Encyclopedia ofChicago
Introductory Materials : Introduction
Introductory Materials
Introduction to the Encyclopedia of Chicago
List of Staff and Consultants
List of Contributors
Acknowledgements
Copyrights

 

 

 

Introductions

 

INTRODUCTION TO THE ELECTRONIC ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CHICAGO

The World Wide Web has influenced The Encyclopedia of Chicago from its inception in 1994. As we mapped out the project, we came to realize that the form of the encyclopedia–with its emphasis on multiple pathways through a complex body of knowledge rather than on a single narrative–resembled the structure of the Web. Of course, Web publication also appealed to us for other reasons rooted in our encyclopedic ambitions: by publishing on the internet, we could reach a potentially enormous worldwide audience; we could expand the work's size beyond the limitations defined by a single printed volume; and we could complement narrative and interpretation with audio and video primary sources in addition to text and still images. But the possibilities didn't stop there, for as the project grew, so did the Web; this brave new world soon featured interactive maps, split screens, and zooms. We hope these features will make the encyclopedia as lively and various a place to visit as the city itself, and tempt readers to explore its back alleys as well as its grand boulevards. But most importantly, we hope that the electronic version of The Encyclopedia of Chicago, like the print version (University of Chicago Press, 2004) will stimulate readers to think differently about Chicago–by walking new paths through its history.

Both versions of the encyclopedia began with two central ideas about urban history. One, a city's history cannot be isolated from its metropolitan context. And two, metropolitan history tells a set of interwoven stories whose elements include places, institutions, groups, activities, and experiences. Indeed "experience" stands at the center: we wanted to understand the links–over time and space–among the experiences of a diverse population spread across a diverse region. Again, the Web provided an intriguing analogy: people experience a large metropolitan area like Chicago only in parts, just as they can only sample the vast body of information on the Web. No one, not regional planners, nor politicians, nor historians, can ever know everything about a city. Rather people know those parts of the city through which their personal roads lead. Because we wanted to help The Encyclopedia of Chicago's readers navigate a broadly metropolitan place and history, the structures of the World Wide Web suggested a method as well as a metaphor. The architecture of the Web–which allows readers to leap seamlessly from topic to topic via links so that their curiosity and their choices shape each experience of the work–became part of the structure of the encyclopedia. So we focused on making links. We chose not to delegate or automate the see alsos or the cross-references; instead, these pathways represented editorial decisions generated by the integrative and metropolitan interpretive agendas. This strategy enabled us to maximize context without sacrificing detail, as events, institutions, individuals, and even topics could appear within broadly cast entries which tell larger stories about Chicago and its people, yet provide the basic information required in a reference work. The links themselves offer interpretive insights into the larger history of the Chicago region by suggesting comparisons with other entries or by showing how a particular entry fits in the context of a more comprehensive topic.

The simultaneous planning of the print and electronic publications has therefore transformed them both, we think for the better. Knowing that we had to squeeze the Chicago metropolitan experience writ large into one print volume forced us to think about economies of organization, prose, and presentation. These imperatives have helped us to avoid the sprawl that can make an electronic publication seem incoherent rather than multivalent. In the other direction, the images we selected for the book were richer because we followed a principle central to Web-based publication: an illustration should always perform multiple functions, should always play a role in various stories. The timeline links key events to corresponding entries, offering still another way for readers to access the encyclopedia's contents. The pages that highlight select years in Chicago history emerged as print versions of what we anticipated "galleries" might be online. In short, many of the departures we took from the traditional encyclopedic format were directly inspired by our thinking about the digital encyclopedia.

These possibilities have emerged most clearly in two elements that are unique to the electronic version. Interpretive digital essays (IDEs), began as the digital equivalent of the book's interpretive essays–longer pieces that reflect on major topics in urban history, with Chicago as a case study. IDEs embrace subjects that lend themselves to comparison with other cities. They also tell stories that are enhanced by digital technology, both through the addition of digital materials and through hyperlinks to related entries in the encyclopedia. At this point we offer two IDEs, with the expectation that we will add more over time: Carl Smith's essay on "The Plan of Chicago" incorporates large-scale topical presentations modeled after some of the Chicago Historical Society's previous Web-based projects; Ann Keating's compilation on "Water in Chicago" offers an expansive perspective on a subject that is central to urban life but often is taken for granted. One finds interpretive breadth through topical depth; the other opts for a wide lens from the outset and suggests how an IDE emerges from the range of encyclopedia entries. For most cities, over most of human history, many of the topics integral to this encyclopedia have involved reliance upon water: consider, for example, economy, health, leisure, and development. Water constitutes a resource essential to urban growth, but its very presence on the landscape has been an encumbrance to development. What comes in must be clean; what goes out will not be clean and therefore poses problems of disposal. Users of this encyclopedia can join historians in exploring this broad theme through dozens of individual entries shared with the print version, as well as newly added, heavily illustrated essays and galleries of images.

