Chicago and the Century of Progress, 1933

Oil companies had a large presence in Chicago’s 1933-34 World’s Fair, The Century of Progress. The sponsor of this map, Standard Oil Company of Indiana (later known as Amoco, now part of BP), was one of several oil companies exhibiting at the fair. The map presents a view of metropolitan Chicago strikingly different from maps published a generation earlier. Railroads are entirely missing from the map—not surprising perhaps since the map was published by an integrated oil company. But the influence of the railroads on the morphology of the Chicago region was muted by the network of roads that cut across the older radial pattern. The red north-south routes 53, 54, and 45, in the western suburbs, are state and federal routes, built in part to provide connections between old lines of suburbs formerly separately from each other by rural land and mostly unpaved roads. In the later 1930s these crossing highways became more numerous. Missing links will be filled in (as near Clarendon Hills on this map); and some became wide four-lane divided highways. From the 1950s to the 1980s this circumferential pattern was reinforced by the construction of limited access superhighways, and much of the rural land between the old radials would be developed as new towns and commercial centers, seeded and nourished by the improvement of circumferential routes.

Chicago and the Century of Progress, 1933 (Chicago: H.M. Gousha Company, 1933). The Newberry Library: RMcN AE 25.50 (PrCt). Map © RM Acquisition, LLC d/b/a Rand McNally. Reproduced with permission, License No. R.L. 14-S-006