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City

analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action

ISSN: 1360-4813 (Print) 1470-3629 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/ccit20

Mapping urban space

Nate Gabriel

To cite this article: Nate Gabriel (2013) Mapping urban space, City, 17:3, 325-342, DOI:
10.1080/13604813.2013.798478

To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13604813.2013.798478

Published online: 25 Jun 2013.

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CITY, 2013
VOL. 17, NO. 3, 325 342, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13604813.2013.798478

Mapping urban space


The production, division and
reconfiguration of natures and economies

Nate Gabriel
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In this paper, I engage with the notion of the city as capitalist space, focusing on the specific actors
that come together to realign economically heterogeneous spaces into the monolithic, capitalist
city. By tracing the role of cartographic practice in enacting the city as a space of industrial econ-
omic production in the 19th century, I show how maps helped to bring the capitalist city into view
by drawing together cartographers, city managers and ordinary citizens, enabling the appre-
hension of the city as an economic object by emphasizing a specific understanding of what
cities looked like, how they worked and what happened in them. In addition, I examine the
place of urban nature within this emerging urban imaginary, and its role as a counterweight
to the purported totality of the capitalist city. To illustrate these points, historical maps drive a
discussion of the specific case of Philadelphia, focusing on two events that coincided with the
expansion of the industrial city: the consolidation of the city in 1854 and the establishment of Fair-
mount Park in 1868. The paper concludes with a discussion of the political possibilities that are
opened up by an assemblage-oriented approach for examining the early development of cities.

Key words: urban assemblage, cartography, industrialization, Philadelphia, urban parks

Introduction tract with boundaries free from objectionable


features. (Daily Reporter, 16 November 1854)
It only requires a glance at the map [. . .] to

T
convince any one how important it is to secure his paper carries forward the
this piece of land, to make [Fairmount Park] all agenda of urban political ecology
that it should bea most eligible and beautiful by exploring the role of


The field of urban political ecology (UPE) has long been interested in applying Blaikie and
Brookfields (1987) interest in coupling the concerns of ecology with those of political economy
to the relationship between capitalist economic practice and urban nature. Over the last decade,
UPE has firmly established a position that takes a critical stance on urban environments through
a theorization of society in which the urban is a distinct historical expression of capitalism
(Heynen, Kaika, and Swyngedouw 2006). Yet, even as UPE emphasizes the consequences of
metabolic capitalist processes on the distribution of and access to urban nature to address
the development of urban environments (Heynen 2003; Heynen, Kaika, and Swyngedouw
2006; Swyngedouw and Heynen 2003), it combines this agenda with insights that emerged
from post-structural and post-humanist theory, placing questions about the consequences of
environmental discourse and socionatural assemblages at the center. Among its key

# 2013 Taylor & Francis


326 CITY VOL. 17, NO. 3

cartographic practice in the solidification of Pickles (2004, 67), for example, urges that
industrial urban space in the 19th century, geographers begin to think about the pro-
in part through its visual juxtaposition duction of space and the social lives of maps
against nature, in order to shed light on as embedded practices of complex overdeter-
what Amin and Thrift (2002, 3, citing mination. Investigations of this kind concep-
Latour 1988) call the numerous systema- tualize map-makers, map users and
tizing networks [. . .] which give provisional landscapes to be mappedas well as physical
ordering to urban life. In examining an inscriptions on paperas participants in
assemblage of actors that came together larger mapping assemblages that together
to produce urban space as a space of capit- produce the world, even as they are them-
alism, I trace the process by which econ- selves produced through these relationships.
omically heterogeneous urban spaces In Latours (2005, 9) terms, maps are
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were realigned into a more regularized mediators rather than intermediaries,


capitalist space through cartographic rep- actors that are capable of changing the flow
resentation in 19th-century Philadelphia. of power through them rather than objects
To that end, this paper draws from recent through which power flows unhindered.
writing on the social and political nature of From this perspective, maps are no longer
maps that incorporates, but goes beyond an seen as inert, nor even as stable components
approach to maps that interrogates them for of discursive formations, but active matter
the underlying statements and hidden mess- that at times enables human designs and at
ages they contain, to examine the activities others contests them.
that maps, as particular kinds of actors, In this spirit, Kitchin and Dodge (2007) cri-
engage in (Crampton 2009, 2010; Kitchin tique the ontological status often afforded to
and Dodge 2007; Pickles 2004). Thinking of maps, arguing that inscriptions on paper or
the map as not a representation of the other media possess no essence as maps, but
world but an inscription that does (or some- are only brought into being as maps
times does not do) work in the world, John through their participation in mapping

