Cairo, Illinois, 1867


This panoramic map shows Cairo, Illinois, as it appeared in 1867. The city was located at the southernmost point of Illinois, at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, across the Mississippi from Missouri. On this map, the settlement can be seen on the peninsula-shaped point located between the two rivers, with the Ohio River in the foreground and the Mississippi River in the background, with Missouri visible on the far shore of the Mississippi. Numerous steamboats are seen traversing the two rivers, indicating the importance of the area for shipping. During the American Civil War, Cairo was a strategically important port for the Union Army. Steamboats are docked along the Ohio River, near the depot for the Illinois Central Railroad. On the right, a train runs along the tracks toward the depot. An index on the bottom of the map indicates various points of interest, including the court house, schools, the gas works, churches for Episcopal, Catholic, Methodist, and Presbyterian congregations, a convent, the customs house, U.S. commissary, and the Saint Charles Hotel. The panoramic map was a cartographic form popularly used to depict U.S. and Canadian cities and towns in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Also known as bird's-eye views or perspective maps, these maps are representations of cities portrayed as if viewed from above at an oblique angle. Not generally drawn to scale, they show street patterns, individual buildings, and major landscape features in perspective. This map is by Albert Ruger (1829–99), the first American to achieve success as a panoramic artist. Born in Prussia, Ruger immigrated to the United States and worked initially as a mason. While serving with the Ohio Volunteers during the Civil War, he drew views of Union campsites. After the war, Ruger settled in Battle Creek, Michigan, where he began his panoramic mapping career by sketching Michigan cities. In the late 1860s, Ruger formed a partnership with J.J. Stoner of Madison, Wisconsin, and together they published numerous city panoramas.

Last updated: August 17, 2017