This page is intended to provide access to research resources that I routinely use when writing my blog posts about Chicago’s built environment. It’s hardly an exhaustive list, and will be a work in progress. Suggestions are always welcome.
- City News Chicago: easy address search and mapping browsing. Look up property PINs and find construction dates, drawn from tax records. May not have info on parcels that were built as or have long been tax exempt.
- Cook County Assessor Property Search: Easiest if you search on PIN. Mostly same info as City News Chicago, but can be useful for confirming that you’ve correctly identified a building’s address by looking at a photo. Again, only good for property that is taxable.
- Chicago Historic Resources Survey: Search the city’s database of significant buildings by street name, architect, or community area. Only has info for select buildings.
- Cook County Recorder of Deeds: Search by PIN to see property transactions in recent decades.
- Cook County Assessor Exempt Property Search: May be useful for looking up tax-exempt properties such as churches, schools, etc. I have not used it yet.
- Encyclopedia of Chicago: Articles about neighborhoods and many other topics of historical significance in Chicago.
National Register/Landmark Info
- Wikipedia list of NRHP properties in Chicago
- NRHP search: search for NRHP listings. Most nominations are not available online.
- NRHP download center: downloadable NRHP data in spreadsheet and database formats.
- Reports on proposed or designated Chicago Landmarks
- Archive of City of Chicago Landmark Designation Reports: A large number of designation reports available in a variety of formats, including downloadable PDFs. Not indexed or titled in any useful way, unfortunately.
Street Name and Number Changes (all PDFs)
- Street Name Changes
- 1909 citywide street number changes: all parts of city excluding the Loop and streets southeast of Roosevelt and the Chicago River
- 1911 Loop street number changes
Other Research Guides
- Chicago History Museum Architecture and Building History
- Chicago Public Library Chicago History: Includes access to very useful databases with your library card. Of particular interest: Chicago Tribune archives and Sanborn maps.