In addition to IDEs, we added topical galleries to the encyclopedia. A gallery is an authored piece that consists of a collection of related images or texts accompanied by substantive captions. Galleries complement the entries in the book by adding new illustrative materials or by expanding the geographical or interpretive reach of the encyclopedia. Like a book entry, each topical gallery provides new historical information on the Chicago region. Like many other Encyclopedia of Chicago entries, galleries place greater emphasis on "lumping" than "splitting" (taking their primary subject as public expressions of religion for example, rather than the evangelism of Billy Sunday or other specific ecumenical endeavors). They address change over time, and they reach beyond Chicago's city limits to a metropolitan framework. Galleries also offer ways of grouping (and thus reinterpreting) illustrations and other historical sources that appear in other contexts in the encyclopedia. The galleries suggest patterns of connection that readers can explore for themselves throughout the work.

If linkage characterizes how we have thought about metropolitan Chicago as well as how we have constructed the encyclopedia, it also epitomizes the institutional dynamics of the project. The electronic publication of The Encyclopedia of Chicago represents the culmination of an ambitious and unprecedented collaboration. The project began at the Newberry Library, which assumed primary responsibility for the printed book and for the work that provided the foundation for the electronic publication. The agreement between the Newberry and the Chicago Historical Society that designated CHS as the senior partner in the electronic project immediately extended the possibilities for that publication because of the diversity of media that characterize the vast CHS collections. Moreover, the electronic encyclopedia can serve as a portal to these collections and become a cornerstone of the Historical Society's growing, innovative Internet presence. The contents of the Newberry Library's print edition of The Encyclopedia of Chicago provide the heart of the Web-based encyclopedia. Published by the Chicago Historical Society, the electronic version of The Encyclopedia of Chicago draws upon not only the work of the editors but also the staff at CHS and the newest participants in this partnership–the designers and programmers from Academic Technologies at Northwestern University.

What appears here is a first version of a new kind of metropolitan history. We are grateful to the Chicago Historical Society for providing us with an opportunity to experiment. This encyclopedia is very much "to be continued," and we hope that people who care about Chicago will enrich this story with the history of their own paths through Chicago. And of course that some of those paths will lead to the Newberry Library and the Chicago Historical Society.

Janice L. Reiff
Ann Durkin Keating
James R. Grossman
Spring 2005

 

INTRODUCTION TO THE PRINT ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CHICAGO

The Newberry Library lies across the street from Bughouse Square. The unofficial but commonly used name of this small park evokes its long association with the unconventional and the marginal: soapbox orators, prostitutes, cultural nonconformists, and, by the 1980s, homeless men on park benches. In the mid-1990s, on the other side of the square block of cement paths, meager grass, and shade trees, a developer demolished the old Salvation Army office building, revived the park's official name, and successfully advertised luxury residences facing "Washington Square Park"–which now sports a decorative wrought-iron fence and attractive fountain. Like his New York City counterpart who created a neighborhood called "Clinton" where once was a space called "Hell's Kitchen," this entrepreneur understood the malleability and power of place names. This might sound benign–a matter of neighborhood improvement and private profit at the expense of tradition, local color, and the sensibilities of neighborhood old-timers–but often there is much at stake in how a space is named. Names are tied up with boundaries, and groups contesting for turf often name overlapping spaces differently to stake their claims.

The Encyclopedia of Chicago is a mapping of Chicago's geographic turf, complemented by a comparable cartography of boundaries that are more conceptual and topical than spatial. Imagine a map that has been broken up into puzzle pieces, each of which is an identifiable unit of some kind: each encyclopedia entry represents a piece of that puzzle. The piece looks the way it does because of the context in which it was created: each entry was generated within a particular rubric (e.g., reform, public order, literature). Like a city space, an entry's use can be shaped by the process by which its boundaries and its name were determined. The editor's power resembles the developer's, and the encyclopedia as a whole–the combination of the pieces–represents an editorial interpretation of urban history.

