Towns located on rivers were often viewed from the river. Bird's eye views of two neighboring towns located on opposite sides of the Charles River Newton and Watertown illustrate the artists use of the river in composing their drawings. O.H. Bailey depicted both, viewing each from their opposing shores placing the river in the foreground.
In his 1878 view of Newton, Bailey depicted the community from the north (or Watertown) side of the river, looking south toward Newton or, more precisely, the village of Newton Corner. Newton Township, incorporated in 1688, is comprised of thirteen villages, most of which developed during the 19th century as residential suburbs of Boston. Newton Corner was the oldest of these villages.
The residential character of the village is evident in this view. The legend identifies sixteen prominent structures, but none of them are factories. Rather, there were seven commercial establishments, six churches, a public library, schools, and the railroad station, all suggesting a residential suburb linked to Boston by train.
Although this village remains a residential suburb today, its physical appearance has changed radically. In the 1960s, the Massachusetts Turnpike was constructed along the Boston and Albany Railroads right of way, resulting in the demolition of many houses and commercial structures and the division of the village into two separate parts.