contributions is an investigation of the role that environmental discourses have on the collective
imagining and material conditions of urban spaces through the construction of particular types
of landscapes, subjects and practices. Cowell and Thomas (2002), for example, describe the
power of hegemonic regional discourse formations to silence otherwise progressive political
activity. More recently, Kaika and Swyngedouw (2012, 25) have argued that, despite a
general consensus among academics regarding the fluidity of the concept of nature, a
growing agreement that nature is radically out-of-sync, singular, under threat and in need of
saving has emerged among global policymakers, producing a post-political moment in
which the only rational goal is to maintain the status quo (Swyngedouw 2009). Focusing on
earlier stages of urban development, Gandys (2002) work on the urban pastoral in the 19th
century offered a detailed historical analysis of the formation of discourses of nature in
New York City through the struggle to provide drinking water to expanding urban popu-
lations, as well as the establishment of Central Park. Similarly, Kaika (2005) explores the role
of the technological networks associated with water as wish images that resulted from and
drove forward modernitys Promethean project in the 19th and 20th centuries. More recently,
Gandy (2012) has sought to move toward an analysis of urban space that challenges categories
and mappings in their broadest sense so that we encounter a challenge to neatness in
relation to human subjectivities and material landscapes alike (742). Together, this work
seeks to reveal the multiplicity of forces that collude in producing urban spaces, including
the ability of urban environmental imaginaries to make visible or invisible any number of
potential modes of interaction between the human and the non-human.
GABRIEL: MAPPING URBAN SPACE 327

assemblages, which are made up of other they [directed] attention towards . . . a par-
human and non-human actors. They ticular rendering of a scene.
contend that when maps are transported My aim in this paper is to explore how car-
from one place to another, the information tographers in the 19th century achieved this
they were meant to record doesnt remain scene-rendering by enrolling maps in govern-
intact; instead, that information is contingent mental projects as they assembled particular
on a number of other actors existing in the facts about the urban spaces they sought to
place where it was produced, some of which represent, producing truths about the city as
follow the map in its journey, and others of a particular kind of economic form, with an
which do not (cf. Latour 1986). For this essential and inevitable tendency toward
reason, Kitchin and Dodge urge us not to spatial, economic and technological growth,
think about maps as the object of analysis, development and expansion. Of course, this
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but about mapping, in which the production vision of the city was not itself solely respon-
and use of cartographic inscriptions are crea- sible for urban expansion, nor did it predate
tive acts that require a series of entangled some forms of industrial activity; rather, I
interactions: interrogation of the map by the argue that each was necessary for the other.
user, a response by the map, a referral and Through a close examination of cartographic
comparison to the surrounding landscape. practices in the 19th century in one city (Phi-
Mapping is an iterative process whose ladelphia), I demonstrate that such practices
outcome cannot be foreseen, but emerges performed an active role in helping to accom-
through the process of mappingthe per- plish the complicated work of bringing the
formance of the mapping endeavor by a capitalist city into view by drawing together
network of entangled actants. (Latour 1986) cartographers, city managers
In this sense, maps have enabled the for- and ordinary citizens. In this way, maps
mation of distinctly urban and non-urban helped to produce urban spaces as urban by
spaces, in which the meaning of those spaces enabling the apprehension of the city as an
can be read through a moral system that was economic object, and by organizing the every-
intertwined with the proper functioning of a day practices that constituted it around a set of
capitalist economy. Along these lines, Soder- assumptions about what cities looked like,
strom (1996, 258) is especially interested in how they worked and what happened in them.
the effects of particular kinds of urban rep- To illustrate this process, I focus on two
resentations at key moments in the historical stages in what ultimately was a 20-year
formation of cities to open up new intellec- project in the mid-1800s that made possible
tual and cognitive possibilities. Specifically, the formation of the industrial city as we
Soderstrom argues that modern urban plan- have come to know it. The first stage was the
ning finds the grounds of its possibility just consolidation of the city of Philadelphia that
as much in [the geometric urban plan] as in brought under a single political, cultural and
particular political and cultural transform- economic banner the disparate governing
ations (ibid, 258 9). Soderstrom argues that bodies that once surrounded the citys colo-
maps are effective internally in the sense nial core. In preparation for consolidation,
that they are techniques for moving concep- the extension of the industrial city into more
tually from a complex reality to an ideal ren- and more distant lands was aided by the
dering, and externally in the sense that efforts of cartographers who worked to
cartographic visualization convinces its audi- create maps of the region as a populated,
ence, partly by virtue of the assumed exper- gridded expanse, a homogenous economic
tise of its creators, that what they represent entity. I also discuss a second set of events,
is objective truth. In the latter sense, maps associated with the establishment of Fair-
(and mappings) are, to borrow a concept mount Park by the Pennsylvania State Assem-
from John Pickles (2006, 349), ob-scene: bly, which enclosed an explicitly non-urban
328 CITY VOL. 17, NO. 3

