Andrew Ellicott (1754 – 1820), Plan of the City of Washington, Andrew Ellicott’s 1792 Revision of the L’Enfant Plan of 1791.
Plan of the City of Washington, Andrew Ellicott’s 1792 Revision of the L’Enfant Plan of 1791.
Engraved by J. Thackara & J. Vallance
Sheet size: 12 ¼ x 15 ¼ inches
Frame size: 22 x 25 inches
FIRST PRINTED EDITION OF L’ENFANT PLAN
This excellent rare map portrays the final version of Pierre Charles L’Enfant’s plan of the City of Washington; and it is one of the EARLIEST printed maps of Washington D.C.
It is now known as the official city plan.
Andrew Ellicott was an U.S. surveyor who helped map many of the territories west of the Appalachians; surveyed the boundaries of the District of Columbia; and continued and completed Pierre L’Enfant’s work on the plan on Washington DC. He also served as a teacher in survey methods to Meriwether Lewis.
Ellicott was born into a small Quaker family in rural Pennsylvania. When the Revolutionary War broke out, he enlisted as a commissioned officer in the Elk Ridge Battalion of the Maryland militia despite his Quaker upbringing. During the course of the war, he rose to the rank of major, a title he would keep as an honorific throughout his life.
After the war, Ellicott returned home until he was appointed, in 1784, a member of the survey group tasked with extending the survey of the Mason-Dixon line that had been abandoned in 1767 and then been stalled during the war. In this survey, he worked alongside David Rittenhouse and James Madison, making first connections with the scientific society of Philadelphia. When he was well into his career around 1791–92, Ellicott also surveyed the future city of Washington, which was located within a relatively small area at the center of the Territory of Columbia. Ellicott also served under the Commissioners' supervision in this effort. He first worked with Pierre Charles L'Enfant, who had prepared the initial plans for the capital city during the early months of 1791 and had presented one of these early plans to President Washington in August of that year. During a particularly contentious period in February 1792, Ellicott informed the Commissioners that L'Enfant had not been able to have the city plan engraved and had refused to provide him with an original plan that L'Enfant was then holding. Ellicott, with the aid of his brother, Benjamin Ellicott, then revised the plan, despite L'Enfant's protests. Ellicott's revisions realigned and straightened Massachusetts Avenue, eliminated five short radial avenues and added two others, removed several plazas and straightened the borders of the future Judiciary Square. Shortly thereafter, Washington dismissed L'Enfant. Ellicott gave the first version of his own plan to James Thackara and John Valance of Philadelphia, who engraved, printed and published it. This version, printed in March 1792, was the first Washington city plan that received wide circulation. After L'Enfant departed, Ellicott continued the city survey in accordance with his revised plan, several larger and more detailed versions of which were also engraved, published and distributed. As a result, Ellicott's revisions became the basis for the capital city's future development.
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