About Chicago Cityscape
Chicago Cityscape tracks changes to buildings in Chicago neighborhoods using open data
Chicago Cityscape makes neighborhood, property, and construction development data accessible to all.
- We track demolitions, teardowns, business licenses, and building permits and violations.
- We emphasize development near transit, of affordable housing, preservation, and special projects awaiting city approval.
- We promote development news on the South and West Sides.
Chicago Cityscape was founded on March 30, 2014, to simplify finding building projects and the individuals and businesses who make them using the city's open and extensive neighborhood development datasets. A blog post about our sixth anniversary in 2020 described Chicago Cityscape's original name and first product.
Who makes it
Founder and CEO - Steven is an urban planner who creates apps and maps about active transportation modes and land use patterns in Chicago. He previously consulted on zoning, urban planning, and real estate technology for MAP Strategies. He graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago's College of Urban Planning and Public Administration (CUPPA), worked at the Chicago Department of Transportation, Active Transportation Alliance, and Streetsblog Chicago. He is a member of the Landmarks Illinois 50th Anniversary Task Force; Urban Land Institute's ADU Task Force (past) and Resiliency Initiative; Lambda Alpha International Ely Chapter; Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) Land Use Committee.
Business Development - Casey believes - and research shows - where you live affects your education, economic, and health outcomes. His professional career has been focused on bringing resources to communities to improve those outcomes. He earned a degree in Political Science from North Park University with a focus in Urban Planning from the University of Helsinki. He worked as the Dir. of Development & Community Engagement for the Albany Park Community Center as well as an Economic Development consultant for the City of Chicago. Following his run for City Council in 2019, Casey went to work for an AI software company to expand his knowledge of tech applications in community development work.
Contact Casey: [email protected]
Advisory Board - Paola Aguirre is the founder of Borderless, urban design consultancy based in Chicago, and Creative Grounds. Paola has been trained as an architect and urban designer, and her professional experience includes working with government, universities and architecture/urban design offices both in Mexico and the United States.
Advisory Board - Elle Ramel is an urban planner and passionate about helping the City of Chicago and the region. She is the Chicago Director of GET Cities. Formerly, she was Development Director at Farpoint Deveopment, leading the redevelopment of the former Michael Reese Hospital Site in Bronzeville; Chief of Staff at City Digital (UI Labs) and prior to that worked in digital urban planning software at PositivEnergy Practice, and the Chicago Mayor's Office in Economic Development.
Advisory Board - Daniel Ronan is an arts, culture, and heritage professional based in Chicago specializing in strategic planning, fundraising, and public engagement. He brings a decade of experience in the nonprofit sector, working in museums, tourism, international relations, and community development corporations. Daniel started the Resilient Heritage blog and firm in 2014 to showcase how arts, culture, and heritage organizations communicate their benefits to society. Daniel left his work for nonprofits in March 2019 to serve as the Manager of Operations for Mayor Lori Lightfoot's successful mayoral campaign. He managed the politician's 13 campaign offices. After the election, he decided to expand his practice full-time as principal in May 2019, deepening its focus and increasing its partnerships with philanthropic and governmental sectors. His chief aim is to connect people through sustained personal relationships, elevating the work of mission-based organizations.
Resilient Heritage (a consultancy)
Advisory Board - Mike Anguiano is a Co-Founder and Principal at Monarch Realty Partners, a leading commercial real estate brokerage firm. Prior to his commercial real estate career, Mike was a technologist and helped companies organize, sort, and understand massive amounts of internal, proprietary data. He uses his background in technology, real estate analysis, and brokerage to help real estate investors identify and act on market opportunities. Mike is an active member of the Urban Land Institute and has his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Northwestern University.
