Monday, November 02, 2015

50 Maps Exploring the History of New York


When exploring the history of New York through interactive maps there is only one place to start - the Welikia Project.

Before there was Manhattan there was Mannahatta. You can explore Mannahatta as it once was with the Welikia Project. The Welikia Project provides an imagined satellite view of how Manhattan Island looked before New Amsterdam was established.

The project maps the natural landscape of New York's valleys, forests, fields, freshwater wetlands and salt marshes. If you click on any New York neighborhood on the Welikia Google Map you can discover a wealth of information about the area's ecology as it existed in 1609.


Mapping History also provides a map of 1609 Manhattan. This Mapping History map of Manhattan also allows you to view how the modern Manhattan grew with a number of street grids, taken from throughout New York's history, which you can view overlay on a Google Map.

The image above shows you the small town of New Amsterdam in 1660. The Mapping History of New York map includes 12 overlays in all, allowing you to view the expansion of New Amsterdam from 1609 to 1955.


It is also possible to explore New Amsterdam in 1660 thanks to Jacques Cortelyou's Castello Plan. The Castello Plan is the earliest known map of New Amsterdam. You can view an interactive version of the map on NYC Time Machine.

NYC Time Machine includes 27 vintage maps of New York, ranging in date from 1660 to 1924. The map includes a neat option to quickly switch between your chosen vintage map and a modern map, allowing you to compare the vintage map to the modern streets of New York.


The NYC Time Machine use vintage maps from the New York Public Library. The New York Public Library has done a wonderful job in geo-rectifying thousands of historical maps from their collections. Now thousands of the library's historical photographs have also been geo-tagged.

OldNYC is a Google Map locating 80,000 NYPL historical photographs of New York to the closest intersection. Click on a marker on the map and you can view historical photographs of New York taken near that location. You can even use Google Maps Street View to explore the same views portrayed in the photos as they look today.


Another nice way to browse the NYPL's collection of vintage maps of New York is ScrollNYC. ScrollNYC allows you to browse through some of the NYPL's vintage maps of Manhattan simply by scrolling down the page. As you scroll  a series of static vintage maps of New York appear in chronological order.


Another interesting way to explore the growth of New York is through Urban Layers, a mapped visualization of Manhattan's building history. The map uses building construction data from PLUTO with Mapbox GL to create a highly responsive and interactive tool to explore the history of building construction in central New York.

Use the time-line to view how many of Manhattan's current buildings were constructed during any period of Manhattan's history. The time-line also includes a graph showing the number of buildings built in each year.

The time-line control may also be used to quickly animate through the whole of Manhattan's construction history in set lengths of time. For example, you can set the time-line for any decade (say 1970-1980). You can then drag the time-line control backwards and forwards to view Manhattan's construction by decade.

You may also like these more modern maps of New York. Alternatively you can explore these other history maps.
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