The Standard Guide to Chicago for the Year 1891


Comprehensive guide to Chicago on the verge of the World’s Columbian Exposition.

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The Columbian Exposition held at Chicago’s Jackson Park in 1893 is one of the most iconic events in the (relatively short) history of the great city. Less than 25 years after a devastating fire destroyed much of it’s center, Chicago rapidly rebuilt to become a frontrunner (along with New York City and St. Louis) to host a World’s Fair to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival to the New World. Congress selected Chicago as the site in 1890, and although the start date was pushed back until 1893, there remained a tremendous amount of work to be done by the time this guidebook was issued.

Nonetheless, its contents ensure the reader will have plenty to see in addition to the fair and includes numerous photographs, descriptions, historical summaries, and more. Emphasis is clearly on the commercial opportunity and rapid growth of the city, with the tone set by a quote on the title page: “Not in the Arabian Nights Entertainments, though bathed in all the glorious colorings of Oriental fancy, is there a tale which surpasses in wonder the plain, unvarnished history of Chicago.”

Accompanying the book is a large folding map of the city of Chicago, notable for its inclusion of the two potential locations where a fair might be held – downtown or further south in Jackson Park. Also of interest is the inclusion of the “Little Town of Fernwood near the southern city limits, which has refused to become annexed to the city.” (It was annexed the same year of publication).

Both the map and the book were created by John J. Flinn. Published in Chicago by Flinn and Sheppard in 1891.

Map Details

Publication Date: 1891

Author: John Flinn

Sheet Width (in): See Description

Sheet Height (in): See Description

Condition: B+

Condition Description: 544 pp. guidebook, approximately 5" x 6.5", with 24 pages of contemporary advertisements, bound in original gilt red cloth covers. Contents are brittle and chipped, but the binding remains strong and in good condition overall. Includes numerous photographs, charts, and views, as well as a folding map in the back pocket that measures approximately 19.6" x 27.1" and in good condition, with creasing along fold lines and small holes at fold intersections.


1 in stock