Texas Heritage, Volume 19, Number 1, Winter 2001 Page: 43
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in the large, handsome,
rare, and little-known
bird's-eye views of Texas
cities that appeared between
1871 and 1914.
prospects of government
subsidies and, later, land
grants, railroad companies
rapidly began to rebuild
their facilities following
the Civil War.
They had laid approximately
800 miles of track
in the state by 1870, but
the greatest decade of
track building was the
1880s, when more than
6,000 miles of track were
laid. By 1900 the state
boasted more than 9,800
miles of track. The railroad
network was essentially
completed in 1910,
with 13,819 miles of track
in operation, but expansion
continued until it
reached a peak of 17,078
miles of track in 1932.2
showed a similar increase.
The 1860 census counted
604,215 persons in Texas.
That had increased to
818,579 by 1870; 1,591,749 by 1880; and
2,235,527 by 1890. Only two cities had
more than 10,000 persons by 1870:
Galveston, the principal city in the state,
with 13,818, and San Antonio with
12,256. By 1890 the population of
Galveston had grown to 29,084, but it was
no longer the largest city in the state. Dallas
reported 38,067 citizens, while San Antonio
had 37,673; Houston, 27,557; and
Fort Worth, 23,076. Thirty-six cities, all
with rail service, had a population of more
than 4,000 persons.
One of the few visual documents
that demonstrates this growth-and the
importance of railroads to the state's
economy-is the bird's-eye view map. Be
tween 1871 and 1914, ten itinerant artists
visited the state and produced, with outof-state
lithographic firms, 70 bird's-eye
views of 47 different Texas cities. This was
part of a national trend-historian John
Reps has catalogued almost 4,500 views of
2,400 American cities between 1825 and
1925, most of them during the latter half
of the 19th century.3
No Texas city approached the popularity
of New York City and San Francisco,
with more than 150 published portraits
each. However, between the 1870s and
1900, artists did four views of Denison, the
railroad hub of the state at the time with
eight railroads and the state's first interurban
-- in 1873,1876,1885, and 1891. The
1873 view more or less coincided with the
arrival of the first railroad, the Missouri,
Kansas & Texas, in December 1872.4
There are three views each of Austin, Fort
Worth,5 Galveston, Houston, San Antonio,
and Waco, and two of Brenham,
Gainesville, and Greenville. There are another
37 cities with single views. The cities
most frequently depicted are concentrated
in north and central Texas, with
Laredo and Corpus Christi being the
southernmost, and El Paso the
westernmost cities included. Together,
these 67 prints form a massive amount of
information about our state during one of
its most formative eras.
These prints are the work of 11
men-ten from out-of-state and one from
Galveston-who were as much traveling
salesman, entrepreneur, and businessman as
they were artist. They usually came up
through the business, advancing from a
traveling rep to artist to, perhaps, supervising
or owning their own company. Augustus
Koch, a German immigrant from Bimbaum,
did 22 Texas views, more than any other
artist. He was one of the most prolific nationally
as well, producing more than 110
views in a 30-year career. Thaddeus M.
Fowler, the most prolific of all the American
cityview makers, producing more than
400 bird's-eye views nationally, did 16 of
Texas cities. Little is known of Henry
Wellge, who did 11 Texas views, more than
Page 42: After Camille N. Drie (active 18711904),
"Bird's Eye View of the City of
Galveston Texas, 1871." Toned lithograph,
57 x 87 cm. (image). Printed by Chicago
Lithographing Co. 150-54 S. Clark, Chicago,
III. Image courtesy of the Center for
American History, The University of Texas
150 nationally, and at least one international
view-a tremendously complex view
of Mexico City in 1906.6 D. D. Morse and
Herman Brosius did four Texas views each;
A. L. Westyard and E. E. Motter produced
two each; and Camille N. Drie, Eli S.
Glover, and Amos S. Harris each did one.
M. Strickland of Galveston copied Koch's
1873 view of Galveston in order to document
the widespread destruction of the
Despite the fact that some historians
have characterized these prints as "idealized
settings and gross exaggerations,"
my research thus far suggests that they are
accurate depictions of the cities and might,
therefore, serve as useful historical documents
about the urbanization process in
Texas as well as the cities themselves.
Newspaper editors almost always vouched
for the accuracy of the views of their hometown,9
and local merchants often distributed
them as advertising to prospective clients
A Dallas editor reported that Brosius'
1872 view of that city "shows every house
in the corporation limits, together with
every street, so accurately drawn that any
one acquainted at all with the city can recognize
any building." An Austin editor recognized
"every individual house in the city"
in Koch's 1873 drawing, then claimed that
the final lithograph "far exceeds the sample
shown us when these gentlemen were here
some months ago taking sketches." Salesman
Joseph J. Stoner showed Koch's drawing
of San Antonio to "several gentlemen,
[who] ... failed to discover wherein a single
house had been omitted from the drawing.
The courses of the San Antonio River, the
San Pedro Creek, and of our various irrigation
ditches, with all our bridges, are accurately
delineated," they concluded.
HERITAGE * 43 * WINTER 2001
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Texas Historical Foundation. Texas Heritage, Volume 19, Number 1, Winter 2001, periodical, Winter 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45384/m1/43/: accessed January 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.