1876 Bailey Bird's Eye View of New Bedford, Massachusetts

View of the City of New Bedford, Mass. 1876. - Main View

1876 Bailey Bird's Eye View of New Bedford, Massachusetts


New Bedford's Transformation from a Whaling Town to a Mill City


View of the City of New Bedford, Mass. 1876.
  1876 (dated)     18.9 x 33.1 in (48.006 x 84.074 cm)


This is the 1876 first state of Oakley Hoopes Bailey bird's-eye view of New Bedford, Massachusetts. When New Bedford officially became a city in 1847, it was one of New England's most productive whaling cities, challenging Nantucket and Providence. Whaling dominated the city's economy for most of the century, and that trade fueled the city's initial population boom until around 1860; in 1857, New Bedford was the richest city per capita in the world – but the discovery of petroleum in Pennsylvania would cause an inexorable decline in the market for whale oil, and the predations of secessionist commerce raiders during the American Civil War would speed the decline of an already-fading industry. By the time this view was produced in 1876, New Bedford was not so much a whaling town as it was a mill town: the textile industry had taken over. In 1875, the Wamsutta mills on their own processed enough cotton into cloth to make more money than that year's entire whaling catch. The textile mills fueled even greater prosperity than whaling, spurring the development of industries to serve the city's rich.
In Plain View
The view identifies seventy-six public buildings, manufactories, general businesses, and newspapers in a list at its foot, and these reflect the nature of the city: among its public buildings are no fewer than twenty six churches, indicative of prosperity; among the city's 'Manufactories' are the mammoth Wamsutta, Potomska and Gosnold Textile Mills, which dominate the waterfront. Gas works, copper mills, and cordage works can be seen, but many of the factories are tool and machine works, necessary support for the city's mills. Soap, spice, shoe, and carriage works figure prominently, serving the needs of the mill owners and others. Six vignettes under the view include a patent bakery, a soap manufactory, a shipping agent, a boot and shoe company, the J and W.R. Wing and Co. clothing house, and Wamsutta Mills.
Bailey's New England Phase
By the time this view was drawn, Bailey had resettled from Ohio to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and so this piece is among his later work that focused on towns near his new home. The lithograph was nevertheless executed by the firm of C.H. Vogt in Milwaukee, with whom Bailey appears to have had a relationship, and with whom he would continue to work until 1878; concurrently, Bailey seems to have had his view printed by the Milwaukee firm of Jacob Knauber, a relationship which seems to have ended in 1878 or 79. After that point, Bailey's work was either printed in-house, or by the Boston firm of J. C. Hazen: by then, clearly, Mr. Bailey had fully settled in New England.
Publication History and Census
This view is rare. We see only five examples catalogued in OCLC; this first state appears in the collections of the American Antiquarian Society Library, Boston Public Library, Harvard University, and the State University of Massachusetts. A second state, with the additional text 'Presented by J. and W. R. Wing and Co., 111 Union Street,' is in the Library of Congress. The present example is of the first state.


Oakley Hoopes Bailey (June 14, 1843 - August 13, 1947) was a prolific American viewmaker, artist, and lithographer active in late 19th and early 20th century. Bailey was born in Beloit, Mahoning County, Ohio. He matriculated in 1861 at Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio. At the outbreak of the American Civil War (1861 - 1865) he briefly abandoned his studies for 2 years, wherein he saw combat as a Union solider. After the war, in 1866, he returned to Mount Union to complete his degree. Bailey was the younger brother of another view artist, Howard Heston Bailey (1836 - 1878) and followed his brother into the print business, producing his first city views, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1871. Active from 1871 to 1926, Bailey is known for more than 375 recorded city views, covering more than 13 states 2 Canadian provinces, making him one of the most active viewmakers in American history. In 1875, he settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts and most of his subsequent work focused on Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bailey worked with many other American viewmakers of the period, including his brother, Howard Heston Bailey, Thaddeus M. Flower, and J. C. Hazen, among others. Around 1904, by this time in his 60s, Bailey entered into a publishing partnership with Thomas S. Hughes, publishing their 'aero-views' as 'Hughes and Bailey'. Together, Hughes and Bailey revisited the sites of many of Bailey's early views, remaking them sometimes 20 - 40 years later, the idea being to set them beside the earlier views to show how much the respective towns had changed. The partnership lasted until about 1926. Bailey died in his hometown of Alliance at the ripe old age of 103. Learn More...

Charles H. Vogt (1823 - 1895) was a Prussian-American lithographer active in Cleveland, Ohio from about 1870 to 1889. Vogt was born Prussia and immigrated to the United States in c. 1860, settling in Iowa. He was established as a lithographer of American city views Davenport, Iowa during the 1860s, then in Milwaukee from 1870 to 1879, then in Cleveland, Ohio, from 1879 to 1889. Vogt worked with his son, Gustav. H. Vogt (c. 1858 - July 12, 1936). Learn More...

Jacob Knauber (1846 – 1905) was a German-American lithographer based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Knauber was born in Heidelberg, Germany and emigrated to America as a young man. He apprenticed as a lithographer in St. Louis from 1861. In 1867 he foundered J. Knauber Lithographing Company, which he would eventually run with his three sons, Arthur, Walter, and Richard. The firm specialized in American city views, billheads, letterheads, receipts, and checks. Knauber managed the firm it until his death in 1905. Afterwards it was run by his children until 1946 when it was acquired by Columbia Art Works. Learn More...


Very good. Some surface mends with minor areas of loss, lightly and evenly toned.


OCLC 191119140. Reps, John, Views and Viewmakers of Urban America (University of Missouri, Columbia, 1984) #1555.