A New Archive of Chicago Buildings Goes Beyond the Loop – the new digital archive Chicago Architecture Data is the work of software developer and architectural photographer / writer John Morris and team. They’ve drawn on information from the 1995 Chicago Historical Resources Survey, city and county tax records and assessor’s data, the blog Chicago Patterns (another Morris effort) as well as systematic in-person visits to neighborhoods every weekend. Right now the entries concentrate on structures built before 1940, but there are plans to add buildings from the 1940s through to more recent times later this year.
The project indexes buildings by community area (of which Chicago has 77 demarcated zones), address, architectural style, architect, date, size, and other identifiers. The team is now developing a neighborhood style guide, as well as a digital catalog of architectural features, to show how the prevalence of certain architectural styles correlates with growth periods city-wide.
The site is beautifully designed, with a clean look and clear navigation, making it easy to browse or to search for specific buildings (by street or address), areas, or styles. Click on the links to the right of an entry for a specific structure (under “External References”) and you’re taken to detailed information from tax records, the assessor’s office, and from Chicago Cityscape, a site that maps new construction, renovation, and demolition in Chicago. If it’s photos you want, you’re only going to find one per building in Chicago Architectural Data. It’s usually quite a good one, but only one and if it was taken by Morris or his team it’s licensed under Creative Commons. For more photos try Morris’ other website Chicago Patterns and its list of resources.
This is a great resource for anyone interested in exploring the huge variety of buildings in the Chicago area. If you know of other interesting or unusual online photo collections of buildings in specific cities, I’d love to know about them.