Rare 1893[?] bird’s-eye view of Superior Wisconsin

Hallock-Harmon-Leader Co., PERSPECTIVE MAP OF THE CITY OF SUPERIOR, WIS. Milwaukee: American Publishing Co., [1893?]
Lithographic bird’s-eye view on thin stock, 10 ½”w x 20”w plus title and margins, uncolored. Old folds flattened, 6” tear from left margin into image expertly mended and all-but invisible.

A rare bird’s-eye view promoting the economic ambitions of Superior, Wisconsin near the turn of the 20thcentury.

The view depicts the city as seen looking south or southwest from an imaginary point high above the far west end of Lake Superior.  The unnamed artist has played with both orientation and scale so as to emphasize the city’s capacity as a manufacturing and shipping hub. The focus is on the huge complex of factories, rail lines and shipping terminals near the outlet of St. Louis Bay, all of which appear wildly out of scale with their surroundings.

The view is extremely rare: It was not catalogued by John Reps, and the sole institutional holding I have found is at the Library of Congress,which for some reason firmly dates its impression to 1893.

The First Treaty of La Pointe (1847) between the U.S. Government and the Chippewa tribe opened up the region south and west of Lake Superior to development.  Encouraged by the superb location at the intersection of the Great Lakes, the St. Louis River and the Northern Pacific Railway, the city of Superior, Wisconsin was established in 1854. The intent was to develop a national hub for manufacturing, shipping and transportation, built on the region’s super-abundant resources of grain, coal, and iron ore.  This vision was interrupted by the Panic of 1857 and the Civil War, and for a time the city languished.

New impetus for development came with the arrival in 1881 of the Northern Pacific Railroad, which linked Superior to the trans-continental rail system. General John Henry Hammond purchased a large trace of land in the western end of Superior in 1886; organized the Land & River Improvement Company; and established a rail line with its headquarters in the town.  The Company set about creating a business-friendly environment, giving rights-of-way to major railroads and developing the infrastructure to support large industries and a major transportation hub.  The city boomed, its population growing from 12,000 in 1890 to 31,000 in 1900, and much of this explosive energy is captured in this striking bird’s-eye view.

OCLC 23384306, giving holdings at the Library of Congress and Penn State only–and the latter is an electronic edition—as of January 2019. Not in Reps, Views and Viewmakers of Urban America.