George H. Walker bird’s-eye view of Boston and Environs

Geo[rge] H. Walker & Co., BOSTON AND ENVIRONS. Boston: George H. Walker & Co., 1905.
Chromolithograph, 19”h x 27 ¾”w at neat line plus title and margins.

A rare and appealing bird’s-eye view of Boston and Environs as seen from a point high above the Harbor.

This panoramic view is centered on Boston but extends south to Nantasket, west to Framingham and Mount Wachusett, and north to Swampscott.  The more populous areas along the coast are highlighted in red, while the area’s rather landscape of low hills is indicated by variations in color and shading.  Cities and towns are of course identified, as are other areas of interest such as the Harbor Islands, Blue Hills, Arnold Arboretum and some of the area’s many colleges and universities.  Particularly striking are the many rail and trolley lines, which in the 19thcentury stimulated the rapid growth of Boston’s surburbs.

The view is printed on thin paper and was likely designed to be folded and tipped into a card-stock pocket for use as a guide to traveler’s on the region’s rail and trolley network.  This example has never been folded, however, and given its fragility is a rather surprising survival.

According to Pierce and Slautterback, lithographer George H. Walker entered the publishing business in or around 1879, and his firm continued in operation until 1927.

“George H. Walker & Co. was the last important lithographic firm to be established in Boston in the nineteenth century….  Walker maintained a consistently high quality of workman-like draftsmanship by employing experienced artists.  Joseph L. Jones, C.E. Jorgensen, Richard P. Mallory, F. Pond, and Albert F. Poole drew for the firm.  The company is represented in the Boston Athenaeum collection by numerous portraits, sheet music covers, book illustrations, bird’s-eye views, maps, plans for cemeteries and housing developments, and views of residences and factories.” (Boston Lithography, p. 159)

Walker issued a number of stylistically-similar chromolithographic views for use by tourists in an era of increasing affluence and mobility.  I have encountered, for example, views of the Charles River Basin, Cape Cod, Provincetown, Narragansett Bay, Mount Washington and Lake Winnipesaukee, as well as views of Boston taken from other vantage points.  Most of these are encountered with some frequency, but the view offered here is rare, with OCLC and Reps between them locating only six holdings in American institutions.  This is the first time I have encountered it on the market.

OCLC #191909102 (Boston Athenaeum) and 5451021(Library of Congress, Massachusetts State Library, Minuteman Library Network, and Penn State). Reps, Views and Viewmakers, #1391, adding Boston Public Library.


A couple of edge tears, expertly mended and all-but invisible on recto, and some restoration to lower margins.