Today, AT&T is regularly listed as one of the most hated companies in the United States. But back in 1891, two years after Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, the company was just taking its first steps. This map of its network from that year is just beautiful. Think of it as AT&T’s baby picture.
In 1890, the original American Bell Telephone Company had created a American Telephone and Telegraph Company to handle long distance telephone calls. (Hence the bell-shaped logo.) By 1892, AT&T wires reached Chicago, and in 1899, AT&T bought its parent company in order to fuel further expansion. This is when things get less pretty and AT&T started to consolidate assets in order to eventually become Ma Bell. But that’s another story. For now, let’s just bask in the glory of Gilded Age cartography and technological progress.