Welcome to the Chico Historical Geographic Information System (GIS). This analytical tool is designed to provide users an interactive historical research experience using modern mapping technologies. Primary source materials recovered from research repositories across California are presented using a unique interactive platform. The goal of this study is to transform historical documentation into an easily accessible format that can be interpreted across both space and time.

GIS is used to manipulate and analyze spatial data stored in layers that demonstrate both what and where features are located. Most often used to manage assets, assess environmental impacts, model geographical distribution, and investigate landscape pattern, GIS combines conventional cartography and rich spatial datasets developed from disparate data sources. The result is an intuitive information management system proficient as an effective research tool for a range of academic disciplines. In much the same way as a traditional GIS, a historical GIS stores spatially and temporally referenced objects, integrated to represent landscape change through time. Essentially, a historical GIS adds when to a traditional GIS, exposing new processes that can be easily visualized, explored and understood.

The study area for this project is Chico's oldest residential neighborhood known today as the South Campus Historic District, nominated to the National Register of Historic Places in 1991. The 166 parcels within the 23 blocks of the District are made up predominantly of university student housing, intermingled with a large office building currently occupied by AT&T, a Catholic Church, grade school and a small neighborhood commercial zone. There are 116 properties that are considered contributors to the historic integrity of the District. The neighborhood is 150 years old; the first lots were sold in 1862. The historic period under review in this study is 1862-1960.

You are now invited to take a virtual stroll through the historical geography of the neighborhood.

  • To learn about Chico's history and its historic preservation movement, click on the Background tab.
  • For more information about the source material included in this project, click on the Resources tab.
  • On the Map page, toggle the Sanborn Maps on and off to view structural changes through time. Pull the time slider around or skip through month to month to get to a time period you are interested in then click on a parcel to find information about that parcel.
    • To view ownership infomation, click on the Owner tab. Click on the hyperlink to view the deed record associated with the purchase or sale of the property.
    • To find out who lived there, click on the Census tab. The hyperlink will open the census record that contains additional interesting information.
    • To see historic photos of the people who lived there, click on the Personal Photo tab. Citation and additional information is available by clicking on the hyperlink.
    • To see historic photos of a structure that may or may not still be there, click on the Structural Photo tab. Citation and additional information is available by clicking on the hyperlink.
    • To find associated contemporary historical resource documentation of the property, click on the Modern tab. Click on the National Register Nomination hyperlink to view the description of each property written on the National Register nomination from 1991. If a Historic Resource Inventory form was completed for the property in the 1980's, a hyperlink to that document is available also.

Each experience is designed to be unique, allowing you to investigate the neighborhood on your terms and skip around to places and times that may be of interest to you. Get to know the early inhabitants of Chico, the homes they lived in and the businesses they built. Peel back the layers to get a glimpse of Chico's rich and dynamic local history.