This map is based on the 1792 plan for Washington, D.C. originally published by Andrew Ellicott, a surveyor and former army officer in the Revolutionary War. George Washington commissioned a survey of the city from Ellicott in 1791, which he completed with Benjamin Banneker, a free African American who was a mathematician and astronomer as well as a surveyor. Ellicott then assisted Pierre Charles L’Enfant in developing a plan for the new capital. When L’Enfant was slow to have his map engraved, the Commission in charge of the project turned it over to Ellicott to complete L’Enfant’s design, which he did, making some modifications in the process. The first version of Ellicott’s plan was engraved and published by Thakara and Valance in Philadelphia in 1792. Other larger and more detailed versions followed. The map offered here was engraved by John Russell and published in London in 1795 usually as part of An American Atlas. It was published prior to Washington becoming the capital of the United States five years later in 1800 (as indicated in the title).
Andrew Ellicott was an American cartographer and surveyor, known for completing the plan of Washington, D.C., begun by Pierre Charles L’Enfant, and surveying many areas west of the Appalachians. He was the son of one of the founders of a mill town that would become Ellicott City, Maryland, and served as an officer in the American Revolutionary War. Ellicott also created the plan of Erie, Pennsylvania, and completed surveys for the U.S. government to resolve border disputes. From 1813 he taught mathematics at the Military Academy at West Point.
John Russell was a British cartographer, engraver and printer. He drew and engraved maps for several major London publishers, including Dalrymple (1744-45, Guthrie’s System of Geography (1785), Symonds and Ridgeway’s An American Atlas (1795), and Burney’s Voyages (1813).
Cartouche: “Plan of the City of Washington in the Territory of Columbia ceded by the States of Virginia and Maryland to the United States of America, and by them established as the Seat of their Government, after the year 1800.”
The Perpendicular height of the source of the Tiber Creek above the level of the Tide in the sand Creek } 236.7.3/8
The Perpendicular height of the West branch above the tide in Tiber Creek } 115.7.3/8
The Perpendicular height of the ground where the Capitol is to stand is above the tide of Tiber Creek } 78.0.0
The water of Tiber Creek may be conveyed on the high ground where the Capitol stands, and after watering that part of the City, may be destined to other useful purposes.
Reedy Branch and that of the Tiber may be conveyed to the Presidents House.”
Full publication information: “J. Russell, Sculpt Constitu. Row Grays Inn Road.”
“Andrew Ellicott.” Wikipedia. 24 December 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Ellicott (28 December 2020).
“General Map of North America from the best Authorities.” University of Washington Libraries. https://digitalcollections.lib.washington.edu/digital/collection/maps/id/3/ (28 December 2020).
Ristow, Walter W. American Maps and Mapmakers: Commercial Cartography in the 19th Century. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1985.p. 153.