Metropolitan History

The editors of The Encyclopedia of Chicago began with a commitment to a vision of a metropolitan area whose past, present, and future rest on the principle of interdependence. Seemingly disparate strands and isolated pockets of metropolitan life are best understood as part of an integrated whole, and within broad regional, national, and international contexts. Robert Park's oft-quoted metaphor of the city as "a mosaic of little worlds that touch but do not interpenetrate" is more intuitive than accurate. In Chicago, "Little Italy" and "Greektown" not only touched but deeply interpenetrated, most obviously because residents of these districts and other nearby immigrant neighborhoods passed one another on the street, perhaps attending similar events at Hull House, or the same public schools. Less obviously, but equally important, the historical processes that shaped the lives of these residents were anything but separate. The Gold Coast cannot exist without the slum; the suburb is by definition a place with a relationship to the city.

This commitment to an integrative urban history exists in tension with the nature of the publication itself: structurally, an encyclopedia is a fragmented genre. There is no single narrative. An analytical structure that depends on a reader working through the material in a particular order is impossible. But The Encyclopedia of Chicago is more than a reference book comprising discrete frames of information about individual topics. It represents a synthesis of a century of scholarship in urban history in general and on Chicago in particular. It is also the result of a process influenced by the simultaneous creation of an electronic encyclopedia, which places a premium on thinking about links, structure, and the malleability of categories.

The encyclopedia's conceptualization started with geographical space because this is a work of urban history. An ambitious goal was set to move beyond the shifting boundaries of the city to create a metropolitan history. This means more than a narrative of a fixed space encompassing Chicago and its collar counties. It requires an interpretive emphasis on the historical dynamics of metropolitan dependence and interaction. City and countryside, sometimes placed in opposition as artifice versus nature, are both artifacts of human creativity, and this encyclopedia begins with the assumption that the history of a metropolis includes not only central city and bedroom suburbs, but also the industrial towns, agricultural centers, and vacation spots that dot its broad landscape. The Burnham Plan extended 60 miles beyond the Loop, not because Daniel Burnham and the Commercial Club were metropolitan imperialists (and they may have been), but because it was clear even in 1909 that a Plan of Chicago couldn't stop at the city boundaries. Nor can an encyclopedia that is both a work of urban history and a comprehensive reference. The problem of spatial definition involves relationships among time, space, and culture. Municipal boundaries change over time; the metropolitan area as a cultural and social entity (and even as an idea) invariably encompasses a territory that transcends physical and political boundaries. Moreover, a place with a diverse population acquires over the years equally diverse understandings of its spaces. Such diversity, of course, is one of Chicago's defining characteristics. Therefore a project with aspirations to define the city historically must somehow find a way to use diversity as a founding principle. The challenge lies in recognizing that diversity does not preclude the centrality of the idea of civic culture, or the interpretive goal of using the city as a venue for synthetic narrative and analysis.

This encyclopedia is intended to serve as a comprehensive reference work for members of the general public, for secondary school students as well as scholars of urban history, for lifelong residents of the Chicago area as well as visitors. Beyond the boundaries of the city's neighborhoods and the region's municipalities, Chicago's history has been significant in many ways for American and even world culture. Readers expecting coverage of skyscrapers and blues music, for example, will find a wealth of relevant entries. The range of topics in the encyclopedia includes architecture, music, literature, the arts, politics, reform movements, social services, health, public order, religion, immigration, housing, public works, labor, and leisure. This expansive agenda for a single volume with a stable binding and text that can be read without a magnifying glass has combined with the editors' interpretive perspective and their emphasis on integrative historical scholarship to shape the contours of what we have included in this book.

Balancing Breadth and Detail

The central tension in a work that seeks to combine encyclopedic detail with integrative analysis lies in the principle of "lumping" versus "splitting." To split is to privilege detail, to amass entries that permit users to learn the essential facts of as many historical phenomena as possible. Each institution has its own history, each community its own portrait, each individual her or his own biography. To lump is to allot higher priority to analysis and comparison, to emphasize relationships, to integrate subject matter within entries more than through cross-referencing. This project's interpretive emphasis on the integrative nature of urban life is balanced with its goal of providing comprehensive reference: what matters, therefore, is where we lump and where we split.

