Bird’s Eye View, Centennial Buildings, 1876


Bird’s Eye View, Centennial Buildings, 1876


Maurice H. Traubel
American, 1822–1899
Published in 1875 by H. J. Toudy & Co., Philadelphia


The Centennial Exposition was held in Philadelphia from May 10 to November 10, 1876. Organized to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the event featured more than 200 buildings spread over 450 acres in Fairmont Park. To capitalize on the excitement generated by the advent of the fair, Philadelphia publisher Henry J. Toudy issued this birds-eye view of the exposition a number of months prior to its opening. Since it was impossible in this instance to draw the image from nature—most of the buildings were not yet constructed—Toudy commissioned Maurice Traubel to produce an imagined elevated view over the Schuylkill River by working from architectural plans and prospective layouts of the fair.

Though the two prints shown here look identical, small changes have been made from one to the next, the most obvious being, in addition to the coloration, the size of the lake in the center left, adjacent to the Machinery Building (behind and inline with the Main Exhibition Building, which was at the time, in terms of enclosed area, the largest building in the world). Toudy would go on to alter the lithograph several more times as new details about the final layout, such as a viewing tower adjacent to the flagpole in the distance and the late addition of a Reading Railroad terminal along the river in the foreground, became evident.


Palmer Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania State University, Partial gift and purchase from John C. O’Connor and Ralph M. Yeager




John C. O'Connor and Ralph M. Yeager Collection, Palmer Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania State University


This image is posted publicly for non-profit educational uses, excluding printed publication. Other uses are not permitted.


Color lithograph; 18-3/4 x 24 in. (47.6 x 61 cm)


United States, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (county), Philadelphia