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Ye Olde Google Maps

By Daniel Hubbard | December 9, 2009

I was just catching up on the Sunday paper (yes, it is Wednesday, I’ve been a bit busy). The Chicago Tribune ran a story entitled Google Maps inexplicably mixes Chicago’s past, present. It turns out that there are more than a few anachronisms lurking in Google Maps. Some of the places labeled on Google’s version of Chicago are up to one hundred years out of date. I’ve run into that myself. According to Google Maps, I grew up near “Mechanics Grove Road.” As far as I know, no such road has ever existed. On the other hand, it is believable that it might have been called that at some point in the past. It heads into what is now the town of Mundelein and that town, long ago, was called Mechanics Grove. It has had at least four names since then—Holcomb, Rockefeller, Area and Mundelein. The name Holcomb went into use in 1885, so Mechanics Grove hasn’t been around for awhile.

Certainly the best place to find old obsolete place names is in maps of the appropriate time period. Nevertheless, it seems that even when you know a place name is no longer in use, ultramodern Google Maps might just give you a bit of history from a search on that outdated name. I honestly don’t know if anything useful might turn up this way but maybe there are some clues hiding. If nothing else, it might give you something to ponder.

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2 Responses to “Ye Olde Google Maps”

  1. Sonia Schoenfield Says:
    December 14th, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Hi Dan,

    Rt. 176 heading out of Libertyville to Mundelein was indeed known as Mechanics Grove Road, about 100 years ago! The road is labeled as such in our old atlases, so you are right in adivising your readers to check the old maps.

    This old postcard http://www.digitalpast.org/u?/cookmemo001,261 shows the road as it passes by Libertyville’s old high school, now known as the Brainerd Building.

    Sonia

  2. Daniel Hubbard Says:
    December 14th, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Thanks Sonia! It is nice to confirm that the name that Google has was reality at some point in the past. The old information they have by mistake is only useful if it is old and not just erroneous. Thanks again.

    Dan

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