The most extensive splitting, yielding the largest proportion of the entries, lies in the areas that will draw the initial attention of most users: who we are and where we live. Ethnicity and residence are, more often than not, the mental maps that help Chicagoans situate themselves in the metropolis. To present Chicago's history as it has been experienced and understood by Chicagoans requires comprehensive coverage of these orientations. Hence all 298 incorporated municipalities in Cook, DuPage, McHenry, Lake, Will, and Kane Counties in Illinois, and Lake and Porter Counties in Indiana, have entries, along with six communities beyond these boundaries. To assure complete geographic coverage of the central city, we selected as a starting point the 77 community areas that Chicago city government and social scientists employ as units of analysis. But because the people who live in these spaces often define their communities in different terms (and sometimes with different boundaries), we also commissioned shorter entries on particular neighborhoods. These 33 neighborhoods, identified by the authors of community-area entries as named spaces with cultural and social staying power, overlap geographically with community areas and represent only a selection of places that Chicagoans have defined as neighborhoods. Some readers will not find an entry under the name that they use to define their community (e.g., Edgebrook, Wrigleyville, the Gap), although such a name is likely to be found in the index. All residents of metropolitan Chicago will find at least one entry on the geographical area that they call home. A broader perspective is presented in the entry "Growth of the Metropolis," which emphasizes the mutual dependence and interrelated histories that individual entries on geographic spaces are by their very nature bound to obscure.

A similar dilemma presents itself with regard to ethnic groups. Like neighborhoods, ethnic boundaries are ever-shifting and nearly infinite. A Calabrian arrives in Chicago and gradually becomes an Italian. A Jewish immigrant from Russia is a "Russian" in the census but a Jew in most other contexts. Lakota migrants from South Dakota to Chicago inhabit a community that describes itself as Native American, but they are likely to continue to identify with their Lakota community back home. Some Mexican Americans consider themselves "Latinos"; others identify more with Mexican heritage than with experiences shared by people from Central and South America. An Iraqi American is also an Arab American. The census offers no solution, as it shifts from decade to decade in the options provided for ethnic identification. Facing the challenge of infinite and overlapping categories, we have chosen to rely on current national boundaries to define the scope and naming of entries on ethnic groups. The cost is obvious: an entry called "Germans" ignores the fact that thousands of Germans came to Chicago before there was a Germany. Language is not the defining characteristic, because Austrians have a separate entry. Arab Americans, many of whom identify in just that way, are split into Egyptians, Saudis, Syrians, and so on. Moreover, Chicago's significant early-twentieth-century Syrian community actually was composed of people we now call Lebanese Christians. Finally, some exceptions could not be avoided; else there would be no entries on Jews, African Americans, southern white migrants, Welsh, or Yankees.

This definitional strategy does not, however, resolve the question of whom to include. Who is here and who isn't? Or, more precisely, who has been here and who hasn't? Numbers alone as criteria for inclusion are insufficient and ahistorical: a community of one thousand in 1845 had an impact on local culture very different from a community of a thousand in the 1990s. But therein lies the solution: a community. What makes a community? This seemingly eternal debate invites no easy answer, and the editors had already sidestepped it by using official designations for entries on suburban municipalities and Chicago community areas. To locate ethnic presence, the editors drew on their observation that every community study in the field of urban history has an obligatory section on institution-building. Hence, any given ethnic group has "been here" if they have built an institution---any institution. New Zealanders have a rugby club. Some groups with small numbers have clubs oriented toward political questions back home. Restaurants count only if they are gathering places on some regular basis, such as the Argo Georgian Bakery on Devon Avenue. On this basis encyclopedia staff located 146 ethnic groups in Chicago. Each has an entry.

Religion proved even more difficult. There is no equivalent to current national boundaries. What would be the threshold for a denomination, or a sect? Here we have chosen to lump groups together rather than split them apart. Lumping allows our authors to weave a more complex story of religious development than they could in an endless series of short pieces on an infinite number of religious entities. Readers looking for histories of Methodists, Lutherans, or Assemblies of God should go to the entry on Protestants. The encyclopedia includes entries on Ba'hai, Buddhists, Eastern Orthodox, Hindus, Jews, Mormons, Muslims, Protestants, Roman Catholics, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians. The stories of individual denominations, sects, and congregations have taken a back seat to broader themes in the history of religion in metropolitan Chicago. These themes include a complex and shifting religious geography, and the region's substantial influence on national and international religious thought and trends. But the book also maps the area's vast matrix of religious institutions, which has infused nearly every aspect of local culture. The entry "Religious Institutions," for example, is less about churches, synagogues, or mosques than about the many ways in which Chicago's faith communities have provided services and generated cultural development.

