Saturday, January 21, 2006

where have you gone miss nellie bly?

I find it difficult to believe that 116 years have passed since Nellie Bly (born Elizabeth Jane Cochran), a 23-year-old reporter for the New York World visited Albuquerque on January 22, 1890 during her record-breaking trip around the world. Given that she completed her trip a full seven days quicker than the fictional Phineas Fogg in Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days, one would think that Miss Bly could have spent more than TWO MINUTES in the Duke City. As it was, she didn't even have enough time to disembark from the Atlantic & Pacific train in order to purchase a burrito from a vendor outside the Alvarado Depot.

I uncovered this historical tidbit recently while conducting research for a special project that I look forward to sharing with you in the not-too-distant-future. I also discovered an intriguing Nellie Bly website that contains images of a handful of Victorian trade cards that used Nellie’s globe-trotting image to promote canned goods, clothing, and (my favorite) Dr. Morse’s Indian Root Pills. Mostly, I was astounded to learn that the New York World actually published a parlor game called "Around the World with Nellie Bly.” (Good luck finding that on eBay!)

Obviously, Albuquerque is a very different place today that it was when Miss Bly breezed through. I can’t think of a better way to illustrate the changes than to point you toward this very cool map of Albuquerque that was hand-drawn by artist Augustus Koch in 1886. The map has been reprinted a number of times, and was even reproduced as a 12” by 16” image for the 1973 calendar distributed by the Ackerman-Grant Realty Company.

If you wish, you may purchase a print from Photos to Go in various sizes and paper stock starting at $15.95. I’m definitely going to have to pick one up since the map includes the location where our house was constructed two decades later.

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