Bal­ti­more maps that will get you lost in time

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND - Jac­ques Kelly jac­ques.kelly@balt­sun.com

re­pare to spend some time un­der the spell of the an­cient Mary­land and Bal­ti­more maps, prints and other bits of de­light­ful es­o­ter­ica on dis­play at the Ge­orge Pe­abody Li­brary on Mount Ver­non Place.

“Mary­land: From the Wil­lard Hack­er­man MapCol­lec­tion, is a blend of the sub­stan­tial hold­ings of Hack­er­man, pres­i­dent of Whit­ing Turner con­struc­tion and a Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­sity alum­nus.

The free ex­hibit, which con­tin­ues through mid-March, is com­ple­mented with printed trea­sures from other sources. The re­sult is a ban­quet of Mary­land his­tory from its days as a colony through the re­mak­ing of the Bal­ti­more har­bor in the 1970s.

This ex­hi­bi­tion re­veals printed trea­sures not of­ten grouped in one spot, and rarely dis­played with such pre­ci­sion and care. Though these maps and lith­o­graphs are fre­quently re­pro­duced in lo­cal his­tory books, howoften do you get the op­por­tu­nity to view the orig­i­nals in such splen­did con­di­tion, as if they just came off the press?

The set­ting is pretty spe­cial too, one of Bal­ti­more’s grand ex­hi­bi­tion spa­ces over­look­ing Mount Ver­non Place.

On a tour of the ex­hibit this past week with Ge­orge Pe­abody Li­brary cu­ra­tor Paul Espinosa, he noted how he had paired a pris­tine copy of Fred­er­ick Dou­glass’ 1845 work, “Nar­ra­tive of the Life of Fred­er­ick Dou­glass” — from the Hop­kins Ev­er­green Li­brary — and an early printed copy of one

Pof Dou­glass’ speeches. Ac­com­pa­ny­ing them is an boldly col­ored 1870 litho­graph, a printed pic­ture cel­e­brat­ing the pas­sage of the 15th Amend­ment af­firm­ing vot­ing rights re­gard­less of “race, color or previous con­di­tion of servi­tude.” The print de­picts young AfricanAmer­i­cans be­ing ed­u­cated in a school­house, a pro­fes­sor lead­ing them in a ge­og­ra­phy les­son.

The streets that Dou­glass walked in Fells Point are clearly marked on many maps show­ing this neigh­bor­hood in old Bal­ti­more. A large Mary­land- Delaware- Ch­e­sa­peake Bay chart, pro­duced by map­maker and fancy en­graver Field­ing Lu­cas, shows the re­gion in 1862. At­tached to it is a tag not­ing that it was sold by Hag­ger & Brother, the Fells Point “nau­ti­cal and math­e­mat­i­cal goods” dealer on Thames Street. Espinosa notes that a young Dou­glass bought his first book at the Hag­ger store, which at the time was lo­cated around the cor­ner from his home.

With so much his­tory on dis­play in the ex­hibit, it’s dif­fi­cult to have a pref­er­ence here. Are the lav­ishly en­graved and del­i­cately col­ored early Ch­e­sa­peake images any more in­ter­est­ing that the fan­tas­ti­cally de­tailed ward maps of Bal­ti­more City? Not of­ten is a fine copy of the 1801 Warner & Hanna map of Bal­ti­more avail­able to set­tle dis­putes about Bal­ti­more his­tory and place names. It re­veals all the sto­ried sum­mer houses and es­tates — such as Bolton, which lent its name to Bolton Hill, and Belvidere, which gave its name — chang­ing the “i” for Jim Gil­lispie, li­brar­ian and cu­ra­tor of maps at the Ge­orge Pe­abody Li­brary, points out fea­tures of the Plan of the City of Bal­ti­more, 1852, by Thomas H. Pop­ple­ton. an “e” — to the Chase Street ho­tel.

Re­trieved from the rich Pe­abody Li­brary hold­ings is a vivid color de­pic­tion of a di­a­mond­back ter­rapin from a “cab­i­net of cu­riosi­ties” fo­lio printed in Am­s­ter­dam in 1734. And there’s a fan­ci­ful print of Bal­ti­more that shows the city about 1835, when it was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing some of its most rapid growth. It’s known as the Con­stantino­ple view, be­cause the artist took some lib­er­ties and made the Basil­ica of the As­sump­tion ap­pear as a mosque sit­ting atop the Mul­berry Street hill.

The ex­hibit sends an­other mes­sage: That some of these trea­sures re­ally truly are ac­ces­si­ble to the masses. The rich hold­ings of the Johns Hop­kins Sheri­dan Li­braries, for in­stance — in­clud­ing its map col­lec­tion re­lated to Mary­land and Bal­ti­more — are avail­able free on­line. They con­tains some amaz­ing re­sources, not all of them dis­played on Pe­abody Li­brary’s walls.

One of the on­line items is a1926-27 photo aerial map for Bal­ti­more and its sub­urbs, made by the Ch­e­sa­peake Air­craft Co., that re­veals Rodgers Forge as a corn­field and shows how the streams of Rosedale flow.

These maps also dis­close el­e­men­tal changes to the city. One ex­am­ple: Johns Hop­kins map cu­ra­tor Jim Gil­lispie took a pre-1970s map, then pro­jected changes onto it that were in place a dozen years later. Some are sub­tle, oth­ers pro­found, such as the way some of the har­bor’s con­tours had been filled in, ex­panded and al­tered.

Such changes shaped the land­scape we know to­day. With­out them, Gil­lispie said, “Har­bor­place would have been in the wa­ter.”

KIM HAIRSTON/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

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