space at the center of the newly consolidated 2010). Of course, the maps discussed here
city, naturalizing the oppositional relation- were not the only ones that circulated widely
ship between the urban and the natural, at the time. For example, two other maps
making visible a clear division between two speak to my argument about the cartographic
categories of space and, consequently, two expansion of urban territory. R. L. Barnes
categories of behavior for urban subjects. In map from 1855, and Scotts, from 1856, took
both cases, cartographic representation of a similar (if abbreviated) approach in this
the city of Philadelphia played an active role regard to Smedleys atlas,1 which is discussed
in shaping urban space by enabling a shift below. However, I draw on Smedleys map
away from an economy based on water instead of others because of its authors official
power, which comprised dispersed sites of role as City Surveyor, the explicit governmen-
agrarian and artisanal production along water- tal task of his project and its subsequent use as
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ways, toward a coal-based economy, which a base map in other projects (including the
lent itself to more standardized industrial pro- map of Fairmount Park from 1868 presented
duction, greater concentration of human here). All of these qualities underscore its
populations and the naturalization of an central role in influencing the way the city
industrial working class. The two cases was imagined and performed. Similarly,
explored here demonstrate the contingent other maps of Fairmount Park, in addition to
nature of such processes on the participation the ones included here, also circulated
of cartographers, government officials and widely. Nevertheless, each of the maps dis-
citizens, the selection and mobilization of cussed here served key roles in terms of offer-
certain facts over others, and the ultimate ing a new and enduring vision of the city and
reshaping of spaces according to new logics its nature to those who viewed them. (For a
of organization. In this way, maps inscribed broader discussion of maps from this era, see
urban characteristics upon the landscape as Gabriel 2012.)
well as upon the bodies of people living in it. The maps and supporting documents refer-
In examining the effectivity of maps in this enced here are housed in the archives of the
way, I trace the social networks through Fairmount Park Commission, the Philadel-
which the maps were produced and circulated phia City Archives and the Free Library of
via an examination of government documents, Philadelphia. Archival work was conducted
newspapers and popular writing from the from 2008 to 2010.
1850s to the 1890s, examining the totalization
of space by maps as well as the intellectual and
cognitive possibilities they open up (Soder- Mapping the city
strom 1996, 258).
Before I begin with that discussion, a brief Map historian Jefferson Moak (1976, 1)
explanation of the maps themselves is in claimed that Philadelphia is one of the few
order. The maps included in my analysis cities in the world to have been mapped
were chosen for their prominent place in before it existed. In fact, mapping a city in
public life in 19th-century Philadelphia. advance of its expansion has been a fairly
Most were funded by the city government common practice for thousands of years.
and subsequently used to direct planning Rose-Redwoods (2008) genealogy of the
efforts, to settle property disputes or to serve grid cites examples dating as far back as the
other administrative functions, but they also Indus Valley in the third millennium BCE ,
circulated widely among the public, included though not all grids served the same
in pamphlets and books or sold as large-form purpose. To some extent, Philadelphias grid
wall maps in publishers storefronts (for fits what Marcuse (1987, 290 291, cited in
further discussion of publishing practices in Rose-Redwood 2008) called a laissez-faire
Philadelphia during this era, see Bruckner plan, in which the open grid is laid out
GABRIEL: MAPPING URBAN SPACE 329

with a view towards expansion and reduplica- quoted above, Moak was referring to the
tion . . . [where] the open gridiron is an initial fact that, prior to its establishment, Philadel-
step towards plotting an unknown and phias founder, William Penn, distributed a
perhaps unlimited area capable of indefinite map of the land granted to him by King
expansion, as opposed to a pre-capitalist Charles II of England in 1681, which depicted
grid plan that focuses inward and binds a a hypothetical grid of well-ordered streets
city according to specific boundaries. Thus, between two rivers, and served as a pro-
in some respects, the story of Philadelphias motional tool in the sale of land to potential
industrialization was a fairly common one. settlers (Figure 1). The map seems to reveal
At the same time, while Marcuses obser- a flat and easily settled landscape, ideal for
vation is helpful for situating Philadelphia habitation by a dense human population;
into a larger historical framework of urban numbered parcels of the planned city assisted
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planning, it would be a mistake to assume buyers in identifying and choosing their pur-
that the commonality of the map grid is an chases, but the landscape it was meant to
indication of a universal process. Rather, in reveal proved elusive to Penns earliest custo-
order for industrialization to happen, maps mers. The land, it turned out, was not as
had to do the actual work of drawing together uniform as the map suggested; because of
specific actors, whose effects were contingent Philadelphias situation between two rivers,
on the ongoing reformation of particular net- many lots couldnt be settled initially
works, and did not always accomplish the because the land was too saturated. Streams
same work. that werent depicted on the map flowed
Maps have played a central role in helping directly through others. In addition, some
to establish Philadelphia as a particular kind of the land was already occupied by claimants
of city since its earliest days. In the passage who predated the Penn land grant and, not

Figure 1 Thomas HolmeCity of Philadelphia (1687). Used with permission from the Fairmount Park Historic Resource
Archive
330 CITY VOL. 17, NO. 3

surprisingly, resisted occupation (Corcoran other small-scale forms of production, much


