Bird’s-Eye View of Peoria, Illinois, 1867


This panoramic map shows Peoria, Illinois, as it appeared in 1867. The map shows houses and other buildings lining the streets of the town, and provides the names of the streets. In the background, houses dot the distant hills. In the foreground is a park-like setting, connected to the town by bridges crossing the Illinois River. Sailing and steam vessels can be seen heading both upstream and downstream on the Illinois River, adjacent to the town. Multiple trains are traveling along the tracks near the river; one, seen in the lower right foreground, heads away from the town after having crossed over the river. The railroad lines shown on this map are the Toledo, Peoria and Western Railway, and the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad. The numbered key at the bottom of the map indicates the main sites of interest in the town, which include the court house, school houses, gas works, railroad depots, the Illinois River Packet Company, and numerous houses of worship, including Methodist, New Jerusalem, Universalist, Presbyterian, Congregational, Episcopal, Christian, Baptist, Lutheran, Evangelical, and Catholic churches, as well as a “Hebrew” church (presumably a synagogue). Peoria was settled in the 17th century by the French, and grew out of a village that grew up around the fort originally built by the French. It was incorporated as a town in 1835, and as a city in 1845. Today, Peoria is the largest city on the Illinois River. 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: June 9, 2017