An attractive, informative and very rare 1850 plan of New London, Connecticut, situated on Long Island Sound at the mouth of the Thames River. First settled in 1646, its excellent deep water harbor made it a natural hub of commerce and, during wartime, a base for naval operations, and by the early 19th century it had become one of the most active whaling ports in the world.
This striking plan illustrates the city center of New London at the large scale of 200 feet to the inch, allowing Sidney to show not only the street plan, public buildings and businesses, but also to identify landowners and show individual buildings in plan view. Of particular interest are the many wharves and affiliated businesses lining the Harbor, indicative of the city’s intensely maritime economy; as well as the line of the New London, Willimantic and Palmer Railroad, which had been chartered in 1847 and opened to New London in late 1849.
The inset views of fine area residences, places of worship, the Female Academy (inc. 1834), Fort Trumbull (first built during the Revolution on the south shore of Shaw’s Neck Cove), and the Croton Monument (across the Thames at Fort Griswold) add both visual appeal and documentary value. The finest of the residences is that of Thomas Williams, generally credited as pioneering New London’s whaling industry with the 1819 voyage of the Mary. The plan shows that he owned much of the land to the south and east of the burial ground, as well as many of the wharves and buildings along the harbor front.
Mapmaker James Charles Sidney was an architect, engineer, surveyor, and landscape architect born in England. In the early 1840s, he was employed by John Jay Smith, Librarian of the Library Company of Philadelphia, as a cartographer. By 1849, he listed himself in the Philadelphia city directory as a civil engineer. In 1850-1851 he formed a partnership with James P. W. Neff, Sidney & Neff, Engineers and Architects, at 80 Walnut Street. Also at this Sidney produced his important publication, American Cottage and Villa Architecture (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1850). The Sidney & Neff partnership dissolved in 1854-1855, and Sidney moved to New York City to work for Robert Pearsall Smith, son of John Jay Smith and one of the most prolific American map publishers of the mid-nineteenth century. He returned to Philadelphia in 1857-1858 and shortly thereafter entered into another brief partnership (1859-1860) with Andrew Adams, rural architects, engineers and surveyors.
During the course of his career Smith and was responsible for numerous county maps as well as large-scale maps of Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston, New York City, Trenton, and other cities. All are wall-sized and, in Ristow’s view, “attractively and neatly composed, lithographed, and printed.” (American Maps and Mapmakers, p. 257)
OCLC #54981274 (Connecticut Historical Society) and 556784299 (British Library). Thompson, Maps of Connecticut, #126 (American Antiquarian Society, American Geographical Society, Connecticut State Library, New York Historical Society). Not in Phillips, Maps of America.
Gently toned overall with scattered scuffing; mild-moderate soiling, staining and wear concentrated at top fifth of map; and four vertical series of small (worm?)holes. Still about very good overall appearance.