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Enoch Pratt Free Library Digital Collections

About this collection

This 5 1/2 by 12 foot map of Baltimore was lithographer Edward Sachse's most ambitious work. The images in this digital collection allow the viewer not only to see the exquisite detail of the original map's 12 parts, but also to view and appreciate in composite form this achievement in art and mapmaking.

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Composite of Edward Sachse's bird's eye view of Baltimore, 1869Collection Location: Maryland Department, Enoch Pratt Free Library / State Library Resource Center

Collection Overview: Edward Sachse (1804-1873), a German immigrant, was one of the great lithographers working in Baltimore. His works from the Civil War are regarded not only as wonderful examples of artistry from the era but also as valuable historical resources detailing views as they actually appeared.

Sachse map detail showing Fort McHenry, water, and boatsAlthough Sachse created other bird's eye view maps, the five and one-half by twelve foot bird's eye view of 1869 Baltimore is his most ambitious work. He is reported to have said it took three years and three months for four artists to complete the map, first producing a detailed layout of the streets, then traveling around the city to draw the buildings. The map was issued in twelve separate pieces showing remarkable detail of the entire city, whose boundary at the time was Northern (now North) Avenue, and beyond.

He underwrote the cost of this ambitious project by selling advertising space along the map's border: 134 scenes of local businesses cover the outline, including 21 breweries. Purported to show every house in Baltimore, the map identifies many of the businesses and institutions that existed at the time.

The map depicts a bustling city, one of great commerce and industry in the post-war years. The drawings are almost all perfectly scaled and accurate. Sachse's own building is clearly seen at the intersection of Charles and Camden Streets. One interesting exception is City Hall shown in its completed state, when in actuality it was still under construction; note that in the map its front is facing south, although since its completion in 1875 its front has faced east.

Legend has it that the cost of producing the map sent Sachse's company into bankruptcy; sales for a map that cost $15 were slow even to commercial customers. Today, fewer than ten complete copies of the original map are known to exist. This digital version from the Maryland Department of the Central Library, Enoch Pratt Free Library / State Library Resource Center allows the viewer not only to see the exquisite detail of the original 12 parts but also to view and appreciate in composite form this monumental achievement in art and mapmaking.

 
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