Among the many items available in the digital collections of the Library of Congress are perspective maps of many American cities, most of them created before airplanes made creating true aerial views possible. There are ten Montana maps included in the collection, though some cities are represented twice, giving some idea of the amount of growth that was happening in those towns in their early years.
Bird's eye view of Billings, 1904
A bird's eye view illustration of Billings shows the city as it appeared in 1904. The original Yellowstone County Courthouse, City Hall, and the original First Congregational Church are visible. The map, commissioned by Billings banker and businessman Austin North, shows a park named for North (Austin Park) that was never actually created, and shows a rendering of the then-unbuilt McKinley School to the far right. The final design of the school was vastly different from the one shown on the map.
Bird's eye view of Butte, 1884
Bird's eye view of Butte, 1904
A bird's eye view illustration of Butte shows the city as it appeared in 1904. The facts listed below the map note that there were 30 churches "of all denominations," four daily newspapers, and more than 200 mines, 40 of which were copper mines.
Bird's eye view of Great Falls, 1891
A perspective map gives a view of Great Falls in 1891. Notable landmarks include the boathouses on Broadwater Bay, the Great Northern Railroad grounds, the Boston and Montana Consolidated Copper and Silver Mining Company's smelters across the river and the original lumber yard.
Bird's eye view of Helena, 1875
Bird's eye view of Helena, 1883
A second map of Helena shows the town as it was in 1883. The population had grown from 6,000 residents to 8,000 since 1875, and railway access had been added. Notable on this map is the inset drawing of the Northern Pacific Railroad Grounds, which shows streets labeled Fourth through Ninth. Those streets have since been renamed, with Fourth Street, for example, becoming North Sanders Street. The Dry Gulch hangman's tree is absent in this map.
Bird's eye view of Livingston, 1883
A bird's eye view of Livingston is shown in this map from 1883. The town was somewhat sparse at the time, but boasted two newspapers, one of which is still in circulation. A close look at the cluster of buildings near the river shows what appears to be a group of tepees, along with a tent camp. Also notable is the fact that the map shows Livingston as being part of Gallatin County, as Park County was not created until 1887.
Bird's eye view of Miles City
A perspective map of Miles City from 1883 shows the importance of the Tongue and Yellowstone rivers to the town at the time. The Tongue River at Miles City would likely not support steamboat traffic today, with the remaining rail bridges over the river serving as evidence of its decreased size. The livestock yards that helped to establish Miles City as a cattle center in the 1880s are visible to the upper-right.
Bird's eye view of Missoula, 1884
This 1884 perspective map of Missoula shows the town as it looked nine years before the establishment of the University of Montana. At the time, Missoula was almost entirely contained on the north side of the Clark Fork (labeled on the map as the Hell Gate River). Tepees can be seen in a couple of locations on the map.
Bird's eye view of Missoula, 1891
The second perspective map depicting Missoula was created in 1891. The University of Montana still had not been established at the time, but the city had begun to expand to the south side of the river (labeled on the map as the Missoula River). This expansion meant that the cartographer had to change perspective to the opposite side of town.