An early and very rare map of Fall River, Mass.

From Surveys by H[enry] F[rancis] Walling Civil Engineer / A.G. Gillet, Publisher, MAP OF THE TOWN OF FALL RIVER BRISTOL COUNTY MASSACHUSETTS, [Boston? Providence?], 1850.
Lithograph, 33 ¾"h x 27"w plus margins, wash and spot color. One vignette applied as a paste-on.

An extraordinarily-detailed depiction of Fall River, by one of the great map makers of 19th-century America.

This image is really two maps in one, with a large-scale plan of the center of Fall River surmounting a somewhat smaller-scale map of township. The relatively large scale of both enabled Walling to portray Fall River in enormous detail, including the street network; railroad lines; public buildings, dwellings and other structures; and the names of significant landowners. Of particular interest are the complex of factories and wharves along Mount Hope Bay depicted on the plan. On the lower map a variety of symbols differentiate the varied topography of hills, woodland, gardens and parks, and marshes and swamps.

Several factors promoted the rise of commercial map publishing in the United States during the mid-1800s. Production costs were sharply reduced by the rapid spread of lithographic printing, a growing middle class and proliferation of commerce stimulated demand, and urban development required a steady stream of updated maps. Henry F. Walling was one of the most distinguished and prolific mapmakers to take advantage of these factors, and during his long career produced dozens of atlases, maps and plans of New England towns, cities and states. Later in his career he went to work for the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, in which service Walling made major contributions to the topographic mapping of Massachusetts.

OCLC #61723326 (Brown only), with other examples held by the British Library and Library of Congress (though not in Phillips). Not in Rumsey, and Antique Map Price Record lists no examples having appeared on the market in the past 30 years. For background on Walling`s town maps, see Buehler, “Henry F. Walling and the Mapping of New England’s Towns,” The Portolan no. 71 (Spring 2008). p.22. Also of use is Chapter 20 of Ristow’s American Maps and Makers, which provides a broad overview of Walling’s life and work.


Removed from board and mounted on modern linen with new selvage. Typical cracks and tears, with some restoration to blank areas but no apparent loss of printed image. Toned around edges from old frame, no longer present.