Pictorial St. Louis

Pictorial St. Louis (Plate 2)
Richard J. Compton and Camille N. Dry, Pictorial St. Louis (1876), plate 2. Library of Congress.

On the Library of Congress’s map blog, World’s Revealed, Julie Stoner takes a look at a rather unusual example of a bird’s-eye (or panoramic) city map. “The Geography and Map Division has over 1,700 of these beautiful panoramic maps in the collection, but one item stands out above all the others as one of the crowning achievements of the art, Camille N. Dry’s 1875 atlas, Pictorial St. Louis; The Great Metropolis of the Mississippi Valley. A visually stunning atlas, instead of only one sheet, it was produced on 110 plates, which if trimmed and assembled creates a panorama of the city measuring about 9 by 24 feet.”

The Fitz Globe

Fitz Globe (Library of Congress)Last month on the Library of Congress’s map blog, Worlds Revealed, Julie Stoner shared the story of an educational globe with a unique mount invented by author and teacher Ellen Eliza Fitz. “While working as a governess, Fitz imagined a new globe mounting technique, as seen in the globe above, that would facilitate students’ understanding of the Earth’s daily rotation and annual revolution. In 1875, she was granted a patent for her invention. A copy of the patent with a sketch of the design, which can be seen below, is held in the Ellen Eliza Fitz papers at the Watertown Free Public Library in Massachusetts.” Read the rest at Worlds Revealed.

Frederick Pierce’s ‘Dazzle Camouflage’ Map of New York’s Nationalities

Map of City of New York showing the distribution of Principal nationalities by sanitary districts

At Worlds Revealed, the Library of Congress’s map blog, Tim St. Onge looks at, and provides the background on, a series of six maps prepared by Frederick E. Pierce for a report on living conditions in New York’s tenement housing in 1895, including a stunningly bizarre map of ethnic groups living in the city.

Pierce’s map of nationalities, however, is a more memorable, if confounding, centerpiece. Aiming to convey diversity among immigrant communities in New York, the map depicts the proportion of major “nationalities” in each sanitary district of the city. The result is a dizzying array of zigzag stripes and scattered points. As Pierce writes in his explanatory notes accompanying the Harper’s Weekly publication, the original map was produced in color and adapted to black and white for publication, but the reproduction “is almost as effective and quite as illustrative as the original.” Despite Pierce’s confidence, perhaps the average reader could be forgiven if they find the map to be more difficult to parse. In fact, the map seems to resemble more closely the dazzle camouflage, a design aimed at confusing the observer, used on British and American warships in the first half of the twentieth century.