Foster Street

Foster Street, Chicago Illinois, 1856 to Today

In 1856 we have 2 records showing that Edward and Mary (nee Begley) Barry were living in Chicago.

The 1856 City Directory listing says that they lived on Foster street between Jefferson and Desplaines, that they are from Ireland, and that they have been in Chicago 3 months. St. Patrick's church where the baptism took place is a few blocks from Foster Street at the Corner of Adams and Desplaines. Also in the later pension application of Martin Berry (son of Edward's brother Martin) he mentions that they lived on Foster Street when he was a small child.

Carla, Bill and Geralyn Barry went to downtown Chicago to find out what Foster Street looks like now. It is very near the I-290/ I-90 interchange and is currently the site of a Greyhound Bus Station. We also visited the Chicago Historical Society and found that they had a drawing that was done of Chicago in 1857 by I.T. Palmatary, called the Bird's Eye View of Chicago. This is a very large drawing and very detailed and we had them take a photograph of the area around Foster Street.

Here are three images showing Foster street: an 1868 map, a section of the 1857 Bird's Eye View, and a 1996 aerial photo. Red Arrows Mark the spot. All views are from the Chicago River looking West.

1868 Rufus Blanchard Map of Chicago courtesy of the Davis Rumsey Collection

1857 Bird's Eye view of Chicago from the Chicago Historical Society

1996 Alex S McLean Aerial Photo

Current Google Map with Foster Street overlay

It is probably in the mist just beyond the boat masts in the Southwest facing photograph taken in 1858 from the top of the Courthouse in Chicago.

To see a 1M resolution USGS Aerial Photograph of the same area click here \ or a USGS Topographical Map here.

Foster street used to be called Division as shown on this 1857 map.

And was later called Law Avenue as shown on this 1906 map.


Chicago addresses were renumbered in 1909. A detailed list of how the addresses changed can be found here. Not only did houses get renumbered, streets got renamed. A good summary of the street name changes can be found here

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 started about 7 blocks south of Harrison near the corner of Dekoven and Jefferson and moved north up Jefferson for two block, then seems to have moved east and missed the Foster Street neighborhood. There is a nice map showing the areas affected by the fire here.