Three decades after the founding of Champaign County, Alexander Bowman was working as an architect and surveyor in West Urbana at the height of a huge population boom. He’d come from New York several years earlier to change his fortunes and had already made one map of the community. Now in 1863, he would create a plat map of the county that would become significant cartographic landmark for the county over the next 160 years later because of his ability to capture a unique moment of massive growth and the future aspirations of the young towns.
In the spring and summer of 2022, Sherrie Bowser of the Champaign County Historical Archives sought to create an exhibit based on Bowman’s map for display at The Urbana Free Library. As the main focus of his Practicum project, University of Illinois graduate student Ryan Chaglasian conducted historical research with the use of Bowman’s diaries, digitized encyclopedias, and the online genealogical catalog to explain who Alexander Bowman was, why his map remains significant and present some of the transformations that took place in the towns from 1858 to the present.
This event will be held in the community room of the Historic Cattle Bank on University at 7PM on February 16th.