1992). Yet eventually, Penns map helped to of it integrated with agrarian practices in the
redirect settlement according to his own surrounding pre-industrial countryside
urban imagination, away from low-density (Richardson 1982). However, in the early
farmland toward a more orderly and denser 1800s, with the invention of the steam
political and economic center. The streets engine and the rise of coal power, water
depicted on the map would eventually serve power was no longer the only reliable
as the plan for the early colonial city. means of producing energy (Wainwright
Thus, while its clear from the historical 1982). The discovery at the end of the 18th
record that Penns map did not predate settle- century of vast deposits of anthracite coal in
ment in what would eventually become the Pennsylvania quickly led to an abundance
city of Philadelphia, it did make possible a of this (relatively) cheap energy source in
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particular spatial pattern of settlement by Philadelphia, and production was no longer


illustrating and legitimating new property limited by the availability of fast-flowing
claims. Its use in Europe as a promotional water or more expensive bituminous coal
tool helped to entice wealthy would-be set- from Europe (Geffen 1982). Yet, these con-
tlers to invest in the new land, enabling set- ditions werent sufficient to bring about a
tlers to imagine the landscape as a city, widespread shift from a diverse economic
complete with public squares, tree-lined landscape associated with water power and
streets and single-family lots. At the same agrarian production to one dominated by
time, this new city was not meant to be industrial production. In order for that to
altogether separate from the surrounding happen, a new geographic understanding of
countryside. Purchasing land from Penn the landscape was required.
entitled the buyer not only to a city lot, but In 1854, an Act of Consolidation of the
also to an expanse of land further out, Pennsylvania State Assembly politically
which the buyer could farm himself or rent united Penns original outlay of the city of
out to others. In these ways, the map helped Philadelphia with surrounding boroughs
shape the future developmental trajectory of and townships, increasing the citys territory
the site that would be Philadelphia. from about two square miles to 122 square
The best land was that adjacent to major miles. Consolidation helped to reestablish
waterways since, from Penns time until the the economically endangered center of the
early 1800s, water was the best and most city as the political and economic core of
reliable source of energy for the various the region, the site from which economic
mills and other production facilities that power would emanate. The act was justified
would be built there. (The abundance and according to two primary concerns. The
extent of these waterways in the region can most immediate was to provide a central pol-
be glimpsed in Penns map, one of the itical force that could exert control over
reasons he chose this site for his city.) Water- unruly spaces and practices in the region:
ways also proved important for tanneries, dye street fights between rival volunteer fire com-
production and other manufacturing pro- panies, frequent riots and corrupt local police
cesses that required easily accessible waste forces were common in the 1840s and 1850s
outlets. Because of this reliance on water just outside of the city (Geffen 1982). Carto-
power, the machinery of production was dis- graphic depiction of the city, then, was of
tributed thinly across the landscape, where enormous importance both in facilitating
suitable areas could be found for this form this unification and aiding in its comprehen-
of power generation (Adams et al. 1991). sion, producing legible, controllable spaces
Consequently, throughout the 18th century (cf. Scott 1998; Harley 2001; Craib 2004).
and into the 19th, Philadelphias economic Yet, consolidation also offered an antidote
landscape was dominated by artisanal and to a disjointed and dispersed governing
GABRIEL: MAPPING URBAN SPACE 331

structure and unwieldy tax-collection system senator with the express purpose of seeing
(McCarthy 1986). Thus, underlying more the passage of the bill through the States
immediate concerns of social control was approval process (Price 1873; Geffen 1982).
the perceived need to better understand and Price (1873) wrote 20 years after the success-
organize the regions economy. (See Figure 2) ful passage of the consolidation bill that, The
Eli K. Price, a prominent Philadelphia growing disparity [in population growth],
lawyer and one of the consolidation bills between the City of two square miles and
most vocal proponents, was elected state the residue of the County, is apparent from
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Figure 2 Consolidation Map, 1856. Used with permission from the Philadelphia Water Department Historical
Collection/www.phillyh2o.org
332 CITY VOL. 17, NO. 3