Advisory Board - Sarah Wick has a passion for sustainable development and focuses on preserving affordable housing for future generations. She is a project manager for Related Midwest since 2013 and is responsible for the financing, acquisition, and transformation of nearly a dozen affordable housing communities in Chicago and the Midwest. Her most recent project is Lathrop, a $170 million investment to create 414 units of mixed income housing on a former Chicago Housing Authority site. Sarah began her career with the Cleveland Housing Network. She has worked as a project manager for New York-based developer, Jonathan Rose Companies, and Boston-based developer, The Community Builders. Sarah holds a Bachelors of Arts from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and a Master of Urban Planning from Pratt Institute.
Advisory Board - Morgan Malone is a public servant, expert in human-centered design and collective impact, and dedicated resident of the Southside of Chicago. Morgan has worked across the civic landscape in a variety of roles that have informed her holistic lens and approach to finding solutions and fixing systems. Known for her aptitude in building and restructuring systems and initiatives, Morgan is an experienced civic leader, skilled strategist, and consistent figure in Chicago’s neighborhood and economic development sphere. She is a board member for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.
Data Analyst Emeritus - Samantha is a Community Data Analyst at the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee who analyzes data for grants and Choice Neighborhoods reports, and generally assists the organization to provide socially and environmentally sustainable housing in the Cream City. Samantha is an urban planner who graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago's College of Urban Planning and Public Administration (CUPPA), and has worked in communications at Congress for New Urbanism (CNU) and UIC's Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy (IRRPP). Samantha was Chicago Cityscape's first staffer, creating original maps using our data, and writing analysis for our newsletter.
Data we use
We use open data from various public sources.
Open data frees public information and is made available without restrictions, without cost to the user, and in a format that's easily transformed. This means a table of information stored as a table, instead of stored as an image or a PDF. It means an API that can be called upon to provide a fast answer. More specifically, open data is that which can be downloaded for free and opened in a spreadsheet or GIS application.
These data may contain personally identifying information, including names, addresses, and phone numbers, all of which are part of the public record when the person submits an application for a building permit, business license, or another process.
Everyone can create a Chicago Cityscape Neighbor account for free and access additional building permits data as well as subscribe to daily (when there's activity) updates about a specific neighborhood, ward, or other boundary.
Architecture, building, construction, and development industry professionals who become Cityscape Permits members gain access to all of the building permits and violations data, and can export these data. Cityscape Permits also comes with significantly more Address Snapshot lookups each day.
Architecture, building, construction, and development industry professionals who become Cityscape Pro members gain access to the full suite of building and property data and analysis tools. Pro members can export all of our data, and comes with unlimited Address Snapshot lookups each day.
Use our API to programmatically retrieve political, zoning, and geographic information about addresses and properties in Cook County. The API is documented on our GitHub account and is available to Pro members.
Don't have time to search through our data? Do you need analysis you can't find in our tools? We can develop custom reports and analyses. Contact us and tell us what you need.
This is a partial list of organizations that we have financially supported.
- Chicago Anti Eviction Campaign (2020)
- I Grow Chicago (2020)
- West Town Bikes (2018-2020)
- Humboldt Park Food Not Bombs (2020)
- Albany Park Community Center (2020)
- Chicago Community Bond Fund - It's hard to stablilize a neighborhood when its residents are awaiting trial stuck in jail purely because of an inability to pay.
- ChiHackNight - Sponsor for 2017 through 2020
- Teamwork Englewood - Donor to the Quality of Life Fund in 2017
- "The Area" documentary - Title sponsor of the fall 2016 fundraiser
Chicago Cityscape uses many open source tools, packages, libraries, and APIs, including Pelias & Geocode.earth, Leaflet, and several Composer packages, zoning district colors from Second City Zoning. We have open sourced some of our own creations on GitHub.
Our geocoder – software that turns a keyword or address search into map coordinates – is based on open source data, including from OpenStreetMap via Geocode.earth. We also use the ESRI geocoder as a backup. We contribute to OpenStreetMap by adding features – buildings, addresses, streets, and restaurants – to ensure that you find what you're looking for when you search Chicago Cityscape.
We use Gusto for payroll.
Our database lives in DigitalOcean.