The map depicts Winchester in 1854, just a few years after its incorporation in 1850 with territory carved from the surrounding towns of Arlington, Medford, Cambridge and Woburn. The very large scale enables Walling to portray the natural and human landscape in enormous detail, including the street network and the line of the Boston and Lowell Railroad, the construction of which in the 1830s catalyzed population growth in the center of the future town. The map also shows the “Route of the old Middlesex Canal,” which by the 1850s had been bankrupted by the Boston and Lowell. Hachuring indicates areas of elevation, while a variety of symbols indicate woodlands, meadows and wetlands. The map’s documentary value is vastly increased by the inclusion of dwellings, mills, schools, other structures, and the names of hundreds of landowners. Inset pictorial vignettes of several fine area residences, the First Congregational Church, the Lyceum, and two mahogany mills add further historical value as well as considerable visual appeal.
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 Walling was one of the most distinguished and prolific mapmakers to take advantage of these factors, and in the 1840s, 50s and 60s 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 gives examples held by the Boston Athenaeum, Boston Public Library, and the Massachusetts Historical Society, as well as facsimile copies held by Harvard and the State Library of Massachusetts. Not in Phillips, A List of Maps of America or Rumsey. For an extended discussion of Walling’s urban maps, see Michael Buehler, “Henry F. Walling and the Mapping of New England’s Towns, 1849-1857” in The Portolan, no. 71 (Spring 2008), pp. 22-33. Chapter 20 of Ristow’s American Maps and Makers, provides a more general discussion of Walling’s life and work.
Typical cracking, with traces of soiling and staining lingering after conservation. Some losses reinstated at top, mostly to blank margins but with some minor reinstatement of image.