An impressive and unrecorded 1881 case map of Baltimore, produced by one of the city’s leading civil engineers in an era of rapid development and population growth.
Described by his obituary as a “civil engineer of the first rank”, William P. Twamley was for 40 years “closely identified with both the industrial and physical growth of Baltimore, and the extension of the city’s railroad and trade facilities and with the completion of many important works of engineering”. Born in New York City in 1851, Twamley trained in engineering then spent the first few years of his career in Troy, New York. He moved to Baltimore some time in the 1870s, where he worked at (perhaps on multiple occasions) for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, operated his own real estate firm, and held a number of official positions, including that of City Surveyor, a position to which he was elected in 1899. His deep familiarity with the city and expertise in real-estate valuation proved invaluable during the city’s recovery from the devastating fire of 1904. Indeed, “it was said of him that he knew every inch of Baltimore north of the water front and that every man in the city worth knowing knew him.” (Baltimore Sun, Dec. 17, 193, p. 14)
This map, unrecorded in any of the usual sources, depicts Baltimore in its entirety, with numbering and vibrant wash color delineating the bounds of the city’s wards and precincts. There is an enormous amount of detail, including red highlighting to indicate important public buildings, businesses, factories and places of worship; and green to pick out the city’s many parks and squares as well as Fort McHenry. Befitting Twamley’s railroad work, the city’s streetcar routes, rail lines, rail terminals and related facilities are shown in great detail. The sole adornment is an impressive view of the towering headquarters of the Baltimore & Ohio at the corner of Baltimore and Calvert.
The first mention of the map I find is an advert in the Baltimore Sun for November 5, 1881:
“Mr. Wm. P. Twamley has prepared and completed a map of Baltimore city on a scale of 400 feet per inch, and containing all the streets, alleys, precincts, wharves, port warden’s lines, &c. as now existing. The map is five feet by six feet in size, and every effort has been made to insure its correctness in all detail.” (Baltimore Sun, Nov. 5, 1881, p. 4)
Less than a month later Twamley advertises the map for sale:
“The NEW MAP OF BALTIMORE will be ready to deliver on the 15TH OF DECMBER INST. It will contain all streets and alleys, wards and precincts as now existing, location of all prominent and notable buildings, churches, car lines, elevations of street corners, &c.; also the outbounds of the original Baltimore Town, and the subsequent additions thereto, such as Howard’s, Fell’s, Lun’s Lot, Saulisbury Plains, David’s Fancy, Upton Court, etc., will be clearly defined. Size of map, 5 feet by 6 feet. Price $10 per copy.
“As only a limited number will be issued, orders must be sent at once to WM. P. TWAMLEY, 27 St. Paul street.” (Baltimore Sun, Dec. 2, 1881, p. 2)
The one discordant note is the map’s size: The map is roughly 4 ½ feet by five, not five by six as advertised, and I cannot explain the inconsistency. But the map otherwise matches the description, and as I find not other map of Baltimore by Twamley of comparable size, I am all but certain they are one and the same.
In any event the map must have been a commercial failure: I find no other mention of it in the period press, and today it is absolutely unknown: It is unrecorded in the usual bibliographic sources, and I have been unable to trace any institutional holdings or other examples having appeared on the antiquarian market.
It is worth noting that in 1882 Twamley produced a reduced-scale edition of the map, heavily revised to reflect a recent redivision of the city’s wards and precincts. This was published as a supplement to the Baltimore Sun on April 11, 1882.
Not in Edward Bennett Matthews, Bibliography and Cartography of Maryland (Johns Hopkins press, 1897); Matthews, The Maps and Mapmakers of Maryland (Johns Hopkins Press, 1899); OCLC; Papenfuse & Coale, Atlas of Historical Maps of Maryland; Phillips, Maps of America; or Rumsey.