Street Smart Chicago

Museum review: Mapping Chicago: The Past and the Possible

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Ah, the map: one of the most underrated of all directional tools, faced with the undesirable future of forever being locked in the glove compartment by angry fathers who would rather find themselves trampled beneath their own tires than be forced to consult the handy square of fold-out paper. Fortunately, Chicago has remedied the situation by throwing the “Festival of Maps” celebration, which includes the new “Mapping Chicago: The Past and the Possible” exhibit at the Chicago History Museum. Visitors can find all sorts of—you guessed it!—maps, ranging from guides from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition to potential venue layouts for the 2016 Olympics. Other highlights include a bird’s-eye view of downtown Chicago circa 1857, where in the place of skyscrapers you can see houses and trees dotting familiar pathways like Rush Street and Chicago Avenue; there’s also maps charting ethnic settlements, a map of trails, trader points and Indian settlements from 1835 and a beautiful drawing of a proposed view of Grant Park by Jules Guerin, 1909, in which a pair of towering lighthouses overlook a smattering of colorful sailboats, flocked together like geese in a large inlet of water bordering Chicago’s busy downtown streets.  Also on display are a number of (surprisingly competent) children’s artworks, as well as nearly a hundred globes—most of which can be found hanging from the ceiling—supplied courtesy of Replogle Globe Company. (Sean Redmond)

“Mapping Chicago: The Past and the Possible” shows at the Chicago History Museum, 1601 North Clark, (312)642-4600.

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