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Unparalleled 1870 bird’s-eye-view of Salt Lake City.

Place/Date: Chicago / 1870
$22,000.
Title: Bird’s Eye View of Salt Lake City Utah Territory 1870
Technique
Lithograph
Dimensions
26 ½”h x 34 ½”w plus title, legend and margins
Identifier
NL-00529
Coloring
Original color
Condition Rating
VG+

Description

A large and very rare view by one of 19th-century America’s great view makers.

Only four examples of this beautiful four-stone colored lithograph are known, all held by institutions. The artist, Augustus Koch, a German émigré who settled in Wisconsin and served in the Civil War, became one of America’s most prolific view makers.

This print depicts Salt Lake City as seen from the southwest, twenty-three years after its founding. Grandview, Lookout and Twin Peaks of the Wasatch Range form the background, while the majority of the image is filled by the city’s famous street grid layout. The Salt Lake Temple and New Tabernacle are prominently depicted. The Temple is shown as completed, though in reality construction was not finished until 1893. The extent of cultivation within the city is striking: many of the streets are lined with trees, and most homes seem to have their own orchard. This was enabled by the irrigation system fed by City Creek, which can be seen descending from the mountains into a holding pond not far from the Temple.

Eight architectural vignettes are placed at the lower corners, including commercial buildings, the courthouse and city hall, and the home of Brigham Young. Forty-nine locations in the image are identified by numeric tags, and a legend at the bottom of the page identifies them, including the Temple and Old and New Tabernacles, as well as schools, businesses, and public buildings. Though the city was still young, the view reveals an extensive metropolis.

This is one of the earliest views drawn by Koch. John W. Reps credits him with no fewer than one hundred and ten lithographic bird’s-eye views of cities in twenty-three different states from Maine to California, primarily in the Midwest and West.

This may be the only version of this view to appear on the antiquarian market. Reps records only the four institutional impressions, mentioned above, and we find no record of others having appeared on the antiquarian market.

Cartographer(s)

Augustus Koch

Augustus Koch began his career as an itinerant birds-eye view artist in California in 1870. Over the next nearly 30 years, he would criss-cross the country, creating more than 100 views of towns, large and small. His large format, highly detailed views are among the most coveted among collectors, employing a unique style which provides both physical details of the town and a map-like quality.

Condition Description

Vertical fold flattened and reinforced on verso, some neatly-mended edge tears (one extending 1” into image), and some minor marginal soiling.

References

John W. Reps, Views and Viewmakers, plate 83 and #4021 (Brigham Young University, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Library of Congress, and University of Utah).

OCLC #5479253 (Library of Congress, plus three other institutional holdings we suspect to be of the 1974 Historic Urban Plans reprint).

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