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Reese, Theodore

 Person

Publisher Theodore Reese’s map of Evanston, published around 1876, is presumed to be the oldest map of the city, an estimated seven years the senior of Snyder’s map, published in 1883, which previously held the title of the oldest map of Evanston. The map, measuring 4 by 3 ½ feet in size, includes central Evanston, as well as two separate settlements to the north and south. It is an historical image of the burgeoning area that, by the mid-19th century, was purchased by Northwestern University founding trustee Orrington Lunt. The land bought by Lunt would later be expanded through acquisitions by other university trustees including Philo Judson who submitted the original plat for a village named Evanston (after Northwestern trustee John Evans). Judson’s name is featured on the map itself in an advertisement for P. Judson and Co. “Suburban Real Estate” of Evanston. The map heavily features advertisements of the era on its top, bottom and sides, with references to Northwestern University “T.C. Hoag, Treasurer,” E. McKey “Fashionable Bootmaker,” G.M. Huntoon “Family Groceries & Provisions,” as well as real estate firms, attorneys, insurance companies and Theodore Reese, the map publisher. George Ritzlin, owner of an antiquarian map business on Central Street, came into possession of the map in 2006. It had been sitting in the basement of an Evanston resident’s home, after being in his family’s possession for at least 40 years. In its time at the Evanston resident’s home, the map had begun falling apart, only held together by the cloth fabric it was mounted on. After extensive restoration efforts by library conservators, it has been restored to most of its former glory with missing fragments shaded in with watercolor. Now residing in the Northwestern University Archives, the map is an insight into Evanston property of the time period when the map was published, for which records are kept which state block and lot numbers rather than street addresses. The preservation of this map keeps it as a viable and valuable tool for reflecting back on the history and development of the city of Evanston.

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