By Steve Kovacs (Introduction by Chuck Gibson)

LOVELAND, OH (November 8, 2021) – In Issue 2021-216 of Steve Kovacs Fun with Maps, we go to the library.


Although there is some disagreement about the first public library in America, it is generally accepted to be the Library Company of Philadelphia, founded by Benjamin Franklin.  Chartered in July of 1731, the library finally got enough subscribers to begin operation on this date in 1731.

Originally the library operated out of the house of one of its members, but the collection was moved to the Pennsylvania State House (now called Independence Hall) in 1740 and remained there for almost 35 years before moving to Carpenters Hall.  Since the Continental Congress met in that building, one could say that the Library Company was essentially the first Library of Congress.

Subscription libraries were common in that time period.  Franklin’s library was meant for anyone who could afford the payment, not just scholars like the college libraries.  Books were ordered regularly from England, and ran the gamut from novels and poetry to travel and practical science.

Here is a map of the City of Brotherly Love by Mitchell, issued on America’s centennial birthday.

Philadelphia – 1876 (Credit Steve Kovacs)

Steve Kovacs and his wife Theresa reside in Loveland, Ohio where they raised their two children. He is a passionate collector of antique maps.

Visit his antique map boutique world-on-paper online. Watch for his daily feature Steve Kovacs: Antique Maps & Fun Facts here on Loveland Beacon.