The problem of where to tell a particular story is hardly limited to entries that navigate the difficult waters of identity. Every category of institutional life raised the question of when to weave together many stories into a synthetic narrative and when to present single strands on their own. Museums, colleges and universities, architectural styles, leisure activities, political organizations, corporations: each could yield an almost infinite set of narrow entries, or a very small set of broad essays covering vast territory. Our integrative approach generated a skew toward the larger picture. Extended essays on such issues as politics, art, work, and leisure offer narrative and analytical frameworks that both mention significant institutions and events and establish contexts for narrower topics covered in shorter entries. Sometimes our strategy grew out of practical considerations. For example, it is possible to identify a satisfactory (if not absolutely comprehensive) list of the generally recognized, accredited, postsecondary educational institutions. Hence each four-year college and university is covered in its own entry (with apologies to the one that we have undoubtedly missed), while "Universities and Their Cities" tells a broad story. Schools, on the other hand, are so numerous that individual entries would be impossible. They are treated together in an essay that maps the evolution of Chicago's school systems. Professional sports teams receive individual coverage; they are limited in number and have readily bounded histories. The stories of other athletic landscapes, such as school, sandlot, and collegiate sports, are told through the more generalized mechanism of entries on individual sports. In contrast to health, where the story is told largely through institutional contexts, music divides more logically by genre. Architecture provided still a different set of issues, given Chicago's vast landscape of significant buildings, trends, and innovations. Each of these important aspects of Chicago's architectural history has received attention, but readers looking for the larger architectural picture, and for the many significant particulars that did not receive individual attention, can turn to the four overview essays that periodize Chicago's architectural history ("Architecture"), and a wide-ranging survey entitled "Places of Assembly."

Businesses posed a distinct challenge, given the thousands of enterprises that have generated commerce in metropolitan Chicago. Here again, coverage is both detailed and broadly contextual. Our solution was driven by the urge to be as comprehensive as possible as well as by the encyclopedia's general orientation toward categorical analysis and broader context. Significant sectors of the regional economy (e.g., iron and steel, meatpacking, chemicals, agriculture) are treated in broad narrative entries, with particular attention to the most dominant companies. A Dictionary of Leading Chicago Businesses, which appears as an appendix, includes 236 companies chosen because of national importance, particular significance to metropolitan Chicago, number of employees, or a special Chicago angle. Relative brevity and smaller print have permitted inclusion of far more enterprises than could have been accommodated as regular A–Z entries.

Biography posed an even greater dilemma. A list of the iconic figures who stand astride major themes in Chicago's history, augmented by compilations of famous people in various fields, yielded a list too extensive to include in a volume oriented toward metropolitan integration, comparison, and context–unless these were limited to 250 words or less. What could our readers learn in 200 words about Frank Lloyd Wright or Jane Addams that they could not readily find in dozens of reference books with local or national orientations, including the definitive multivolume and recently revised American National Biography (1999)? Very little. Meanwhile, some of the greatest lacunae in the standard biographical dictionaries were already being filled by Women Building Chicago, 1790–1990: A Biographical Dictionary (2001). The encyclopedia's reference function could be better served by providing information about individuals who often were relatively obscure, but whose significance is marked by the decision of one or more authors to include them in an entry. The result is a Biographical Dictionary, which includes all deceased individuals mentioned in this volume in the context of activities relating directly to Chicago. Thomas Jefferson, for example, is mentioned in an entry but is not in this dictionary; by contrast, Martin Luther King, Jr., is included because his name emerges in the context of his civil rights activism in Chicago. This approach required new research, which enabled us to provide basic data for 2,191 individuals, including dates and places of birth and death and a note about each person's significance to Chicago history.

The other main elements of this book, in addition to the standard encyclopedia entries and the dictionary compilations, are blind entries, interpretive essays, sidebars, a chronological survey of Chicago history in the form of a timeline and "year pages," cross-references, maps, illustrations, tables and statistical appendixes, and an index. Like the standard entries, each of these elements contributes to the aim of creating an integrative history, and each has been prepared either by the editors themselves or by scholars participating in the project.

