Native son Henry F. Walling (1825-1889), Civil Engineer is the author of the large scale, survey Map of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.1855 that reads as a cartographic gazetteer of Rhode Island at the middle of the 19th century. Just below the map's title, a Note also explains the collaborations and 19th c. history of the survey work required to prepare this Rhode Island statewide map. Walling relied upon work from 19th c. surveys in abutting states - the 1844 Simeon Borden Massachusetts state map, and likely some of Walling's own surveys c. 1855 of Massachusetts towns and counties - and for Rhode Island coastal data he relies on the office of the U.S. Coast Survey for a portion of Narragansett Bay. For the state's western border Walling relies on joint Connecticut and Rhode Island state surveys in 1839 and 1840. Walling's Map of the State of Rhode Island,1855 represents in its time the highest level of surveying expertise. 1/
Surrounding the primary Rhode Island state map are ten (10) detailed inset maps of Rhode Island cities and towns and of Block Island also known as the town of New Shoreham, a part of mainland Washington County. Beginning clockwise in the top right corner of the wall map, the inset maps are: City of Providence, City of Newport, Greenwich, Block Island [New Shoreham], South Providence and Elmwood, Westerly Village, Bristol, Warren, Pawtucket and Woonsocket. These highly detailed maps show street names and locate houses and other buildings. A map key of major buildings accompanies the City of Providence inset map.
The map bears a chart of "Statistics" that includes a list of all Rhode Island towns and their respective dates of incorporation. The towns are listed chronologically by date of earliest incorporation, the first and oldest being the City of Providence. Population statistics are given for 1850 from the U.S. Census. Land area and land use are listed in this chart, with acres in square miles and miles of highway. Property valuations as of 1854 are given for acreage, farm land or improved Land.
The graphic art of this large wall map of Rhode Island, with a portion of both Connecticut and Massachusetts is enhanced by the map scale of one mile to the inch. Along the coast, light houses are drawn and labeled, such as the Stonington Light. The inset map of City of Providence features the "Cove" and municipal buildings in the city center. The inset map of Newport includes detailed depictions of Long Wharf and the other major wharves, labeled by owner and the connecting street names. The N.Y. Steamboat landing is labeled and drawn. Along the bluffs, grand hotels that received the great numbers of summer tourists are also located and labeled, Ocean House, Atlantic House and Bellevue House. 2/ The map presents Newport's important civic and religious buildings including the Redwood Library, the Tauro Synagogue labeled on the map as Tauro House, the Friends Meeting House and nearby the Jewish Cemetery. In the northeasterly part of Newport, the inset map locates wind mills. Industrial Rhode Island is portrayed in detail with factories and the factory owner names, described graphically by the inset maps of Westerly Village, Warren, Pawtucket and Woonsocket. In Bristol, the inset map identifies a Masonic Lodge, the Grammar School, harbors and wharves.
Rhode Island is also identified by its Atlantic Ocean coastline. Along this coastline and within Rhode Island's primary harbors the 1855 wall map graphically represents and identifies these salt waters and provides depths in soundings in feet at low water. The Atlantic Ocean gave Rhode Island direct access to South America, the West Indies and to Europe. From its Colonial and early 19th c. role in the Triangle Trade to its participation in mid-19th c. international commerce, Rhode Island's harbors and ports developed substantially as shown on this map and within the inset maps. In many respects, Walling's Map of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. 1855 is a map of the land and of the sea that explains technically and with graphic arts how these topographic elements combined to produce a thriving state of villages, highly developed towns and cities, cultivated landscapes and scenic regions to which tourists were drawn then as they are today.
1. Walling's collaborations with the U.S. Coast Survey and the U.S. Geological Survey developed by 1883 into his role as a staff person with the U.S. Geological Survey at which time he collaborated with the Massachusetts Survey Commission to upgrade the surveys of Massachusetts. This work culminated in the Atlas of Massachusetts 1884-1890. Preliminary Report and its updated edition in 1894. Mr. Walling died before the completion of this major work.