American Maps and Mapmakers: Commercial Cartography in the Nineteenth Century by Walter W Ristow
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For map historians and collectors alike intrigued by the geography and history of the United States in the nineteenth century, this gathering of the writings of Walter W, Ristow, handsomely illustrated with over two hundred quality reproductions of maps, charts, panoramic views, and portraits, is a publication not to be missed. Hailed as having "provided the foundation for the study of commercial cartography," Dr. Ristow, former chief of the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress, is uniquely qualified to document the origins and development of a truly indigenous style of American cartography.
Traditionally, the history of American cartography has focused on the discovery, exploration, and colonial periods and on the achievements of European mapmakers. Little is written of the native surveyors, draftsmen, and cartographers who rose to the challenge of supplying maps to a new nation hungry for information about itself. Among the problems that faced the United States were many involving its expansive and often unknown geography, including those as immediate as the determination of the boundaries of each state; without surveying, the Western lands could not be distributed, and the turnpikes, roads, and canals needed to open up the trans-Appalachian territory could not be built.
Dr. Ristow discusses at length the work of such American cartographers as Abel Buell and John Melish and also the impact of the rise of lithography, which made possible the low-cost map. Among other topics rich in U.S. history are the atlases that supply us with a remarkable record of Victorian America; post-Civil War surveys of the West; charts and guides for navigating coasts and rivers.