Elements of the Encyclopedia

The Encyclopedia of Chicago consists of three types of standard entries: broad essays, mid-level entries, and basic entries. Broad essays offer scaffolding for a large topic–a starting point for readers who want an overview of, for example, dance, public health, or transportation. Most of these have straightforward titles, but some attempt to pull together disparate strands of material in a way that produces less obvious titles, such as "Places of Assembly." Readers will be guided to these articles by blind entries appearing where readers might expect to find more narrowly construed but traditional titles like "Stadiums" or "Convention Centers." (A blind entry is alphabetized like a regular entry but, in place of any accompanying text, directs readers to another entry or entries where that topic is discussed comprehensively.) All broad essays are at least 1,000 words, some reaching as high as 4,000. At the other extreme lie the basic entries. These focus on a specific event, institution, or comparable phenomenon (e.g., Haymarket and May Day, La Leche League, Mr. Wizard, Soldier Field). Most of these are relatively brief, often under 200 words. Major institutions, however, such as the Art Institute of Chicago, receive more extensive coverage. In between the broad entries and basic entries lie the mid-level entries. These perform two functions: they fill in gaps left by broad essays that could not cover the entire terrain of a topic, and they provide context and sometimes comparative analysis for topics covered in basic entries. "Universities and Their Cities," for example, surveys the landscape of postsecondary education, offering an overview of individual institutions that have only very brief individual entries. In some cases basic entries were omitted in favor of the larger view possible in mid-level entries. For example, "Amusement Parks" covers the territory in lieu of entries on Riverview, Joyland Park, and Great America. In general the editors have chosen "forests" over "trees" for entries, and readers who do not find specific entries can use the index to locate contextualized discussions of these topics.

Two types of entries serve less conventional encyclopedia functions. Authors of the 21 interpretive essays were asked to reflect on recent scholarship rather than provide comprehensive topical or chronological coverage. "Creation of Chicago Sports," for example, highlights particular themes that explain the shift from nineteenth-century sporting culture to the spectator orientation that emerged by the 1920s. Although this essay ends with a landscape that will seem familiar to modern readers, it offers little information about developments since the 1920s; the interpretive edge of the questions it explores was sharpest during the preceding century. Because they are intended to adapt the insights of current scholarship to broad issues in Chicago history, thereby also indirectly introducing readers to this scholarship, these essays include substantial bibliographical essays rather than the standard listing of up to three recommendations for further reading. A notable exception is "Chicago Studied: Social Scientists and Their City," which weaves its bibliography into the article itself as it explains the use and influence of Chicago as an urban laboratory. Because of their interpretive focus and their more free-ranging orientation, many interpretive essays have titles that are less than obvious. Blind entries at the more obvious points guide readers to this scholarship. "Creation of Chicago Sports" is not topically or chronologically comprehensive enough to be called "Sports"; a reader who looks up "Sports" will be directed to this entry instead. Interpretive essays are indicated by a special icon preceding their titles.

Sidebars, also liberated from the obligation of encyclopedic coverage, serve different purposes, offering perspectives either supplementary or complementary to those presented in the entries with which they appear. Voices of participants in major events and a handful of biographies lend a personal perspective to the related entry's narrative. Other sidebars establish a conversation with their related entry, suggesting an alternative perspective or pointing to additional implications. Sidebars are neither cross-referenced nor accompanied by bibliographies because their close association with an entry would in most cases have produced redundant references. To make it into the encyclopedia, each sidebar had to relate to other entries in addition to the one it accompanies.

This linkage requirement pertained to all entries. Any issue so isolated historically that it could not generate a cross-reference to another entry does not meet this encyclopedia's test of historical significance. Influenced in part by the anticipation of subsequent electronic publication which will permit alternative modes of navigation dependent on comprehensive and imaginative cross-referencing, the process of designating links was accorded a high priority. These links fall into two categories: cross-references within the text of an entry (presented in small capitals) and "see also" references at the end of each entry. In some cases entries were selected or conceptualized in part by how they would fit into a larger set of linked articles. The editors identified these links as they read entries, with an eye toward gently nudging readers to appreciate historical relationships that are more interpretive than obvious. Most mid-level and basic entries link "upward" to broad essays. As often as possible the editors have linked an entry to at least one interpretive essay.

