Bird’s-Eye View of the City of Lansing, Michigan, 1866


This panoramic map shows Lansing, Michigan, as it appeared in 1866. The numbered key at the bottom of the map indicates the main sites of interest in the town, which include the state capitol building, the state offices, the State Reform School, the Union School Houses, Michigan Female College, Lansing Academy, the fairground, and numerous houses of worship, including Congregational, Universalist, Methodist, Episcopalian, German Methodist, Catholic, Lutheran, Free Will Baptist, Baptist, and two Presbyterian churches. Insets on the upper left and upper right of the map show more detailed views of the state capitol building and the state agricultural college (the future Michigan State University). Originally a small lumber-producing village on the Grand River, Lansing grew significantly after 1847, when the state capital was moved there from Detroit. The Michigan Agricultural College was established in East Lansing in 1855. The Michigan Female College opened in the same year, and was a national pioneer in the provision of higher education to women. 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