The Atlas of the City of Richmond was compiled and published in 1889 by the Philadelphia firm of George William Baist (1859-1927). The company produced real estate and insurance maps of some twenty different American cities from the 1880s through 1967. For a few cities, including Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., they published multiple maps. The 1889 atlas of Richmond was their only published map of the city.
The atlas is a valuable resource for researchers and others interested in Richmond’s urban archeology and architectural history as well as subjects as diverse as genealogy, city development and the context of historic preservation.
The interactive atlas presented here allows for an in-depth contextual exploration of each geographic area mapped by Baist via Points of Interest (POI). POIs contain information about selected panel points, reveal historical images juxtaposed with present-day Google maps and provide links to related VCU Digital Collections. Click on the images presented to further explore VCU collections. The historical images do not depict 1889 Richmond, but do represent Richmond in the 19th and 20th century.
The atlas consists of an index and twenty large linen plates (18 ½ inches tall by 28 inches wide) mapping all areas of the city including parts of Henrico and Chesterfield counties and part of the City of Manchester, which was then an independent city and is now part of Richmond’s South Side. In 1889, Richmond was divided into six political wards (Clay, Jackson, Jefferson, Madison, Marshall, and Monroe) and those areas are reflected in the atlas. Additionally, the atlas records the names of owners of hundreds of properties and buildings, including the large tracts of undeveloped areas still held in private hands in 1889. This is especially true in the western area of the city known today as the Fan District and the city’s North Side.
The original atlas is housed in Special Collections and Archives at the James Branch Cabell Library.