the [census data on] populations; and every other natural features encompassed by the
year it would increase by the conversion of city other than the Schuylkill River (to the
dwellings into warehouses and stores, west) and Delaware River (to the east),
within the former (12). Price saw the citys though these features were prominent both
slower population growth as a consequence in the minds and in the everyday practices
of haphazard economic development in the of the people who lived near them. In
region, compared to the rest of Philadelphia addition to the various waterways along
County. The waning economic power of the which many of the regions settlements
city, as measured by census data related to were found, topographical features of the
population and economic output, particularly landscape were also omitted, including a pro-
vis-a-vis New York Citys more rapid minent hill called Fairmount, which had been
growth, caused a great deal of anxiety to featured in maps of the region for the past
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many, who were met by the woeful fact of two centuries, as were forested areas, both
our being only the third city [after of which would later re-emerge to great
New York and Chicago], and that we were effect. The map does, however, include six
continuing to lose ground (Rush 1853, railroad rights-of-way, a fact that was con-
quoted in Price 1873, 31). This sentiment sistent with the economic vision the map
was also frequently expressed in newspaper was meant to convey. The purpose of the
editorials at the time, in which the economic consolidation map was straightforward: to
growth of Philadelphia was unfavorably communicate the new conceptualization of
(and self-consciously) compared to that of the city as a single, homogenous, orderly
New York City (e.g. North American and economic entity, informed by Prices (1873)
United States Gazette 1853a). For Price and vision that Philadelphia and its environs
others, then, uniting the city with the other were inevitably linked, and that they were
28 boroughs and townships that surrounded one community and should be one city
it was a straightforward solution to an enor- (64). The appearance of this simple map in
mous economic problem; consolidation newspapers, pamphlets and books helped to
would make the dispersed but thriving align the act of Philadelphias consolidation
regional economy more easily compre- with this emerging economic vision.
hended by the citys inhabitants and their This configuration of the spaces of humans
government (North American and United and those of nature, and subsequent represen-
States Gazette 1853b). In Prices (1873, 27) tations of the city, had clear implications for
words, the expansion of the limits of the the development of urban space and its
city [would] accelerate her commercial, man- place in the public imaginary, and the conso-
ufacturing, and social prosperity . . . lidation map was only part of a more exten-
Thus, the consolidation map signaled a sive cartographic practice that helped to
shift in the way the city was represented, produce this new economic vision. In prep-
and displays a much different picture from aration for consolidation, the city employed
that found in maps of the previous two centu- cartographer Joseph Fox in 1853 to produce
ries, which tended to situate it within a vast, maps that extended the citys original
sparsely settled, rural landscape (for an gridded street plan into the northern and
example of such an early map, see Figure 3). western portions of Philadelphia County, in
In contrast to older maps, the consolidation order to make a good city plan out of the
map operated on an entirely different set of numerous small villages which had grown
assumptions about the space of the city. In up independently of the city (Ashmead
depicting it, the consolidation map is silent 1884, 562). The project was subsequently
about a number of prominent features of Phi- expanded to include the entirety of Philadel-
ladelphias landscape. No effort, for example, phia County, which would become the new
was made to include the creeks, forests or boundary of the consolidated city. Fox was
GABRIEL: MAPPING URBAN SPACE 333
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Figure 3 A Map of the County of Philadelphia from Actual Survey, 1843 (Charles Ellet), used with permission from
the Free Library of Philadelphia, Map Collection

joined early in the project by the surveyor which the means of production and the
Samuel Smedley (who later became the city worker population were densely settled and
surveyor for Philadelphia from 1872 to orderly.
1894). The results of that project were The index to Smedleys atlas (Figure 4)
published in 1862 as Smedleys Atlas of depicts most of the city as fully urbanized
Philadelphia, for which Figure 4 is the index space, with the street grid spreading out
map at the front of the book. into the western side of the Schuylkill
The atlas itself was something of an inno- River, north into the Liberties (districts
vation. Cadastral wall maps were the that, prior to consolidation, were free of
common format for city maps from the late many of the legal constraints imposed by
1700s to the 1850s, but atlases rose in promi- the Philadelphia city government) and south
nence in mid-century as fire insurance com- to the wharves, broken only by the occasional
panies desired greater detail to keep track of river, stream or eventually by the citys outer
insurance claims, and a single map of suffi- limits. Yet, with the exception of a narrow
cient detail would be too large to use, carry strip directly adjacent to the Schuylkill
and store (Moak 1976). Smedley was quick River along which factory works and mills
to make use of this format for publishing were located, its western bank was actually
his detailed maps of Philadelphia, which made up largely of unpopulated country
aided city government in managing the estates in the possession of wealthy land-
newly enlarged city more effectively. owners or farmers, not regularly spaced,
Drawing inspiration from Penns desire for paved roads, as the map seems to suggest.
a grid of regularly spaced streets, Smedleys The same is true to the north and south of
atlas paints a picture of an inevitable, if not the city center, also visible in Figure 4. A
yet fully realized, urban totality, casting map that preceded consolidation by only a
future urban development in line with a par- few years (Figure 3) suggests the opposite:
ticular vision of economic development: one the soon-to-be-consolidated lands were rela-
more amenable to an industrial imaginary in tively sparsely populated and undeveloped
334 CITY VOL. 17, NO. 3
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Figure 4 Index map to Smedleys Atlas, Samuel Smedley (1862). Authors photo of the Atlas held in the Fairmount Park
Historic Resource Archive

compared to the two-square-mile expanse of and for decades afterward, much of the new
the old city limits. An accompanying chart city was still lying fallow, while urbanized
(Figure 4, top left) reflects the fact that most spaces were separated by extensive intervals
settlement in the region was localized of open country often under cultivation (36).
around Penns originally planned lots. The By emphasizing one set of qualities of the
point was later discussed in the writings of city (its recent spatial expansion, the increas-
Henry Leffman, a physician and amateur his- ing prevalence of factory work) and ignoring
torian who wrote extensively on varied sub- others (the value of woodlands adjacent to
jects related to Philadelphia in the 19th urban space, the importance of water power
century. Leffman (1907) wrote, in a paper to some economic practices), Smedleys grid
that was part first-hand account, part-histori- enabled a new form of city management
cal analysis, that at the time of consolidation based on the anticipation of future growth
GABRIEL: MAPPING URBAN SPACE 335

