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Baltimore Neighborhoods

“The Most Spectacular Print of Baltimore Ever Made”

Working at the Maryland Historical Society, you get to see some pretty amazing things on a daily basis. From Francis Scott Key’s original draft of the Star Spangled Banner, early copies of the Declaration of Independence, and some of the first daguerreotypes of Baltimore harbor, to more recent gems like Eubie Blake’s collection of sheet music and the photographs of A. Aubrey Bodine. One of my personal favorites is an enormous nineteenth-century work of artistic and cartographic achievement: E. Sachse & Co’s Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore.

E. Sachse & Co.’s Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore, 1869

E. Sachse & Co.’s Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore, 1869.
(Image above is from the Library of Congress’ website: http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gmd/g3844b.pm002540.
Detail images below are from E. Sachse & Co.’s Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore, 1869, Baltimore City Life Museum Collection, CB 5457, MdHS.)

Measuring 10 ½ feet by 5 feet and produced in 12 sections, the Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore, printed by the lithographic firm of E. Sachse and Company in 1869, is probably the “largest panoramic view of an American city ever published.”(1) The map is reputed to show every house, church, business, and park—many in fine detail—in Baltimore, which in 1869 was bound to the north by Northern Avenue (today North Avenue), Canton to the east, Gwynns Run to the west, and the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River to the south.

Edward Sachse, self portrait, not dated, Portrait Vertical File, MDHS. (REFERENCE PHOTO)

Edward Sachse, self portrait, not dated, Portrait Vertical File, MDHS. (REFERENCE PHOTO)

Little is known about the founder of the company, German-born immigrant Edward Sachse. Born in Gorlitz, Germany in 1804, Edward Sachse arrived in the United States sometime around 1848. Already an established printer in his native country, he quickly found employment with lithographer E. Weber & Company. Within two years of arriving in Baltimore he opened E. Sachse and Company, at 3 N. Liberty Street in the recently completed Sun Iron Building. Joined by his brother Theodore, Edward soon established the company as one of the leading lithographic firms in the nation.

E. Sachse & Co., along with its main competitor A. Hoen Company, created most of the major prints that form a pictorial document of Baltimore and Maryland in the mid-to-late nineteenth century. The company produced all manner of printed materials:  “labels, show and business cards, maps, bills, visiting cards, drawings of steamboats and machinery, portraits, landscapes, and ‘drawings taken from Nature or Daguerreotypes, executed like steel engravings.’” (2) The firm was particularly renowned for its color lithography, with many of the iconic prints of Baltimore, such as View of Baltimore City, emerging from its offices.

Edward Sachse apparently drew the majority of the prints published by his company. Some of the most famous that emerged from his hand were a series of views of Civil War era military campsites, barracks, and hospitals in Baltimore and Washington, DC. With an entrepreneur’s eye, Sachse sold them cheaply for 25 cents a piece, primarily to soldiers as souvenirs. He often produced multiple versions of the same encampment as new regiments moved in and the tents, fortifications, and scenery were altered. The prints proved extremely popular—soldiers would mail the prints to their families back home  with messages such as “X marks my tent” inscribed on them.(3)

A year after the Civil War ended Sachse began work on the Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore, his most ambitious project and one that would eventually take more than three years to complete. Sachse had produced earlier bird’s eye perspectives prior to this, including prints of Annapolis, Ellicott’s Mills, and one of Baltimore in 1858, but the huge lithograph produced in 1869 was unprecedented in detail and scope.

Edward Sachse produced an an amzingly accurate depiction of the structures then standing in 1869 Baltimore One exception was the new City Hall building, under construction at the time the map was completed. Not knowing where the entrance was to be erected, Sachse placed it on the south side. Construction of the city hall was completed in 1875, with the entrance on the east side of the building. (Detail) E. Sachse & Co.’s Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore, 1869, Baltimore City Life Museum Collection, CB 5457, MdHS.

Edward Sachse produced a highly accurate depiction of the buildings of 1869 Baltimore. One exception was the new City Hall building, under construction at the time the map was completed. The entrance was placed on the south side of the building by the artists. Construction of City Hall was completed in 1875, with the entrance on the east side of the building.
(Detail) E. Sachse & Co.’s Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore, 1869, Baltimore City Life Museum Collection, CB 5457, MdHS.

The level of work and craftsmanship that went into the creation of  the print that documents a city of thousands of buildings, depicted from thousands of feet in the air, apparently without the use of hot air balloons—the only means of flight then available—was monumental. The first steps involved creating a plan of the streets laid out in perspective. Four artists were then hired, sent out into the city, and over the next three years created detailed sketches of every building, park, square, bridge, church, brewery and business. The drawings were then transferred to lithography stones and printed in 12 sections. Aside from being a work of art in itself the real historic value of the lithograph lies in its accurate and detailed renderings of buildings, that in many cases, are the only existing representations of these now long gone structures.

Unfortunately for Sachse his masterpiece turned out to be a financial disaster. The map was offered to subscribers at a cost of $15, a fairly substantial sum in 1869 (equivalent to about $258 in 2014), and it appears that few were sold. Today less than ten copies are known to exist. Some sources say that the commercial failure of Sachse’s three year long venture forced the company into bankruptcy, but the firm remained in business, under various names, for another two decades. Edward Sachse died in 1873, leaving his brother and other family members to run the company until 1893, when the name of Sachse Lithog & Sign Co. appeared for the last time in the Baltimore City Directory.

If you’d like to see the Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore for yourself, and perhaps catch a glimpse of your own house from 1869, please pay us a visit. A full-size reproduction of Sachse’s Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore is currently on display in our museum. (Damon Talbot)

E. Sachse & Co.’s Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore, 1869, Baltimore City Life Museum Collection, CB 5457, MdHS.

