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)
This visually appealing, rare and highly sought after 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.
Condition: Map is in B condition, originally issued folded and at some point dry mounted. There is some slight discoloration along a fold line and where adhesive tape has been removed. Light water staining in the area of the cartouche and minor loss to the top margin that has since been professionally restored.
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