Plan of the City of Washington Now Building for the Metropolis of America and Established as the Permanent Residence of Congress after the Year 1800

W. Bent publisher

Engraved by B.(enjamin)Baker

London, The Universal Magazine, July 1793

13 ¾” x 11” sight


Commentary: The first printed plan of the city of Washington was printed in March 1792 in Philadelphia by James Thackara and John Vallance.  It was based on the manuscript plan produced by Andrew Elliot which followed the design for the city created by Peter Charles L’Enfant.  By the time of the publication of his plan, both Washington and Jefferson had become frustrated by L’Enfant’s obstinacy and had released him from any official role.  Versions were printed in rapid succession in Boston and New York.


“James Thackara and John Vallance — the two young Philadelphia engravers engaged by Ellicott to print the plan of Washington — did not deliver their large and handsome engraving until 13 November 1792. In taking almost a year they infuriated everyone involved with developing the new city, for Washington, Jefferson, and the commissioners knew that it would be almost impossible to sell lots if would-be purchasers did not know the location of building sites on which they were asked to bid. The time taken by the two engravers now seems fully justified considering the stunning results they achieved. The bold lines of the engraving bring out the striking geometric patterns of the street system that L’Enfant devised. No more attractiveexample of urban cartography can be found” — John W. Reps.

The first appearance of the plan in London, where interest was intense, seems to have been published by Elhalhan Winchester in 1792. In January 1793 the plan was published in the Literary Magazine and British Review and again in July in the Universal Magazine.  The source of our copy of this very early map.

Period color. Excellent overall condition.




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