Michaels, Chicago to Lake Geneva (1905)

H. Sargent Michaels was an early motoring enthusiast and automobile agent in Chicago. In 1905, he published an unusual series of four automobile guidebooks that directed motorists to and from Chicago to nearby resorts and cities by means of a series of orienting photographs. There were no marked automobile routes at this time, and directional signs were infrequent and unreliable. Michaels took photographs at intersections and forks in the road wherever turns had to be made. Hopefully, by paying close attention to these photographs, drivers did not get lost. At this time, only a few thousand automobiles existed in metropolitan Chicago. However, these numbers were growing rapidly enough to support the publication of these guidebooks. This photograph, showing the intersection of Lake Avenue and Sheridan Road in the suburb of Wilmette, conveys how poorly surfaced even the best automobile roads were in the first decade of the twentieth century. Travel over longer distances by car was an adventure, whether for pleasure or not, palatable only to those who had the money, time, and interest to invest in it.



Akerman, James R. "Twentieth-Century American Road Maps and the Making of a National Motorized Space." In Cartographies of Travel and Navigation, edited by James Akerman. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2006.

Karrow, Robert. Introduction, Chicago-Lake Geneva: A 100 Year Road Trip. Chicago: Chicago Map Society and The Newberry Library, 2008.

H. Sargent Michaels, “To Left, West: Lake Avenue, Wilmette…,” in Chicago to Lake Geneva, Lake Geneva to Delavan, Delavan to Beloit, Returning from Lake Geneva via Channel Lake, Lake Catherine, Lake Marie, Antioch, Loon Lake, Cedar Lake, Deep Lake, Lake Villa, Grays Lake, Libertyville, Half Day and Highland Park (Chicago: Chicago : H. Sargent Michaels Co., c1905). The Newberry Library, Case GV1024 .C44 1905