that took for granted the dominance of of the hydrological and atmospheric systems
human beings and, more to the point, indus- on which human settlements relied. Under-
trial economic activity (McCarthy 1986). girding these fears, and the natural resource
These efforts established a set of assumptions and urban economic policies that they
that remained for years to come, as can be informed, were the host of practices that
seen in a newspaper editorial that appeared helped to territorialize the city and its hinter-
10 years later: The rapid growth of Philadel- land and produced distinctly separate spaces
phia makes it probable that in fifty years the to be managed according to different rules.
basin of the Schuylkill [River] will be as a In some respects, the framing of the land-
lake in the centre . . . of the population (Phi- scape of Philadelphia as wholly urban was
ladelphia Public Ledger 1867). Smedleys short-lived, at least in some places, as Philadel-
atlas remained one of the most important car- phians clamored for the institution of a new
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tographic references for surveyors, cartogra- park in the late 1860s. Smedley was among
phers and the city employees through the them; after a European tour in the mid-
19th and early 20th centuries (Moak 1976). 1860s, he became convinced that the city
And yet, despite its importance, the city did needed a large public park, and was active in
not emerge in exactly the way Smedleys early attempts to secure land for the purpose
atlas suggested that it would. While his (Ashmead 1884). Enjoying some success in
story of inevitable expansion persisted, and that regard (he was instrumental in securing
helped to inform future developments in the land known as the Lansdowne estate), the
territorialization of urban space, the atlas City employed Smedley to conduct the first
would provide the foundation not only for surveys of the park (Ashmead 1884). Simul-
the fixing of a particular kind of urban taneously, the acquisition of the Lansdowne
space and practice, but that of nature as estate spurred activity in securing land for
well, through its subsequent use in the parks in Philadelphia so that, following the
mapping of Fairmount Park. American Civil War, little more than a
decade after the consolidation of the city, the
Pennsylvania State Assembly again inter-
Establishment of Fairmount Park vened in the citys development in 1868,
authorizing what at the time was the largest
One of the commonest objects of complaint urban park in the world.2 Now, however,
in Philadelphia is that we have no drives. A land that was not given over to economic
pretty fair average country lies around us [. . .] expansion was an exception to the rule:
and yet for really pleasant, picturesque drives, Smedley and other city cartographers
we are worse provided than we should be. depicted the newly minted Fairmount Park
[. . .] It is apparent enough that twenty or
as a counterweight to urban development,
thirty years hence, West Philadelphia will be a
closely built part of the city, full of palatial
while assumptions about the inevitability of
edificesa true West End. Persons living urban growth implicit in the hypothetical
there will then be well pleased to have a Park street grid were carried over into a new map
near them. (Evening Bulletin 1859) of the park (Figure 5). While the grid
remains intact, it has been written out of the
As Smedleys cartographic vision of the city space of the park itself. Lands that were
proliferated, the arguments in favor of estab- depicted as a monotonous extension of the
lishing a large park in Philadelphia gained urban core a few years previous were replaced
momentum, driven by the perception of with the faint green haze of comparatively
inevitable urban expansion into the country- empty parkland. The maps title, Farms and
side, a growing fear that the joys of rural Lots Embraced Within the Limits of Fair-
life would be lost in the transition, and mount Park As Appropriated for Public Use
increasing anxiety about the failing quality By Act of Assembly, highlights its role in
336 CITY VOL. 17, NO. 3
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Figure 5 Map of Farms and Lots . . . (1870). Used by Permission of the Philadelphia Water Department Historical
Collection/www.phillyh2o.org

defining the claims laid out by the state in the map survive that bear pen marks that were
formation of the park, as well as the landscape probably those of key land negotiators
the park was replacing. (most notably Eli K. Price) for damages
The 1868 park map had an explicitly politi- incurred through the appropriation of land
cal purpose: in depicting the boundaries of (Armstrong, personal communication, May
the park, it identified privately held lands 20, 2010). Not coincidentally, Price not
that would be appropriated by the city only played a central role in the consolidation
using eminent domain. Many copies of this of the city, but in the establishment of the
GABRIEL: MAPPING URBAN SPACE 337

park as well; he oversaw the purchase of park, to which water-based industries were
parklands, aided in the drawing up of associ- seen as a threat. As the editor of one area
ated legal documents and served as the chair- newspaper wrote:
man for the Fairmount Park Commission
from its foundation in 1867 until 1884 Within ten or fifteen minutes walk of the
(Special Collections 2010). While nego- centre [sic] of wealth and fashion, a river [the
tiations over land purchases by the city Schuylkill] of unobstructed flow winds with
romantic grace through a landscape of
were never recorded, it is clear that the map
glorious hills, forests of primeval trees, soft
provided a reference for negotiations that glades, and rocks rugged as any that skirt the
situated land parcels within the larger wildest sea.. . . There is absolute rusticity
context of the city. The map suggested a deci- that great tranquility which leads the soul to
sive line between the city and a perceived happy contemplation of the glories of Gods
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wilderness, representing urban spaces as the creation. (The Press 1860)


