By KATHRYN ENGSTROM
Focusing primarily on the urban design of the city of Washington, D.C., Iris Miller, director of landscape studies in the School of Architecture at Catholic University, discussed her new book, "Washington in Maps, 1606-2000," at a Library program in April.
Ronald Grim, specialist in the history of cartography in the Library's Geography and Map Division, provided commentary on the additional cartographic resources relating to the city of Washington at the Library of Congress and invited the audience to view a display of some of these in the Geography and Map Reading Room following the program.
Miller discussed the two sub-themes of her book—the urban design of Washington, D.C., as a planned city and the public's task in supporting changes in such a planned city—by showing and discussing slides of many of the maps reproduced in her book.
Some of the more notable maps she discussed during the evening included early maps showing the Maryland and Virginia area in the 17th century; Pierre L'Enfant's original map of 1791 (which is in the Library of Congress) and its reprint by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1886; Ellicott's 1792 revision of the L'Enfant plan; topographic maps of Versailles and a number of other great French estates of the 18th century that influenced L'Enfant's design; and the influential James McMillan plan of 1902.
Miller also talked about more recently proposed designs for the city that have never been realized, including urban design charrettes produced by her students as possibilities for the redevelopment of various parts of the city.
At the conclusion of Miller's talk, Grim spoke briefly about other types of maps in the Geography and Map Division's collection of some 3,000 maps of Washington, D.C. He commented that this is a large collection of maps for such a relatively young city, making it perhaps the best mapped city of its size. Grim used slides to show the differences between planning maps and other types of maps, such as topographic maps, road maps, and thematic maps and explained how they are used.
Miller teaches courses at Catholic University and maintains her own practice of landscape architecture in Washington. The program was sponsored by the Center for the Book, the Geography and Map Division, and the U.S. Capitol Historical Society.
Kathryn Engstrom is the head of the Geography and Map Reading Room.