This color lithograph pocket map of mid-19th century London even in its title suggests the rapid growth of the city and the changes required to cope with population surges, public health, sanitation and ultimately increased demands for new burial sites. London sanitation up to 1847 was notable in its absence, the first year the map was published being also the year that the Ordinance of the Metropolitan Commission of Sewers required all waste to be carried out by sewers that led to the Thames. However, public sewer systems taking sewage out of London and not into the Thames was only first built in London in 1859 under the direction of London civil engineer Joseph Bazalgette. Thus the first edition of the map captured London modernizing its infrastructure and attempting to address serious public health concerns, such as cholera. This edition of the map suggests sewer line expansion. The map also presents London as a dense hub fed by train lines, connected to the south by new and existing bridges over the Thames and expanding over the Thames with engineering works, such as the Thames Tunnel. New housing development and attractions such as the relocated Chrystal Palace and park are shown here as well.
The map key explains the color coding system. New Cemeteries are in yellow, railway stations are shown in full in red, a symbol is shown for landing piers for steam vessels. On this edition of the map, Metropolitan Improvements are shown by parallel dotted lines although hatch marked parallel lines also abound and suggest proposed roads. Parks, both large and small are shown in green. The Thames, a defining feature graphically as well as geographically is shown in blue. Buildings are drawn in plan, and many are labeled. Streets of all sizes are labeled. Many other kinds of locations and structures are labeled as well, including schools, libraries and museums.
This Davies edition of the pocket map is updated to at least to 1851, based on the presence of two Chelsea Bridges, the original (wood) Chelsea Bridge leading to farms in Battersea and the Timber Docks and the "New Chelsea Bridge" that opened to the public in 1858 and leads to housing and numerous new roads. The Chrystal Palace was relocated from Hyde Park to south of the Thames with its own park in 1851, and is shown at this location on the map. The view of London on the map describes a vast city with only limited remaining agriculture and forests south of the Thames or far to the north, and in full industrial bore. In the northern outskirts of London, near Stroud Green and Crouch Hill is a structure called Japan House that likely also helps date this edition of the map.
All along the Thames industry and trade are represented on the map by labeled structures and infrastructure. One of the world's largest cities, London's population surged in the late 1840's due to immigration, including during the 1848 Great Famine when Irish immigration surged. An already dense central London became the setting for notorious poverty and a neighborhood called The Rookery.
Outlying metropolitan boroughs are shown in great detail as well. In fact, the term "metropolitan" is used in the map's title in an urban planning sense of the word and indicates awareness by the mapmaker that a growing urban center and its metropolitan surroundings grow in lockstep.