From alleys to aldermen, Chicago's fortunes tied to charts and graphs

Maps don't just describe the landscape. They can transform it.

It's because of a map that Chicago has 1,900 miles of alleys, the most in the world. Maps were key in making the lakefront beautiful -- and in helping to ruin some neighborhoods.

A 172-year-old map is at the center of the ongoing dispute in Chicago about building the new Children's Museum in Grant Park.

Maps have made the careers of some Chicago alderman -- and destroyed those of others. Indeed, Paul M. Green, a professor of policy studies at Roosevelt University, says his mentor, the late Milton Rakove, a University of Illinois at Chicago political scientist, often observed, "One mapmaker is worth 500 precinct workers."

Maps have shaped Chicago. And still do.

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