Clark Teegarden & John “Fred” Herman’s “Pictorial Map of the Republic of Panama with the Canal Zone” [1941]

Clark Teegarden & John “Fred” Herman’s Pictorial Map of the Republic of Panama with the Canal Zone [1941]

From 1903 until 1979 a large area of central Panama with land stretching five miles either side of the Panama Canal (but excluding Panama City & Colon) was an unincorporated territory of the United States known as the Panama Canal Zone.

The terms of the 1904 Isthmian Canal Convention granted the US overriding control and protection of this territory in perpetuity (though negotiations in 1979 arranged for a period of joint US-Panamanian control until it was finally handed back to Panama on 31st Dec 1999).

The US had  originally purchased plots from local landowners and  financed and directed the construction of the Canal itself and continued to invest in the Zone over the subsequent decades to sustain, service, and maintain the Canal and support the local population, a large number of whom were American.

The American presence and control of this region and its self-evident strategic & commercial importance led to the publication of several highly detailed pictorial American maps of the area in the early 20th Century.

Charles H Owens, newspaper artist and mapmaker for the Los Angeles Times had produced a masterful monochrome bird’s eye view of the Canal in 1925 which was followed five years later by Cleveland architect Ashburton Tripp’s wonderfully exotic map of 1930.

Ashburton Tripp A Map of Castilla del Oro Panama on the Spanish Main (Manuscript) [1930]

(Courtesy of Rumsey Collection)

A decade later, it was the turn of two other young American architects, Clark L Teegarden [1914-1999] and John “Fred” Herman [1910-1997] who were both working in the Canal Zone. They teamed up to design and publish probably one of the largest and most decorative pictorial maps of the region. It was copyrighted on May 20th 1941, just seven months prior to the US entry into World War II and entitled Pictorial Map of the Republic of Panama with the Canal Zone.

Teegarden & Herman’s map (author’s collection)

The map itself is beautifully designed and constructed, revealing Teegarden’s evident skills & talents as an artist, which would flourish again in his later retirement years. A border of international flags embellishes the top and sides of the map, whilst an inset map bottom left focuses on the Canal Zone proper whilst another upper right depicts Panama’s significance in relation to the Americas and international trade and communications as the “Crossroads of the World”. The central map depicts the whole of the Panama Republic & Canal Zone with wonderful vignettes and annotations referencing the history, native culture, natural history & exotic wildlife of the region. Notable amongst these is the mysterious annual migration across Panama of the Zebra swallowtail butterfly. The routes of several of the early Spanish explorers, including de Bastidus, Columbus (4th Voyage), Balboa and 17th Century Pirate, Captain Morgan are indicated. The sites of several Indian and Spanish gold mines are also marked. It is interesting to discover that the name Panama derives from the local Indian word meaning “an abundance of fish” for which reason it had fast become a magnet for American game fishermen in the early 20th Century. Other notes indicate the popularity of the local Panama Lottery, of the local sport of cock-fighting, of eating iguana (considered a local delicacy), of the Tamborito dance and of the the indispensable “Chiva” public bus and ox cart for penetrating the local jungle interior. Further tables, including a weather comparison chart, a series of History Briefs and the Map’s Key are displayed on the sails of the large sailing vessels in the lower right of the image.

Clark Lawrence Teegarden had been born in Woodburn, Oregon just three weeks after the outbreak of World War I, in August 1914. The son of Iowa-born Lawrence Henry Teegarden and Canadian-born mother (of Scottish extraction), Mary Stevens Clark, he had spent much of his childhood in Shelby, Montana, attending the local High School there. After initially enrolling  at the University of Montana, he switched to the University of Michigan in 1934, graduating with a bachelor degree in Architecture in 1937.

Clark Teegarden with fellow students of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity at the University of Michigan in 1936

He subsequently worked with architectural firms in Cleveland and Washington D.C during the late 1930s.

According to his 1999 obituary in the Seattle Times, in 1941 Teegarden was seconded to the Canal Zone to design local housing, though another source suggests that it was his interest in the Panama Canal’s Third Lock Project which intrigued him and brought him to the region to lend his architectural expertise to the Project’s engineering & construction team. The Third Lock Project planned to add a third lock to the existing two that provided access through the canal with the aim of increasing the volume of shipping travelling between the Atlantic & Pacific. Whatever the circumstances that brought him and Herman to Panama, both men are listed in Balboa in the Canal Zone in the April 1940 Federal Census, which is where they presumably first met.