The links (i.e., cross-references and "see also's") generate pathways through the encyclopedia, suggesting to readers the various ways in which the editors might fit together pieces of the puzzle. The sheer number of these links creates an almost infinite series of pathways, so in the end readers who spend considerable time working their way through the encyclopedia will work the puzzle in a variety of ways, each of which will generate a different map of metropolitan history. In one case, the editors have themselves drawn the map: a timeline. Appearing in a special color insert, the timeline charts Chicago's history for the same period covered by the entries: from glaciation to the opening of the twenty-first century. It highlights major events and processes, including those that took place over many years.

The timeline is complemented by a series of year pages, which, using a combination of images, documents, maps, and texts, encourage readers to consider how events, people, institutions, and processes came together at particular moments in Chicago's history. The reasons for the choice of some of the years–such as 1871, the year of the Great Chicago Fire–will be immediately apparent. The significance of other selections, such as 1937, the year of the Memorial Day Massacre, might be less intuitive. Each year page, however, provides a window into what it meant to be in Chicago during a year in which the city experienced substantial change.

These chronologically oriented elements of the encyclopedia are skewed toward the last two centuries of Chicago's evolution. As a work of urban history, this encyclopedia is oriented toward aspects of the metropolitan area's development that signify its formation as an urban place. Yet Chicago's history does not begin with its incorporation as a town in 1833. Even where an entry's narrative begins in the 1830s or just before, we have resisted suggesting that the local history of politics, dance, public health, art, or any other aspect of community life "began" at that time. Similarly, the encyclopedia eschews references to people who arrived in the 1830s or 1840s as "pioneers." By the middle of the nineteenth century American Indians had settled, lived, and worked in the area for centuries, some groups staying for generations before moving on to another location. Arriving in what would eventually become Crete, Illinois, in 1836, Willard and Diantha Wood can be identified as that area's first landowners; but they were centuries too late to be considered "early settlers."

This concern with the history of population and land use has received special attention in the encyclopedia's maps. The maps stem from no mere decorative impulse, but rather seek to communicate vital features of the urban community's embeddedness in physical space and the unique configurations of place that this has produced over time. The cartography falls into three categories: thematic maps and "thumbnails," newly drawn for this publication, and existing (mainly historical) maps. The thumbnail maps accompany entries on locations and enable readers to situate a place within the metropolitan area. Readers of all entries can refer to the "Metropolitan Chicago Reference Map" that follows this Introduction for spatial orientation and an overview of the metropolitan area. The existing maps serve either as illustrations suggesting how space was perceived at a particular time, or as resources that the editors considered sufficient to the encyclopedia's cartographic imperatives and therefore publishable in their original form. In most cases, however, both the reference and interpretive agendas of the project required the creation of new maps, all of which grew out of a careful process of conceptualization, research, visual design, and scholarly review overseen by the cartographic editor. Topics found in map legends and captions are indexed but are not cross-referenced. The cartography in general suggests new ways of looking at space, time, people, institutions, and historical processes in metropolitan Chicago.

Mapping the Future

American Historical Association president Lynn Hunt observed in 2002 that the many recently published encyclopedias "usually represent a summing up of what has been accomplished rather than a forging forward." This book is intended instead to be both a platform for moving forward and part of the process of moving forward. Like most reference books it rests on a foundation of work generated by many scholars over many years. But it also has required substantial new research. Project staff found scores of immigrant groups that had begun to establish themselves in Chicago and other American cities but had not yet drawn the attention of scholars. These entries demanded not only primary research but also fieldwork; their lack of bibliographical citations signals a scarcity of published sources. Even more striking is the thin historiography on Chicago's suburbs. Most of the entries on suburban municipalities required considerable digging into primary sources and local histories. In addition, many other entries reflect the imbalance in current scholarship between studies of city and suburb, suggesting the vast territory that remains to be explored. Historians have, for instance, written many fine books on the history of policing in American cities, and a literature has also begun to emerge on firefighting. Research on these activities in suburban communities is at best scarce. The same could be said for a wide variety of topics, from art to machine politics to work culture. Innumerable entries, drawing on slivers of existing scholarship and forays into primary sources, invite further scholarly attention, especially within a metropolitan frame. More than just an expansion of attention beyond the city, metropolitan history demands attention to questions of interdependence that not only have influenced the past but also will shape the future. The editors hope that this publication will whet rather than satisfy the curiosity of its readers, thereby stimulating new research, not just on Chicago but other cities as well.

James R. Grossman
Ann Durkin Keating
Janice L. Reiff
Spring 2004