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The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Collection Connections > Panoramic Maps

[Detail] Bird's eye view of Anniston, Ala. 1888.

3) Immigration

View of the city of New York and vicinity / August R. Ohman, map publisher, draughtsman & engraver.

New York, New York, August R. Ohman, Publisher, 1907.

Between 1880 and 1920, 27 million immigrants, mainly from southern and eastern Europe, entered the United States, in a few cases lured by what they saw depicted (accurately or not) on a panoramic map. Cities such as New York, Boston, Baltimore, and New Orleans were the gateways for immigrants coming to the United States. Search on the names of these and other such cities to view panoramic maps of those locations. Do the maps show evidence of the influx of immigrants? Do the maps depict these cities as the immigrants would have seen them? Compare a 1907 map of New York, New York with early films of both Ellis Island and an immigrant ghetto in the city. To find the films, search on the term immigrant in the collection, The Life of a City: Early Films of New York, 1898-1906.

A map of Cleveland, Ohio, carefully notes twenty-one schools and sixty-three churches.

  • Why would it be important to note so many schools and churches on a panoramic map?
  • What role would churches and public schools have played in the life of an immigrant family?
  • Did the average public school system see itself as charged with a clear responsibility for initiating an immigrant's child to the English language, U.S. customs, and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship?
  • How was education viewed by most Americans in the second half of the nineteenth century?
Cleveland, Ohio, A. Ruger, Artist. 1877

Cleveland, Ohio, A. Ruger, Artist. 1877.

Trace the origins of your own family. Then, search for maps of the different cities where your ancestors and their families settled. Why did your family members choose to migrate to the locations they chose and not to other places?

  • Knowing what you know today, to which city depicted in the panoramic maps would you have chosen to migrate if you had arrived on U.S. shores between 1870 and 1920?
  • In the mid-nineteenth century, the Know Nothing Party was against having non-Anglo-Saxon Protestants, particularly Catholics, immigrate to the U.S. Find out in which cities the Know Nothings (also known as Nativists) were the strongest, then search to see if there are panoramic maps of these cities. Do the maps hint at anything about politics and immigration?
  • In what way is the issue of labor related to the issue of immigration? Does a scarcity of jobs fully explain the strong anti-Chinese movement in the West, increased lynching in the South, or the prevalence of anti-Catholic attitudes in Texas or Massachusetts?
  • How did the idea of national unity manage to develop amid the growing cultural diversity of the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth century? How might the panoramic maps have detracted from or contributed to this sense of national unity?
  • Learn more about these topics in the Teacher page's presentation, Immigration.