1890 Whitney / Ashley City Plan or Map of Spokane, Washington

Whitney's Map of the City of Spokane Falls and Environs, Washington. - Main View

1890 Whitney / Ashley City Plan or Map of Spokane, Washington


One of the earliest obtainable plans of Spokane, Washington.


Whitney's Map of the City of Spokane Falls and Environs, Washington.
  1890 (dated)     28.25 x 27.5 in (71.755 x 69.85 cm)     1 : 21000


This is the W. H. Whitney / John K. Ashley 1890 map of Spokane, Washington, one of the earliest obtainable maps of that city. Published when Spokane was known as Spokane Falls, the map is laid out as a cadastral, allowing for a detailed view into the early development of the city. It further combines the functions of a real estate map and a railroad map.
A Closer Look
Streets are identified, city blocks are numbered, and the numerous additions and private land holdings are shaded. Dashed lines trace the routes of the 'Seattle, Lake Shore, and Eastern Railroad', the 'Spokane Falls and Northern Railroad', and the 'Northern Pacific Railroad' through town, along with along with 'cable roads' and a 'motor line'. A beautiful vignette view of Spokane Falls appears just below the title on the right. Below, in the lower right, statistics underscore the growing city's prosperity. A further inset map situates it within the Pacific Northwest.
Manuscript Notations
Ink and pencil manuscript notations mark the eastern and southern city limits. Other manuscript notations delineate land purchases in East Spokane: two individuals purchased five-acre tracts in that part of the city.
The Great Spokane Fire
The Great Spokane Fire occurred on August 4, 1889, a year before this map was published. The fire burned over 30 city blocks, destroyed Spokane's downtown commercial district, and caused millions in damage. Spokane had been experiencing a boom era thanks to gold strikes in nearby Idaho (along with other ore strikes) and being a railroad hub. Downtown Spokane was rebuilt quickly, and in 1891 the city was reincorporated at 'Spokane' instead of 'Spokane Falls'.
The Union Pacific Shield
The Union Pacific shield appears in the lower left, prominently advertising Union Pacific Overland Route connections to Omaha, Nebraska and San Francisco, California. Jointly operated by the Union Pacific and Central Pacific, the Overland Route was the first transcontinental railroad. A second transcontinental route was completed in mid-1883 after the Northern Pacific finished its route between St. Paul and Wallula, Washington. The 'Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company' completed a network from Wallula to Portland, which agreed to operate Northern Pacific traffic. In 1886, the 'Oregon Railway and Navigation Company' was leased to the Union Pacific, and within a couple of years the Union Pacific owned half of 'Oregon Railway and Navigation Company' shares through a holding company with ties to the Northern Pacific. By 1889, a branch line opened to Spokane. The Union Pacific's contracted William Henry Whitney to produce a series of maps of western cities, to promote land development in along the tracks.
W. H. Whitney Maps
Between 1889 and 1890, W. H. Whitney issued a series of separate-issue large-scale pocket maps of western cities serviced by the first the Rio Grande Western, then, the Union Pacific and Northern Pacific Railroads. These include Salt Lake City, Portland, Seattle, Astoria, Spokane, Port Townsend, Bellingham Bay, and Tacoma. There are potentially others. They are the work of various surveyors, civil engineers, military surveyors, railroad engineers, and local land offices, compiled locally then sent to Philadelphia for engraving and printing. Most were engraved by Louis Humphrey Everts, some in partnership with 'Howell', as 'Everts and Howell'. The maps universally bear the distinctive logos of either the Rio Grande Western or the Union Pacific 'Overland Route', suggesting that the railroads at least partially financed their production. They were further designed to bear local advertising, which varies from example to example. The maps also, universally, bear the copyright of 'W. H. Whitney', filed in Washington D.C. While we cannot be certain, we believe this may be the Boston civil engineer William Henry Whitney, who, after 1888, owned a private civil engineering, surveying, and mapmaking firm in Boston. While Whitney may not have considered the maps important, they are today one of his most significant legacies. Individually and collectively, they represent some of the earliest obtainable maps of their respective subjects, marking them as important historical records of the urbanization of the Pacific Northwest. Today, all such maps are extremely scarce.
Publication History and Census
This map was compiled by John K. Ashley, printed by Louis Humphrey Everts, and published by William Henry Whitney in 1890. We note four examples cataloged in OCLC: Spokane Public Library, the University of Oregon, the University of Washington, and the University of California Davis. We are aware of another example in private hands bearing an advertisement for a real estate and loans company in Spokane Falls.


