Thursday, February 11, 2021

Historical Maps of New York

The Brooklyn Public Library has a fantastic collection of historical maps of New York City and beyond. The library has digitized around 1,500 of these vintage maps which means that they can all be accessed on-line. The Center for Brooklyn History - Map Collections includes maps dating from the 17th Century right up to the modern day, providing an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the development of New York as the city approaches its 400th birthday.

The collection can be searched by date and by topic. The topics include Land Use, Public Transport and Brooklyn neighborhoods. Each individual map can be viewed as a zoomable image, which allows you to explore the maps almost as if they were full interactive maps.

Part of Ratzer's 1770 Plan of the City of New York

Among the treasures in the library's map collection is one of only four copies of Bernard Ratzer's 1770 Plan of the City of New York. Ratzer was a British Army officer who was employed as a surveyor and draftsman, mostly mapping America's eastern coastline. His 1770 map of New York shows in great detail the city as it existed in the 18th Century.


It is also possible to explore New Amsterdam New York through its history on the NYC Time Machine. The NYC Time Machine includes 27 vintage maps of New York, ranging in date from 1660 to 1924. This collection includes Jacques Cortelyou's 1660 Castello Plan. The Castello Plan is the earliest known map of New Amsterdam. 

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. An interesting way of exploring 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.

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