Thaddeus Fowler. “Macungie, Lehigh County Pennsylvania, 1893.”
Morrisville, Pa: T.M. Fowler and James B. Moyer. 11 1/4 x 20. Lithograph. Original hand color. Very good condition. A/A
Very attractive, colorful birds eye view of the town. At the bottom of the image contains a key to the structures of the village. This print is a fine example of the American bird’s eye view of the nineteenth century. Beginning after the Civil War, the bird’s eye view became one of the most popular of print genres. This was a period of significant urban growth throughout the country, and the civic pride which proliferated provided a fertile field for print publishers to market these visual vistas of American cities and towns.
According to John Reps’ seminal, Views and Viewmakers of Urban America (Columbia, 1984), publishers sent their artists out into the field throughout all parts of the country to draw and market the views. The artist would walk the streets of the town or city, drawing all the buildings and encouraging the citizens to subscribe to the view that would be produced. Once the entire area was sketched and enough subscriptions obtained, the artist would use a standard projection to turn his street-level images into a bird’s eye view of the town. Because these views were primarily sold to citizens of the place depicted, they had to be accurate and all buildings shown, lest an owner were to be insulted. Thus these views are not only highly decorative, but are also detailed and accurate pictures of each place shown, providing us with a wonderful documentation of nineteenth century urban America.