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Area Aerial Photographs

Some time ago a member of our society visited the website for the Map and Geography Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  The Library has assembled an awesome 'Aerial Photos Database'.  A small piece of this database includes aerial photography of our area from 1938.  These photographs contain detail far beyond what can be displayed via the Internet....but here are some reduced and compressed images from this treasure trove of photographs. 

All photographs are 'thumbnails' and can be expanded by clicking on them.  These pictures overlap each other to provide a better feel of how they fit together.

North West:  The first photograph includes parts of Westchester and Hillside.  The major east-west arteries are 12th Street (Roosevelt Road) and 22nd Street (Cermak).  Wolf Road is the major north-south street.  The railroad crossing at Wolf Road near Harrison Street is visible in the upper right quadrant of the photograph.  The Mount Carmel Cemetery is in the middle top third of the photo (north of Roosevelt Road).  Its network of roads is noticeable.  The Queen of Heaven Cemetery is immediate south (down) across Roosevelt Road from Mount Carmel Cemetery.  Oak Ridge Cemetery is just barely coming into view on the extreme middle right side.

North East:  The photograph on the left includes parts of Bellwood, Hillside and Westchester.  The intersection of 12th Street and Mannheim Road is in the extreme lower left hand corner.  In the enlargement to the right we have the area bounded by Bellwood, 12th Street (Roosevelt Road) and Gardner Road (formerly Puscheck Road).  Note the cluster of early homes along Bohland, Linden and Rice as well as another along 31st and 32nd Avenues.


West Central:  To the left we see the area from Roosevelt Road to south of Cermak.  Wolf Road is the major north-south street.  In the extreme right center we can see the outline of 'planned' residential blocks reaching to Mayfair.

Did you know the area had its own airstrip?  The Evers farmland on Roosevelt Road (west of the cemetery) was the location of the Yackey Airport which offered a 5-minute flight over Maywood for $5.00.  Charles A. Lindbergh stopped at this hangar to visit his pilot friends and ate lunch at the Lilac Lodge.  The enlargement to the right is the area currently bounded by Roosevelt, Haase, Canterbury and Wolf.  The dark diagonal 'smudge' in the center of the photo is the runway.  This strip was used by US Mail pilots including Charles Lindbergh.  The strip was also used as a training area by student pilots.

Central:  This photograph contains the area bounded by Wolf Road, Twelfth Street (Roosevelt Road), Mannheim Road and 22nd Street (Cermak).  The first four blocks west of Mannheim (north of Cermak) have been improved and a few houses are visible.  Farther west some preparation work has been performed as the outlines of residential blocks are visible. 

Glen Oak Cemetery is south and west of the intersection of Roosevelt Road and Mannheim.  Oak Ridge Cemetary is immediately to its left (west).  The Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad1 tracks cut across the upper right (northeast) corner of the photo.

East Central:  The next photograph contains the area running from west of Mannheim Road to the Village of Broadview.  Mannheim is the prominent north-south street.  Roosevelt Road (12th Street) and 22nd (Cermak) Streets are the major east-west thoroughfares.  The Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad1 cuts diagonally across from the right center in Broadview, crossing Roosevelt Road then Mannheim.  The Westchester Village Hall is barely visible in the triangle formed by 12th Street, Mannheim Road and the Indiana Harbor Belt railroad tracks.  East of Mannheim a scattering of homes can be detected in the center of this photograph.  However, several residences have already appeared west of Mannheim on Stratford and Hawthorne.

Here is a close-up of the area around the Westchester Village Hall of 1938.  Westchester's Rapid Transit Line passes under Roosevelt Road in the center of this picture.  This line also passes under the tracks of the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad1 just north of Roosevelt Road.  In this and the previous picture we should note the streets (Balmoral and Westchester Blvd) were arranged to parallel the electric rail line south to near the intersection of 22nd Street and Mannheim/LaGrange Road.


Here is a close-up of the Mannheim/LaGrange and 22nd Street area.  The train station is visible at the end of the line as seen from the air and the ground.  There is more on the area of the "Town Center" from a Special Editionof the Westchester Tribune of Tuesday, September 28, 1926. See the Westchester Tribune Sep 28 1926 front page and an artist's interpretation on the George F. Nixon page.  (Photo on the right from the Chicago Transit Authority Collection)

We should also note the woody area crossing to the north side of 22nd Street.  Immediately south of this view is Salt Creek.  Salt Creek's original (natural) path took it north of 22nd Street in this woody area.  When 22nd Street was constructed the path of the Creek was diverted to avoid the construction of two bridges east of Mannheim.

South:  This area is bounded by 22nd Street, Mannheim/LaGrange Road, 31st Street and Wolf Road.  Salt Creek snakes it way through the right side of the picture.   Upon crossing Mannheim Road, Balmoral becomes Dorchester.  Dorchester finishes the curve stopping at then unimproved Sunnyside north of 22nd Street.  South of 22nd the streets of Sunnyside, Stratford, Hawthorne and Belleview have been improved although no houses can be detected on any of them.  The 'boom' would come later.  There was a very practical reason for the arrangement of Dorchester and other street west of Mannheim Road.  The legal contract creating the Westchester branch included wording to permit the line to continue on to Warrenville where it would connect back to the Chicago, Aurora and Elgin Railroad.  See Westchester Rapid Transit Contract.

The photograph above centers on the intersection of Wolf and Cermak (22nd Street) Roads.

In the upper left hand corner of the photograph to the right is a tighter view of the area of the Immanuel Lutheran Church and its property.  We have blown up this photograph to highlight the extend of the property, the parsonage, the third school house, the location of the Franzosenbusch Prairie house at is previous location and the church.  This area was the center of the historic Franzosenbusch commnity.

South East:  This photograph includes portions of Westchester and LaGrange Park.  The area is south and east of the Mannheim/LaGrange Road and 22nd Street intersection which can be seen in the extreme upper left-hand corner to the left of the 'W' in the Aerial Photos Database label 'BWQ-8-69'.  The major north-south "street" about a third from the right side of the photograph is not 25th Avenue -- it is the railroad line complete in 1897 as the Chicago, Hammond and Western -- later named the Indiana Harbor Belt.*  Salt Creek and the trees along its course are the most prominent natural geographic features

*The correct identification the railroad was submitted by Dale Henigman, a former resident of Westchester from 1946 to 1972.  He now resides in Oklahoma.  Thank you Dale Henigman.

Aerial Photograph of Westchester -- looking northeast from west of Wolf Road and near 31st Street.


1This Indiana Harbor Belt line (also known as the Belt RR) later became part of the Illinois Central Rail Road.

 The Map and Geography Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign reserves all rights to the Aerial Photos Database and its contents.  Their Library's Website is at http://images.library.uic.edu/projects/aerial_photos/.

Last Modified:  10/13/2003