This bird’s-eye view print of Memphis, Tennessee was drawn and published by Albert Ruger in 1870. Memphis was established along the high banks of the Mississippi River in the early 1800's. Memphis was an important cotton and lumber trading center in its early years.
In 1854, Cincinnati railroad men contemplated investing in lengthening their Ohio line and instilling Memphis as their southern hub.
About the town the railroad journal stated:
“We visited it (Memphis) in 1850, and were struck with the superiority of its position over any other place in the southwest. It is destined, in our opinion, to be the largest city in the southwest, not excepting New Orleans. Memphis will probably contain more than 25,000 people at the census of 1856. Its high position has secured its health so far that neither cholera nor yellow fever have visited it in the several forms in which they have prevailed in almost all the southern cities. This immunity is likely to continue, for it lies on both high and dry ground, and has purer and better air than any other place in that region. Nearly one-fourth the population of Memphis are slaves, and the country back of it is a cotton planting section. Hence, Memphis, as the port of that region, will be chiefly a commercial town. But if it would grow to be a really large place, it must seek manufacture, and this it may. By railroads through Tennessee and Kentucky it may be supplied with coal and iron, and there iron factories, and steam machinery, and cotton mills may be readily carried on. If Memphis would be great she must make railways and build factories.”
The Memphis & Charleston Railroad was completed in 1857. During the American Civil War, Memphis was captured by Union forces in a great naval attack.
The map includes labeled streets, buildings and railroad route. Steamboat activity is portrayed in the foreground, including noted steamers, “Virginia”, “Saltender”, “Nevada”, “Excelsior”, “Natchez” and “Republic”.
Features numbered references to the following locations:
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