The ""Mighty Mississippi"" has inspired writers and artists for centuries. During the 19th-century, Mississippi River towns attracted artists who travelled throughout the United States producing detailed drawings of cities and towns, which were then printed and sold as lithographs or used as wood engravings to illustrate books and magazines. Depicting each street and building, as well as the natural setting and geographic features of the surrounding areas, these bird's-eye views were enormously popular. In ""Cities of the Mississippi"", John W. Reps brings together many historical views of Mississipi River towns alongside contemporary aerial photographs and text. The result is a voyage through the 19th-century and a visual record of American urban development. From the Balize, a village for ship pilots near the mouth of the Mississippi, to St. Cloud, Minnesota, at its source, readers will experience Mississippi River towns ranging from the major metropolises of New Orleans, St. Louis and Minneapolis, to the small towns of Cairo, Kaskaskia, and Prairie du Chien. Reps introduces the artists, printers and publishers who recorded the development of the cities and offers descriptions of the cities by residents, journalists, and travellers in their own words. Modern aerial photographs of 23 of the towns illustrate changes to the urban scene and demonstrate the lasting influence of the initial city patterns on subsequent growth.
John W. Reps is the author of many books, including St. Louis Illustrated, Views and Viewmakers of Urban America, and Washington on View. He is Professor Emeritus of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.