1893 Barclay, Clark & Co. Bird’s Eye View Chromolithograph

What a splendid bird’s eye view map! It’s replete with so many intricate historical details to pore over again and again.

There are some discrepancies. For example, there’s the presence of the then-new (now old) City Hall, which was only completed in 1899 (it was under construction for over a decade). It was common practice in drawings like this to include structures not yet constructed, as well as prospective buildings -- an appeal to civic pride.

“... The bird’s-eye map is an artist’s relatively subjective view of the city. Indeed, artists were commissioned to draw bird’s-eye views, which were partly intended to promote the image of the town depicted. Artistic licence was usually employed to emphasise [sic] what were considered at the time to be the more desirable urban attributes–grand buildings, thriving industry and bustling commercial areas and transportation facilities. The reliability of the information on the bird’s-eye map, an artist’s subjective interpretation of the townscape, should be cross-checked, where possible.”

- Bird’s-Eye Views of Canadian Cities: A Review, M.F. Fox [Urban History Review (No.1-77)] [via Kevin Plummer]

Click the image to view a full-size version.

Bird's-eye view, looking n. from harbour to n. of Bloor St. and some points beyond, from Humber R. on the west to Victoria Park Ave. on the east. Published by: Barclay, Clark & Co. Lithographers

Inscription: “Entered according to Act of Parliament of Canada, in the year 1893 by Barclay, Clark & Co. in the Office of the Minister of Agriculture.”

Image Courtesy Toronto Public Library: 916-2-1 to 3 Cab III

“The bird's-eye view is an oblique perspective drawing of a city viewed from an elevation of several thousand feet above it. The views include a three-dimensional portrayal of buildings and other features in an attempt to combine the main topographical aspects of a map with the details possible in a picture. The views appealed to civic pride and were also seen as an encouragement to commercial growth. Sold at $3 to $10, they became popular wall hangings during the last third of the 19th century. Views were usually done by artists who solicited subscriptions in advance to guarantee sales, and who actually went around the city sketching buildings.”

- Isobel Ganton & Joan Winearls, MAPPING TORONTO'S FIRST CENTURY 1787-1884

Drop me a line if you know anything more about the context for this map and the circumstances which led to its printing!