Map Details      Question or Comment about this Map?
Number: 3366
Continent: Africa
Region: West
Place Names: Accra, Ghana
Year of Origin: 1920
Title: Gold Coast Survey. General Plan of Accra (Provisional)
Language: English
Publish Origin:
Height: 70.0
Width: 67.5
Units: centimeters
Size Class.: Medium
Color Type: Full Color
Images of this map are not yet available.
Cartographer: J. T. Johnson
Publisher: Surveyor General Office of the Gold Coast
Other Contributors:
Northernmost Latitude:
Southernmost Latitude:
Westernmost Longitude:
Easternmost Longitude:
Notes: [ Afriterra Library does not have a copy of this map...SOURCE Dasa Pahor] An excellent map of Accra, the capital of the Gold Coast (today Ghana), based on a provisional official survey, lithographed on cloth, in Accra, in 1920, at the beginning of Governor Sir Frederick Gordon Guggisberg?s programme to modernize the city. Author: J.T. JOHNSON / GOLD COAST SURVEYOR GENERAL?S OFFICE. Place and Year: Accra: Surveyor General's Office of the Gold Coast, November 17, 1920. Technique: Photographic print on cotton cloth, with original hand colour (Good, lovely original colours, overall bright and clean, some very light staining and points of discolouration, small hole in lower right with minor loss to blank space, small loss to border lower-right), 70 x 67.5 cm (27.5 x 26.5 inches). This excellent map is an official ?provisional? survey of Accra, the capital of the Gold Coast (today Ghana), printed in 1920, at the beginning of a great boom period that the city enjoyed under the leadership of the colony?s governor, Sir Frederick Gordon Guggisberg (in office, 1919 to 1927). Interestingly, the map was published by the colony?s Surveyor General?s Office, on cloth through a photographic technique, and then carefully hand coloured. Such a cloth map would have been practical for busy map- readers working in an equatorial climate. The map is, not surprisingly, very rare; we have not been able to find even a reference to it, let alone the appearance of any other examples in catalogues or sales records. The present map is described as being a provisional map, in lieu of the completion of the precise survey of the city that was then underway. A note, in the lower right, reads: ?An accurate survey of Accra on scales 1:1000 and 1:5000 is now in progress, and pending its completion this plan compiled from existing information is issued for public use. This plan does not claim to be exact in every detail but is produced to meet urgent needs while the accurate survey is carried out.? Also noted, was that the map was available for purchase from the ?Sales Agents - Commonwealth Trust Ltd.? for the price of 10 Shillings. The map?s official nature is certified by the printed signatures of the colony?s Surveyor General, R.H. Rowe; the Superintended of Maps and Plans, E.H. Allen; and the draftsman of the map, J.T. Johnson; along with the date 17.11.20. In spite of the cautionary note, the map is one of the most detailed and accurate records of Accra during this critical historical period. The city?s commercial centre, clustered upon the end of the peninsula where the Korli Lagoon meets the Atlantic, features innumerable named businesses, from warehouses to shipping firms to cacao traders. This district grew up behind the 17th Century ?James Fort? and ?Ussher Fort?, and was recently buttressed by the completion of rail routes, such as the Accra-Akwapim and Harbour Works railways. To the northeast, is the fast-growing government district, featuring official buildings, such as the High Court, Police Barracks, the Secretariat, the Club House, hospitals, and the ?printing office? (likely being where the present map was made). Further on, are new subdivisions, containing bungalows for colonial civil servants. Up the road into the interior is the ?New Site of the New Government House? and the beyond is a new subdivision containing the governor?s lodge and barracks. In the lower right, is the former Danish settlement of Christiansborg, with its old ?Castle?. Historical Context: The Rise of Accra The present map depicts Accra at it historical apogee, at the beginning of a period of explosive economic and infrastructure growth, during the 1920s. Accra was traditionally an important centre in the Gold Coast, but was overshadowed by Kumasi (the traditional Ashanti capital) and the notorious slave trading posts of Elmina Castle (to the east) and Cape Coast Castle (to the west). That being said, as of the 17th Century, a number of European powers built permanent fortifications in the Accra area for the purposes of slave trading, as well as to serve as entrep?s for commodities. These forts included Fort Cr?ecoeur (Dutch, 1649), Osu Castle / Christiansborg (Danish, 1660s), Fort James (English, 1673), amongst other less enduring establishments. During most of the 19th Century, Britain sought to dominate the Gold Coast, fighting a series of five wars agianst the indigenous Ashanti Kingdom, between 1823 and 1902. In 1867, Britain, through treaties, managed to remove all of the other European powers from the region, and officially declared the Gold Coast a British colony. Accra rose in important when, in 1877, the British moved the capital of the Gold Coast to that city, from its previous base in Cape Coast. Accra was considered more easily defensible that than the other options, and became a vibrant mart for commodities, notably cocoa. However, its development was initially limited, as the ongoing unrest between the British and the Ashanti restricted the city?s interface with the interior, along with its own physical growth into the surrounding countryside. The end of the Ashanti wars, in 1902, upon which Britain gained complete mastery of the Gold Coast, brought about a period of stability for Accra. The construction of major infrastructure, such as the Accra-Kumasi Railway (1908), was a great boon. However, fears over renewed domestic unrest and World War I put a damper on major British investment in the city, and the Gold Coast, in general. This all changed, in 1919, when Sir Frederick Gordon Guggisberg (1869 -1930), the Canadian-born star administrator was appointed Governor of the Gold Coast. Energetic and highly respected, he initiated a series of major improvements to the city, and his great personal credibility attracted mass investment from both the Crown and private sources. He was literally the father of modern Accra, as he joined the previously distinct settlements of Jamestown, La, and Osu into one coherent city, joined by roads and infrastructure, and eventually settlement (the beginnings of which are apparent on the present map). He also created the Accra?s first planned suburbs, being the neat grid-shaped sub-divisions depicted on the map. In Accra, Guggisberg built schools, one of the best hospitals in Africa, port facilities, and roads, notably the first bridge across the Korli Lagoon. Guggisberg oversaw an era of stability and economic growth. The numerous businesses labeled on the present map thrived in a stable climate. The cocoa industry boomed, making Accra the cocoa capital of the world by 1924. Thousands of Ashanti rural dwellers moved to the city in search of jobs and brighter features, leading to a dramatic growth in the city?s population. By the time Guggisberg departed the Gold Coast, in 1927, to assume his new role as Governor of Guyana, Accra was utterly transformed in its appearance from only eight years before.
Last updated: Apr 25, 2018