Bird’s Eye View Map of Kingston Ontario, 1875

Bird's eye view map of Kingston, 1875.

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

2 Responses to “Bird’s Eye View Map of Kingston Ontario, 1875”

  1. Andrew Edmonds Says:

    Very interesting image.

    I’ve been looking in to old maps of Kingston. It seems the canonical maps are the 1850 Gibbs plan and the 1863 Innes plan.

    Does the Queen’s archive have copies of either? I couldn’t find them in the Queen’s database, but others might have better luck.

    Are there any other similar maps of the city from later in the 19th c. or early 20th c.? Or is the Brosius one the main post 1863 one? And did you by chance locate any of the other 15 Brosius lithos you mention?

  2. Gillian Barlow Says:

    Thank you for your interest in our blog item, the Brosius map of Kingston..

    In answer to your questions: the Archives does have a few maps that we keep in the public Reading Room to be used for reference purposes. But it is not part of our practice or mandate to “collect” maps unless they form part of the working papers of an indivdual or institution. The university’s Map Library does have a good collection of current and older maps of the Kingston area.

    The archives acquisition policy places certain geographical limits on what we acquire – that is we prefer material that is related to the University, Kingston and its regions. The 15 Brosius lithos were made of other cities.

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