Picturesque Washington: Pen and Pencil Sketches, by Joseph West Moore, 1884.

Moore, Joseph West. Picturesque Washington: Pen and Pencil Sketches. A souvenir of the American Capital. Providence: J.A. & R.A. Reid, 1884. Engraved by S.S. Kilburn, Boston. Bound in original brown cloth boards with pictorial gilt, red, and black embossed cover and spines. Presented in archival matching brown cloth slipcase. 

Presented is a first edition printing of Picturesque Washington by Joseph West Moore, published in 1884.  The work's many essays, together with its numerous wood engravings and maps, offer a historical snapshot of the nation’s capital in the 1880s, after a period of immense population and architectural growth. 

With detailed prints and intriguing articles, Picturesque Washington exposed readers to all parts of their capital city. Moore went beyond just federal buildings and great monuments, to include places of commerce, recreation, work, and worship. The illustrations in Picturesque Washington include diverse scenes of the Washington Monument, C&O Canal, Capitol rotunda and a bustling 7th Street,  Georgetown University, the Post Office Pavilion, bird’s eye city vistas, and more. The list of illustrators hired by Moore to work on this project is quite long, and includes artists Frank Myrick, A. B. Shute, F. B. Schell, R. Sayer, A. C. Warren, and A. L. Bodwell. S. S. Kilburn, a Boston based master engraver, engraved the illustrations for this publication. 

In 1871, Georgetown, Washington City, and Washington County were united under a single territorial government by congressional act. This contributed to Washington's post–Civil War architectural boom, dominated by massive city-sponsored civil works projects, that provided the city with many modern urban amenities, and by large-scale privately sponsored residential developments. 

In Picturesque Washington, Moore acknowledges and celebrates this transformation. He writes, “In ten years from the time the Board of Public Works began its improvements, the city was transformed. The streets were covered with an almost noiseless, smooth pavement. Fifty thousand shade-trees had been planted; the old rows of wooden, barrack-like houses had given place to dwellings of graceful, ornate architecture; blocks of fine business buildings lined Pennsylvania Avenue and the other prominent thoroughfares; blossoming gardens and luxuriant parks were to be seen on all sides; the squares and circles were adorned with the statues of heroes, and bordered with costly and palatial mansions; splendid school-houses, churches, market buildings, newspaper offices had been erected. The water-works and sewer system were unequalled in the country. Washington had risen fresh and beautiful, like the Uranian Venus, from stagnation and decay.”

Picturesque Washington served as both travelogue and travel guide to visitors to Washington and locals looking to explore more of their city. It was republished and reissued for several years due to strong demand and strong reviews. 


Very good condition. Original brown cloth boards with pictorial gilt, red, and black embossed covers and spines. Internally very clean, pages are healthy without marks or stains. Black and white wood engravings of illustrations, maps, and plans throughout. All edges gilt. Octavo. Presented in a new archival matching brown cloth slipcase with a photograph of the original decorative front boards inlaid on front.

Dimensions: 10 1/8"H x 8 3/4"W x 2 1/4"D

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