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The Second Printed Map of Chicago

John S. Wright's Copy With His Manuscript Notes


Wright, John Stephen , Chicago Drawn by J.S. Wright, According to Survey. 1834. Lithograph printed by Peter A. Mesier, 28 Wall Street, New York. Uncolored as issued. 18 x 14. Very good condition save one loss at a fold intersection and a few minor stains. Rare. Sold

The second printed map of Chicago, preceded only by Joshua Hathaway's map of the same year. The map was designed to show subdivisions by color, but this example is like all those in Chicago institutions uncolored. Presumably coloring was to be by hand after printing.

This copy includes manuscript notes in an old hand signed "JSW" which describe the author's real estate activities and notes some of his holdings. Properties belonging to him are marked in ink. Several of the marked properties agree with those listed in the Chicago Public Library's John S. Wright Papers as being purchased by him in 1848, suggesting a date for the manuscript notes of circa 1848 or later. The Newberry Library's copy of Wright's map also has ms. notes in what appear to be the same hand.

John S. Wright (1815 - 1874) was an energetic entrepreneur and Chicago booster who made and lost several fortunes. He arrived in Chicago in 1832 at age 17 and, though still a minor, invested in real estate with family members. By age 21 he owned property worth $200,000 -- a huge fortune at the time -- but lost it all when the market crashed in the Panic of 1837. He went into other businesses and returned to real estate in 1846 where he made another fortune which was later lost with a failed investment in a reaper company. Wright was an active promoter of Chicago and of the West. His vision of its future was often correct, but others made more than he did from his ideas.

Provenance: In the possession of a Chicago family for approximately a century.

Rarity: Recorded copies are in the University of Illinois Chicago, The Chicago History Museum, and the Newberry Library. An exhibition catalog reports an incomplete copy at the Library of Congress, but it is not listed by WorldCat.org.

References: Chicago Public Library, John S. Wright Papers, 1848-1866; Danckers & Meredith, ...the Early History of Chicago..., pp. 374-5; Danzer, "Chicago's First Maps" in Conzen (ed), Chicago Mapmakers, pp. 18-20; The Encyclopedia of Chicago, p. 508; Holland, Chicago in Maps, pp. 63-64; Karrow (ed..) Checklist of Printed Maps of the Middle West to 1900 #4-0304; Knox College, Seymour Library, Between the Waters and the Wind An Exhibit relating to the city of Chicago...1979 #2; Graff 4755

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