domain of human beings by preserving the
street grid beyond the confines of the park, Strikingly, even though these are the same
while erasing any roads, factories, homes lands that had been previously treated as
and other built structures encompassed inevitably and essentially urban, the dis-
within the park. course of the industrial city is here mobilized
Through this depiction, the map mini- to preserve them as wild spaces.
mized the importance of more than 90 fac- A closer examination of two sections of the
tories employing over 9000 workers that city bear out some finer points that are
bordered the banks of the Schuylkill River, obscured in this urban/wild framing. First,
which were eventually demolished or left to despite the degree of urbanization suggested
crumble once parklands were acquired. The in Smedleys map (Figure 4), the northwes-
importance of this de-emphasis was not lost tern portion of the park (Figure 5) was
on the men who owned those factories who, forested land at the time that both maps
in response to the Assemblys decision to were produced, free from the dense pattern
allow the appropriation of lands for a park of construction that characterized the citys
in 1868, banded together in drafting a historical core. A second example demon-
counter proposal for the land in question strates the reverse: the area of the park in
(Schofield 1868). In an attempt to reverse the southeast bank of the Schuylkill was
the increasingly widespread view of the already so much occupied by buildings that
urban economy as one based on coal power, earlier park plans only included a narrow
their proposal argued to the Pennsylvania strip, bordering the river, so as not to upset
State Assembly that access to water remained this already-settled part of the city (Philadel-
central to economic endeavors in the region. phia Evening Journal 1859). By contrast, the
They also pointed out that their workers park boundaries established in 1868 extended
and factories represented an important well into the built-up section of this part of
market for rural producers in the region, the city, so that a great deal of demolition
while their own output was central to com- was necessary in order to bring the park, as
merce in Philadelphia. In doing so, they depicted, into being. Perhaps most notable
offered up a vision of the city, ultimately was a neighborhood called Flat-Iron, one of
unsuccessful, in which water power was the poorest in the city, which included a
essential to future development. steam grist mill, a rolling mill and foundry,
Eventually, the arguments in favor of with some shabby houses used as dwellings,
establishing a large park won out, perhaps stables, shops, and taverns (Philadelphia
because they were nearly always framed as Inquirer 1864). Once the park was estab-
efforts not to build, but to preserve and lished legally and depicted cartographically,
make accessible the wild landscape of the houses and shops in Flat-Iron were
338 CITY VOL. 17, NO. 3

demolished and its people displaced to other influential in the naturalization of the spaces
parts of the city in the name of preservation of work and leisure, through which
(Fairmount Park Commission 2010). members of the working class were framed
Thus, while the ostensible purpose of the as inhabitants of urban spaces as opposed
1868 map was to aid in identifying property tofor lack of a better wordnatural ones.
lines in the process of land appropriation by While most of the maps Ive referenced up
the state rather than to show what existed to this point were funded and published by
on the ground, it helped to reinforce and the city government for use in management
justify state-led efforts to materialize the ima- of the city, they also featured prominently
gined spaces of the city and the imagined in publications for the public, like annual
spaces of nature. It reified these spaces by reports of the Park Commission or the city
the cartographic filling in of city space, the councils, which were available from various
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emptying out of park space and the literal local publishers. Meanwhile, the purchase of
bold-facing of the line between the two. maps themselves from their publishers
The boundary between parkland and the became increasingly common in the 1860s
rest of the city underscored a shift that desig- and 1870s with improvements in lithography
nated otherwise productive forest and farm- (Bruckner 2010). Though printing technol-
land as space no longer suited to economic ogy in the 1860s prevented the maps from
activity but appropriate for leisure use, being reproduced in detail in newspapers,
while land located outside the park bound- they were written about in numerous edi-
aries were now presumed to develop accord- torials that appeared there. Thus, government
ing to Smedleys and others economic maps, however narrow their initial purpose,
imaginationsthat is, in ways that were circulated widely. Nevertheless, maps pro-
amenable to industrial development. duced explicitly for public consumption do
At the same time, these effects were never a different kind of work.
entirely complete, nor did this framing of the The map shown in Figure 6 was published
city dominate it totally. Ive already men- around 1872, just a few years after the parks
tioned the factory owners who opposed the establishment and was clearly meant to speak
establishment of the park for business directly to Philadelphians and tourists about
reasons. In addition, throughout the period the virtues of the park. The text that sur-
of park establishment in Philadelphia, letter- rounds the central image of the map tells a
writers complained that the park would only history of the park that serves just as well as
serve the wealthy at the expense of the a history of the city. Referring to Philadel-
working class, who the park was often said phias expanding park system as a kind of
to serve, or that it would lay an unnecessary accessory to adorn the body of the growing
tax burden on the public. Others, after the city, it suggests that the garments that fit
park was established, complained about the the child and filled its mind, might not do
roads that were closed in the laying out of for the full-grown man. That is, a larger
the park, suggesting that their closing bur- park was needed to outfit a growing city.
dened the business interests in the city Simultaneously celebrated and feared, the
(Daily Pennsylvanian 1857; Germantown Tel- growing city proved to be a concern in the
egraph 1860; Germantown Chronicle 1873). mind of the cartographer as well as his audi-
ence. Distaste for the emerging industrial
city plays a prominent role in the story told
Constituting the urban subject in the margins of the map. The urban
subject is invited to enjoy a healthful and
While a variety of interventions converged in ennobling . . . repast from the great and
the formation of the urban subject, the for- noisy city and to partake in a feast of
mation of Fairmount Park was particularly natural beauties in the new park.
GABRIEL: MAPPING URBAN SPACE 339
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Figure 6 Map and Pictorial Guide of Fairmount Park (c.1872). Used by permission from the Fairmount Park Historic
Resource Archive

