Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Map of Chicago's Gangland

On my recent visit to the Newberry Library, I walked into the Hermon Dunlap Smith Center for the History of Cartography. It was not clear whether the public is welcome there but the room was unlocked. On a large table under glass was a copy of A Map of Chicago's Gangland from Authentic Sources. This is a tounge-in-cheek map from 1931 "designed to inculcate the most important principles of piety and virtue in young persons and graphically portray the evil and sin of large cities."

This map romanticizes the prohibition era and Al Capone style gangsters with details showing events from gang wars, neighborhoods such as Little Sicily, bootleggers, auto theft, Mrs. O'Leary's cow, a lawyer running to spring his client and machine gunners from Detroit arriving for "Post-Graduate work," and a scale of murders, instead of miles. Gangland killings are marked with skulls and crossbones. Here is a detail of the area around the Newberry.
The map can be seen in greater detail at the Encyclopedia of Chicago.

Note the cartographic and cultural differences between a 1931 gangster map and the current map.

5 comments:

After the Siren said...

That's a great map, Dug! Thought you might be interested to see that the State Library of New South Wales has a map of Sydney that stylistically looks a lot like the Chicago gangland map. It was created in 1932 to commemorate the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge: http://acms.sl.nsw.gov.au/album/albumView.aspx?itemID=887556&acmsid=0

Dug said...

That is really cool!

Alexander James said...

this is trade marked by someone I presume? Great inspiration for a board game!

After the Siren said...

Another map that is in the same ballpark is the 'Wonderground' map of London's underground railway system from 1914: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-25551751

Dug said...

Thanks for the suggestion - now it's a blog post!
http://mapoftheweek.blogspot.com/2014/12/the-wonderground-map.html