08/07/10 297 W, 4 I - + 1 - 10 Diagrams and Maps

For one or maybe two years, Yours Truly has been slowly documenting the last conflagration in the city's history, when some 17 structures burned on Fayetteville, Hargett, and Wilmington streets in December 1851. This was an instrumental incident, as city officials were compelled to finally take fire protection as seriously as they should. One outcome was the formal organization of the volunteer Raleigh Fire Department.

In the process of composing a narrative, a diagram was attempted. The building locations and characteristics were derived from newspaper accounts. Their positions on the block were a best guess. The results looked pretty good, all things considered. That's the first image shown below.

Fast-forward a few months, when a trip to the State Archives last month located a highly detailed street map from 1847. In addition to streets and lots, each building was noted to scale, along with wood or brick construction. (There were a considerable number of brick buildings by that time!) The city pumps were also indicated, and which numbered five. Those along with private wells were the only water for firefighting. The city had two hand fire engines, delivered 1819 and 1843.

To create a second and more accurate version of the diagram, the two sections of the 1847 map were placed together. Buildings were then drawn as additional layers in the graphics application, along with the outline of each block. The construction was noted using the letters "w" (wood) or "b" (brick). Those buildings that burned were colored red. The Capitol Square was colored green.

Below are the results. The "from scratch" diagram is the first image; the "from map" diagram evolves over the three other images. Now we can work on finishing the narrative! Click once or twice to enlarge:

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