This low elevation landscape view focuses attention on Newport's harbor, emphasizing the towns importance as a seaport, especially during the colonial period. As the town's maritime fortunes declined after the Revolutionary War, it became a summer resort for southern plantation families and Boston artists and scholars, and by the end of the century, for the wealthy industrial elite of the Gilded Age.
Newells view, drawn just before the Civil War began, represents a traditional landscape view. It portrays the facades of buildings as viewed from a ground level perspective. While the harbor is filled with a variety of sailing vessels, the drawing also provides a skyline panorama, accentuating the tallest buildings, especially the church steeples. The large building on the horizon is the Ocean House, one of the hotels catering to the summer visitors.
While bird's eye views were generally drawn from the perspective of a high oblique elevation allowing artists to depict a community's street pattern as well as individual buildings, other types of urban views were published at the same time. Two views of Newport illustrate perspectives from lower elevations.