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

 3. Northeast Cook County: From the Rees Map, 1851


Until 1850 most maps of the area had been produced in the east, like map 2, but from now on they will be Chicago work. Around the 1820’s, the U.S. system of land survey, using range-lines and township-lines to form a great pattern of squares, had been spreading up from the south-west part of the state. By the 1830’s, it had reached the Chicago area in the form shown on this map.

Notice the names and shapes of the new townships: New Trier, Niles, Jefferson and so on. Notice too the irregular intrusions of lands reserved for Indians, including particularly the Ouilmette Reservation. Comparing Niles Township with Jefferson Township, it will be seen that the former is incom­plete, or fractional. It is truncated along its top edge, and this feature will enable us to identify it easily on future maps.

We can position ourselves in relation to the previous maps by identifying the Indian Boundary Line. There are several diagonal roads emerging from the grow­ing city of Chicago. The most prominent of these is marked Plank road which would later become Milwaukee Avenue. The fashion for plank roads reached the United States from Russia via Canada, but fell away after 1850. Notice too, the brand new Chicago and Galena Union Rail Road running west­wards into the prairies. It would soon be joined by many other lines as Chicago became a great rail center.





James H. Rees, Map of the Counties of Cook and DuPage (Chicago, 1851).
Chicago Historical Society.

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

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