1792 "Plan of the City of Washington in the Territory of Columbia" by Andrew Ellicott

This is an excellent example of Andrew Ellicott’s Plan of the City of Washington. This was the first official map of the City of Washington to be produced, showing the then future capital of the United States. The map was produced in 1792 by Thackara & Vallance out of Philadelphia, PA.

The official site of the American capital was not established upon the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Rather, the matter was very much unresolved for years after the United States gained independence. It was not until the Residence Act of 1790 that the capital was confirmed. The Residence Act provided a location for the capital "at some place between the mouths of the Eastern Branch and the Connogocheague," which was made possible by the Compromise of 1790. In January of 1791, President George Washington formally announced the location and approximate size of the capital, measuring 10 miles on each side in a diamond shape centered on the convergence of the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers.

Following the official announcement, Andrew Ellicott was employed to conduct a topographical survey of the area in conjunction with Pierre L’Enfant, who developed a plan for the city itself. L’Enfant was a reputable artist and engineer, but was reportedly difficult to work with; George Washington eventually fired him and passed the entirety of the project on to Ellicott in 1792. Ellicott used L’Enfant’s initial designs for the basis of much of the plan. The map embodies much of L’Enfant’s original view for the city; as a Frenchman, L’Enfant envisioned the capital on much of the European model with large streets and public squares that created a dramatic cityscape.

Upon completion of the plan, Ellicott forwarded it to firms Thackara & Vallance in Philadelphia and Samuel Hill in Boston to be engraved. The firms published the maps as quickly as possible in order to facilitate the sale of land in Washington City. This example is the plan produced by Thackara & Vallance out of Philadelphia, and is considered the grandest version in comparison to Hill’s. The map is considerably larger than Hill’s and more visually dynamic.


Overall very good condition considering age. Vibrant coloring throughout. Very minimal wear along fold lines. Map has been expertly framed according to conservation standards in a custom frame with star decorations.

Framed dimensions: 32” H x 39.5” W x 1.75” D.

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