Family History Research

City of Chicago Zoning Department Maps

I posted this last week on my Chicago Family History blog, but the process should be shared here as well.

I have been doing a lot of Property research lately in an attempt to learn more about my ancestors. Looking online for some maps of neighborhoods I came across the City of Chicago’s Department of Zoning Maps. There are many things that make this website’s zoning tool so useful. In no particular order, here they are:

  • I can type in 3145 S. Wentworth and a map will pop up showing a circle where that property is. Sadly it is now part of the Dan-Ryan Expressway so I cannot see what the house looks like.  If I type in 3154 S. Ridgeway Ave, a map pops up that has this house. Take a look. It shows the house plus additional buildings on the property.
  • A key on the right side of the screen allows you to select, or deselect, layers to view such as area schools, cemeteries, water sources, streets, metra stations and more.
  • If you click the Identify icon on the left column and then the property you are searching, up pops a window that gives you information including the PIN for the property. Identifying the PIN is the first step in property research in Cook County.  You are also able to access the Cook County Record of Deeds website, Cook County Assessor and CNT, from this popup screen. Very handy!
  • By clicking the Cook County Assessor’s link it will pull up that property on their website with assessed value and some neighborhood and home information. Click on the Recorder of Deeds link and it pulls up the Deeds searchable online for that property. Click on any of the document numbers and the legal description of the property appears. That is step two in obtaining property records.
  • I like that I can zoom out and view the surrounding streets and properties. It gives me a better visual as to where my families lived in relation to each other. That can provide clues on how they met as well.

Play around on this website when you have some time. If the home is still standing, or even if it is not, you can see where it is/was and obtain some valuable information on your family.

Want to know more? Check out my Genealogy Using Chicago Maps and Property Records Tip Sheet available on the Kindle and Nook. This guide will walk you through step by step on how to find and view Chicago property records. It provides many mapping resources to view the footprints of the homes in which your ancestors lived and the surrounding neighborhood. Real life research examples are also provided with additional resources.

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