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Albert Poole, a native son of Brockton, drew this view of his home town one year after it was incorporated as a city. Originating as a small farming village, the community was included in the town of North Bridgewater when it was established in 1821. Before the Civil War, the village became a center for manufacturing shoes and during it processed large orders of boots for the U.S. Army. The shoe industry continued to grow, and by the end of the 19th century, Brockton was the largest shoe-producing city in the United States.
When Poole drew this image, Brockton had a population of approximately 14,000. The view demonstrates how dependent the town's economy was on the manufacture of shoes. Of the fifty-three manufacturing establishments identified in the legend, at least forty-five were involved in the making of shoes. In addition, the view includes twenty-three vignettes placed symmetrically around the view's margins. Sixteen of these depict shoe factories.
Viewed from the northeast looking southwest, as the title suggests, this image focuses on the city's central business or commercial district. Interestingly almost at the center is a building numbered 1 and identified as City Block in the legend. This building is also illustrated in the top center vignette. Considering the prominence given to this building leads to the inevitable question Was the owner of this building the sponsor of the view?
Poole started his career at a clerk and school principal in Brockton, but began producing bird's eye views in 1880. The Brockton view was one of his earliest, and during his active career as a bird's eye artist from 1880 to 1905, he published an additional forty-five views, primarily of Massachusetts and other New England towns.