Monday, July 19, 2010


Most people who know me know I am obsessed with both history and geography.  I have found a site that combines these two special things: The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection.  The site allows you to zoom in on each map and see an impressive level of detail.  I have spent, and will no doubt spend many more, hours pouring over the 18th and 19th century maps of California and New York.  One of the most interesting finds was viewing this 1844 map of New York Harbor and comparing it with a very similar harbor map from 1866.  You can see how quickly Manhattan grew, and Brooklyn too, in just 22 years.  

The natural features of the harbor and shoreline are detailed beautifully in both maps.  There were so many creeks and swamps and estuaries before it was all paved over and industrialized! A fascinating exhibit currently showing at MoMA outlines urban planning and design solutions for returning a level of natural interface between land and sea here in New York.  I highly recommend seeing it before it closes in the fall.

First map image via

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