Rare Bird’s-Eye View of San Antonio in 1891
57. [BIRD’S-EYE VIEW]. KOECKERT, [Gustave] & [Bernard John] Walle (lithographers). San Antonio Light Birds Eye View Map of San Antonio, Tex. December 1891. [below neat line at lower right] Koeckert & Walle, 112 Gravier St. N.O. New Orleans: Koeckert & Walle; San Antonio: San Antonio Light, 1891. Lithograph bird’s-eye view on pale blue toned ground surrounded by letterpress ads (some pictorial); view including plain thick line border: 48.3 x 101.2 cm; image with ads: 69.1 x 104 cm; overall sheet size: 77.5 x 102.1 cm. Professionally backed with archival paper, splits at folds restored and expert facsimile to a few minor losses, very mild foxing. Overall a very good copy of a rare survival.
Not in Reps and other standard sources. This view of San Antonio shows the city looking from the north, with the courses of the San Antonio River, San Pedro Creek, various irrigation ditches, and bridges accurately delineated. Unlike earlier somewhat bucolic views of San Antonio, this one shows instead a bustling, growing city served by three railroads, a large commercial center, sprawling suburbs under development, and numerous factories spewing black smoke. The railroads shown are San Antonio & Aransas Pass, International & Great Northern, and Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio. (The earliest train arrived in San Antonio February 20, 1877, to great fanfare.) Shown almost dead center on the map is the iconic Alamo, with Alamo Plaza converted into a park with landscaping and paths.
Among the ads that surround the view are those for lots from the Estate of Samuel Maverick and others for the West End suburb, said to have a fine artificial lake lit at night by electric lights. (The area is hazily shown in the far upper left of the map.) Also advertised are the services of well-known architect Alfred Giles, the Alamo and Lone Star breweries, and Misses Kirchner’s Fancy Goods and Millinery store. An ad for the Alamo Insurance company urges readers: “Keep your money in Texas.” Kypfer & Seng offer Remington typewriters, an example of which is illustrated with a woodcut. Finally, there is an ad for The San Antonio Light, the newspaper that published this view as an extra.
The view was originally printed as an extra to a December, 1891, issue of the newspaper San Antonio Light, which enjoyed a varied career before it went out of business in 1992. Beginning with the first issue in January, 1881, it was regularly published as a daily and was probably the only Republican daily in Texas. After mergers and various combinations, the newspaper gradually drifted into liberal political views. At its height it had a circulation of over a hundred thousand copies a day. Handbook of Texas Online: San Antonio Light.
The lithographic firm of Koeckert & Walle was established in New Orleans 1872 and is still in business under the name Walle & Company. They specialized in the creation of ephemera, such as parade papers, Mardi Gras paraphernalia, trade labels, and other unusual novelty printing. Koeckert previously was associated with the New Orleans Lithographic Company, which later merged with the Southern Lithographic Company. According to the current web site for the Walle Corporation, their artist in residence in the early years was Sousa Frederick von Ehren.
Copyright Dorothy Sloan 2009