This is a fascinating 1891 Norris Peters city map of Washington D.C. detailing Western Union Telegraph lines and offices.
The Telegraph NetworkRed overprinting highlights Western Union's telegraph network using information provided by Morell Marean, manager of Western Union. Red 'x's appear in numerous government buildings, including the Executive Mansion, the Treasury Department, and the War and Navy Departments, suggesting that these 'x's mark buildings with their own private telegraph connections. Red circles inscribed with smaller red dots also appear throughout the city, with three such markings appearing near the U.S. Capitol. These dots likely mark Western Union offices. Intriguingly, one line leading away from the Capitol is identified as 'abandoned', suggesting that line, and its related connection to the Capitol, were no longer in use.
A Closer LookApart from the interesting details of the telegraph network, government buildings and parks are illustrated, including the Smithsonian, the Washington Monument, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the Navy Yard, and the National Observatory. Streets and D.C.'s famous circles are labeled, and city blocks are numerically identified.
Publication History and CensusThis map was created and published by the Norris Peters Company as part of a series of maps of Washington D. C. to illustrate a report to the Commissioners of the District of Columbia. We note a single cataloged example in OCLC which is part of the collection at George Washington University.
Norris Peters (c. 1834 – July 15, 1889) was a Washington D.C. based photo-lithographer active in the late 18th and early 19th century whom Scientific American called 'one of Washington's most eccentric and mysterious figures.' Peters was born and educated in Pennsylvania. He relocated as a young man to Washington D.C. where he took work as an examiner for the United States Patent Office. During his work with the patent office he became fascinated with the emergent process of photolithography. In 1869 Peters secured substantial venture capital of about 100,000 USD from an unknown investor and founded The Norris Peters Company at 458 Pennsylvania Avenue. Their printing offices have been described as 'unequaled in this or any other country.' From these office Peters pioneered development of American photo-lithography. For nearly a generation he held a near monopoly on government photo-lithographic printing. Among their more notable contracts included numerous maps for congressional reports, maps of the U.S. Coast Survey, maps of the U.S. Geological Survey, Mexican currency for the State of Chihuahua, and the Official Gazette of the Patent Office. Peters also maintained an interesting social life and was a confidant to many of the most powerful figures in congress. He was also a bon vivant known for being an excellent cook and hosting lavish dinners the invitations to which were 'never declined'. Despite being socially active he never married and died a confirmed bachelor. Following Peters' death in 1889 his business was taken over by Henry Van Arsdale Parsell who administered it until his own death in 1901. The company then merged with Webb & Borcorselski, another D.C. lithography firm, and was renamed Webb & Borcorselski-Norris Peters. They continued to publish under this name well into the mid 20th century. More by this mapmaker...
Good. Professionally flattened and backed with archival tissue. Narrow left margin. Toning along original fold lines. Area of infill in lower right quadrant.