An appealing view of Philadelphia as seen from the New Jersey shoreline of the Delaware River, from the London Magazine for October 1761.
The view depicts roughly a mile of the city’s waterfront, bounded by South and Vine Streets and centered on the mighty steeple of Christ Church, with the State House at the left-most spire. The Delaware is crowded with both naval and commercial vessels, and Windmill Island is just visible in the left foreground. Vignettes at the upper corners depict profiles of the State House and the Battery, the latter constructed south of the city in the 1740s with funds raised by Ben Franklin’s Association for Defense.
The view is reduced, with changes particularly evident in the foreground, from a monumental engraving based on a drawing by made by George Heap in 1752 and published by Nicholas Scull in 1754:
“Encouraged by the publication of large perspective views of two of America’s greatest port cities, William Burgis’s engravings of New York in 1719 and Boston in 1725, Thomas Penn, son of Pennsylvania’s founder, thought that Philadelphia was also worthy of such a grand representation. Several artists failed to meet Penn’s expectations before artist George Heap decided to independently issue his own view of the city from across the Delaware. Before he could make it to London to have the drawings engraved, Heap fell ill and died. However, the project continued when Nicholas Scull, who had published a map of the city with Heap in 1752, presented the drawings to Penn. They were sent to England as planned, and etched and printed from four copperplates.” (Elizabeth Wyckoff and Nicole Simpson, “Cities in the Americas: A Celebration of the Phelps Stokes Collection.” Web site of the New York Public Library.)
When this view was published Philadelphia had a population exceeding 20,000, making it the largest city in the British Colonies. Readers of the London Magazine, many of whom no doubt had friends, family and/or business interests there, would have examined it with considerable interest.
Cresswell & Lane, Prints of Philadelphia, #3. Snyder, City of Independence, p. 57.
Folds as issued, minor soiling and staining largely confined to margins, two small fold separations at edges not affecting image.