Ever wondered what businesses once occupied a store front before the current business? Now you don’t have to wonder. You can check the special list of previous businesses that we’ve prepared.

First a few caveats: It is not complete, neither with respect to all storefronts nor with respect to all the businesses that have occupied a given storefront, and it does not give precise dates when a particular business began and when it ended.

The list was compiled from various sources which are given in the right-hand column: city directories, various kinds of telephone directories, Chicago Tribune articles and advertisements, fire insurance maps, church publications, and personal observations. The sources are given as abbreviations. Click here for a list of the abbreviations used.

Where the exact date was given, such as from a daily newspaper, the exact date is shown. In other cases only the month was given. In such cases, the day of the month is shown as the first and the date is in italics to show that it is an imputed date and not an exact date. In a few cases, only the year is given; in such case the imputed date is January 1; this date is also italicized. This was done to enable all the dates to be sequenced in chronological order. For city directories, the month is assumed to be June.

The list is sequenced first by street, then by address, and finally by date. The address is given in two numbers, e.g. 6136-6138; if the storefront has just one number the number is repeated, e.g. 6136-6136. This arrangement was done to enable proper sequencing of the addresses. If the date is before 1910, the old address number was converted to the current address number.

In several cases, an entry for a business on the same date will be repeated; that is because in a classified telephone directory a business may have been listed under more than one heading. Also, in some cases residential addresses were included, e.g. references to nursing homes and apartments.

The listing will be periodically updated as more sources are found. The list was last updated as of May 2014.

If you would like to help us expand the list, please use the "contact form" and we will get back to you.  It is work that you can do from home using your computer.

The list was compiled by LeRoy Blommaert with assistance from Megha Bamola, Bleue Benton, Taylor Haran, Roger Flahety, Marsha Holland, Alex Lindsley, Jeff Pavia, Jake Rogers, Lauren Vaughan, and Tom Walsh.

Each of the files is in PDF format.  You can search within each PDF by clicking "Control F." When you do this a small search page will appear in the lower left.

Click here to see the list of businesses on Broadway.

Click here to see the list of businesses on Clark St.

Click here to see the list of businesses on other streets.

Note: The 1928 Polk Reverse Directory gives information on businesses as of that year.  It includes all the streets of Chicago.  To find business on Broadway in Edgewater, for example, one would have to click on the letter "B" on the left of the screen.  The next step is to click on the arrow in front of the letter "B."  Doing this will bring up  a list of all the street names beginning with a B.  In the example, there are three pages for Broadway.  For Edgewater, Broadway begins at 5200 (as does Clark). You will want to select the 2nd page, and then then scroll down on the selected page to find the Broadway address you want. If it is not on this page continue to the next page.  With few exceptions, the businesses in this directory are NOT included in the lists above. Click here for a link to this directory.