William Henry Whitney (January 3, 1843 - May 4, 1909) was an American civil engineer active in Boston in the second half of the 19th century. Whitney was born in Needham, Massachusetts. He studied at Cambridge High School then at the Lawrence Scientific School of Harvard University. In July of 1862, he enlisted in the Union Army to fight in the American Civil War (1861 - 1865). He served honorably throughout the war, seeing action and suffering wounds twice. He left the service with the rank of Brevet-Major. He served as Alderman of Cambridge. and was involved with the Back Bay development project - producing multiple maps and plans. He began his studies as a civil engineer before the war in the office of Stephen P. Fuller. From 1869 - 1871 he worked in the Boston City Engineer's Office and was involved with the Back Bay development project - producing multiple maps and plans. In 1872, he entered into partnership with J. Franklin Fuller, son of S. P. Fuller. After a short time, Fuller retired and Whitney took full control of the firm, in 1888 renaming it William H. Whitney. As a private contractor he continued to work on the Back Bay. Also around this time, he completed multiple plans for the official records of the Civil War. Between 1889 and 1890, he took a contract with the Union Pacific to produce a series of maps of western cities, including Portland, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Astoria, Port Townsend, Spokane, and more. While he did not consider them an important part of his corpus, they are today arguably his most significant works, being among the earliest obtainable plans of those cities. He was also influential in introducing blueprint technology to American architecture and engineering. More by this mapmaker...

John K. Ashley (1853 - February 8, 1926) was an American civil engineer. Born in Ohio, Ashley grew up in Denver, Colorado, where he worked as a messenger in the Survey General's Office from the age of twelve through fourteen. He attended college in Antioch, Ohio, and graduated in 1876. After graduation he returned to Denver and worked as a civil engineer, including as Arapahoe County Surveyor from 1881 - 1883. He was nominated for Denver City Surveyor but lost by a considerable margin. He owned racehorses from 1884 - 1885 and was sued by the Colorado National Bank for a debt soon after the death of one of his best horses. Ashley was elected to the Colorado State Legislature in 1885 and became Speaker of the House at the beginning of the 1885 session. He moved to Spokane, Washington, in 1888. Soon after arriving in Spokane, he was named City Engineer and then served as County Surveyor for Spokane County from 1892 - 1893. Ashley moved back to Denver in 1901 and moved to Sandpoint, Idaho, in 1902, to join his father and brothers. He worked as a civil engineer in Sandpoint until at least 1920. He married the oldest daughter of Arternas Carter in 1879, with whom he had two children. She died in 1885. Ashley married Lillian Hodder in 1888. Learn More...

Louis Humphrey Everts (April 14, 1836 - January 26, 1924) was an American map and atlas publisher active in the late 18th and early 19th century. Self-described as a "very busy and successful man", Everts was born in East Otto, New York. His family relocated to Geneva Illinois in 1851 where he worked as a clerk. In 1860 he moved to Chicago where he worked in Potter Palmer's dry-goods establishment. Following the outbreak of the America Civil War Everts joined the Union Army accepting a commission as Second Lieutenant in Company D. In 1861 he was promoted to First Lieutenant. During the course of the Civil War Everts saw action at Shiloh and Corinth before becoming an aide-de-camp to General Pleasant Adams Hackleman. He was later promoted again to the rank of Captain serving in the Western Theater and participating in Sherman's March. He ended his military service in 1865 with the rank of Brevet Major. During the war Everts befriend trade cartographer Thomas Hinckley Thompson, also a captain. Planning military strategy revealed the notable dearth of high quality county plans. Seeing a business opportunity the two teamed up as 'Everts and Thompson' (1865 - 1872) and began publishing county maps in Chicago. After the Great Chicago Fire, Everts acquired Thompson's stock and, in his own words "made the business large and profitable until it was necessary for me to visit Philadelphia and establish an office". Everts expanded his production rapidly moving away from standalone maps and refocusing on town histories and county atlases. He worked with numerous partners and seems to have been profitable, investing widely and diversely from land speculation to insurance firms. Apparently he was not the most successful investor and was forced to declare bankruptcy in 1900. Within two years he was back at head of a new firm, the Century Map Company. Active from 1902 to 1912 the Century Map Company published twelve atlases. Everts retired in 1913 and after briefly residing in a home for retired veterans moved to 215 Green Street, Philadelphia, where he lived until his death at 87 years. Learn More...


Very good. Light wear along original fold lines. Manuscript notations on recto.


OCLC 21137953.