Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Maps for getting around can be produced in an instant these days, on computers, tablets or mobile devices. And many cars have their own GPS navigation systems. Printed road maps are still plentiful in car bins or side pockets, and occasionally the older ones are bought out of nostalgia. Yet producing the maps of 150 years ago or more took major expeditions and even an Act of Congress. The maps and charts shown or described below, in the Coronado Public Library's collections, are no longer needed to determine your roads or navigate your route, but they are fascinating glimpses into a very changing, and much changed, American landscape. They show the proposed routes of the transcontinental railroad, the tentative boundary line between the United States and Mexico, the wagon roads from El Paso to San Diego, the entrance to the San Diego Bay, and how Coronado looked when there was still water that divided most of it from North Island.

The map and chart above is reproduced in the book Maps of the Pueblo Lands of San Diego, by Neal Harlow and published by the Dawson's Book Shop in 1987. This map from 1782 is based on the expedition of Juan Pantoja Y Arriaga, and is named after him. It is the first reliable chart of the San Diego Bay. It was made when the Mission San Diego and the Presidio were the only large structures in San Diego, although the map also shows the Rancheria de las Choyas in the area of present day Chula Vista.

This important map above was surveyed and drawn to determine the initial boundary between the U.S. and Mexico following the Mexican-American war of 1846-48. It is officially described as:
Topographical Sketch of the Southernmost Point of the Port of San Diego and Measurement of the Marine League For Determining Initial Point of Boundary Between The United States and Mexico as Surveyed by the United States Commission John B. Weller U.S. Commissioner, Andrew B. Gray U.S. Surveyor, agreeably to the decision of the Joint Commission of July 9th 1849, and in conformity with the 5th Article of the Treaty dated at the City of Guadalupe Hidalgo February 2nd 1848.

This hand colored map from 1851 shows the entrance to San Diego Bay with depths shown by soundings in feet. Map has one inset: a general sketch of San Diego Bay and Los Coronados islands. It is officially described as:

J. no. 7 San Diego entrance and approaches, California [cartographic material] : from a trigonometrical survey of the coast of the United States / by R.D. Cutts & Geo. Davidson, Asst., and A.M. Harrison, Sub Asst. ; published in 1851.

This beautiful hand-colored map from 1857 is described as:

San Diego Bay : California / from a trigonometrical survey under the direction of A. D. Bache superintendent of the coast of the United States ; triangulation by R.D. Cutts, asst. ; topography by A.M. Harrison, Sub-Assistant ; hydrography by the party under the command of Comdr. James Alden U.S.N Assist.

It includes fathoms, sailing directions, and information about the tides. Coronado is completely undeveloped at this time. But even in 1857 there was a lot of land speculation, with various land holdings of the Coronado peninsula being owned and re-sold among a group that included Bezer Simmons, Archibald Peachy, Frederick Billings, James P. Bolton, and H.W. Hallock.

This Rand-McNally map of southeastern California from 1884 shows San Diego County stretching to the Colorado River. Imperial County was not formed until 1907.

This San Diego city street map detailed San Diego City, and pinpoints 5th and F Street as the center point of the one, two, three, and four mile radius circles. Map includes Coronado and a very large "City Park" which then consisted of some 1400 acres. It was named Balboa Park in 1910.

Rand, McNally & Co.’s New Business Atlas lithographic Map of California. This map includes California railroads, 1908.

Above is a rare "skeleton map" of the San Diego & South-Eastern Railway showing the Southern Division Main Line with the Sweetwater Branch, formerly the National City and Otay Railway, the Southern Division formerly the Coronado Railroad and the Eastern Division formerly the San Diego & Cuyamaca Railway. It dates from about 1915 during the period when the Railroad was owned by John D.Spreckels. It shows the rail line through Tent City, the Hotel del Coronado Bath House, and to the old Ferry Landing.

This street map of Coronado from about 1923 shows the stability of the street layout in Coronado, drawn from the very beginning of Coronado's development in 1887-88. Of note, however, is that the Spanish Bight still divides Coronado from North Island, and a bridge crosses over it. The Bight was later in-filled with dredged sand, which also expanded a great deal of North Island, southeastern Coronado at the present Golf Course, and Coronado's beaches as well.

For the current Coronado Library exhibit "Westward Ho," the Library also has on display some wonderful large-sized maps including a rare 1853 map drawn showing the proposed railroad routes from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, and another rare map from 1857-58 showing the wagon roads from El Paso and Fort Yuma through Indian territory to San Diego and the Pacific Ocean. This latter map was graciously purchased for the Coronado Library by the Lee Mather Company and Debbie Riddle. The "Westward Ho" exhibit will be up through June and July, 2012. Several of the other maps have been purchased with funds donated by the Friends of the Library.These maps make fascinating trips through time.