Sadly, there are too few streetscape photos from before the Great Fire of 1871 to be able to stitch together a comprehensive picture of early Chicago. The best we can hope for are hand-drawn map overlays. And, voila!, the Smithsonian has done just that. Using a pocket map from an 1868 guidebook plotting the city grid, lot divisions, and building footprints during boom time, Smithsonian Mag fashioned a lens overlay atop a modern-day satellite map. There was a surprising amount of urban development by 1868, already fanning out into the Near West, Near South, and Near North Sides, and along Milwaukee Ave as far as Western. But the coolest revelation of the lens feature is reached by dragging it up and down the waterfront to see how much landfill has been added in a century-and-a-half— most dramatic in the Loop and South Loop.
·What Did Chicago Look Like Before the Great Fire? [Smithsonian Mag]
·Interactive Smithsonian Map Shows What City Looked Like Before the Great Chicago Fire [Huff Po]
·Cool Map Thingy Posts [Curbed Chicago]