Direct references to the city are only to various prominent figures associated with
markers pointing toward more subtle state- a long-gone agrarian economy. For
ments about the relationship between the example, it explains that Belmont mansion
city and the park. Among other details, the [. . .] occupied for thirty-eight years by
document transports its audiencefigura- [Richard Peters] [. . .] a lifelong friend of
tively and literallyto a number of notable [George] Washington [. . .] has more mem-
attractions, among them the variety of his- ories of the olden days associated with it
torical homes and mansions, many of which [. . .] than any other other residence in or
were occupied even after the time of purchase around Philadelphia. Sweet Briar
of the land by the city. Other lots had until Mansion, it continues, was formerly home
recently been working farms, as the title of Farmer Breck who was the link con-
Farms and Lots of the 1868 map implies necting the Revolutionary period with the
(see Figure 5). Nevertheless, these homes present. Likewise, practices associated with
and farms, situated among groves of trees the park that might otherwise have offered
and hidden streams, are here presented not alternatives to factory work are instead pre-
as viable alternatives to urban life, but as evi- sented as collective reminiscences of a world
dence of a distant, pre-industrial past, linked that has all but disappeared. The bottom
340 CITY VOL. 17, NO. 3

panel of the map, for example, describes the have to take our wives and children to the
annual Nutting Day event, where an esti- Park. Some of us live miles away from the
mated 60,000 people, roughly one-sixth of banks of the Schuylkill, and if compelled to
the citys population, gathered together on a walk thither, would be too tired to appreciate
the attractions of the scenery, or to walk over
single day in autumn to reap the harvest of
the spacious grounds. Give us the cheap
the parks chestnut, walnut and hazelnut
conveyance to the Park on Sunday, then, or in
trees, a generations-old practice whose popu- making the improvements, you will be
larity clearly had not waned as the city grew, robbing the poor for the pleasure of the rich.
but now was being framed as a quaint ritual (Philadelphia Evening Journal 1860)
primarily for the enjoyment of children (Fair-
mount Park Commission 1870). Together, The division between the space of the city
these elements depict the unfolding of a pre- and the space of the park was now clear: the
Downloaded by [Universidad Nacional Colombia] at 20:03 01 October 2015

ordained urban history, the development of former had become the space of work and
modern economies through stages of succes- commerce, while the latter had become the
sion. The city is no longer a child, but a space of leisure and relaxation.
full-grown man, where the childish practices
common to an earlier period have been
made obsolete by emerging modes of (indus- Conclusion
trial) production. The map led park goers to
inhabit the park not as a form of resistance In this paper, I have argued that the perform-
to urban growth, but as a way to endure it ance of mapping endeavors to produce urban
through a remembrance of the past and as a space as such can help to illuminate the for-
means of repairing the injuries caused by mation of urban economies and urban
the industrial city to their bodies and minds. environments that otherwise remain
In carrying this map and its ideas into the obscure. In the case presented here, a series
park with them, members of the urban of interventions contributed to the pro-
public came to understand their experiences duction of a foundation on which future
inside and outside of the park as part of the urban development could be enacted and
story of modern urban development. pursued. Each of the interventions discussed
The strength of this framing is evident in a hereconsolidation of the disparate govern-
letter written by a factory worker to a promi- ments surrounding Philadelphias colonial
nent Philadelphia newspaper, who suggested core, the establishment of Fairmount Park
that discussions about a new park presented through the legal apparatus of the state
a perfect opportunity to revisit Sunday assembly, the calling into being of the urban
travel debates, which referred to a law that subject through the parkwas made possible
prevented travel by carriage on that day, through the contributions of actors associ-
during a time when workers were still agitat- ated with the production and use of maps.
ing for a mandated 60-hour work week: Naturalizing the relationship between the
city and the park made possible the extension
There can be no more appropriate time to of urban economic relations into more and
resume agitation of this issue than the present. more distant lands, reframing and ultimately
The workingmen are justified in saying helping to transform much of the landscape
Before you ask for our money to construct
of Philadelphia from an agrarian one, in
your Park, satisfy us that you do not intend to
exclude us from the enjoyment of its benefits.
which a diverse set of economic practices
We are shut up in our shops six days of the thrived, to an urban one, in which coal-
week.. . . We cannot afford to lose a day, or dependent, factory-oriented industrial prac-
part of a day, out of the six devoted to toil. tices were privileged above all others.
Sunday is the only day we have to be with our This story of urbanization focuses on the
families, and the only opportunity we will ways in which the deployment of a discourse
GABRIEL: MAPPING URBAN SPACE 341

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