Chicagology (pronounced shə-kä-goh-OL-luh-jee) is a study of Chicago history with a focus on the period prior to the Second World War. The purpose of the site is to document common and not so common stories about the City of Chicago as they are discovered. It is not intended to be a nostalgia site nor to collect info in order to promote services or products of any kind.
Research is a never-ending journey of discovery. Information posted here is constantly being revised with either additional or corrected information. Therefore, the site is in a constant growth and change state. However, browsing through Chicagology is like flipping the pages of a book. You can visit any section or page at random, yet have no difficulty in knowing where you are.
I hope that you enjoy your visit and welcome any input that you want to offer – good or bad. The intent is to provide each visitor with a pleasant ad-free experience and to ignite a flame that discovering history is just as exciting as living it.
1850-1871 Pre-Fire Chicago – A large collection of photographs to recreate a vision of what the city looked like at this time.
1871 Building Directory
1867 Guide for Travelers to Chicago
Chicago Illustrated – The complete collection of engravings and descriptions of 1865 Chicago from the rare 13 volume series published in the Chicago Illustrated portfolios.
The Chicago Magazine – A short-lived publication about Chicago that was published in 1857.
Chicago in 1868
Banks of Chicago – A listing of all the banking establishments before the Great Fire
1871 Chicago Fire – A section devoted to the cause and aftermath of the Great Fire.
1872-1880 Rebuilding of Chicago – A collection of the first buildings built after the Great Fire.
1874 Chicago Fire – The second great fire in Chicago occurred on July 14, 1874.
1881-1900 Golden Age of Chicago – A collection of the buildings that included the dawn of the skyscraper.
Then & Now – A gallery of birds eye views of Chicago from 1893 and present day.
The Paintings of Lawrence C. Earle – The mural paintings in the Chicago National Bank building.
Picturesque Chicago – An embedded gallery of line drawings depicting Chicago in the mid 1880’s
Albert Fluery – Paintings of Chicago
Odd-Fellows Building – The tallest building in the city that was never built.
Robinson’s Fire Atlas – A selection of pages from the Robinson’s Fire Atlas
First New York to Chicago Telephone Call
The Spirit of Progress
The Great Automobile Race of 1895 – The story of the first automobile race in America
1890-1935 Chicago Building Statistics – A chart showing the number of commercial structures that were built each year.
1892 Street Types in Chicago – 1892 character study by photographer Sigmund Krausz.
1893 World’s Fair – The biggest event of the 19th century was held in Chicago and the White City was born.
The Great Race of 1895
1896 Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show – A detailed description of this popular show that opened the first Coliseum on June 1, 1896.
1908 Burlington Grain Elevator Fire
1909 Chicago Facts – A contemporary listing of Chicago’s accomplishments.
1909 Plan of Chicago – The Burnham Plan is an essay, principally authored by Daniel Burnham in 1909, entitled The Plan of Chicago. The essay was written in response to a request by the city’s social and business upper crust for a detailed city plan.
1909 Selfridge’s of London
1910 Chicago – Article that was originally published in the 1912 booklet by the Illinois Central Railroad, “Chicago and the Tourist.” Embellished with period photographs of downtown Chicago.
State Street in 1910 – Article published in the Chicago Examiner in 1910 about the booming department store industry on State Street.
1914 Chicago Automobile Show
1916 Chicago Automobile Show
1917 Flag of Chicago – A short history and the meaning of the official flag of Chicago
1921 Pageant of Progress
1922 Pageant of Progress
1923 Chicago Riding Club
1930 Chicago Artists
1932 Chicago Architecture-Is It Beautiful?
1932 Randolph Street Development Proposal
1933 Century of Progress World’s Fair – The second World’s Fair held in Chicago celebrated her first hundred years.
1933 Aida – A special performance of Aida at Soldiers’ Field.
1940 The New Deal – Article from the Chicago Tribune detailing the buildings lost to the wrecking ball due to the 1933 New Deal.
Baseball – Take a trip to a bygone era where the Cubs were called the White Stockings and had to miss two seasons because a fire in 1871 destroyed their uniforms.
Bicycling – Before the automobile, the bicycle was the new mode of individual transportation and Chicago played a major role.
Biographical essays on some of the first pioneers of Chicago.
Breweries of Chicago
Camp Douglas – A Civil War prison of war camp that at one time was the setting of an event that could have changed the outcome of the war.
Central Manufacturing District – The story of the first planned manufacturing district in the United States.
Cemeteries – Chicago is the home to four of the oldest cemeteries in a large city.
Chicago, Second City and Windy City Origins
Explanations to why Chicago is called “Chicago” and how she got labeled as the “Windy City”.
Chicago Geography – Articles about the street numbering logic as well as who her early streets were named after and why.
Chicago Street Numbering
Alleys and Gangways
Chicago Street Names
Chicago Street Name Changes
Development of the Superhighway System
Avondale Superhighway System
1908 Michigan Avenue Tunnel Proposal
Wacker Improvement Plan
Motor Exits Out of Chicago
Agatite Street Name Mystery
Prairie Avenue – Millionaire’s Row
Ashland Boulevard – Asphalt pioneer
Samuel E. Gross, Real Estate Promoter
1891 Travel Times to Chicago
Chicago Courthouses – A brief history of the seven Chicago courthouses.
