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1770 map of NYC

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 19, 2011

The Brooklyn Historical Society recently restored a 1770 map of New York City, one of a handful of “Ratzer maps” that have survived to the present day.

A British Army officer in America, Lieutenant Ratzer was a surveyor and draftsman, and his map was immediately praised as a step forward from those of his predecessors. For his trouble, his name was misspelled on initial versions of his maps, called the “Ratzen plan.”

The map included a detailed rendering of the island’s slips and shores and streets in Lower Manhattan, the familiar mixing with the long gone. Pearl, Broad, Grand and Prince lay beside Fair and Crown and the “Fresh Water” pond.

“Manhattan, at least the part shown here, was mapped as precisely as any spot on the Earth at the time,” said Robert T. Augustyn, co-author of “Manhattan in Maps: 1527-1995”. “There was no more beautiful or revealing a map of New York City ever done.”

The side-by-side comparison of the restored map with the pre-restored map is worth a look. And compare with the Viele map of Manhattan made in 1865.