Railway and Highway Map of the Famous Berkshire Hills Region


Attractive tourist map of the Berkshire Hills promoting a local insurance company.

1 in stock

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According to the Harvard Gazette, this map is “widely regarded as the first free road map ever distributed (by the Berkshire Life Insurance Company), mainly for touring bicyclists” as well as “a prize in the Harvard Map Collection.”

Described as such for good reason, the map is a tremendous example of late 19th century economic relationships between tourism and advertising. It was designed by Walter Watson in 1883 on behalf of the Berkshire Life Insurance Company in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

A view of the headquarters is shown above text advertising the company’s history and glowing reputation. On the opposite side is presented a marvelous vignette of Greylock Peak from the south end of Lake Onota, as well as a long excerpt from “Taghconic” by J.E.A. Smith.

The map itself shows the locations of roads, school houses, cemeteries, churches, and railroad stations according to the key at the top of the sheet. Topography is depicted in simple hachure, which may be an unwelcome simplification for the cyclists who were presumed to have been using the map!

Map Details

Publication Date: 1883

Author: Walter Watson

Sheet Width (in): 24.40

Sheet Height (in): 31.80

Condition: B

Condition Description: Formerly folded into 8 segments, with creasing and moderate wear along former fold lines. About 6" of separation along the bottom has been repaired and reinforced on the verso, but there remains a few spots of image loss along the crease. Some wear and chipping visible in the margins as well. Remains in good condition overall.


1 in stock