Signed by French Surveyor Prosper d'Albenas
Finely executed plan of Montevideo, published at a period of significant growth and renovation in Montevideo.
The map is signed by the French surveyor Prosper D'Albenas, its maker.
The map illustrates the remarkable development in the urban planning and building of Montevideo at this during the period. The map was issued during a period of substantial public works between 1865 and 1868, including the inauguration of the "Bolsa Montevideana" (1867) and the new Post Office, Museum and Public Library (1867), designed by the English engineer Tomás Havers (1867) and the first public monastery erected in Montevideo; and the first fountain in the Constitution square (1867).
Early Montevideo History
Between 1680 and 1683, Portugal founded the city of Colonia do Sacramento, across the bay from Buenos Aires. This city met with no resistance from the Spanish until 1723, when they began to place fortifications on the elevations around Montevideo Bay. In November 1723, Portuguese Field Marshal Manuel de Freitas da Fonseca built the Montevieu fort.
A Spanish expedition was sent from Buenos Aires and in January 1724, the Spanish forced the Portuguese to abandon the location and started populating the city, initially with six families from Buenos Aires and soon thereafter by families arriving from the Canary Islands who were known as Guanches or Canarians. There was also one significant early Italian resident by the name of Jorge Burgues.
A census of the city's inhabitants was performed in 1724 and a plan was drawn delineating the city and naming the city San Felipe y Santiago de Montevideo, later shortened to Montevideo. The census counted fifty families of Galician and Canary Islands origin, more than 1000 indigenous people, mostly Guaraní, as well as Black African slaves of Bantu origin. By 1729, a second group of settlers had arrived from the Canary Islands.
In 1726, Pedro Millan distributed land to the settlers, but large sections of the original site were reserved for a church and other official buildings on a plaza, and a strong fortress. In January 1730, Bruno Zabala set up the first cabildo (council).
A few years after its foundation, Montevideo became the main city of the region north of the Río de la Plata and east of the Uruguay River, competing with Buenos Aires for dominance in maritime commerce. The importance of Montevideo as the main port of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata brought it in confrontations with the city of Buenos Aires in various occasions, including several times when it was taken over to be used as a base to defend the eastern province of the Viceroyalty from Portuguese incursions.
By 1770, the population had grown to 7,000 and to nearly 10,000 by 1800, approximately 25% of which were black or mixed race.
In 1776, Montevideo was selected as the Armada Real’s principal naval base (Real Apostadero de Marina) for the South Atlantic. By the end of the century, the Old Town (Ciudad Vieja) had developed on the peninsula located along the eastward side of the harbor. However, in the ensuing years, the city was variously invaded, besieged and contested by several different parties during the Napoleonic Wars and the Rebellions against Spanish rule that had swept across Latin America.
In February 1807, British troops under the command of General Samuel Auchmuty and Admiral Charles Stirling occupied the city during the Battle of Montevideo (1807), but it was recaptured by the Spanish in September 1807, when John Whitelocke was forced to surrender to troops formed by forces of the Banda Oriental and of Buenos Aires. After this conflict, the governor of Montevideo Francisco Javier de Elío opposed the new viceroy Santiago de Liniers, and created a government Junta when the Peninsular War started in Spain, in defiance of Liniers. Elío disestablished the Junta when Liniers was replaced by Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros.
The Banda Oriental was annexed to Brazil in 1816, something resented by the majority Spanish-speaking population. However, the people eventually won their independence, founding the new República Oriental del Uruguay in 1828, with Montevideo as the capital.
The city of Montevideo suffered a siege of eight years between 1843 and 1851, during which it was supplied by sea with British and French support. Oribe, with the support of the then conservative Governor of Buenos Aires Province Juan Manuel de Rosas, besieged the Colorados in Montevideo, where the latter were supported by the French Legion, the Italian Legion, the Basque Legion and battalions from Brazil. Finally, in 1851, with the additional support of Argentine rebels who opposed Rosas, the Colorados defeated Oribe. The fighting, however, resumed in 1855, when the Blancos came to power, which they maintained until 1865.
After the end of hostilities, a period of growth and expansion started for the city. In 1853 a stagecoach bus line was established joining Montevideo with the newly formed settlement of Unión and the first natural gas street lights were inaugurated. From 1854 to 1861 the first public sanitation facilities were constructed. In 1856 the Teatro Solís was inaugurated, 15 years after the beginning of its construction. By Decree, in December 1861 the areas of Aguada and Cordón were incorporated to the growing Ciudad Nueva. In 1866, an underwater telegraph line connected the city with Buenos Aires. The statue of Peace, La Paz, was erected on a column in Plaza Cagancha and the building of the Postal Service as well as the bridge of Paso Molino were inaugurated in 1867.
In 1868, the horse-drawn tram company Compañía de Tranvías al Paso del Molino y Cerro created the first lines connecting Montevideo with Unión, the beach resort of Capurro and the industrialized and economically independent Villa del Cerro, at the time called Cosmopolis. In the same year, the Mercado del Puerto was inaugurated. In 1869, the first railway line of the company Ferrocarril Central del Uruguay was inaugurated connecting Bella Vista with the town of Las Piedras. During the same year and the next, the neighbourhoods Colón, Nuevo París and La Comercial were founded. The Sunday market of Tristán Narvaja Street was established in Cordón in 1870. Public water supply was established in 1871.
In 1878, Bulevar Circunvalación was constructed, a boulevard starting from Punta Carretas, going up to the north end of the city and then turning west to end at the beach of Capurro. It was renamed to Artigas Boulevard in 1885. By Decree, on January 8, 1881, the area Los Pocitos was incorporated to the Novísima Ciudad (Most New City).
The map is extremely rare. We note only the examples at the National Library of Uruguay and the Bibliotheque National de France.
We find no record of other examples at auction or in dealer catalogs.