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One of the Earliest Maps of Los Angeles Printed and Published in Los Angeles.

Perhaps the only surviving example of this remarkable large format map of Los Angeles, published in November 1887.

Rowan & Koeberle's map captures Los Angeles at the height of one of its first early land booms. First issued at the beginning of 1887 on a scale of 600 feet to 1 inch, the map is one the rarest and most detailed maps of Los Angeles published in the 1880s.

The original large format version of the map, published in San Francisco by Schmidt Label & Litho Co., is the most comprehensive and up to date map of Los Angeles of the period, capturing in remarkable detail the progress and growth of the City at the zenith of one of LA's first major booms.

This edition of the map, printed in November 1887 on a scale of 960 feet to 1 inch, adds dozens of new subdivisions which do not appear on the original Schmidt Litho edition, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Childs Heights
  • L.A. View Tract
  • Acme Tract
  • Meadow Glen Tract
  • Washington Heights Tract
  • Rosemont Tract
  • Boston Heights
  • Spruce Tract
  • Tuttle & Gleeson's Subdivision
  • West End Terrace Tract
  • Numerous Small Tracts in the triangle west of Main and east of Alameda and north of Seventh Avenue.
  • Clements Tract
  • Brooklyn Heights Ganahl Tract
  • Kiefer Tract
  • Leck Tract
  • Garbolino Tract
  • South Porter Tract
  • South Archibald Tract
  • Weiss Tract
  • Lonos Subdvision
  • McGarry Tract
  • McQuaid Tract
  • Herscheval Tract
  • Dalton Tract
  • Numerous other small subdivisions in the southern section of the map.

While similar to the 1884 Stevenson Map, this authentic plat map tells Los Angeles history with amazing detail. The map include the identification of land owners, tract names, locations of water, rail lines, township numbers, subdivisions and even the long forgotten Los Angeles and Ostrich farm trolley. The year 1887 was the peak of LA's great real estate boom and the rush to acquire land in the new Eden was reaching a fever pitch. Thousands of newcomers flooded into Los Angeles on the newly connected railroads. Excursion trains left downtown constantly, shuttling possible buyers out to the places named on this map.

Some of the earliest movie studios, including the Walt Disney studio began in this area. The nearby "LA City Res site" is the Silverlake reservoir which was then bringing precious water from the river in that direction. Elysian Park named just the year before can be seen here for the first time. Reservoir number 4 is the future Echo Park, surrounded by forgotten tract names like Orange Slope, ELA Hills, Nob Hill and Colina Park. Also seen for the first time is Sycamore Grove in the Northeast where locals would enjoy rustic picnics and celebrate Independence Days.The ten year old Evergreen cemetery is visible east of the "official bed of the Los Angeles river" that tells a tale in itself since the city owned the rights of that bed which later drew the San Fernando Valley into Los Angeles.

One of the more fascinating locations on the map is the Los Angeles & Ostrich Farm Railroad, extending from Reservoir Site No. 4 to the Southerly Portion of Ivanhoe. In 1885, a Dr. Sketchley built an ostrich farm along the banks of the Los Angeles River near where Griffith Park is now located. On Sunday and holidays, city residents would ride the Temple Street cable cars to the end of the line, and then transfer to horse‑drawn coaches which took them to see the farm. In 1886, the Los Angeles Ostrich Farm Railway Company was created to take the place of the slow carriages. Moses L. Wicks, a Los Angeles attorney and real estate speculator, was the primary promoter. The Railway asked the LA City Council to allow the railroad to operate from the neighborhood of Sisters' Hospital to the city limits. In November, 1886, permission was given to build a rail line from "a point in Bellevue avenue where it intersects with the west line of Upper Main street," north to the city limits.

This ordinance specified that the cars were to be "run or propelled from the place of beginning to Elysian Park Avenue by horses and electricity, two horses or two mules to each car;" the remainder of the way the cars were to be run by steam or electricity. The railroad was forbidden to charge more than five cents inside the city limits, and children under eighteen who were going or coming from school were to be charged half fare. Before the Ostrich Farm Railway was completed, it was absorbed by the Los Angeles County Railway Company; the exact date of this merger is not known. It must have been sometime before March 10, 1887, because an agreement recorded on that date mentions a railroad "then known as the Ostrich Farm Street Railway," and now owned by the Los Angeles County Railroad.

V.J. Rowan

The map maker Valentine James Rowan was the son of a successful pioneer and Mayor Thomas E. Rowan who sent his son off to San Francisco to study engineering as a teenager. V.J. established offices in downtown and commenced a great career as surveyor that included creating this map when he was just 23 years old. It was said that "he surveyed more property and laid out more subdivisions than any man in city history." In his rather spectacular cartographical career he surveyed all of the city's streets and bridges, mapped Catalina Island, much of the San Fernando Valley and created a monumental map of Los Angeles County for which he was paid the whopping sum of ten dollars.

Editions of the Map / Rarity

The first edition of this map, printed in San Francisco by Schmidt Label & Litho, is recorded in a single example in the Bancroft Library (UC Berkeley). We also offered an example of the map for sale in 2009 in relatively heavily restored condition: /gallery/detail/21352

At the time we acquired this map, we were aware of no other suriving examples of this map. In September 2017, we acquired a second example. OCLC notes only a phototstatic reproduction of this November 1887 edition--location not given.

We offer thanks to Glen Creason, Head of the Map Collection at the Los Angeles Public Library, whose book on the history of Los Angeles maps is a must read for collectors of Antique Maps of Southern California and from whose work we have relied in part for our description of the Schmidt Label & Litho edition of this map.

Condition Description
Wall Map on linen. Repairs to upper section of the map, with minor facsimile repairs, primarily to neatline and blank margin.