John Bachmann. “Birds Eye View of Philadelphia.”
New York: John Bachmann, 1850. 19 x 28. Lithograph by J. Bachmann. Printed by Sarony & Major in two colors. Original hand color with additions of later color. Wide margins and a very minor tear in the outer margins. Minor mat burn in margin. Else, very good condition. Prints of Philadelphia: 168; Reps: 3577. A/A
An excellent bird’s eye view of Philadelphia drawn from a perspective over Windmill Island in the Delaware, looking west down Market Street. Great detail is shown of the city and sites are easily identifiable. The physical limits of Philadelphia are graphically illustrated, with rural countryside seen to the south and west. The growing industrialization of Philadelphia is documented by the numerous smoke stacks billowing forth around the city and in the distance.
The modernization of the city is also represented in the foreground at the waterfront. A plethora of schooners and other sailing vessels is depicted in the river and tied to the quays. However, a steam-powered paddle-wheeler is prominently positioned in the lower center of the print, and other steam ships are shown impressively establishing their dominance elsewhere in the river.
One puzzling feature is the inclusion of two names, “Hans Bachmann” and “Anna Esmann,” shown surrounding a small portrait of a man on the side of the wheelhouse of the foreground paddle-wheeler. On a variant edition of this print, attributed to G. Matter, these names are different. Though his bird’s eye views are noted for their superior quality, little is known about John Bachmann, who was probably a recent immigrant from Germany. Perhaps further research will explain the two names, which are but one interesting aspect of this excellent print.