A Map of Chicago’s Gangland from Authentic Sources Designed to Inculcate the Most Important Principles of Piety and Virtue in Young Persons And Graphically Portray the Evils and Sin of Large Cities
By: Bruce-Roberts Inc.
Date: 1931 (Published) Chicago
Dimensions: 22 x 27.8 inches (55.9 cm x 70.6 cm)
One of the rarest and most sought-after pictorial maps of all time, the Gangland Map of Chicago burst with excitement, history, humor, and violence as it pays homage to the era of prohibition and organized crime in 1930s Chicago.
This pictorial map depicts Chicago during its notorious era of organized crime in the 1920s and early 1930s. At that time, Chicago’s lawlessness was an object of media fascination, receiving copious coverage in national newspapers and serving as dramatic fodder for many Hollywood scriptwriters. The map seems targeted at fans of these mobster stories, marking spots of famous killings, sites of clashes between police and bootleggers, and the homes and headquarters of notable gangsters. Its rarity is due to action taken by officials participating in organizing the upcoming World’s Fair. Fearing the map would leave a negative impression on prospective visitors the vast majority of these maps were destroyed before the fair took place.
Ostensibly, the map was designed with dual purposes, first of all to promote the upcoming World’s Fair of 1933 and, as the title suggests, “Designed to Inculcate the Most Important Principles of Piety and Virtue in Young Persons and Graphically Portray the Evils and Sin of Large Cities.” Despite these pompous and virtuous claims, the map is in fact a humorous comic-book style depiction of a Wild West scenario within Chicago. Mobsters’ and gang members’ names and their subsequent territories are clearly defined throughout the map.
Themes of death and murder abound on the map, even including the distance legend, which is labeled with shooting, murder and massacre rather than miles or other units of measure, and the compass rose which features a pistol in hand being fired for its northern indicator. Virtually every vignette features scenes of murder, mayhem, drink and/or the production and sale of it, and gambling. Lake Michigan is pictured with aircraft labeled Canadian Special which frequently flew in from Canada loaded with cargoes of cases containing alcoholic beverages ready to be enjoyed by the public in one of the many speakeasies throughout the city. It was this business of bootlegging alcohol during the prohibition era that propelled gangs in terms of fame, stature, power, influence, and wealth, and violence in a manner never before seen in American society.
Rarity of the Map
For all its creative imagery that draws in any viewer, the map was deemed a threat to the image of Chicago. Printed in 1931, just two years before Chicago would host its second World's Fair titled "The Century of Progress," the administrators say the map as a direct contrast the global reputation they were seeking to build. How could anyone look at such a map and think of it as progress? For this reason, mayor Alton J. Cermak decreed that every such example of this map that can be obtained was to be destroyed. A well-organized effort did just that and today there remain very few known examples. At the time of writing, we know of only six examples, this being the 7th.
Condition: Map is in A condition with minor fold separations professionally repaired. Color is bold and beautiful, margins are full but the paper is thin in the lower left corner, which has been reinforced on the verso.
This map is not linen backed, but it can be at buyer's request for no additional charge.
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