William M. Eddy
Approved and Declared to be the Official Map of the State of California...
Lithograph map with original hand-color
New York: J.H. Colton, 1854
Framed: 56" x 63"
The imperative for an "Official Map" of California was recognized even before the territory's admission to the Union as a state (September 9, 1850). An act of the
California legislature, passed on April 4, 1850, created the office of the State Surveyor General, with the prime mandate to make an accurate general map of the state.
William H. Eddy was appointed to this position. While little is known of Eddy's early career, he was evidently a formally trained and experienced surveyor becoming the City Surveyor of San Francisco in 1849 following San Francisco's first charter election. Eddy and his staff conducted the authoritative surveys of numerous public and private locations, and the majority of early maps of San Francisco were based upon Eddy's
work. His endeavors culminated in the celebrated 'foundational map' of the City of Francisco in 1851. Eddy Street is an enduring testament to his great contribution
to the development of the city.
Upon being appointed State Surveyor General, Eddy, submitted a budget of $12,850 to pay for expenses to be incurred while surveying and drafting the "Official Map" of California. Eddy received only $3,000, greatly limiting his ability to travel to sites to make accurate, first-hand surveys. While he his surveys of Northern California are technically quite impressive, he was compelled to rely on the far less accomplished surveys and accounts of others for his depiction of much of the southern half of the state.
Eddy submitted his map in 1853 and the state legislature mandated Eddy to arrange for the map to be printed in sufficient quantity to supply copies to various state officials. Administrators acutely required an accurate geographical conception of the state in order to formulate decisions regarding infrastructure development, resource extraction and demarcating and adjudicating matters concerning land titles.
William Eddy died while the map was being prepared for publication, so his work was continued by his brother, R.A. Eddy of Marysville, California, who was also a surveyor. The finished manuscript map was sent to America's leading cartographic printer, J. H. Colton in New York, for engraving and printing.
William Eddy's map was by far the finest general map of the state of California produced during time, being a substantial improvement over its commercially-produced rivals.