1852 Plan of the City of Washington, After Andrew Ellicott

Issued in "Maps of the District of Columbia and City of Washington", this is a fine 19th century re-issue of the first separately published plan of Washington. This map was published by the U.S. Senate in 1852.

The city's lay-out derived from a number of ideas, Washington's and Jefferson's most famously, but owes most of its initial configuration to Pierre Charles L'Enfant, who had served under Washington during the war as an engineer. 

Spreading out from the crux of the Potomac and its East Branch in a north-south grid, the city has superimposed upon it fifteen avenues (for the fifteen states as of 1792) that radiate from the White House or Capitol or parallel one of those radiant avenues. These, happily, violate the obligatory grid and that provide circles at the many-branched intersections and create broad axes from horizon to horizon.

The Federal City, as depicted in this map, was modified by Andrew Ellicott.  This was because of troubles that arose between the city and L'Enfant due to the pressing need of City Commissioner's to have a printed copy of the plan in order to sell building lots.  L'Enfant irritated them by working slowly and releasing only sketchy plans. On instruction from President Washington, Thomas Jefferson on February 27, 1792 wrote a letter to L'Enfant dismissing him as city planner."   This brought about Ellicott's involvement in the project.  Trained as a mathematician and surveyor, Ellicott conducted several large surveys with David Rittenhouse, the Philadelphia astronomer leading to the final first publication as depicted. 

The authority to establish a federal capital was provided in Article One, Section 8, of the United States Constitution, which permits a 'District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States'.  James Madison explained the need for a federal district on January 23, 1788 in the Federalist No. 43, arguing that the national capital needed to be distinct from the states, in order to provide for its own maintenance and safety ...The Constitution, however, does not specify a location for the new capital. In what later became known as the Compromise of 1790, Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson came to an agreement that the federal government would assume war debt carried by the states, on the condition that the new national capital would be located in the South. On July 16, 1790, the Residence Act provided for a new permanent capital to be located on the Potomac River, the exact area to be selected by President Washington... Both Maryland and Virginia ceded portions of their territory to form the new capital. A new 'federal city' was constructed on the north bank of the Potomac ... On September 9, 1791, the federal city was named in honor of George Washington and the district was named the Territory of Columbia.

Published in 1852 in Washington by the U. S. Senate.  Engraved by Samuel Hill.  


Overall very good condition. Some creasing along the right side, but otherwise the paper is healthy and the impression is strong. Framed according to the highest archival standards with acid-free matting and UV filtering glass.

Unframed Map Size: 18 1/8"x 22"
Framed Size: 31"x 34.5"

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