Coronelli, Globe gore showing eastern North America (1688)

Franciscan Fr. Vincenzo Coronelli was a prolific cartographer, best known for his decorative celestial and terrestrial globes-- the largest of which (12 feet in diameter) were produced for King Louis XIV of France and are preserved today in the Bibliothèque nationale de France. Globes are conventionally made from sets of printed lozenge-shaped strips of paper known as gores. The prepared gores are pasted onto a ball of wood or other solid material. This gore, one of 12 forming a 108 cm. diameter globe Coronelli published on or after 1688, shows a sliver of the northern hemisphere that is 30 degrees of longitude wide. Chicago is at the center of the gore by mere chance, but the image nevertheless illustrates the location’s continental importance only a few years after French explorers and cartographers had come to realize it. Both Louis Jolliet and Robert Cavelier de la Salle, passing through the area in 1673 and 1682, utilized the portage. Both explorers noted the ease with which the waters of Lake Michigan and the Illinois River could be joined by the construction of a canal. Cartographers habitually placed the Mississippi River too far to the west at the time. As a result, the Illinois River (called the “Chekagou” here) is greatly elongated--underscoring its importance as a highway from “Lago Ilinois, ou Michigami” to the Mississippi and helping to fix the importance of the Chicago River portage in European minds. At the southwest extremity of the lake Coronelli identifies smaller “Chekagou” River feeding into the lake. The area lined in blue is “Canada” or New France.



Delanglez, Jean. “The Cartography of the Mississippi.” In Mid-America, vol. 30 (1948), pp. 257-84 and vol. 31 (1949), pp. 29-52.

Robert W. Karrow, Jr., and David Buisseret. Gardens of Delight: Maps and Travel Accounts of Illinois and the Great Lakes from the Collection of Hermon Dunlap Smith, Chicago: The Newberry Library, 1984.

Mapping the French Empire in North America. Chicago: The Newberry Library, 1991.

Vincenzo Coronelli, Globe gore showing eastern North America, from Hudson Bay to Gulf of Mexico (Venice, 1688; facsimile published Chicago: Black Box Collotype Studios Inc., 1977). The Newberry Library, map2F G3300 1688 .C6 1977