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

 7. Northeast Cook County: Railway Map Detail, 1879


As the railroad spread out across the prairie from Chicago, they created a new type of settlement pattern in the sur­rounding townships. In some areas the dense urban pattern of land use closely followed the right of way creating a string of railroad suburbs. In other areas away from the tracks, the land was used mainly for agricultural purposes. Small rural villages appeared here and there at cross-roads, but settlement would thicken in these areas only with the extension of streetcar routes from the city or, much later, with the wide­spread use of automobiles.

Most of Niles Township in 1879 falls into the rural pattern of land use away from the rail­road lines. Niles Center on the Flower map serves as a good example of a crossroads town. In the 1920’s there would be some attempts to develop Niles Center as a streetcar suburb, but the Great Depression and World War II would delay the housing boom until the 1950’s.





Railway Map of Chicago and Environs (Chicago: R. W. Dobson & George W. Waite, 1879). 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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