Skokie A Community History Using Old Maps

Skokie Historical Society

Chicago Neighborhood History Project

Hermon Dunlap Smith Center for the History of Cartography at the Newberry Library

 1. The Niles Township Area: Natural Vegetation

Around 1830, the area which would become Skokie was mostly covered with forests of oak and hickory, broken here and there by prairie or marsh. To the west was the north branch of the Chicago River. To the east was a large expanse of wet prairie separating our region from the lake shore. Running north-easterly across the landscape was the main Indian trail, leading to Gross Point on Lake Michigan. Other trails linked the area to Fort Dearborn in the south, and to the river crossing at Morton Grove to the west.

In past times the Indians had a few villages in the area. It is likely that some French or French-Indian trappers passed through the area during the 17th and 18th centuries, but in general the European presence was minimal before 1830.

All this would soon change though, and one of the first signs of change was the establishment in 1816 of the Indian Boundary Line. It cuts across the bottom right-hand corner of this First map and will be seen fully on the second one.





This map is a composite based on the General Land Office maps of the 1830's microfilmed by the Bureau of Land Management in 1953.  Albert Scharf, "Indian trails and villages of Chicago ....(1804), and Philip Hunson, "The presettlement vegetation of the plain of the glacial lake Chicago in Cook County, Illinois," Ohio Biol. Survey Biol. Notes, no. 15, pp.159-164.

The Chicago Neighborhood History Project is Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities through the Skokie Public Library. 

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Web design by Jimmy Zhu (Skokie Public Library) and Pat Witry (Skokie Historical Society), 2006