Wallis, Bird’s-Eye View of Chicago and Its Environs (1874)

Innovative printer and advertiser John M. Wing briefly published this view of metropolitan Chicago in his short-lived trade journal, The Land Owner—a mouthpiece of Chicago’s aggressive post-fire real estate industry. Nineteenth-century views of Chicago commonly depicted the city looking west from Lake Michigan. This perspective allowed viewers to see the busy lakefront clearly. This perspective stressed Chicago’s importance as a commercial center reaching into the west to and beyond the horizon. Though the city’s importance as a railroad hub is clear from this view, the waterways to Chicago’s commercial life is also emphasized. This view may be the first  the first to show the entire lakeshore of Chicago from the Calumet region (at the left) to the north shore suburbs. The view westward suggests the inevitable spread of the metropolis onto the prairies inland form the lake, spurred by the commerce of the city’s railroads and canals. The view also delineates the early port facilities along the Little Calumet River, as well as the still-undeveloped water connection from the Calumet waterway to the Illinois and Michigan Canal. Indeed the view seems calculated to suggest to show how railroad, lake, and inland waterways form a single transportation system ideal for commercial development and seemingly boundless metropolitan growth.



Mayer, Harold M. The Port of Chicago and the St. Lawrence Seaway. Chicago: the University of Chicago Press, 1957.

Moore, Powell A. The Calumet Region. Indiana Historical Bureau, 1959.

Van Vlissingen, Arend. Plan and Report, Lake Calumet Harbor. City of Chicago, June, 1920.

Wille, Lois. Forever Open, Clear, and Free: The Struggle for Chicago’s Lakefront. 2nd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991.

R.W. Wallis, “Bird’s-Eye View of Chicago and Its Environs,” from The Land Owner (Chicago: J.M. Wing & Co., 1874), p. 70 – 71. The Newberry Library, VAULT Ruggles 214 vol. 6