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Part II: Settlement, Expansion, and the Business of City Views
Mid-Western Cities

Die Balize an der Mündung des Missisippi
After Paul Wilhelm, Duke of Württemberg (German, 1797–1860)
Colored lithograph, 1828–35
Deák 334

At the mouth of the Mississippi River lies Belize, a pilot station situated along the swampy riverbank. It was visited by the Duke of Württemberg, Paul Wilhelm, who made several trips to the United States. He later published an account of this journey, Erste Reise nach dem nordlichen Amerika in den Jahren 1822 bis 1824, in which he described this town: “The few wooden houses which make up the place stand on piles in the midst of the water and slime, between high reeds; and one house can only be reached from another along plank footpaths.”

Among the Duke’s first impressions of the lower Mississippi, he noted that “[n]ature seems to have destined this desolate region solely for habitation of giant reptiles and countless mosquitoes.” Clearly impressed by the alligators, he remarked that in the warm season “exceedingly large numbers” of them inhabit the banks. “It seems a mystery how these obviously voracious creatures are able to find prey enough to still their hunger,” but nature provided them with a peculiarly long digestive apparatus so they can go for long periods without food.

St. Louis; Memphis
Keokuck, Iowa; Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin
Arnz & Co. (German lithographic firm, 19th century), after Henry Lewis (American, b. England, 1819–1904)
Tinted lithographs with hand-coloring, from Das illustrirte Mississippithal, published by Arnz & Co., 1854–57
Deák 552 [.13, .22, .17, .4]

During the summers of 1846 to 1848, self-taught artist Henry Lewis traveled the length of the Mississippi River making sketches. He pieced together these scenes to create an 825-yard-long painting, Mammoth Panorama of the Mississippi. It was exhibited as a moving panorama, shown in a special machine that slowly unrolled the canvas while a speaker described the scenes. He toured the United States and Europe with this spectacle before settling in Düsseldorf, Germany.

In 1848, Lewis and Düsseldorf publisher Arnz decided to issue a series of lithographs based on the sketches. The publication consists of seventy-eight views with accompanying text by George B. Douglas about the places portrayed. The introduction quotes letters from the U.S. President, a number of senators, congressmen, and the governor of Wisconsin, bombastically praising the veracity of Lewis’s panorama: “this artwork is so faithful and accurate, that even though we have been familiar with the beauty of the place for many years, we can only with difficulty be persuaded to believe that we do not have the landscape itself before our eyes.”

Henry W. Petit (American, 19th century)
Tinted lithograph, published by W. J. Gilbert, ca. 1859
Deák 748

Julien Dubuque was one of the first settlers of European descent in Iowa, in 1788. Permanent white settlements were established only in the 1830s, however, after the land was ceded by Sauk and Fox Indian tribes. The city of Dubuque was chartered in 1841.

This lithograph, like many of the period, is distinguished by a series of vignettes surrounding the main view. The artist and publisher described their proposal beforehand in the local newspaper, citing their intention “to surround the lithograph with views of the finest houses in Dubuque, in case the owners are willing to pay the bare expenses of the lithographing” and advised: “Those who wish to have views of their residencies or places of business engraved upon the margin of the picture, should improve this opportunity without delay, as the number is limited to ten or twelve.”

Cleveland, O.
Beck and Pauli (Milwaukee lithographic firm, 1876–89)
Tinted lithograph, ca. 1885
Deák 874

Ohio, along with other states in the Midwest, became home to a growing German population. This view of Cleveland, a port city on Lake Erie, was commissioned by the local German-language newspaper, the Cleveland Anzeiger, and issued as a premium to subscribers.

It was lithographed by the firm of Adam Beck and Clemens J. Pauli, which operated out of Milwaukee. Their firm helped make the Midwest the center of post–Civil War lithographic production. During their partnership they printed half of all the bird’s-eye views issued in North America.

Cincinnati, Covington & Newport
Colored lithograph, ca. 1855
Deák 708

This view of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Covington and Newport, Kentucky, is taken from a slight elevation, a traditional format soon to be overtaken by aerial, or bird’s-eye, views. The elegant figures in the foreground mimic the role of the viewer gazing upon the cityscape. Although many of these prints are beautiful, Stokes collected them also with a didactic purpose in mind, hoping they would “not only give pleasure to the eye and educate the mind, but stimulate civic pride and patriotism.”

