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Number: 3920
Continent: Africa
Region: North
Place Names: Cairo, Egypt
Year of Origin: 1952
Title: Cairo 1:15,000.
Language: English
Publish Origin: Cairo
Height: 72.0
Width: 96.0
Units: centimeters
Size Class.: Medium
Scale: 1 : 15,000
Color Type: Full Color
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Publisher: Cairo: Survey Directorate, Middle East
Other Contributors:
Northernmost Latitude: 30.05
Southernmost Latitude: 30.0
Westernmost Longitude: 31.25
Easternmost Longitude: 31.3
Measurement Notes: modern estimates
Notes: Dasa Pahor and Alex Johnson source; [space needed] to enter Cartographer: MIDDLE EAST DRAWING AND REPRODUCTION OFFICE (M.D.R.) / 42nd SURVEY ENGINEERING REGIMENT (BRITISH ARMY); [Publisher: Cairo: Survey Directorate, Middle East], June 1952, An extremely rare and highly detailed large-scale military plan of Cairo issued at the most tense and exciting time, when powerful undercurrents of Egyptian and Pan-Arab nationalism were threatening to overthrow 70 years of British colonial hegemony, in June 1952, 5 months after the ?Black Friday? Riots that torched many of the city?s Westernowned landmarks, and a month before the 23 July Revolution which toppled the pro-British monarchy and led to the rise of Gamal Abdel Nasser, radically altering the course of the Middle East; the map printed in Cairo for the British Army?s Middle East Drawing and Reproduction Office, intended for use during a mooted British invasion of the city. This large and highly detailed map of Cairo was printed for the use of the British Army in June 1952, when the city was a hotbed of Anti-Western sentiment, as the Egyptian people sought to free themselves from 70 years of quasi-colonial British rule. The city had recently been the scene of the ?Black Saturday? riots that destroyed many of the great Western institutions and in the city?s downtown, and Cairo would shortly be the epicentre of the 23 July Revolution, which would topple the weak puppet regime of King Farouk in favour of republican under the ultra-charismatic nationalist Gamal Abdel Nasser. The map is an unparalleled record of Cairo during a time of major upheaval, and every key site of ?Black Saturday? and the Revolution is clearly marked. The map embraces the entire city of Cairo, with Giza across the Nile (while an extension inset, in the lower right, depicts the wealthy suburb of Heliopolis), delineating every street and labeling all those of consequence. All major buildings are outlined and labeled, while parks, transport hubs and historical sites are showcased. Below the title, in the upper right, the ?References? explain the symbols used to identify land use, topographical features and infrastructure. Below that, the ?Abridged Index?, provides the grid coordinates and numbers to locate Royal Palaces, Ministries & Government Administrations, Embassies & Legations, Banks, Primary Hotels, Museums & Learned Institutions, Hospitals, Mosques & Churches (plus a Synagogue), Railway Stations, sites of General Interest, and Old Gates. While the map is well suited for any pursue, it is sufficiently detailed, with an easily readable design, to make it ideal for strategic planning for any possible British military action. Specifically, the map was drafted by the 42nd Survey Engineering Regiment of the British Army, predicated upon the best sources, and was prepared by and printed for the Middle East Drawing and Reproduction Office (M.D.R.), the special military mapping bureau that that the British operated in Cairo. A Note on Editions and Rarity The map was issued by the M.D.R. in 2 editions, the first was issued in 1951, while the second (being of the present example) was published in June 1952. Both editions of map were made in only a very small print run exclusively for high level military use and were never sold or made publicly available. Moreover, the survival rate of such maps is incredibly low. We can trace only 2 institutional examples of the present 1952 edition, held by the British Library and Bodleian Library (Oxford University), and 4 examples of the 1951 edition. Moreover, we are not aware of any examples as appearing on the market. Historical Context: Cairo Swept up in the Revolution By the early 1950s, Britain had long overstayed its welcome in Egypt. While the country was technically a sovereign nation, ruled by its own monarchy, since 1882 Egypt was effectively a British colony, as London imposed it is will upon all major decisions. The country was dragged into both World Wars in the service of Britain, at great hardship, while a corrupt British-backed elite looted the national economy, further impoverishing the common people. For most of the previous 70 years, the opinions of the Egyptian people mattered little to the British and the country?s succession of weak rulers, as Britain?s military power and global prestige promised to overwhelm any attempt at rebellion. However, in the wake of World War II, Britain was cash-strapped and visibly weakened, while popular support for revolutionary change in Egypt was on the rise. The spark that lit the fuse of Egyptian Revolution was trouble in the Suez Canal Zone, a vital nexus of trade controlled by Britain and France. Egyptian ?terrorists? had been attacking British targets in the area and, in reprisal, on January 25, 1952, the British Army seized the Egyptian city of Ismailia, which lay next to the canal, in the process killing 50 Egyptian auxiliary policemen. This act enraged the Egyptian people, and the following day, Cairo was engulphed in a massive antiWestern riot that became known as ?Black Saturday? (January 26, 1952). Huge crowds, led by still unidentified figures, attacked innumerable establishments and institutions associated with the West, bringing many to the torch. By the end of the night 300 shops, all the major department stores, 13 hotels, 8 auto dealerships, 40 theatres, 92 bars, 73 restaurants and coffee houses, and 16 social clubs were either totally destroyed or severely damaged; the bill for the lost property added up to ?3.4 million ? then an enormous sum. The casualties of the riot included Shepheard?s Hotel, established in 1841, which was the epicentre of British and Western life in the city, as well as Groppi?s Restaurant, a favourite haunt of the rich and well connected. The rioters succeeded in pretty much ruining everything that the Westerners and the pro-Western elite loved most about downtown Cairo. While the Egyptian government condemned the rioting in no uncertain terms, it was curious that the Egyptian first responders were incredibly slow to arrive on the scene, always showing up at flashpoints after the damage was done and scarcely arresting anyone. This indicated that the rioters had the tacit support of the rank and file of the armed forces and police, a bad omen for the pro-British King Farouk. The months that followed, when the present map was printed, marked a very tense time, as Farouk?s government dithered, and the British Army seriously contemplated sending troops into Cairo to restore British authority and back up the puppet regime. However, this step was ultimately viewed as too extreme, and the British high command resolved to stand down. The Egyptian nationalist side took the initiative when a group of young army commanders, the so-called ?Free Officers?, mounted the 23 July Coup, or Egyptian Revolution of 1952, which overthrew the monarchy and installed a republican regime, soon led by Gamal Abdel Nasser. Nasser was a highly intelligent and enormously charismatic figure who soon galvanized the Middle East in a wave of nationalist, anti-imperialist sentiment, encouraging Arab countries to seize their independence. In 1956, Nasser signed the death warrant for British, and Western, interference in Egypt?s affairs, seizing control of the Suez Canal. He then weathered the ?Suez Crisis?, the botched combined British, French and Israeli attack upon Egypt, and charted a new course for the country in alliance with the Soviet Union. References: British Library: Cartographic Items Maps MOD MDR Misc 11627; Bodleian Library (Oxford University): E13:30 Cairo (29); OCLC: 497647639, 47173813.
Last updated: Mar 12, 2022