Victoria in 1873
In 1873 Victoria was the principal city of Texas’ central coastal region and on the supply line from the Lavaca Bay ports to San Antonio and Austin. Located on the Guadalupe River, Victoria was also a river port, with steamboats serving the city as late as the 1880s. However, Brosius’ view—looking south toward the river in the far-right distance and the recently arrived Gulf, Western Texas and Pacific Railway in the left foreground—suggests that the city had cast its fortunes with the railroad.
Victoria was established in 1824 on a site known as Cypress Grove. It quickly became the center of a vast ranching area and developed as a regional trade center. The population doubled to 1,986 in the decade between 1850 and 1860, but the Civil War and subsequent reconstruction slowed the growth. By the time Brosius visited in late 1872 or early 1873, the citizens were trying to regain the economic momentum of the prewar years. Perhaps that is why they were receptive to his suggestion that they subscribe to a bird’s-eye view of the city. The finished print was offered to the public at $5 per copy, and the city council agreed to purchase seventy copies at a price of $3 each for distribution. The council also appointed a committee to name all the unnamed streets in the city so that Brosius could identify them on his view.
Constitution Square, or De Le