Saint Paul, Capital of Minnesota August 1853
Endicott & Co. (New York lithographic firm, 1852–86), after a photograph by Joel E. Whitney (American, 1822–1886)
Tinted lithograph, published by Whitney & Le Duc, 1853
Deák 656

Although explored by the French in the 17th and 18th centuries, Minnesota was not officially opened to white settlers until 1837, and St. Paul was one of the first cities founded in the territory. Local sites of interest, such as Fort Snelling (originally Fort Anthony; built in 1819), and natural wonders, such as St. Anthony Falls and Ha Ha Falls, appear as vignettes surrounding the main view of the banks of the Mississippi.

Maine-born photographer Joel Whitney moved to St. Paul in 1850 to open a daguerreotype studio. He was one of the first to take photographs of this city, many of which served as sources for lithographs and were published in collaboration with local bookseller William G. Le Duc.

View of Chicago As Seen at the Top of St. Mary’s College
Augustus Köllner (American, b. Germany, 1813–1906), after August Hermann Bosse (American, b. Germany, 1824)
Lithograph, printed by J. Henry Camp (Philadelphia lithographic firm, 1849–59), ca. 1851
Deák 592

This rare view of Chicago from the middle of the 19th century serves as an invaluable record of the city’s appearance prior to the Great Fire of 1871. Sketched by August Hermann Bosse, the view was then put on stone by Augustus Köllner. Köllner, a German émigré, was primarily engaged from 1848 to 1851 in creating views of cities in Canada and America for the Paris–New York firm Goupil, Vibert and Co. This lithograph, however, was one of the few issued by the Philadelphian J. Henry Camp, with whom Köllner was a partner until 1851.

Stokes bought this print from a woman whose parents had resided in Chicago between 1845 and 1846 and had acquired the lithograph as a fond reminder of their days there. A curator from the Chicago Historical Society claimed to know nothing of this print, but recommended it as highly desirable because of the great dearth of images of the city from before the fire. She noted that when it was built in 1844, St. Mary’s College was nearly the only building that far north. Stokes paid more for this small view than he did for many of his large bird’s-eye views.

Chicago in 1820
John Gemmell (American, active 1856–76), after Dominique C. Fabronius (American, b. Belgium, 19th century)
Colored lithograph, published by Charles Sonne, ca. 1857
Deák 301

Explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet were the first Europeans to come through Chicago in the 17th century. Jean-Baptist-Point du Sable, a native of Saint-Domingue (Haiti), created the first settlement there in 1779. In 1803, the United States government established Fort Dearborn and within thirty years settlers began flocking to the area. By the time of the Great Fire in 1871, which destroyed nearly the entire city, 300,000 inhabitants resided there. This view was issued as a premium with J. T. Palmatary’s View of Chicago, a swarming, congested panorama that offers a marked contrast to this imagined view of the city’s humble, austere beginnings.

Oklahoma City, Indian Territory
Albert E. Downs (American, 19th century), after Thaddeus Mortimer Fowler (American, 1842–1922)
Tinted lithograph, published by Thaddeus Mortimer Fowler, ca. 1890
Deák 878

Oklahoma was opened to settlers on April 22, 1889. Ten months later, Thaddeus Mortimer Fowler recorded this view of a speedily populated yet orderly city, similar to countless others cropping up throughout Middle and Western North America. Fowler was the most prolific of all American view-makers, producing over 400 views from twenty-one states either as artist or publisher. Over half of these were focused on the cities and towns of Pennsylvania, while the others were sketched on his travels. His assistant, Albert E. Downs, transmitted the sketch to the lithographic stone, and acted as co-publisher.

Note to the checklist. “Deák” refers to the catalogue of American historical prints in the New York Public Library’s collections: Deák, Gloria Gilda. Picturing America 1497-1899. Prints, Maps, and Drawings bearing on the New World Discoveries and on the Development of the Territory that is now the United States. 2 vols. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988.

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