Is anything ever really new? Well over a century before Google Earth and Google Maps allowed you to look down out of the sky at your community, your neighbourhood, your street, your own (or a neighbour’s) back yard, one Herman Brosius, among others, enabled your great-great-grandparents to engage in something quite similar. That is, to gaze down, from the eye of a bird, upon the community they resided in, especially during the 1870s. The maps were non-photographic representations of cities known as perspective maps, aero views, or panoramic maps and were extremely popular on the nineteenth century.
A lithographer by trade, who was active during the 1870s and into the mid 1880s, he authored a number of such views all over North America. Although his topography may have left something to be desired at times, over all, his lithographs are remarkable for their general accuracy, with individual buildings standing out distinctly, while architectural styles are easily discernible.
One that clearly falls into this category is the “Bird’s-Eye View” of Kingston. Published in 1875, by Herman Brosius (he appears to have rendered 15 lithos of Ontario cities alone, between 1872-1876), it still possesses a fascination and reveals surprising insights to those who view it today; and remains a remarkable historical resource for those persons, across many disciplines, who wish to study and research this City’s rich past.
An original hangs in the Frederick W. Gibson Reading Room at Queen’s University Archives; and 18″ x 24″ reproductions are available for sale from Archives staff.
Queen’s University Archives, Kingston Picture Collection, Locator #V23 Maps-Brosius 1