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

 5. Niles Township: From the Flower Map, 1861


This map of 1862 brings out the characteristically truncated shape of the Niles township, and shows how the land was quite early divided into small lots.  In the south, we can still see the reserves granted to Billy Caldwell, Victorine Potier and Jane Miranda. Much of this land seems to have fallen into private hands. The Chicago River can still be seen meandering across the western end of the township. The Indian Boundary Line is also still visible.

Notice that virtually all the north-south roads derive from the Indian trails shown on map 1 (Gross Point Road and Niles Center Road). The new east-west roads follow the line of the U.S. government survey.  Today these are called Golf Road, Oakton Street and Touhy Ave­nue. In 1861 only one ran all the way across the township from east to west, and it was then called Mecklenberger Road.

This might lead us to expect to find a lot of German names along the lots by Mecklenberger Road, but on the whole this is not the case. We are rather surprised to find that most of the lot-holders seem to have English names. Notice in parti­cular, though, the large lot held by H. Harms in section 28. This German settler would become in some sense the “father” of the village called Niles Center, though as yet there is little sign of this urban center emerging.





Detail from Walter Flower, Map of Cook County (Chicago c. 1861). 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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