Before we get to the star of today’s post, a bit of context. Between 1838 and 1840, John Tallis published a series of 88 London Street Views which served as street directories “to assist strangers visiting the metropolis through all its mazes without a guide.”
Each pamphlet included architectural elevations, and an index of every business on the street. The publication costs were covered by advertisements purchased by many of the businesses.
As noted by the Canadian Centre for Architecture: “Each engraved illustration, spread over facing pages, shows a London thoroughfare in a schematized plan view with elevations of the street’s facades. Tallis framed each of his views with a pictorial vignette and an accurate map of the vicinity of the featured street. The entire scheme seems to have had no direct precedents among representations of the urban environment and reviews of the time show his street views to have been highly regarded and enthusiastically received.” Tufts University has digitized their collection of the series.
We recently acquired a book called Grand architectural panorama of London: Regent Street to Westminster Abbey: from original drawings made expressly for the work by R. Sandeman, architect, and executed on wood by G.C. Leighton. Published by I. Whitelaw in 1849, it surely took its idea from Tallis’s Street Views.
The rather ordinary brown cloth binding hides a surprise, though, because unlike Tallis’s average sized pamphlets, this panorama turns out to be printed on an accordion-folded strip measuring over 22 feet! We had to rearrange the tables in our reading room to unfold it completely:
Businesses are listed under the image with their street numbers, or simply by their names on the store fronts. To include businesses located in other parts of London, billboards are used on carriages, or on hand-held signs. In the examples below, you can see that the lithographer included his own studio, and Madame Tussaud’s admission cost 1 shilling. (As with all images in this post, click on the image to see a larger version.)
The route begins at St. Margaret’s church in front of Westminster Abbey, and ends at All Souls’ Church on Langham Place. The format of the single strip gives the impression that this is a straight line, but here is what it looks like on a map:
Besides all the architectural detail, the artist included hundreds of pedestrians, animals, and various kinds of carriages. Every inch contains something of social interest, and this book could be a great way to spark curiosity for learning more about Victorian era London. Listed businesses include “Photographers on paper,” “Photographist,” and “Patentee of the Daguerotype” — what was happening in the history of photography in 1849? Or, what questions might arise about medical practice in this time period from noting listings for a “Chiropodist,” “Surgical Instrument Maker,” or “Agent for Morrison’s Pills”? What was a “Cosmorama”? And what on earth is going on here:
You can view the entire frieze in Oberlin College’s Digital Collection, or stop in to Amherst College’s Archives & Special Collections to see it in person.