The Encyclopedia of Chicago is a landmark historical reference for information on Chicago’s rich past. With its abundant text, photographs, maps, and other archival material, compiled over more than a decade, the Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive treatment of a metropolitan history to date. Despite the size of the book, which runs 1,152 pages, the writing is clear and concise, and the layout is easy to navigate. Produced by the Newberry Library in cooperation with the Chicago Historical Museum, the original plan was to develop a book version and an electronic version simultaneously. Consequently, the book version was published in 2004 by the University of Chicago Press and in 2005, the electronic version was published by the Chicago Historical Society.
Highlights of the Encyclopedia of Chicago include:
* Alphabetized entries cover every topic relevant to Chicago’s history.
* Entries cover each of the 77 community areas.
* National historic landmarks in metropolitan Chicago
* A comprehensive biographical dictionary of prominent Chicagoans
* A directory of leading Chicago businesses from 1820 to 2000
Under the category of Special Features is the Timeline that originates in 1630, when the Illinois Indians traveled from Michigan to settle in northern Illinois. It traces Chicago’s first permanent resident, Jean Baptiste Point de Sable, from Michigan City in 1779, and again at the banks of the Chicago River in 1790. The rest is history.
Encyclopedia of Chicago Online Offers A Unique Interactive Experience
Work on the electronic version of the Encyclopedia of Chicago began during the dawn of the internet. The web offered this project an expansive, dynamic environment in which to chronical and display this epic metropolitan journal. Interactive features allow visitors to zoom in on maps and photographs. Page through Daniel Burnham’s’ groundbreaking 1908 publication, “The Plan Of Chicago” at the touch of a mouse. The Year Pages carry a collage of historical imagery pertinent to the periods. By passing the cursor over a highlighted image and clicking, a dialogue box pops up with more interesting details. Located in the upper left-handed corner of the homepage is the main navigation bar and a search box. The navigation bar is broken down into five sections: Entries, Historical Sources, Maps, Special Features, and User’s Guide. The first three sections open to indexes; either enter a search query or browse. “Historical Sources” features a wide range of dated material: many photographs of the day; the image of a tattered catalogue cover from 1874 for A. Plamondon & Company, advertisements, restaurant menus, publications, and correspondence all focused on life in Chicago. Tare both diverse and packed with information, offering a unique graphic reference to the growth of the city. A map of ancient Indian earthworks, prepared by staff, is a testimony to Chicago’s prehistoric past.
Dig Deeper into the History of Chicago’s 27th Ward on the Web
An initial search of “27th Ward” garnered no results, but it did open up a new avenue of inquiry. Narrowing the search down to the term “Ward” rendered 125 results.The first result is an authored entry entitled “Ward System”, written by staff writer Douglas Knox. Accompanying the article is a map from 1904, which details the population density of the fledgling metropolis by wards. By positioning the map upright, using the tool bar, the 27th ward occupies a large area in the left-hand side of the map. Basically, a ward is defined as a legislative district assigned for the purpose of government representation and allocating city services. While ward boundaries change after every census, neighborhoods and community areas remain relatively stable. There are 77 designated community areas in the metropolitan Chicago. The 27th ward cuts into several, including: East Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Near West Side, Near North Side, and West Town. The Encyclopedia devotes a page to each community area.
The Encyclopedia of Chicago, either in book form or online, should be the first stop for anyone interested in exploring the growth and development of this great city. The user-friendly design makes this wealth of information accessible to scholars young and old.
What do you think about the Encyclopedia of Chicago? Do you prefer the book version or the online version. What do you think about the collaboration of the Chicago Historical Society, the Newberry Library, and the University of Chicago.