Anyone who knows me knows that I L.O.V.E. maps! I think this comes from playing with the globe in my father’s study as a child. I’d spin it around and stick my finger on some foreign land and then try to learn about it.
Later, I learned to read nautical charts, and even had an office papered with the charts of the Chesapeake Bay. And of course, there’s the famous Turgot Plan de Paris, which I adhered to my dining room wall at my old house.
I recently came across a historic map of Baltimore that I’d never seen before, and neither had some of my more scholarly Baltimore historian friends. I was looking for a map on which I could find a street which no longer exists, so did a search for vintage Baltimore maps.
This is not technically a map, more of a bird’s eye drawing of the downtown, which, seven scant years before, been totally gutted by a fire. The downtown buildings, and significant landmarks further from the Inner Harbour are incrediblly clear and detailed. So, as this gets farther away from the “burnt district”, things get a lot sketchier.
and so much more.
Of course, I can’t leave well enough alone, so I applied my mad Photoshop skills to it while listening to the convention speeches, and colourized the map, mostly with brick red, copper and forest green and some pale blue, although we all know perfectly well that the Harbour and the Jones Falls never looked like that. I think that the colour gives the piece a lot of depth.
Although it’s not quite to scale, it’s a pretty amazing piece of work, originally done in pencil by Mr. Edward Spofford in the fall of 1911. There’s not a lot of information about this piece, like who comissioned it, and how it was sketched.
You can download a huge file of the map from the Library of Congress, here. I think I am going to have it printed out on fabric and make some pillow covers. I am also going to print it out on a dozen or so 11x17 pieces of paper and stick in on a wall somewhere.