Most map fans love 19th century bird’s eye views – lithographs of cities and town centers showing buildings and landscapes as viewed from above. If your town was near a railroad line and had a few hundred homes and businesses in the late 1800s, there might be a bird’s eye view available. The Library of Congress has the largest collection – more than 1,500 city views.
The Boston Public Library has quite a few views, and an original sign-up sheet from 1876 listing the cost and some buyers of the Dedham, MA view. It’s a contract between author/publisher E. Whitefield and his customers. The sheet tells us that the view will cost $5.00 and that it will be either 20” or 35” wide. “200 copies must be subscribed for to make it 35”. Sales must have been good, because the final view measures a full 35” wide.
Note the plume of dark smoke from a small building on the left side of the view. A smoky factory was a sign of progress in the 1870s
Mr Whitefield emblazoned his name on a roof in the foreground – a good way to advertise for more business.
——————————————————————————————————–The Boston Public Library (Leventhal Collection) has an unfinished version of the Dedham view which may have been used by Whitefield to make a few more sales just before publication. It was common for 19th century lithographers to set up shop in a local hotel for a week or two to display a rough copy and take orders for prints. The finished Library of Congress’ copy of the Dedham view is tinted in color and has a title and a sky filled with clouds.
You can buy the Dedham print (and many other town/city prints) at the web site shop.old-maps.com.