Holme, A Portraiture of the City of Philadelphia (1683)

Thomas Holme’s  “Portraiture of the City of Philadelphia” was prepared in 1683 for William Penn in order to promote the new colony of Pennsylvania. Although Holme drew on centuries of European urban mapping tradition, the purpose of his map was relatively new--namely the depiction of a city that did not yet exist. In instructing Holme, Penn may have been inspired in part by the various proposals to rebuild London after the Great Fire of 1666. Those called for the creation of a city with an orderly pattern of streets and broad avenues connecting large public squares and monuments. This same approach appeared more than a century later in the plan Pierre L’Enfant developed for Washington, D.C.

Penn’s idea for Philadelphia exemplified his Quaker values by showing a preference for simplicity over imposing scale. The Philadelphia plan proposed a grid of rectangular blocks extending over two square miles between the Delaware River to the east and the Schuylkill River to the west. Penn’s preferences were also reflected in the plan’s unusually large residential lots with capacious gardens, several public squares, wide major streets, and a surrounding greenbelt. Though Philadelphia itself would grow in ways that departed from its original design, the plan nevertheless fostered American taste for spaciousness in urban design.

 

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WEB

Holme, Thomas. A Mapp of Ye Improved Part of Pensilvania in America [map].  (1687). “The Lower Merion Historical Society.” http://www.lowermerionhistory.org/atlas/1687.html

Holme, Thomas. “Map of the Improved Part of the Province of Pennsilvania in America [map].” (circa 1705?). 80 x 141 cm. “Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.” http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gmd/g3820.ct001815

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Ellicott, Andrew. “Plan of the city of Washington in the territory of Columbia [map].” (1792). 42 x 50 cm. “Library of Congress Geography and Map Division Library of Congress.” http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gmd/g3850.ct000299

Ellicott, Andrew. “Territory of Columbia [map].” (1793). 56 x 56 cm. “Library of Congress Geography and Map Division Library of Congress.” http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gmd/g3850.ct003597

Thomas Holme, “A Portraiture of the City of Philadelphia in the Province of Pennsylvania in America,” in William Penn, A Letter from William Penn, proprietary and governour of Pennsylvania in America, to the committee of the Free society of traders of that province, residing in London (London: A. Sowle, 1683). The Newberry Library, VAULT Ayer 150.5 P4 1683