Inset of the Canal Zone from Teegarden & Herman’s Map (author’s collection)

Frederick John Herman, or John “Fred” Herman as he was more familiarly known, was a Seattle native, born in King, Washington on the 20th October 1910, the son of a Swedish-born father, John F Herman and Indiana-born mother, Matilda Johnson, a first generation American of Swedish parentage. Like Teegarden he had also studied Architecture at University, enrolling for a bachelor’s degree at the University of Washington in 1932 and graduating in 1936. After College, he worked in Seattle before being seconded as a draughtsman and architect to the Canal Zone.

Superb pictorial vignettes vividly illustrate Panamanian culture, history & wildlife 

Following the outbreak of War in December 1941, both men had enlisted with the US Military. In Panama & Guatemala Teegarden served as a Private with the 6th Air Corps and was then seconded as production manager to a local Magazine for his unit, Caribbean Breeze, his skills as an architect and grasp of type & copy-setting bringing an uncommon degree of professionalism to the magazine’s wartime design and production.

Both men met their respective spouses and married during this period. Teegarden’s wife Margaret was a Panama native who worked at the Balboa High School Library and was the daughter of two long-serving Panama Canal Company employees. Herman appears to have returned to the US in late 1941 and he & his fiancée Charlotte were married in King, Washington in November 1942. He completed a 15 week Camouflage School course for the Office of Civilian Defence at the University of Washington in late 1942 and 18 months later was selected for enlistment in the US Military in April 1944, perhaps due to his valuable engineering and architectural qualifications.

After the end of the war the pair were both working in the Seattle area and in 1948 teamed up once again to design and publish A Pictorial Map of Washington, “The Evergreen State”, printed using six-colour offset lithography. The map was copyrighted on Feb 10th 1948:

Clark L Teegarden & John F Herman A Pictorial Map of Washington “The Evergreen State” [1948]

(Courtesy of Rumsey Collection)

Both men followed similar paths in the ensuing post-war period & became highly significant & visionary figures in the fields of architecture and urban planning in the Seattle region.

Heavily influenced by Northwest architect, Paul Thiry, for whom he did drafting work after the end of the War, in 1947 Teegarden joined the Seattle architects Bebb & Jones, which later became Wright, Gidow, Hartman & Teegarden. He became a partner in the firm in 1968. In the late 1950s he directed the design process for Seattle’s new five million dollar Downtown Library, a modernist structure by architects Leonard Bindon & John L Wright, which first opened in 1960:

It was the first ever American Library to have a moving escalator and to incorporate a drive-up booth for book collection. Teegarden subsequently specialised in public buildings, libraries and schools, also overseeing & implementing the designs for new libraries at Pacific Lutheran University and the University of Washington. His designs have been described as “practical buildings with jet-age zip”. He also sat on the Renton Planning Commission for 25 years from 1964 and was heavily involved in the planning & implementation of numerous local environmental & community projects. He retired in 1974 aged 60 to enjoy his older age. Clark Teegarden passed away in Seattle in March 1999.

As his 1997 obituary in the Seattle Times notes, John “Fred” Herman also began work for a Seattle architectural practice after World War Two before he was brought in to assist as the newly incorporated City of Bellevue’s first urban planner in 1953, a temporary position that soon became permanent. The new City lay directly to the east of Seattle, across Lake Washington. In the early 1950’s, according to one source, it resembled something from a Steinbeck novel, a town of largely dusty tracks, with only three paved streets and less than 6000 inhabitants. Within a quarter of a century it had been transformed into a modern spacious city with some 120,000 residents. Deeply trusted & greatly respected by all those with whom he worked, Herman’s inspiration and vision was fundamental to the creation of modern-day Bellevue. He established a Planning Commission of nine men and a cooperative platform, the Bellevue Development Association (BDA), a public-private partnership. Working closely together they ensured carefully planned urban growth & prevented unstructured commercial strip development and sprawl, as seen in neighbouring Seattle’s Aurora Avenue. Herman passed away in Bellevue in January 1997, aged 86.

Several photographs of Herman are preserved in Washington University’s Digital collections (Eastside Heritage Center):

Bellevue Engineering & Planning Department 1955

City Planner Fred Herman, Bellevue, March 1968

Fred Herman and two other men looking at map, Bellevue, ca. 1970

Fred Herman talking to boy in planning office, Bellevue, ca. 1970


Stephen J Hornsby: Picturing America the golden age of American Maps [University of Chicago Press, 2017], Plates 97 (p.176) (Charles H Owens The Panama Canal, 1925) & Plate 98 (p.177) (Clark Teegarden & John F Herman Pictorial Map of the Republic of Panama with the Canal Zone, 1941)  & p.45

Clark Teegarden’s Obituary (Seattle Times, March 8th 1999)

John “Fred” Herman’s Obituary (Seattle Times, Jan 2nd 1997)

David Rumsey Collection