Chicago Fire Department – A brief history of the Chicago Fire Department.
Chicago Golf Club – A brief history of the one of the most important golf clubs in the United States
Chicago Harbor – A detailed description of the activity in Chicago’s harbor in its peak from 1872 to 1884.
1897 Obstruction Report on the Chicago River
Dearborn Street Bridge 1880
Chicago River Bridges in 1913 – An article written by By J. B. Strauss of the Strauss Bascule Bridge Company
South Branch Bridges
North Branch Bridges
Main Channel Bridges
1863 Rush Street Bridge Incident
Michigan Avenue Bridge
Chicago Libraries—A brief sketch of some of the libraries in Chicago written in 1895.
Chicago in Literature
Chicago Park System Development
Chicago Police – A brief history of the early years of the Chicago Police Department.
Chicago Police Firsts
Chicago Police Stars
Chicago Automobile License Pins
Captain Francis O’Neill – A Chicago cop during the last quarter of the 19th century was also the foremost expert on Irish songs.
Captain John Collins
Detective Clifton Wooldridge – Chicago’s Sherlock Holmes.
History of the Ford Squads
Detective Bureau History
Police Car Radio
Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory
A Day With Our Mounted Police – A reprint of an article from the November 1921 issue of Fort Dearborn Magazine.
1911 Traffic Congestion
Chicago Post Office History
Chicago Public School System Early History
The Chicagoan – Covers of the short run The Chicagoan social magazine that was published in 1926
Corporate Chicago – Brief corporate histories of a few of the many large corporations that started in Chicago.
First National Bank of Chicago
Jewel Tea Company
Lyon & Healy
Marshall Field & Company
Rand McNally & Co.
R. R. Donnelley & Sons
Sears, Roebuck and Co
Western Electric Hawthorne
Yellow Cab Company
Fort Dearborn – The fort that started it all.
Newspapers – A complete family tree directory of all the Chicago Newspapers. Organized by each successive owner by date.
Notorious Chicago – A collection of some popular and some unpopular stories that made up Chicago’s notorious past.
1860—The Lady Elgin Disaster
1893—Henry Mudgett Murders
1893—Carter Harrison Sr Murder
1896-1909—The First Ward Ball
1897-1917—The Levee District
1897—Sausage Vat Murder
1899—The Coughlin Ballads
1903—Iroguois Theatre Fire
1910—Union Stockyards Fire
1915—The Eastland Disaster
1915—The Eastland Disaster Motion Picture
1924—Leopold & Loeb
1924—Beulah Sheriff Annan & Belva Gaertner
1939—Car Barn Bandits
Opera in Chicago – A brief history of Chicago’s own opera companies.
Civic Opera House – A description of the new Civic Opera House written at the time of its opening in 1929.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra – A short history on the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Orchestra Hall, written in 1929 by CSO conductor Frederk Stock.
Population & Ward Maps – A complete set of charts that indicate each ward’s boundaries during Chicago’s early years.
Population & Annexation
1837 Ward Map
1847 Ward Map
1853 Ward Map
1863 Ward Map
1869 Ward Map
1876 Ward Map
City Limits & Ward Map 1835-1869
Railroads and Aviation – Chicago’s railroad boom was also the home of the General Time Convention which established the four time zones. Afterwards, Chicago became a major airline hub.
Chicago: The Greatest Railway Center in the World
Chicago’s Railroad Stations
Chicago Railways Company Routes
North Chicago Street Railroad Company
West Chicago Street Railroad Company
Chicago, Joliet & St. Louis Electric Railway
Chicago Burlington & Quincy
Chicago & Northwestern Railway
Chicago’s Elevated Railroad
Chicago Railway System in 1884>
Chicago and South Side Rapid Transit Railroad Company
Union Loop Nuisance
The Grand Crossing
Chicago Surface Lines
Chicago Tunnel Company
State Street Subway
Chicago Midway Airport
Chicago Aviation Center
1910 Aviation Carnival
1911 Aviation Show
1933 American Air Race
Raising Chicago – Article describing how the citizens of Chicago got its town out of the mud.
Seal of Chicago – A brief description of the Seal of Chicago.
Silent Movie and Radio Capital – Chicago was briefly the silent movie capital of the country.
Balaban & Katz’s Movie Palaces
The Adventures of Kathlyn
At Old Fort Dearborn & Pioneer Days
Electrical Show of Chicago
Chicago Movie Film Firsts
Selig’s Pointers on Acting
Wilding Picture Productions
Burton Holmes Films, Inc.
In Old Chicago
Radio Growth in Chicago
Sporting Goods Capital – With names like Spalding, Wilson, Brunswick, Schwinn, and Kiefer, Chicago has been home to many of the most recognizable brands in sporting goods manufacturing.
Tallest Buildings – Tables that show the history of the tallest buildings in the United States and Chicago
Theatres of Chicago – A comprehensive list of the the theatres and music houses that existed in pre-1900 Chicagp.