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Decoding old Chicago street names during Phase I Environmental Site Assessment research

June 11th, 2015
Map Showing the New House Numbering System in the City of Chicago, 1910 (courtesy of chicagology.com)

Map Showing the New House Numbering System in the City of Chicago, 1910 (courtesy of Chicago Public Library via chicagology.com)

When conducting Phase I Environmental Site Assessment research, Gabriel reviews old building permits, Sanborn fire insurance maps, and other historical sources. Sometimes reviewing this information can get confusing when the streets in question no longer have the same names.

Chicago’s city street addresses didn’t become standardized until 1908.  Even after that time, many streets were renamed to honor individuals or end lingering confusion stemming from pre-1908 street names (generally to eliminate duplicate street names).

For example, a building permit from the 1930s on “Garfield Avenue” would be pertinent to Phase I research for a property located on today’s “Dickens Street.”  We’d have to review maps listing “Robey Street” when researching sites located along “Damen Avenue.”

Information about streets with the same name require additional scrutiny by our researchers:  Lincoln Street and Lincoln Avenue;  Clybourn Place and Clybourn Avenue; Washington Street, Washington Avenue, and Washington Boulevard; and Park Avenue and South Park Avenue,  just to name a few.More information on these Chicago street name changes can be found on a Chicago Now blog and Chicagology.com.

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