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Early View of Colorado Springs, Printed in Paris

Utopian Town Planning at the foot of Pikes Peak


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55.     [BIRD’S-EYE VIEW]. [GLOVER, Eli S. (after)]. Vue de Colorado Springs [below neat line] Imp. l. Parent, r. Rodier, 49 Paris. | Dessins et Plans. [3 inset views below image, two untitled views of Public School Building and Henry McAllister, Jr., between which is a view of the town of Colorado City with but one structure entitled] Colorado Springs en 1871 [below neat line] Cette Ville n’existait pas il y a deux ans. Sur l’emplacement qu’elle occupe aujourd’hui, il n’y avait d’autre habitation que la demeure des Ingénieurs du Denver et Rio Grande Railway. L’Existence et le développement de Colorado Springs sont l’œuvre du Chemin de fer. Lithograph view. Neat line to neat line: 26 x 33 cm; Image and title above and below image: 28 x 33; overall sheet size: 31 x 38.5 cm. Folded as issued. In: PALMER, W[illia]m. J[ackson]. De la Colonisation du Colorado et du Nouveau-Mexique. Paris: Typographie Lahure 9, Rue de Fleurus, 9, 1874. [6], [1] 2-82, [2, colophon] pp. 8vo (17.8 x 10.8 cm), original pale green printed wrappers. Head of spine slightly split, upper wrap with light edge wear (missing small piece at lower corner), one small tear at foot of lower wrapper, wrappers lightly soiled and with a few light creases, interior very fine. The view is in pristine condition. Very rare.

     The view shows Colorado City and “Manatou” in the distance, with Pikes Peak in the background. This French view, although smaller, is basically identical to that of Eli S. Glover-Strobridge & Co. Lith. (42.9 x 57.2 cm), published the same year in Cincinnati. The Glover-Strobridge view is the first published bird’s-eye view of Colorado Springs. In the present French version a few details have been omitted, such as street and road names, church denominations, and the titles of the vignettes. Reps lists the Glover-Strobridge version (Cities of the American West, p. 588; Cities on Stone, p. 92 & Plate 22; Views and Viewmakers of Urban America 474 & Figure 17.22). Wynar (2051) lists the book. Not in Henkle, Wilcox, et al. We locate copies of the book with the view at Colorado Historical Society, Arizona State, Library of Congress, Smithsonian, and Bancroft. Denver Public Library catalogues what appears to be the view only.

     The book in which the view resides is an enthusiastic promotional for Colorado Springs, the surrounding region, and the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, written by distinguished Union cavalry soldier and railroad builder General William Jackson Palmer (1836-1910; Lamar, Reader’s Encyclopedia of the American West, p. 892). Palmer sets forth the advantages and potential in the region, including mining, stock raising, agriculture, natural resources, and towns waiting to spring forth, which Colorado Springs was doing at the time of publication of this pamphlet. In 1870 Palmer commenced his visionary plan of a narrow gauge railway system connecting Denver with Mexico City. The line was notable for its many engineering achievements, including the highest railroad beds in the United States and the first large-scale application of narrow gauge road. At one time the railroad had more narrow gauge track than any other line in North America.

Reps, Cities of the American West, pp. 583-591:

Colorado Springs [was] Palmer’s first venture in town founding along the Denver and Rio Grande. Its history demonstrated that skillful planning, substantial investments in community facilities, and honesty in promotion of settlement and land sales were not incompatible with realization of both immediate and long-term profits of substantial magnitude. Unfortunately, Palmer did not follow this precedent, nor did the other developers of railroad towns elsewhere in the country seem to realize that good planning did not necessarily result in reduced revenues. The history of the founding and development of Colorado Springs, then, is an investigation of what a good part of the American urban West might have been. The opportunities lost in the planning of towns along the western railroads loom large when compared with such occasional modest urban triumphs as Colorado Springs.

Palmer’s deep and personal attachment to Colorado Springs and his successful efforts to establish there a city of beauty and grace contrast strangely with his lack of care of planning of his later towns. In those activities he differed little if at all from the other railroad town builders whose work in the West was characterized by a lack of attention to any but the most routine and unimaginative aspects of urban design. Palmer’s Colorado Springs stands as a reminder of the quality that might have been handed down to our generation and those to come by the builders of the western railroads.

Reps in Views and Viewmakers of Urban America (pp. 178-180) presents an excellent biographical essay on the artist who made this view, Eli Sheldon Glover (1844-1920). Glover had educational training and experience in the art and marketing of bird’s-eye views, having apprenticed with Albert Ruger, and launching out on his own in 1868-1870. Upon creation of his 1874 view of Colorado Springs, and doubtless with the encouragement of Palmer and Cameron, Glover and his partner operated a hotel in Colorado Springs in the spring and summer of that year. In his career, Reps traces sixty-two bird’s-views of U.S. towns and cities by him, the greatest concentration being Michigan and California. Glover’s last view was Port Arthur, Texas, in 1912. Reps notes that “Glover sent virtually all of his drawings to Cincinnati for printing by the Strobridge firm, a company well known for quality work” (p. 179). For further information, consult web site.


Sold. Hammer: $3,400.00; Price Realized: $4,080.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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