Survey Map of the Southern Fork Portage area
(Hardscrabble), 1821

The Hardscrabble/Chicago area was surveyed by surveyor John Walls in 1821. Survey plats, such as this excerpt, are perhaps the only reasonably accurate depictions of local conditions in the Chicago area in this time period.

To the left-hand side of map (along the West Fork of the South Branch of the Chicago river), ‘Portage House' is clearly marked. The dotted line proceeding to the west from the Portage House was the ‘Portage Road' (the only road marked in the area by the surveyor) to the Des Plaines valley. The southern Fork of the South Branch is identified as the ‘Head of Navigation,' which explains why the canal was built starting from this point.

Although this map is made from a survey, it is not 100 percent accurate. The river, for instance, is too close to the section line that is now Thirty-first street. (Cf. Andreas' Map of Chicago in 1830.) The dark lines on either side of the river are the limits of wooded groves, which alone made the land here valuable, since little timber was found about Chicago.


Source: William Rector, Township 39 North of the baseline, Range 14 East of the 3rd principal Meridian, Except that part of Section 16 which lies on the left or west side of the Chicago River (Saint Louis: Office of the Surveyor of the Lands of the United States in the States of Illinois and Missouri and the Territory of Arkansas, 1822); rpt. (microfilm) Office of the Secretary of State, Federal Township Plats, Vol. 14, reel 2 (Springfield: State of Illinois, 1982).

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