Some GIS Data Created at the University of Chicago Map Collection

This page provides links to several ESRI shapefiles that were created at the University of Chicago Map Collection. To use these files you need a GIS program like ArcGIS. The files have been saved as .zip files; to use them you must unzip them.

The Chicago files were all created during the 1990s out of then-contemporary TIGER files, and they are in some cases not free of the problems of TIGER files from that period (crooked streets, for example, even for streets lined up perfectly with the cardinal points). All these files have been superseded. More current files are available from the the city of Chicago page of GIS files.

We also provide access to some more recent non-Chicago historical files created by Map Collection staff for patrons, who have agreed to share the files with others. We are very grateful for their generosity.

The material was created by the staff of the Map Collection at the University of Chicago Library. The files may be freely copied, but you should most definitely read the caveats in the notes for each section. You should attribute authorship to the Map Collection, University of Chicago Library, and to the personal authors mentioned in the texts.

Chicago files

Chicago ward map, 1998. This is the ward map for Chicago that was in effect between 1998 and early 2003. The file was derived from the Tiger 1998 voting district file. George Stachokas has edited the file, altering some of the boundaries to make them more closely resemble the boundaries shown in the city of Chicago's published ward maps.

Chicago ward map, 1992. This map was current from 1992 until 1998, when litigation forced some boundary changes. This file contains accurate straight lines in some places where the corresponding street files have inaccurate crooked lines. The author of this boundary file is Christopher Siciliano. It was edited very slightly in 2001 by George Stachokas.

Chicago ward map, 1986. This is the ward map that preceded the 1992 map. The file was generated largely from voting district boundaries (which are numbered by ward) and may consequently contain some minor errors. Christopher Siciliano did a considerable amount of cleaning up of this file.

Community areas. Since the 1920s Chicago has been officially divided into "community areas" of which there are now 77. The sociologists of the Chicago School who divised the community areas attempted to create socially homogeneous regions. In practice, some of the community areas have coincided more clearly with widely recognized neighborhood boundaries than others, and, with time, certain community areas have come to seem particularly artificial. Nonetheless, the City of Chicago compiles many statistics by community area. This file consists for the most part of consolidated tract polygons. Christopher Siciliano corrected these boundaries for those parts of the city--near O'Hare and in two small areas on the South Side--where the tract boundaries do not coincide with community area boundaries.

Police districts. This file gives 1998 boundaries of the districts used by the Chicago Police Department. It is derived largely from the maps at the Police Department's Website (click here for a later version). Author of shapefile: Christopher Siciliano.

Chicago city limits. This file corrects several problems in the original TIGER/line files, notably the inclusion of parts of Lake Michigan within the city limits, and the numerous irregularities that are a function of the way the TIGER/line files were created. This file will consequently not line up with TIGER/line streets or tracts; it will line up with the 1992 ward boundary file. Its author is Christopher Siciliano.

Files for places other than Chicago

World in 1925. First-order political boundaries in approximately January 1925. Accompanying dbf file shows status of each political unit. Disputed areas generally have their own polygons. Author of file is Sam Brown.

Polish historical boundaries. Includes shapefiles showing the boundaries of Poland at the time of the Third Partition; the Duchy of Warsaw in 1807; the Kingdom of Poland under the Czars; and Interwar Poland; also województwa, 1945-1968. Author of file is Sam Brown.

Christopher Winters
Bibliographer for Geography, Anthropology, and Maps
JRL 370, (773) 702-8761