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1860 Johnson City Map or Plan of Washington, D.C.

Johnson's Georgetown and the City of Washington the Capital of the United States of America. - Main View

1860 Johnson City Map or Plan of Washington, D.C.


Features a vignette of the original design for the Washington Monument.


Johnson's Georgetown and the City of Washington the Capital of the United States of America.
  1860 (undated)     13 x 15.75 in (33.02 x 40.005 cm)     1 : 26000


This is the 1860 first edition of A. J. Johnson and Ross C. Browning's city map or plan of Washington, D.C. and Georgetown. The map depicts the city from Georgetown College (now part of Georgetown University) to the Anacostia River (then known as the Eastern Branch) and from North W. Street to the confluence of the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers. Highly detailed, streets throughout the city are labeled and each block is identified by address. City wards are shaded yellow and pink to allow for easy differentiation, while the areas around government property, such as the President's House (The White House), the National Observatory, Lafayette Square, and the Smithsonian Institution are shaded green.

Three vignettes adorn three of the map's corners. These include, in the upper left corner, the Smithsonian Institution Building, also known as the Castle, which was the first building in the now expansive Smithsonian Institution and, in the upper right, the U.S. Capitol Building. An illustration of the original plan for the Washington Monument is situated in the lower left corner, featuring a Greek pantheon temple with thirty columns and a grand Egyptian obelisk. Construction on the obelisk began in 1848, but funding for the project dried up in 1856. After suffering several more construction delays and the American Civil War, construction on the Washington Monument restarted in 1876 using the original design minus the Greek pantheon and was completed in 1884.

This map was published by A. J. Johnson and Ross Browning in the 1860 edition of Johnson's New Illustrated (Steel Plate) Family Atlas.


Alvin Jewett Johnson (September 23, 1827 - April 22, 1884) was a prolific American map publisher active from 1856 to the mid-1880s. Johnson was born into a poor family in Wallingford, Vermont where he received only a based public education. He is known to have worked as school teacher for several years before moving to Richmond, Virginia. Johnson got his first taste of the map business and a salesman and book canvasser for J. H. Colton and company. The earliest Johnson maps were published with D. Griffing Johnson (no clear relation) and date to the mid-1850s, however it was not until 1860 that the Johnson firm published its first significant work, the Johnson's New Illustrated (Steel Plate) Family Atlas. The publication of the Family Atlas followed a somewhat mysterious 1859 deal with the well-established but financially strapped J. H. Colton cartographic publishing firm. Although map historian Water Ristow speculates that Colton sold his copyrights to Johnson and his business partner, another Vermonter named Ross C. Browning (1822 - 1899), a more likely theory is that Johnson and Browning financially supported the Colton firm in exchange for the right to use Colton's existing copyrighted map plates. Regardless of which scenario actually occurred it is indisputable that the first Johnson atlas maps were mostly reissues of earlier Colton maps. Early on Johnson described his firm as the 'Successors to J. H. Colton and Company'. Johnson's business strategy involved transferring the original Colton steel plate engravings to cheaper lithographic stones, allowing his firm to produce more maps at a lower price point. In 1861, following the outbreak of the American Civil War the Johnson and Browning split their firm between two offices. Johnson moved from Richmond, Virginia to New York City. Browning remained in Richmond, where he published at least one more edition of the atlas after the war began, in 1862. Johnson and Browning published two editions of the Johnson Atlas: 1860 (Richmond and New York) and 1861 (Richmond and New York). Sometime in 1861 Browning's portion of the firm (or perhaps the New York portion?) was purchased by Benjamin P. Ward, whose name subsequently replaced Browning's on the imprint. The 1863 issue of the Family Atlas was one of the most unusual, it being a compilation of older 'Johnson and Browning' maps, and updated 1862 'Johnson and Ward' maps, and newer 1863 maps with a revised border design. The 1864 issue of the Family Atlas is the first fully 'Johnson and Ward' atlas. Johnson published one more edition of the atlas in partnership with Ward in 1865, after which Johnson seems to have bought out Ward's share the firm. The next issue of the atlas, 1866, is the first purely 'Johnson' atlas with all new map plates, updated imprints, and copyrights. The Family Atlas went through roughly 27 years of publication, from 1860 to 1887, outliving Johnson himself who died in 1884. Johnson maps from the Family Atlas are notable for their unique borders, of which there are four different designs, the 'strapwork border' from 1860 to 1863, the 'fretwork border' from 1863 to 1869 and the 'spirograph border' in 1870 – 1882, and a more elaborate version of the same from 1880 - 1887. In addition to the Family Atlas Johnson issued numerous wall maps, pocket maps, and in the 1880s the Cyclopedia. Johnson maps are known for their size, accuracy, detail, and stunning, vivid hand coloring. Johnson maps, purely American in their style and execution, chronicle some of the most important and periods in American history including the Civil War, the Westward Expansion, and the Indian Wars. Today Johnson's maps, especially those of the American west, are highly sought after by map collectors and historians. More by this mapmaker...


Johnson, A. J., Johnson's New Illustrated (Steel Plate) Family Atlas, With Descriptions, Geographical, Statistical, And Historical. , 1860 (Johnson and Browning), 1st edition.     404 Not Found

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Very good. Even overall toning. Light soiling. Blank on verso.


OCLC 18165917.