1876 PA Gross Bird's Eye View of Toronto

“For three years, P. A. Gross walked every avenue, street, lane, and alley from Fort York to the Don River, north through Rosedale, Yorkville, and beyond, to produce this 1876 Bird’s-Eye View of Toronto. In his rambles, he sketched every shop, dwelling, and factory in Toronto—14,000 private and public buildings in all—with “a faithfulness and a minuteness that excites astonishment and admiration in all beholders,” according to Illustrated Toronto (1877), a guidebook published to accompany the map.

Once completed, the individual images resulting from Gross’ painstaking survey of the city were stitched together to show the entire city from above and lithographed by Copp, Clark & Co. Limited.”

- Kevin Plummer, Historicist: Cartographic Civic Pride (Torontoist)

I highly recommend reading Plummer’s full article. Derek Flack’s corresponding piece on Gross’ map in BlogTO a few months later is also well worth reading.

Click the image to view a full-size (7 MB - can take awhile) version.

1876 Bird's Eye View of Toronto, Peter Alfred Gross

Bird’s Eye View of Toronto, by P.A. Gross, 1876.

Map image courtesy University of Toronto Map & Data Library: G 3524 .T61 A3 1876
Original held at Library and Archives Canada: NMC17628

The actual map was an enormous 5 feet by 3 feet 3 inches. Marvellous!

Illustrated Toronto: Past and Present (mentioned above) contains an invaluable key to the view. View a scanned copy of the book; the key may be found on the 14th and 15th scanned sheets (pages V & VI).

“This bird's-eye view, with its three-dimensional depiction of the city, gives us a different kind of information on the buildings and topography of Toronto. Obvious here are the varying densities of development and the varied sizes and shapes of buildings. Building projects in Toronto, as in other North American cities, tended to be small so that there were no large expanses of consistent residential architecture, as there were in Britain at the time.

The harbour, the trains, and the factory smoke, together with the types of buildings shown in the margin, testify to the growing commercial and industrial interests of the city in the 1870s.

Peter Alfred Gross (1849-1914) was an American artist and lithographer established in Toronto between 1874 and 1878. He first produced illustrations for the Wentworth County atlas and then prepared and published this bird's-eye view of Toronto in 1876. The view is as if seen from a point 5000 feet above the southeastern part of the island. A year later he published J. Timperlake's Illustrated Toronto which was to accompany the view and which included a key to major buildings.”

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

A plethora of minute details abound for you to explore!

See Also [Bird’s Eye Views]
1870 Canadian Railway News Bird’s Eye View of Toronto
1876 Gascard City of Toronto Bird’s Eye View from the Northern Railway elevator
1886 Wesbroom: City of Toronto [Bird’s Eye View]
1892 Toronto Railway Company Map Shewing Toronto Street Railway Lines
1893 Barclay, Clark & Co. Bird’s Eye View Chromolithograph

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