Wonderful wall map of Cambridge, Mass.

H[enry] F[rances] Walling (1825-88) , MAP OF THE CITY OF CAMBRIDGE MIDDLESEX COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS BY H.F. WALLING, Civil Engineer. , Boston, 1854.
Lithograph on two sheets joined, 38 x 43.5 inches plus margins, original wash color. Mounted on early rollers.

A richly-detailed and difficult to find map of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The map’s very large scale enabled Walling to portray enormous detail, including the street network; railroad lines; public buildings, dwellings and other structures; and the names of significant landowners. Symbols differentiate the varied topography of hills, woodland, gardens and parks, and marshes and swamps. Of particular interest are the detailed depictions of Harvard University, the estate of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on Brattle Street, and Mount Auburn Cemetery (founded 1831).

As is usual with these large 19th-century town and county plans, the blank margins are adorned with images of important landmarks such as the East Cambridge Courthouse, buildings on the Harvard Campus, and industrial establishments such as the New England Glass Works. It is likely that some or all of these institutions paid in advance for the privilege of being illustrated on the map. This was a common business model used to help defray the costs of map and view publication in the mid-late 19th century.

Comparison of the Walling map with a modern map reveals the utter transformation of Cambridge in the past 150 years. The area of large country estates in the west and northwest part of the city is now one of the more densely-populated areas of the country. And the unusable marshland along the Charles in East Cambridge and Cambridgeport has long since been drained and filled and is now home to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Cambridge Galleria and a number of Harvard University dormitories, among others.

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.

In an interesting coincidence, for a time in the early 1870s Walling’s cartographic publishing business operated out of Cambridge, where he later died in 1888.

Not in Phillips, A List of Maps of America or Rumsey. For background see Michael 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.


Conserved, with original varnish and linen removed and replaced with acid-free tissue backing. Some soiling and staining mostly confined to margins. Some small areas of loss mostly confined to margins but with minor loss to one of the vignettes at top. Withal, far better than usual for this type of map, with a generally clean appearance and bright original color. Encapsulated.