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Number: 3557
Continent: Africa
Region: South
Place Names: Capetown, Cape Town, South Africa
Year of Origin: 1882 (estimated)
Title: Plan of Cape Town
Language: English
Publish Origin: Cape Town
Height: 53.7
Width: 44.8
Units: centimeters
Size Class.: Medium
Scale: 1 : 6,000
Color Type: Outline Color
Click for high-resolution zoomable image
Cartographer: Julius Ulke
Engraver: Julius Ulke
Publisher: Saul Solomon
Other Contributors: General Land Office
Northernmost Latitude: -33.89
Southernmost Latitude: -33.94
Westernmost Longitude: 18.4
Easternmost Longitude: 18.5
Measurement Notes: modern estimates
Notes: Compare # 3224 [source Dasa Pahor and Kevin Brown, GEOGRAPHICUS] Julius Ulke, is the German-American photographer who famously photographed President Lincoln on his death bed. Ulke was in Cape Town in 1882 with the Newcomb expedition to observe the Transit of Venus. In addition to it being unrecorded, and illustrating Cape Town at an important developmental point, and being the only map printed by the most important Jewish publisher in South Africa, confers great merit upon the piece. An apparently unrecorded plan of Cape Town, depicting the city in considerable detail during a fascinating period in its development, based upon a survey executed by the General Land Office, and published by the firm owned by the legendary liberal Cape politician and journalist Saul Solomon. Colour lithograph, mounted upon original linen (Good, some wear and cracking along old folds with very minor loss, small hole in blank space in bottom centre, light staining; wear and cracking to blank margins), 48 x 58 cm (19 x 23 inches). This intriguing separately issued plan of Cape Town captures the city as it appeared in the late 1870s, when it was experiencing a major building and infrastructure boom. The map was printed by Saul Solomon & Co., then South Africa?s leading publishing house, owned by the prominent Cape politician and journalist. The map seems to be unrecorded; we cannot trace even a reference to it, let alone the location of another example. The map, orientated roughly westwards, with the North pointing towards the right side, the map delineates and labels all streets and squares, as well as outlining and naming all major edifices. Notable structures labelled directly on the map include the ?Jews Synagogue? (founded on that site in 1863); 2 ?Malay Mosques? (an Indonesian and Malay community existed in the city since the 18th Century); churches of various denominations; markets; the great citadel of the Cape Castle; the army ?Barracks?; ?Government House?; the Masonic Lodge; and the Library & Museum, amongst many others. Additionally, the ?References? (located below the title) label by numbers: 1. Supreme Court; 2. Surveyor General?s Office; 3. Deeds (Land Office); 4. Treasury; 5. Audit Office; 6. Times Newspaper; 7. ?The Lantern?; 8. Mercantile (Free Paper); 9. Argus; 10. Standard & Mail; 11. St. Georges Free School; 12. Magistrates Court; 13. Commissariat; 14. Scotch Church; 15. Trinity Church; 16. St. Stephen?s Church; 17. South Africa Missionary Chapel; 18. St. Sidneys Church. The city?s waterfront is shown to be in an intermediate state of dramatic development, with the recent addition of new quays and rails lines, while new urban blocks are being built up in on the interior side of town. In all, the map reveals the city of 35,000 to be vibrant and ethnically diverse. While the present map is not dated, one can quite safely mark its publication to the late 1870s. We have carefully compared it to both an 1865 and an 1884 map of the city, in addition to consulting key textual sources. The map labels the location of the Cape Times office, referring to a newspaper which commenced publication in 1876. Moreover, the map was made shortly after the opening of the ?New Railway Station?, which occurred in 1875, and after the development of the waterfront in the wake of the extension of the railway to the Alfred Basin, the city?s first artificial harbour complex, which itself was completed in 1870. However, the map predates the extension of the horse tramway system (here still labelled as ?proposed), which occurred in the early 1880s, while it does not show the great edifice of the ?Parliament House? which was completed in 1884 on Adderley Street, just across from the Cathedral. Curiously, while Cape Town underwent many changes during the 1870s, the present map seems to be one of the only cartographic records of the city from that period. The present map is predicated upon a recent official survey, with the draftsman?s name, ?J. Ulke G.L.O.?, appearing in the upper right corner. While we cannot find much information on Mr. Ulke, the General Land Office (G.L.O.), in conjunction with the Surveyor General?s Office, was responsible for creating town plans and cadastral maps of the Cape Colony. As the Solomon & Co. printing firm was often given government contracts, it is no surprise that they issued the present map. Curiously, however, we cannot trace any other separately issued plans of Cape Town printed by Solomon. Saul Solomon: Printer, Journalist and Liberal Lion of the Cape Saul Solomon (1817 - 1892) was one of the most influential and controversial figures in 19th Century South Africa. He was born on the island of St. Helena, the nephew of Saul Solomon (1776 - 1852), a Jewish castaway who made an enormous fortune provisioning ships, such that he was popularly known as the ?Merchant King of St. Helena?. Saul Sr. also founded the first printing press on the island in 1806. Despite his uncle?s wealth, Saul Jr. was sent as child to live in a rather decrepit boarding school in London, where he suffered malnutrition, acquiring lifelong health problems. However, he did gain from his uncle a love for the press as well as a keen business acumen. Saul Jr. moved to Cape Town as young man and apprenticed as printer. After a while he was able to borrow money to start his own publishing house, which quickly grew to be the largest and most successful in all Southern Africa. He was also one of the principal founding investors in the Old Mutual Limited (established 1845), which soon became, and remains to this day one of Africa?s largest insurance firms. By his late twenties, Solomon became one of Cape Town?s most important citizens, and while personally secular, he financed the creation of the city?s first synagogue in 1849. Solomon was elected as the member for Cape Town of the newly established colonial parliament in 1854, an office he would hold for the next 29 years. A champion of the Cape being granted responsible government, it was largely due to his efforts that this was achieved in 1872. Solomon was an unapologetic and uncompromising liberal. He advocated complete racial and religious equality; it is indeed regretful that his views on these issues did not prevail, for if they did, South Africa?s story would have been far happier. While given the opportunity to serve as the Cape?s Premier, and invited to join the Cabinet on many occasions, he turned down all high offices son that he would never have to compromise his liberal views; he always voted his conscience. In 1857, Solomon founded The Argus newspaper, which became the colony?s leading liberal organ, and is still one of the most popular papers in the Cape to this day. The paper was a powerful tool as Solomon fought all forms of discriminatory laws, as well as Lord Carnarvon?s illconceived 1874 scheme to unite South Africa into a Confederation. Even as Solomon was heavily preoccupied by politics, he managed to grow his publishing firm into a behemoth. In 1878, during the period when the present map was issued, the Solomon firm had over 200 employees, 8 manual presses and 10 steam-powered presses. Its output comprised a large percentage of all the Cape?s official and commercial publications. Ill-health compelled Solomon to retire in the 1883; however, his commercial and social legacy long outlived him. [Dasa Pahor]
Last updated: Jan 14, 2020