July 27, 2016

Mapping it Out

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. image

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 love looking at old maps of Baltimore, and had a chance to carefully study the Warner & Hanna 1804 map of Baltimore, with one of my ancestors’ houses on it. image

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. 1912 capture

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.

You can easily see the Washington Monument, image

the Johns Hopkins medical campus, imagethe Camden Yards warehouses, image

Davidge Hall and the Bromo Tower, image

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. 1912 capture colour

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.cushion-baltimore I am also going to print it out on a dozen or so 11x17 pieces of paper and stick in on a wall somewhere.


  1. So tell me Meg, as I first met someone from Baltimore in the late 1970s to early 80's in a BabyBell training class. I got the impression she was glad she left Baltimore for Miami. ( We were about to embark on a decade of horribleness in Dade County ) Baltimore back then late 70's early 80's on a scale of one to 10 ten being great..... thanks.

    1. I barely remember Baltimore in the 70's, but all of my memories are good.

  2. My daughter recently moved to the bldg. across the street from the Bromo Seltzer bldg. and her bldg. is on this map! She has been searching for something for her high LR walls. Well, this is a winner! Meg, I have been following your blog for years. We live near DC but spent 12 years in Baltimore and loved it. Such a great city!

    1. How cool! Here's a link to the downloadable colourized map. If she/you know photoshop, divide it into either 8.5x11 or 11x17 sections and print them out. Or just reduce it.

    2. https://www.dropbox.com/s/0wb67lwz76w2lrz/1912%20capture%20colour.jpg?dl=0

  3. Wow, Meg, that is gorgeous! So well-colored! And what a great present for a Baltimorean;).


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