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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, Atlas of the entire City of Brooklyn, 1880, Plate 35

 1512337. New York Public Library

E. Robinson, Robinson's atlas of Kings County, New York, 1890, Plate 20

 1519736. New York Public Library

G.W. Bromley, Atlas of the Borough of Brooklyn, 1907, Plate 28

 1517413. New York Public Library


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Fascinating, too, is that

Fascinating, too, is that these maps include streets that didn't yet exist at the time the map was made. And some streets that still don't exist ( Look at "Canal Street" on the latter two maps, a would-be major thoroughfare that is a mere one-block cul-de-sac today. Whether these streets were never built at all (it seems the plan was to completely fill Gravesend bay), or if they came and went since the making of these maps, would be interesting to learn. I suppose the 1907 plans for expansion reflect the rising popularity of Coney Island, and the abortion of those plans reflects the decline.

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