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1855 Walling Wall Map of Rhode Island

Map of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. - Main View

1855 Walling Wall Map of Rhode Island


Scarce wall map of Rhode Island showing landholders.


Map of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.
  1855 (dated)     57 x 49 in (144.78 x 124.46 cm)


A remarkable rarely seen 1855 wall map of Rhode Island by the Civil engineer Henry F. Walling. Centered on Narragansett Bay, the map covers the entire state and offers no less than eleven detailed insets of various cities. Walling identifies countless individual estates and homesteads throughout - making this a treasure for anyone researching family history or the mid-19th Rhode Island land holdings. Roads, counties, topography, railroads, lakes, and rivers are noted. Narragansett Bay features numerous depth soundings no doubt drawn from the work of the U.S. Coast Survey. The insets, from top left detail Woonsocket, Pawtucket, Warren, Bristol, Westerly Village, Smithville (Scituate), Wickford, Block Island, Greenwich, Newport, and of course Providence. In the Providence inset the campus of Brown University is identified. In his long career as a cartographer Walling produced only three state maps, this one of Rhode Island, Vermont, and Maine. The present example is the first, 1855, edition of this plan. It was subsequently reissued in the 1860s on an even larger scale. All examples are extremely scarce and rarely appear on the market.


Henry Francis Walling (June 11, 1825 - April 8, 1889) was an American civil engineer, cartographer, surveyor, and map publisher active from the middle to late 19th century. Walling was born in Providence, Rhode Island. He studied/worked at the Providence Athenaeum before discovering a talent for mathematics and surveying. Walling took a position with Samuel Barrett Cushing (1846 - 1888), a Providence-based civil engineer with whom he issued in 1846 a revision of James Steven's Topographical Map of the State of Rhode-Island. Walling established himself independently around 1850 and immediately began preparing a series of town plans focusing on Bristol County, near Providence. Buoyed by widespread interest in his plans, Walling expanded his operations to Massachusetts, where, by 1857, he had produced no less than 50 town plans. Apparently, Walling's business model involved a contract with town officials to produce a certain number of maps, after which he acquired the right to print and sell additional copies on his own account. This work eventually led to Walling's appointment as Massachusetts "Superintendent of the State Map", a designation that began appearing on his maps around 1855. While Walling's work focused heavily on city and county maps, he successfully published three scarce state maps: Maine, Vermont, and Rhode Island. In 1856, Walling relocated his headquarters to New York City, where he had better access to quality lithographers. The Civil War (1861 - 1865) proved difficult for Walling, and diminished sales may have forced him into a partnership with Ormando W. Gray, with whom he published numerous state, county, and national atlases in the 1860s and 1870s. Around 1880, Walling took a post with the U.S. Coast Survey, with whom he worked on various charts until requesting a transfer in 1883 to the newly formed U.S. Geological Survey. Walling remained with the Geological Survey until his untimely death of a heart attack in April 1889. More by this mapmaker...


Very good. Professionally cleaned and re-backed on fresh linen.


Chapin, H. M., Check List of Maps of Rhode Island, no. 77.