Terrific 1919 Industrial Map of New England

Compiled, engraved and printed by General Drafting Co., Inc., 9 Church St., New York, Industrial Map OF NEW ENGLAND. Boston: First National Bank of Boston, [1919].
Lithograph printed in three colors, 45”h x 33 ½”w at neat line plus margins. Cleaned, mended and lined on verso with tissue. Chart on verso obscured by tissue backing.

A most interesting and very rare 1919 thematic industrial map of New England, produced by the First National Bank of Boston.

The map depicts the si New England states, highlighting rivers and railroads, with symbols differentiating “principal industrial centers”, “industrial centers”, “important cities” and “cities of secondary importance”. At lower right is a large circular inset map detailing the Boston metropolitan area at a larger scale. Splashed across the landscape are hundreds of tiny pictographs representing no fewer than 27 different industries, together covering a huge range of activity in both manufacturing sectors (such as cotton and woolen goods, paper mills and shipbuilding) and resource extraction (fishing, lumber, quarrying &c).

Maine is dominated by lumber, canned goods, shipbuilding and seafood; New Hampshire by textiles and footwear in the south and lumber to the north; and Vermont by textiles, marble quarries and lumber. Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island are by contrast shown with far more diverse economies. Close inspection of the map reveals further labels for industries not represented by one of the 27 symbols, such as railroad cars manufactured in Sagamore on Cape Cod, fireworks in Hanover, Massachusetts; and piano keys in Saybrook, Connecticut. The reverse side of the map features a chart presenting the same data in tabular form, though it is now somewhat obscured by the tissue backing.

The map has an interesting “persuasive” quality: The pictographs are entirely out of scale relative to the firms they represent, with the effect that much of the New England landscape appears to be blanketed with productive enterprises. The irony is that the American economy in general was on the verge of a major post-war recession, while New England in particular was on the cusp of losing most of its textile industry to the lower-cost Southern states.

This map was published by the First National Bank of Boston, which had its origin as in the Safety Fund Bank, founded in 1859. It merged in 1903 with the venerable Massachusetts Bank (est. 1784), acquiring the latter’s extensive interests in Latin America. In 1917 First National opened a branch in Buenos Aires—advertised in the title cartouche of the present map–which quickly “attained a prominent position among the 22 banking institutions” of the city, leading all branches of other U.S. banks in the city in volume of clearings. The branch’s profile was sufficiently high that in 1927 it was blown up by Italian anarchist Severiono di Giovanni, in support of Sacco and Vanzetti. After further mergers and name changes the bank, by then named simply Bank of Boston, was acquired by Fleet Bank in 1999, forming the short-living FleetBoston Financial. This in turn was acquired in 2004 by Bank of America.

Though undated, the map’s publication was announced in newspapers in the Spring of 1919.

“The First National Bank of Boston, through its Commercial Service Department, has published an industrial map of New England…. This will be of great interest and value to merchants and manufacturers throughout the United States. To further the development of foreign trade and to enable the foreign buyer to become familiar with the products which New England manufactures, this map will be published, it is stated, in other languages, for distribution in the foreign markets.” (Commercial and Financial Chronicle, May 24, 1919)

I have been unable to determine whether any such foreign-language editions of the map were published… but if any readers have seen such a map, please do let me know.

The Industrial Map of New England was “compiled, engraved and printed” by the General Drafting Company of New York City, founded in 1909 by Finnish immigrant Otto Lindberg (1887-1968). The firm’s “moment” came when Lindberg convinced Standard Oil of New Jersey to distribute free road maps to drivers. The Companybecame Standard Oil’s exclusive map publisher, and for the next six decades it, along H. M. Gousha and Rand McNally, was one of the “Big Three” of American road map publishers.

OCLC 19860708 (Harvard, University of Illinois, giving a date of 1933); 36777987 (Univ. of Chicago, Brown, giving a date of 1920) and 794926622 (Boston Public, giving a correct date of 1919).