About April 18, 1882, the curiosity of the people of Olean was aroused by seeing a man with a huge sheet of paper walking about the streets and enclosures, carefully scrutinizing every building and then making notes upon his sheets as freely as if he was the owner of the property. The question frequently arose as to what business he had there and what he was doing, whether he was a real estate, insurance agent or what. The facts in the case were these: A sketch of Olean was being made and was now being completed by the agent for Mr. J. J. Stoner, Madison, Wisconsin, publisher of Bird's Eye Views of cities and towns.
The agent had come to receive subscriptions prior to the publication of a lithographic view of the streets and buildings of the town and which would make a valuable reference both for present and future use, when Olean would increase their present limits to that of a prosperous city. At least 350 copies were required at a cost of only $2.50 per copy, and it was expected that a copy should go to every house.
Jamestown had just been canvassed and from 500 to 600 copies were taken and it was said that Olean should not let this opportunity go by without availing itself of the means of showing to the surrounding towns the business advantages and with the view of attracting manufacturers about to locate. The map had already met with the approval of the prominent business men.
Agent George E. Norris and the artist H. Brasins, were still in Olean taking orders for the lithographic view of Olean in August of 1882. On the margin of the sketch would be a series of views of prominent buildings. Arrangements had already been made for the appearance of the Union School, refineries, chemical works, banks and several stores. The gentlemen had to get 200 more orders before they could afford to issue the picture, and since the sketch would be a real work of art, and of much interest to the people in general, they did not expect to have any trouble in obtaining the required number.
By September of 1882, the Bird's Eye view of Olean had been finished by the artist, and was taken to Madison, Wisconsin where it was to be lithographed, and would be finished by the holidays. The artist considered it the handsomest and most picturesque view he had ever sketched, and was confident that the subscribers would be more than pleased with it. It was said that it would make a handsome souvenir.
-- Sunday Morning Herald, 1882
Research by Eileen M. Smith
Purchase a 40"×25" laminated copy of this map at the Olean Public Library 134 N. 2nd St. Olean, NY 14760-2583 or at the Olean Historical and Preservation Society 302 Laurens St. Olean, NY 14760 (v) 716-373-0285
Each laminated map costs $20.00. Have your map mailed for an additional $5.00. Send check or money order in the amount of $25.00 payable to Olean Public Library.