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Cincinnati in 1846

"Head Quarters for the Western States"

Unrecorded letter sheet map of Cincinnati, based upon an early survey by R. H. Rickey. Doolittle & Munson engraved the map. Published by Robinson & Jones.

This fine detailed small lettersheet map shows the progress of the growth of the City of Cincinnati at an early date.

The present map is one of the earliest obtainable maps of Cincinnati actually published in Cincinnati. The first manuscript map of Cincinnati was Israel Ludlow's 1802 Plan of the Town of Cincinnati. The first printed plan of Cincinnati would appear to be Drake's Statistical Plan of Cincinnati . . . (1815), followed by Oliver Farnsworth's Plan of Cincinnati . . . .(1819) . Thereafter, there were several other very rare maps of Cincinnati, published in Cincinnati, including the H.L. Barnum / Doolittle & Munson Topographical Map of Cincinnati in 1831 and Jospeh Gest's City of Cincinnati from Actual Survey in 1838. The Barnum map was re-issued in 1841, along with a small Plan of the City of Cincinnati 1842 by T. Twichel. The above mentioned maps are all rare, some being unobtainable.

The present map shows significantly more detail than earlier maps, both north of the Ohio River and in Covington and Newport south of the Ohio River. Streets are labeled. Some of the sites noted:

Miami Canal

Limestone Quarries

Proposed Western Avenue

S. J. Browne

Ragging Factory on the outskirts of Covington


Illustration of a Steamboat on the Ohio River

R. H. Rickey is identified as the maker of at least one other map of Cincinnati, published in 1850. Rickey also created a map with the same title as our lettersheet map which appeared in a very rare almanac: Cincinnati Almanac for the Year 1846.

In 1802, Cincinnati was chartered as a village, and in 1819, it was incorporated as a city. The introduction of steam navigation on the Ohio River in 1811 and the completion of the Miami and Erie Canal helped the city grow to 115,000 citizens by 1850.

The text of the letter, by Joseph Dana, Jr. to his father, Joseph Dana in Lower Sandusky, comprises an interesting summary of Cincinnati's government and institutions, including details of Dana's recent real estate investment: a 25 x 85 foot lot on George Street in Cincinnati:

This you perceive is a plat of Cincinnati on a Small Scale. I suppose this City contains not far short of 100000 souls at this time it is head quarters for the Western States there are more than 100 wholesale Dry good stores and as many wholesale Grocery stores, 4 or 5 ship yards, 3 medical colleges, one Law College and 7 or 8 colleges of a different kind, 10 free schools where there in attendance at least 2500 children; besides many other private schools two hospitals, 2 Assylums for orphans, a number of Eleemosinary Eeelemosinary [i.e. eleemosynary] Institutions, Government of the City is by the Council proscribed and the Mayor is the chief Judicial Officer, the Marshall Watchman and Sundry other subordinates, the Executive all appear to have a constant supply of Business. Yesterday I purchased a lot here in the City for which I gave 750$, the lot is 25 feet front on George Street, the North side about 1/2 way between Barr & Cutter and Linn Streets and is 85 feet Deep. But a small place for the price. I don't know whether I shall build on it or not. If I don't build I shall probably buy a place in the Country and let the lot rest, it is money well invested. I have not the least doubt but the Lot will be worth 2000$ in less than 5 years. It is not my desire to make this my permanent place of abode but I may, I have not come to a settled Conclusion should I decide on staying here most likely I should the Practice of the Law. My family are all well at present. I have 4 children and most likely Should health be spared me shall make you a visit this ensuing Summer my affairs are a little easier than they have been for the last 5 years Since I out to see you. I have met some tolerably heavy losses, that is for one in my circumstances. But there is no use to complain for spilt milk look out for the future. I rec'd a line from you the fall past, I don't know whether I replied or not I wrote Hilton a letter a few days ago wrote to Marcus not long since. I frequently receive letters from Marcus but seldom from any one else of our relatives. However all this correspondence will cease in a few short years and another set of active beings will be on the stage.

I shall add no more let me hear from you as soon as you can make it convenient. We tender our respects to all our friends.

Joseph Dana, Jr.


This lettersheet map is very rare. No examples note in OCLC.

Condition Description
Lettersheet with printed map of Cincinnati. 2 1/2 pages of manuscript text, dated Feb. 22, 1846. Old dark vertical fold, affecting part of the map. Small hole affecting a couple of letters. Else generally very good. Circular Cincinnati postal cancel in red ink on integral address leaf, dated Feb. 22.