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Posts from the Map Division

You are here: 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue in 1857

I am at the corner of 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue. According to plate 78 of my map atlas—Williams Perris’s 1857 “Maps of the City of New York”—the massive (2) block long stone structure at the southwest corner of this Manhattan intersection is not the ... Read More ›

Mapping the World: A Review

One of the books recently received at the Map Division is Mapping the world: Stories of Geography by Caroline & Martine Laffon. Even in a pile of other impressive acquisitions, the book is hard to miss. A perfect example of “judging a book by its cover,” the entire work is aesthetically pleasing, with stunning images of maps created in places and cultures around the world.

Mapping the world is a history of cartography with a 

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Travel in Andalusia, Spain

The secret to a successful trip abroad may simply be to know yourself, what you are looking for, and where to find it. For the traveler looking for art and history, untouched mountain trails and sandy beaches, along with distinctive culinary and musical traditions, Andalusia in Spain may be the ideal choice.

Located at the southernmost part of the Iberian Peninsula, Andalusia’s major cities include Cordoba, Granada, Malaga, Ronda, and its capital, Seville. These urban 

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Drawing on the Past: Enlivening the Study of Historical Geography at maps.nypl.org

On behalf of The Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, the NYPL’s Director of Digital Strategy and Scholarship and our partners EntropyFree LLC, I am proud to announce the launch of maps.nypl.org

This new website is a parallel snapshot of all maps currently available on the Digital Gallery as well as a powerful set of tools designed to significantly enhance the way we access and use maps and the cartographic 

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from The Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division! Come see Willem Janszoon Blaeu's Nova Belgica et Anglia Nova in person at the fabulous Mapping New York's Shoreline 1609-2009 exhibition, open today and the Friday and Saturday following Thanksgiving in the Gottesman Exhibition Hall located on the first floor of the

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Charting the Future I

Over the years, as we push more and more of our maps onto the web, such as Pieter Goos' Zee-Atlas, 1672, from which the below image was taken, we ask… ...what do we do with all this stuff? ...how do we make digital maps meaningful?

One approach is through our blog, where we highlight various places and themes depicted. Often there is much more to read between the contours, about, among 

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Mapping New York's Shoreline: The Storied River

Staff of the New York Public Library recently hand picked a set of nearly 500 images, collected from across our Digital Gallery, composing them as a curated set of images at the Commons on Flickr. They represent the Hudson River Valley through several hundred years of history and complement

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Hudson's Legacy

No, I'm not referring to Henry Hudson and his quadricentennial of "discovering" Manhattan and the river that's named after him. I'm speaking of Alice Hudson, Chief of the Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, who retires this week after a long and glorious career at NYPL. She's someone who impacted many lives, leaving behind a shining legacy that will continue to glow for years.

I'll particularly miss Alice's wry humor. I still chuckle when I recall her telling me that she first wanted to title 

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Mapping NYC

We've updated the Map Division's Google Earth index to digitized NYC map collections to include more than 2000 maps from 32 titles, organized chronologically and geographically (by borough), all published between 1852 and 1923. The map index (download .kmz file) requires installation of Google Earth on your computer. There are three recommended ways to search for maps using this 

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Weeksville Revisited

In a previous post, we looked at maps of Brooklyn from the 19th and early 20th centuries of the neighborhood once called Weeksville, centered on Hunterfly Road. It was there, in 1969, according to The Weeksville Society, that researchers rediscovered the "Hunterfly Road houses," the neighborhood's only remaining residential structures from the period.

I'm curious to know if those same researchers used the

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Crystal Palace at Reservoir Square

On today's map you wouldn't have a clue as to where the Crystal Palace at Reservoir Square was located. Looking at a William Perris' fire insurance map from 1853 however reveals that, where now stands our magnificent central library on the corner of 5th 

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Digitizing the Historical Landscape

We've digitized more historical maps documenting the changing New York City landscape. Follow the link to a comprehensive listing of close to 2,700 maps showing buildings, old streets, farm lines, streetcar routes historical shorelines and more.

Here's a small section from G.M. Hopkins' 1880 Farm Line Atlas of Brooklyn.

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Weeksville

Weeksville was a community of African Americans founded in 1838 by a freed slave named James Weeks in an area straddling modern day Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights in Brooklyn. By the 1860s, according to Weeksville Society, it had become a cultural nexus and a draft riot safe haven for New York City's growing African American population. While much has been written about its people, both today, as in this

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Map Division in the Media

Fall 2008 has been a busy season for the Map Division staff — check out our media coverage! In "Mapping the World," a part of NYPL’s Treasures of The New York Public Library video series, Matt Knutzen and Alice Hudson present a seven minute overview of the Map Division's paper and computer maps.

And on November 12, the Map Division was featured in the Life section of USA Today: 

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County Atlases

A popular collection in the NYPL's Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, and one of my personal favorites, is the county atlas series, most of which was published following the passage of a federal law commemorating the centennial of the United States. We have recently digitized 43 atlases covering New York and New Jersey from our collection of more than 420 titles printed before 1900. See this page for a list of digital holdings from this series.

Their pages are filled not only 

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Coney Island Maps

I've always been fascinated with landscapes changing through time as seen though the lens of the map. Shorelines, especially where there are lots of waves and tides, are particularly interesting things in that they are so clearly dynamic. These fire insurance maps of Coney Island, created between 1880 and 1907 document those changes beautifully. In addition to those covering Coney Island, the NYPL has digitized close to 2000 maps at this level of detail for all five boroughs of New York City.

G.W. Bromley, 

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Staten Island Aerial Photos from 1924

If you like the "Satellite View" feature in Google Maps then you should enjoy these aerial photographs of New York City. In 1924 Arthur Tuttle flew over the city snapping pictures of every building and landmark there was. His images of NYC rooftops clearly show the outline of all the buildings. The atlas containing his photos is called:

Sectional aerial maps of the City of New York / [photographed and assembled under the direction of the chief engineer, July 1st, 1924]. 

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Historical Staten Island Maps in the Digital Gallery

There's a great selection of Staten Island maps and Atlases in the NYPL Digital Gallery. Using the "Pan and Zoom" feature the maps can be enlarged to the point where you can read street names and even the names of residents of individual houses. "Pan and Zoom" is not available on all maps, however.

Here are some of the maps and atlases available:

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Friday Eye Candy

This is a photo of the Map Division at the New York Public Library. One of the many beautiful spaces at the Library.  Not only is it a great source for map research, it is also an inspiration for any design enthusiast. Gold leaf ceiling, anyone?

And although New York Public is my daily source of inspiration, I found a wonderful online exhibition of great libraries all over the world from

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New York City Zoning Maps

Researchers who visit the Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division are interested, more often than not, in our resources on New York City history. If they don’t know about them before they arrive, our readers quickly become familiar with names like Perris, Bromley, Robinson, Sanborn, and Hyde for the fire insurance and real estate maps, showing buildings block by block, that they published over the years. Without doubt, we will write

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