The corner of Monument Street and Park Avenue, home of the Maryland Historical Society. The Maryland Historical Society moved to its current location at 201 West Monument Street in 1918. The only building remaining on the block depicted in Sachse’s Bird’s Eye View is the Enoch Pratt House (top right corner of block), now a part of MdHS.
(Detail)E. Sachse & Co.’s Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore, 1869, Baltimore City Life Museum Collection, CB 5457, MdHS.

The Bolton Depot at the corner of Cathedral and Preston Street. President Lincoln made a stop at the Depot while travelling through Baltimore to deliver the Gettysburg Address in November of 1863. (Detail) E. Sachse & Co.’s Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore, 1869, Baltimore City Life Museum Collection, CB 5457, MdHS.

The Bolton Depot at the corner of Cathedral and Preston Streets.
(Detail) E. Sachse & Co.’s Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore, 1869, Baltimore City Life Museum Collection, CB 5457, MdHS.

(Detail) E. Sachse & Co.’s Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore, 1869, Baltimore City Life Museum Collection, CB 5457, MdHS.

The Mount Clare House, one of the oldest houses in Baltimore, completed around 1767 stands at the bottom left. The mansion and the grounds surrounding it are now part of Carroll Park.
(Detail) E. Sachse & Co.’s Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore, 1869, Baltimore City Life Museum Collection, CB 5457, MdHS.

 In 1869, the western outskirts of the city just reached to the edge of Patterson Park E. Sachse & Co.’s Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore, 1869, Baltimore City Life Museum Collection, CB 5457, MdHS.

In 1869, the area around Patterson Park on the western outskirts of the city was still largely undeveloped countryside.
E. Sachse & Co.’s Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore, 1869, Baltimore City Life Museum Collection, CB 5457, MdHS.

To help defray some of the cost of producing his masterwork, Sachse sold advertising space along the edges of the map to 134 business, including 21 breweries. (Detail) E. Sachse & Co.’s Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore, 1869, Baltimore City Life Museum Collection, CB 5457, MdHS.

To help defray some of the cost of producing his masterwork, Sachse sold advertising space along the edges of the map to 134 business, including 21 breweries.
(Detail) E. Sachse & Co.’s Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore, 1869, Baltimore City Life Museum Collection, CB 5457, MdHS.

E. Sachse & Co.’s Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore, 1869, Baltimore City Life Museum Collection, CB 5457, MdHS.

Lexington Market, established in 1782, is the world’s oldest continually running market.
(Detail) E. Sachse & Co.’s Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore, 1869, Baltimore City Life Museum Collection, CB 5457, MdHS.

E. Sachse & Co.’s Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore, 1869, Baltimore City Life Museum Collection, CB 5457, MdHS.

Camden Station.
(Detail) E. Sachse & Co.’s Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore, 1869, Baltimore City Life Museum Collection, CB 5457, MdHS.

The southern end of the future neighborhood of Federal Hill. (Detail) E. Sachse & Co.’s Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore, 1869, Baltimore City Life Museum Collection, CB 5457, MdHS.

The southern end of the future neighborhood of Federal Hill.
(Detail) E. Sachse & Co.’s Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore, 1869, Baltimore City Life Museum Collection, CB 5457, MdHS.

E. Sachse & Co.’s Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore, 1869, Baltimore City Life Museum Collection, CB 5457, MdHS.

Mount Vernon Place.
(Detail) E. Sachse & Co.’s Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore, 1869, Baltimore City Life Museum Collection, CB 5457, MdHS.

Footnotes:

(1) Jones, Carleton, “Surveying Old Baltimore’s Prints, Drawings and Maps” The Baltimore Sun, September 21, 1980.

(2) McCauley, Lois B., Maryland Historical Prints, 1752-1889 (Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1975), 233.

(3) Wharton, Carol, “He knew Baltimore-who knows him?” The Baltimore Sun, February 11, 1951.

Sources and further reading:

Wharton, Carol, “He knew Baltimore-who knows him?” The Baltimore Sun, February 11, 1951.

“Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore to be on Special Display” The Baltimore Sun, September 23, 1971.

Copinger, May Irene, “A Pictorial History of Baltimore” The Baltimore Sun, November 5, 1933.

Jones, Carleton, “Surveying Old Baltimore’s Prints, Drawings and Maps” The Baltimore Sun, September 21, 1980.

“A Lithographer’s Master Work, Showing Every Building in the City – Edward Sachse’s Amazing 1869 Map of Baltimore” The Baltimore Sun, April 3, 1960.

McCauley, Lois B., Maryland Historical Prints, 1752-1889 (Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1975)

Rice, Laura, Maryland History in Prints, 1743-1900 (Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 2002) p173 349-350, 287

Discussion

2 Responses to ““The Most Spectacular Print of Baltimore Ever Made””

  1. Thanks for posting this. This map is truly amazing and, by far, my favorite map/view of Baltimore that I have yet to see. I often refer to it doing my research of historical buildings and estates. I love it so much that I fantasize that one day I’ll buy an old box of stuff from a yard sale or auction and find all 12 sheets of this beautiful map inside.
    Nah, I’m not obsessed. ; )

    Posted by Kris | 28. Feb, 2014, 4:30 pm
  2. The Google Maps-style viewing available on the Library of Congress’ site really drives home what an impressive achievement this map is:

    http://www.loc.gov/item/75694535

    Posted by Ryan Shepard | 22. Mar, 2014, 2:50 pm

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