Rand McNally

1927 Chicago Tribune Map of Chicagoland

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by Judy Aulik

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The Milwaukee Journal was not the only Midwestern newspaper giant to publish road maps. But unlike the Journal, the Chicago Tribune still has maps produced in its behalf, albeit by Rand McNally. The folding style of Chicagoland map was a mainstay of Illinois drivers for many years. It developed some delightful idiosyncrasies, such as the locations of radio broadcast transmitter towers, but at this early date, the “Trib map,” as called by residents, only showed some colleges, religious institutions, cemeteries, parks, and golf courses as landmarks and destinations. In addition, on this 1927 edition, US highways were designated by the route number in a red circle, instead of the shields used by the Rand McNally portion.

What is noticeable is the number of communities which have ceased to exist. Northeastern Illinois is notable for the number of communities denoted by the railroad stations on the major lines, spaced at fairly regular intervals. For example, on the C.B.&Q. (now the BNSF, or Burlington Northern & Santa Fe) were communities such as Belmont, now part of Downers Grove; Eola, now part of Aurora; and Lovedale, no longer extant.

Communities located on highways were not immune. On Roosevelt Road, once US 30A and today IL 38, was York Center, still denoted by churches but incorporated into Lombard. On Butterfield Road, parts of which have become IL 56, was Utopia, which is today’s Oakbrook Terrace, famous for its vast stretches of shopping malls.

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Interestingly, the reverse, a map of the states contiguous with Lake Michigan, shows us that the Tribune‘s relationship with the Chicago map giant dates back to the earliest map of the series. “Rand McNally” above “Auto Road Map” is replaced by “Chicago Tribune: The World’s Greatest Newspaper,” but with the characteristic compass rose, cartography, and copyright statement, no one would be fooled. In addition, I have a 1927 Illinois map, issued by the Tribune, but published by Rand McNally.

From a collector’s standpoint, the Chicagoland maps are common, but very difficult to find in acceptable condition. The vast majority are misfolded, heavily worn, and many are taped together, proof of the maps’ popularity. Probably due to the growth of the region–the Tribune maps did not show land beyond the Fox River–the Chicagoland map ceased publication sometime in the 1990s, with one last 2000 map. Even today, I carry a Tribune/Rand McNally 7-county street guide in my car when traveling, despite GPS. It lacks the charm of the old maps, but still gets the job done–until the next round of highway construction.

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View the map in the AGS Library Digital Map Collection here

 

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Road Maps in Transition: 1920-1925

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by Judy Aulik

    Wisconsin officially numbered and sign posted its highways between 1916 and 1918, following the state trunk highway system (STH) designed by A.R. Hirst. Illinois followed in 1918 with its first round of state bond highways (SBI), and Michigan began its M system in 1919. After a five year gap, when Rand McNally resumed publishing road maps in 1917, later coupled with a proprietary, rudimentary, coated cardboard road marking system and an arbitrary space saving numbering system, it resulted in a peculiar set of road maps with five distinct highway designations, including the blazed trails, such as the Lincoln Highway. Had Rand McNally chosen the detail allowed by Wisconsin’s unusual county trunk highway lettering systems, it would have had six!

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     The Wisconsin State Historical Society has digitized maps of this era, as they have unquestionably passed out of copyright. Wisconsin, northern Michigan, and northern Illinois comprise District No. 8 in the Auto Trails Map series. Cartographer John Brink had an entry in a company contest which won him $100. His big idea: make a clearer highway map by numbering the major roads and trails, using a map legend which assigns a Rand McNally route number to each trail.

     However, the decluttering concept fell by the wayside as his employer began to sell advertising, primarily for garages and hotels. printed in red in the clear space left.

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     Clearly, the extra information could prove helpful to the auto tourist. However, Brink’s Rand McNally route numbers, in white on a dark rectangle, generally conflicted with the route numbers used by the states. For example, the National Parks Pike, its eastern terminus in Madison, was designated as No. 9 on the Rand system; STH 19 (designating the highway as the 9th longest in Wisconsin) from Madison west; and blazed in red, black, and white for the National Parks Pike. After 1926, the Federal Highway system, which took over the best state routes, cleared up the confusion. The No. 9 route east of the capital city eventually became US 151; plus STH 19 west, on into Iowa (Primary Route 19; also the National Parks Pike), US 18.

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    Other highways the Federal Highway System also subsumed included SBI 4, which became US 66; a westerly stretch of the Yellowstone Trail in north central Wisconsin, which became US 10; and the mother of all renamings: the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial Highway (ca. 1915), which became SBI 5 (ca. 1918-1967), which also was co-blazed as the poorly publicized and long forgotten Atlantic-Yellowstone-Pacific Trail  (1923, per the Iowa DoT) in northern Illinois, which was taken over by US 20 (ca. 1938, now Business US 20 in segments). Confusing, yes, but that’s why road maps and highway history are so fascinating!

 Sources:

http://cdm15932.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/ref/collection/maps/id/14541

https://iowadot.gov/autotrails/atlantic-yellowstone-pacific-highway

 

Special thanks to the AGSL guest blogger, Judy Aulik. With an extensive road map collection of her own, Judy Aulik  has served as past President of the Road Map Collectors Association, an organization founded in 1996.  Now boasting a membership of several hundred in the US, Canada, and Europe, the club publishes a quarterly newsletter, has a website, Facebook page, and hosts an annual “Road Map Expo.”  Judy is a retired Adult Services Librarian with a PhD from UW-Madison. She recently spoke to the Wisconsin Map Society about the history of the Milwaukee Journal Tour Club, and its influence on highway signage and mapping.