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1890 Bird’s-Eye View of Hot Springs, Arkansas

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59.     [BIRD’S-EYE VIEW]. WOODWARD & TIERNAN PRINTING COMPANY (publisher) & H.C. Townsend (copyright holder). Hot Springs, Arkansas [left of title] Hotel Accommodations 12,000 | Daily Bathing Facilities 6,260 | Daily Flow of Hot Water 5,000 Gals. [right of title] 10 Churches, Free Library, Opera House | Gymnasium, Parks, Fine Livery Drives, Etc. | Three Other Mineral Springs Resorts Within 6 Miles. [lower left] Copyrighted 1890 by H.C. Townsend General Passenger & Ticket Agent Iron Mountain Route. [lower right] Lithographed by Woodward & Tiernan Printing Co. St. Louis. St. Louis, 1890. Chromolithograph bird’s-eye view, image area: 58.5 x 96.5 cm; image & text below: 63 x 99.7 cm. In original ornate gilt gesso frame (badly chipped), glazed. Light overall browning, several voids supplied in sympathetic facsimile along crease that runs vertically from top to bottom of image (most replacement, however, is confined to background and sky), two other small areas of infilling at lower left and right, overall a very presentable copy of a spectacular, very rare view, excellent color retention. Not examined outside of frame.

     Not in Reps, Views and Viewmakers of Urban America, who lists only one bird’s-eye view of Hot Springs (1888, Wellge, smaller format, 33.5 x 66 cm; the Wellge view is from an entirely different perspective that takes in much more area and consequently shows more structures, but with considerably less detail). Library of Congress, American Memory, holds a copy of the present print.

     Shown is the main street of Hot Springs, Arkansas, with store fronts, large resort areas and facilities, and fine houses, all set in a pastoral mountain landscape. On the wide, busy Grand Avenue various types of carriages and wagons, equestrian figures, horse-drawn trolleys, and pedestrians move about busily in a vivid scene that reflects the vibrant community that the maker no doubt intended to depict. Also shown are bicyclists, including several on boneshakers. Significant structures are the Army & Navy Hospital on the hill above Bathhouse Row, Eastman Hotel south of the Hospital with its exotic minaret observatory, and the Arlington Hotel situated at the north end of Grand Avenue. Visible in the far distance is the observation tower atop the mountain.

     At the time of this view, Hot Springs was in the midst of a building boom following the destruction of the Civil War, after which guerrilla bands had almost completely destroyed the town. The Iron Mountain Railroad, whose depot is depicted, arrived in 1875, a development that promoted growth, including the first luxury hotel, the Arlington, which also opened that year. The federal government in 1876 had resolved conflicting land claims and had taken the hot springs and Hot Springs Mountain as government property but set aside 1,200 acres for the town itself.

     Cecelia Tichi, Embodiment of a Nation: Human Form in American Places (Harvard University Press, 2004, p. 176): “Hygeia became a naturalized citizen of sorts in 1832, when Congress took cognizance of the salubrious power of the Arkansas hot springs, which Timothy Flint termed ‘a great and increasing resort for invalids from the lower country.’ Congress accordingly set aside the Arkansas lands encompassing the warm springs and mineral springs as a federal reserve, making it the foundational United States national park.” This was the first time the federal government set aside land for recreational purposes, predating Yellowstone by almost four decades.


Sold. Hammer: $4,000.00; Price Realized: $4,800.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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