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One of the Rarest Texas Bird's-Eye Views.

Superb large format bird's-eye view of Galveston, Texas, in 1885, during its heyday as the most important and populous city in Texas.

The view was made by perhaps the greatest 19th-century American viewmaker, Augustus Koch, who was particularly active in the American West. Koch's views are generally quite rare, but this one is particularly so; it is known in only two examples (see Rarity section below).

The view depicts Galveston as the bustling port that it was at the end of the 19th century. It was an ideal entrepot between Texas and the rest of the world, given its location on Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Dozens of ships are depicted lining the wharves of and plying the Bay.

A total of 18 vignette illustrations of important buildings are shown at the top of the view. At the bottom is a key including 61 landmarks and points of interest.

The whole presentation gives the sense of a city that was poised to enter the 20th century as the richest in Texas. However it was not to be so; the infamous Hurricane of 1900 decimated the city, resulting in the largest loss of life to a natural disaster in American history, a tragic record that stands to this day. Other factors conspired against Galveston's resurgence in the 20th century, namely its confined city limits (bordered as it is by water on all sides), which put it in stark contrast to other Texas cities which could expand almost without interruption.


Koch's Galveston is quite rare, with only two copies noted by Reps (Views and Viewmakers 3973), at the Amon Carter and Rosenberg Library, Galveston.

The Amon Carter example is somewhat profusely illustrated online, leading to a sense that it is not as rare as it actually is; there are no copies in OCLC (the only listing is for a Library of Congress reproduction of the Amon Carter image.)

Condition Description
Five-stone color lithograph. Some expert infill in the top margin. Long crack through Galveston Bay expertly mended.
Reps, Cities on Stone, Plate 35; Reps, Views and Viewmakers, 3973.