robinson in 1886.

Map Details

Publication Date: 1886

Author: Elisha Robinson

Sheet Width (in): 32

Sheet Height (in): 22.3

Condition: C

Condition Description: Heavy damp staining mars the center and lower portions of the map, evident in the scan. Otherwise the sheet is lightly toned and brittle, consistent with age. Numerous repairs on the verso with archival tape. Several small tears around the edges are confined to the margins. Fair condition overall.


1 in stock