Examples of Construction Resources
Fire Insurance Maps (Atlases)
Fire insurance maps offer a wealth of information. They indicate lot size, the outlines of buildings, their heights and materials, any changes made to lot or buildings, and when those changes were made (approximately). By comparing maps of the same neighborhood in different years, you can plat the changing character of that neighborhood.
Several companies (Sanborn, Rascher, Robinson, etc. for Chicago) published fire insurance maps. These maps were periodically updated until 1951. The dates of these revisions are listed in the front of each book. Check with your local fire inspector for leads to assist you with tracing this resource.
Various newspapers and building trades magazines regularly reported construction news based on reports received from architects' offices and building permit applications. Look in these publications for the weeks immediately before or following your permit date (or use a wider search if you still don't know the exact date).
Construction reports can be found in real estate columns in the Saturday or Sunday editions of newspapers and periodicals or in "contracts for bid" sections of any local or regional newspaper.
American Contractor (1897-1916; CHS)
Landowner (1869-77; CHS)
American Architect and Building News (1876-1938; AIC, UIC and CPL)
The Brickbuilder (1892-1916; AIC and CPL)
The Economist (1888-1946; CHS and CPL)
Real Estate and Building Journal (1872-1897; 1905-1909; CHS)
Inland Architect (for the years 1883-1898; AIC, CHS and CPL)
Information on architects
If your permit indicates an architect, you can look his/her name up in the card catalogue in the CHS, the Ryerson and Burnham Library or in the archives of the Ridge Historical Society. The Chicago Historic Resources Survey (Step 1) has an index of architects and their extant buildings identified in the survey. Other resources, which can be found at either library, are:
American Architects by Lawrence Wodehouse (1976)
Biographical Dictionary of American Architects (Deceased) by Henry and Elsie Withey (1956/1970)
Chicago Architects Design (1982)
History of Chicago (Vol. 3) by A.T. Andreas (1884-86)
Industrial Chicago: The Building Interests (vol. 1) (1891-96)
MacMillan Encyclopedia of Architects, ed. Adolf K. Placzek (1982)