Saturday, December 13, 2008
This is not really a crime scene, but relevant for Chicago historical research. Although Chicago 's city planners developed the city on an orderly grid of streets, the naming and numbering of those streets was haphazard until the 1880s. There were many cases of multiple streets with the same name, streets that changed name between blocks, and the numbering system was idiosyncratic to each street.
In the 1880s, North-South streets on the Southside were renumbered according to the street numbers. For example, 5200 S. Blackstone would be located at the corner of Blackstone and 52nd St. Later, in 1909, Northside streets were uniformly numbered as well. Finally, in 1911, State and Madison was declared the "origin" -- the zero North/South and zero East/West point -- for the city, and Loop streets were renumbered as well. This numbering system, developed and tirelessly lobbied for by Edward P. Brennan, remains today, making Chicago perhaps the easiest large city in the U.S. to navigate.
The photo above is at 915 N. Dearborn. Before 1909, this property would have been numbered 285 Dearborn, and the remains of that old number are still visible.
A directory of the 1909 and 1911 changes can be found through the Chicago Historical Society here (1909) and here (1911). Changes to street names can be found here.