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Interesting Aerial Photography - RonO's Ramblings — LiveJournal

Sep. 20th, 2007 03:18 pm Interesting Aerial Photography

Somewhere recently I came across a link, http://www.isgs.uiuc.edu/nsdihome/webdocs/ilhap/, to a collection of aerial photographs of Illinois taken between 1938 and 1941. Unfortunately, this data is in a format that requires a special reader that only works with Internet Exploiter.

I've looked over the pictures for several key areas, and found them very interesting.

First, I located Bartlett. After a bit of poking around on two pictures, I was able to locate my neighborhood. In 1938 (when the picture was taken) where my nice suburban neighborhood would rise in about 40 years was taken up with large open farm fields. I could spot a couple of farm houses off of Devon road in between the two very small towns of Bartlett and Ontarioville. While Bartlett was clearly bigger, it still was very small then. (Ontarioville ceased to exist as a separate town at some point, and is now the neighborhood around the Hanover Park train station, and would be hardly remembered if it wasn't for the name of the road that intersects County Farm before becoming the next incarnation of Devon).

Next I looked around Palatine and Arlington Heights. I was able to spot Staples Corner (Rand and Dundee) and was able to determine that nearly everywhere I lived in Palatine, and where I work in Arlington Heights were more farm fields. I did confirm that Palatine was a much bigger town then Bartlett in 1938 or 1939. I don't think I ever located Arlington Heights (the pictured aren't seamed like in Google Maps, so you have to manually move from picture to picture). I did, however, notices that Arlington International Racecourse (or whatever it was called at the time) was there, but surrounded by more farms.

Finally, I took a look at Wheaton. Wheaton itself was not that different from today -- at least near Downtown. However, where we lived for a few years near Roosevelt and County Farm was, you guessed it, more farm fields.

Although I knew it already, it was amazing to learn that in less than a century all of these farm fields would become built up suburbs, with only a few small tracts of farming left. Of course, when I first moved to the Chicago area, many of my parent's friends and acquaintances who grew up in the Chicago area not too long after these pictures were taken, would laugh when they heard I was complaining about how suburban and built up Palatine and Arlington Heights were, since these people remembered them as small farm towns on or just past the edge of the metro area.

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Date:September 21st, 2007 12:13 am (UTC)
Flip it around. Extrapolate outward. What's the next little town west of where you are? How long will it take for the suburb to absorb it?
Date:September 21st, 2007 02:38 am (UTC)
Due west, Sycamore which will probably merge into greater Elgin within 20 years unless Kane County's farm preservation efforts actually do something. I suspect that there may be a hole between 64 and 20 between Elgin and Genoa/Sycamore for a while after there is continuous suburb along both major routes.

17-18 years ago when I moved here, there wasn't much past Dundee. Now it is built out along 72 most of the way to 47, and it is getting close along 20.

Of course Chicago isn't alone either. A couple of years ago when I tried to show Derrick some desert near Albuquerque on New Years day (so the Petroglyph National Monument was closed) every where I looked I found houses. Similarly the high school I graduated from, which was in the middle of nowhere in 1984, is now in the middle of a fairly densely populated area, and next door to a major (for Albuquerque) shopping mall. Said high school has also been split and there are now three serving much of its original area, with my parent's neighborhood being served by an older school.
Date:September 21st, 2007 05:04 am (UTC)
I'm not using Internet Explorer, so I haven't examined your link. But tell me about the Wheaton pictures: does Grote Reber's 31-foot steerable paraboloid antenna show up in the photos? The time frame is about right! I'll google up the approximate address right away.
Date:September 21st, 2007 05:21 am (UTC)
I believe Reber's house was near the intersection of North Wheaton Street and West Wesley Street, a block or two north of Front Street and the railroad tracks, a couple of blocks west of Main Street. It's now a parking lot for a telephone-company building (I guess they have become AT&T once again).

The Earth's second radio telescope took years to build, but I think it was operational by about 1939.
Date:September 21st, 2007 02:40 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure if I can see the dish in the photo. I've done a screen capture and uploaded it to my site:

Click to view full size image
Click on the photo to see the full sized image.

Wheaton Street is the second north-south street from the right side of this shot and Wesley Street is the east-west street a block north of the bottom of the photo -- but it isn't as distinct as Front Street, so it can be tricky to find. The intersection seems to be lost in the trees (since the picture is from August 24, 1939, the trees were in full leaf).

I'm not sure if I can get more resolution out of the raw source or not. At this resolution I seem to be seeing grains already in the photo, so this may be about the best we can do.

As an aside, I noticed that west of Hale (1 block east of Wheaton) and north of Wesley there are some significant changes which aren't as obvious at a higher altitude.