Other Views of Galveston

Where is Galveston?

Above: Camille N. Drie (active 1870s–1910s). Bird’s Eye View of the City of Galveston Texas, 1871. Toned lithograph, 22.4 x 34.3 in. Printed by Chicago Lithographing Co. 150-54 S. Clark, Chicago, Ill. Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Galveston in 1871

The bird’s-eye-view phenomenon began in Texas when the editor of the Galveston Daily News announced in his March 10, 1871, edition that “Mr. C. Drie exhibited to us some drawings that he is making for a map of Galveston, which will exhibit the buildings on every lot within the city. It is an isometric projection, and promises to be a fine picture of the Island City, and will be invaluable to all property holders.”[1] Through a series of newspaper ads, Drie offered Galvestonians an opportunity to purchase his print for $3 per copy.[2] When he had secured a sufficient number of subscribers, he sent his drawing to Chicago, where the Chicago Lithographing Company printed it, and returned with the finished prints several weeks later.

Galveston was the commercial center of Texas during most of the nineteenth century and attracted more artists than any other Texas city, with the exception of San Antonio. Located on the north side of Galveston Island, the city occupied less than one-eighth of the small land mass, but its residents had grand dreams of it becoming the Manhattan of the Gulf of Mexico. When he first saw the city in 1841, Josiah Gregg found it to be “handsome though too monotonous in appearance.”