March 7, 2011

Introducing The Domu Chicago History Map

Today we released our first-of-its-kind, online interactive Chicago History Map.  The map presents the rich history of Chicago in geo-coded format, giving history buffs, scholars, and trivia enthusiasts the chance to connect notable historical and cultural events to specific geographic locations.

With approximately 500 entries, the Chicago History Map covers everything from the capsizing of the S.S. Eastland in the Chicago River (which claimed 844 lives) to Chuck Berry’s audition with Chess Records (which changed the face of rock ‘n’ roll).  The website organizes the city’s extensive history into 12 categories, each represented by an icon that the user can toggle on and off the map.

For example, in the “notorious” category, users will discover the location of H.H. Holmes’ “Murder Castle,” plus the places where John Wayne Gacy, Richard Speck, and Laurie Dann, among other psychopaths, perpetrated their gruesome crimes.  The “residents” category is a veritable “map of the stars” and points to the homes of such luminaries as Muddy Waters, Hugh Hefner, Walt Disney, Charlie Chaplin, and Mahalia Jackson.  The “mobsters” icons connect the dots to a century of gangland justice, from the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre to the throat-slashing that “Machine Gun” Jack McGurn administered to showman Joe E. Lewis.

And where did a local showgirl shoot and nearly kill Cubs’ shortstop Billy Jurges in 1932?  The “sports” icons reveal the answer.  They will also lead curious Cubs pilgrims to the seat where Steve Bartman wrote the first line of his obituary.

Another category chronicles the “clubs and theaters” that ruled the south side, revealing such tidbits as where Louis Armstrong first joined Joe "King" Oliver and where Charlie Parker played his final Chicago gig.  The map also memorializes tragedies of all kinds (does anyone still remember the green hornet streetcar disaster or the Iroquois Theater fire?) and highlights a variety of local oddities, from the tomb of the not-yet-deceased Roland Burris to the shrine otherwise known as Our Lady of the Fullerton Avenue Underpass

When the user clicks a point of interest on the map, a bubble identifies the event that occurred at the corresponding location.  By clicking on the event name, the user opens a new page containing detailed information about the corresponding event.  Entries also contain matching images and video. Future versions of the map are already in progress and are slated to include buildings of architectural significance, as well as local and national landmarks.

(Update: The Chicago History Map has now been incorporated into Google's wonderful new "Field Trip" app, which is available for both Android and iOS devices.)

comments (3) Share


Mark says

Mon, 03/07/2011 - 11:24pm
Hello, Just an fyi... samuzzo amatuna--bluebird cafe university village mobsters I'm thinking that the icon for the above tag in your map that is between Western and Damen in the Tri-Taylor neighborhood was meant to be put by Halsted in the old Little Italy and University Village. :) Mark says

Mon, 03/07/2011 - 11:40pm
Hey, Mark. Thanks for the note. I'll double check our facts for that entry. says

Tue, 03/08/2011 - 7:10pm
I've updated that entry.