The Magnificent Colton – Burr Map of New York City

Topographical Map of the City and County of New-York

Topographical Map of the City and County of New-York, and the adjacent Country: With Views in the border of the principal Buildings and interesting Scenery of the Island. https://www.geographicus.com/P/AntiqueMap/TopographicalMapNewYork-colton-1840

When I started my business, this was the map I wanted above all others. I quickly discovered that it was a near unobtainable object with almost no contemporary market history. After nearly 20 years as a rare map dealer, I finally found one, and just as quickly, it disappeared again, passed on to a deserving and enthusiastic collector. (Click on the image above to go out our main website page for the map and double click on that image for a high-resolution zoom.) What I discovered in researching this magnificent map is that very little scholarship was available on the well-known map, so, although the map has been sold, here is what we discovered:

Known as ‘The Colton Map,’ this is an unrecorded state of a 1840 map of New York City (Manhattan) by David H. Burr and John Hutchins Colton considered to be the finest and most decorative map of the city to appear in the 19th century. According to map historian I. N. Phelps Stokes, Colton’s map is

one of the most beautiful nineteenth-century plans of Manhattan, and full of information … the best example of really artistic mapmaking as applied to Manhattan Island

 

The map covers all of Manhattan Island as well as part of adjacent Brooklyn, Newark, Weehawken, Jersey City, and Hoboken. It starkly contrasts the development in southern Manhattan south of 30th Street with the topographically wild uplands extending northwards and dotted with gentlemanly estates, forests, hills, rivulets, and marshland. The city’s future is iterated by the street grid, which is superimposed upon the topography according to the 1811 Commissioner’s Plan as far north as 155th Street.

Detail of the Commissioner’s Plan of 1811 showing Broadway (Bloomingdale Road) being eliminated. http://thegreatestgrid.mcny.org/interactive-1811-plan

It is of note that, while the Commissioner’s Plan attempted to do away with Broadway, being offended by its irregular course, Colton and Burr, recognizing the ancient American Indian road as a popular and practical artery, included it on their grand map. The fact that Broadway, here identified as Bloomingdale Road, is represented not as a ghosted path, as on the 1811 Commissioner’s Plan or the 1829 Burr Map, but rather as a major street, leads to the first cartographic indication of several major squares that arose due to Broadway’s awkward intersection with the grid, including Union Square, Madison Square, and Times Square.

It is generally believed that this map was prepared for Colton by David H. Burr due to a promotional advertisement that appeared in the July 16, 1833 edition of the New York Commercial Advertiser, which reads

J. H. Colton and Company, No. 9 Wall Street, publish a new map of the city drawn by David H. Burr form the latest surveys of the city deposited in the street commissioner’s office from information obtained from several of the city’s surveyors.

It does resemble Burr’s 1829 map of New York City from the Atlas of New York in terms of coverage, orientation, and style. Nonetheless, the present map is far larger and grander, both being roughly twice the size of Burr’s atlas map, and far more detailed on every level. There is evidence that Burr began work engraving this map as early as 1832 or 1833, as a partial production proof of the central part of Manhattan, attributed to Burr, survives in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (accession 24.66.1492). That example curiously lacks the Receiving Reservoir (between 80th and 86th Streets.), which was planned in 1836, following the disastrous Great New York Fire of 1835. The Receiving Reservoir did not begin to function as such until 1842, but all examples of this map, aside from the fragment noted above, show the reservoir as well as the underground route of the Croton Pipeline, then under construction.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a partial steel engraved proof of a portion of this map in their archives. Attributed to Burr.

The map offers much else of interest on nearly every level. It illustrates of the early estates of the wealthy above 30th street. Several early boundary lines, such as between New York and Harlem Commons and the ‘Original Divisions between New York and Harlem’ are shown as drawn from Randal’s surveys. The map identifies public schools, including Public School 9, located on 79th and Broadway. The sites of early roadside hotels, such as the Kingsbridge Hotel, in Marble Hill, where travelers could rest on their way into Manhattan from what is now the Bronx. The modern-day site of Columbia University was a Lunatic Asylum. Just west of the Receiving Reservoir, near 85th Street, some of the buildings and a graveyard associated with the African American community known as Seneca Village are illustrated. In Brooklyn, some of the emerging street structure is ghosted in, giving evidence to the growth of that, then separate, city. Similarly, Williamsburg, also a separate city, is noted on the opposite side of the Wallabout.

The map is surrounded by a host of illustrations both on the map and integrated into the double border. At bottom center, there is a dramatic engraving illustrating ‘Broadway from the Park’, the ‘park’ here being City Hall Park. St. Paul’s Chapel and the American Museum are evident in the background. To this right of this image is a controversial c. 1650 view of New York City under the Dutch West India Company. That view is here dated 1659, but this date is incorrect as it is based upon an earlier anonymous watercolor, now located at the Albertina Museum, from 1648. The view appears on the 1655 Vischer Map, Novi Belgii Novae que Angliae nec non partis Virginiae Tabula, after which it is commonly known as the ‘Vischer View.’

The double border features an inner border that represents a surveyor’s chain, and an outer, far more elaborate border, consisting of acanthus leaves framing engravings of regional fauna, and, from top left, counterclockwise, ‘Windmill, Jersey City,’ ‘Custom-House, Wall St.,’ ‘City Hall, Wall St.,’ sailing ships, the city seal, steamships, the Palisades, Columbia College, St. Thomas Church, the Protestant Episcopal Seminary, a Female Orphan Asylum (Bloomingdale), New York Harbor from the Battery, Cortlandt Street Landing, St. Luke’s Church, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, New York from Governor’s Island, Castle Garden, the Deaf and Dumb Asylum, Barclay Street Landing, and The Hall of Justice (the Tombs).

The first printing of this map appeared in 1836, making it one of J. H. Colton’s earliest works. There are at least three states. The first appears to have been issued in 1836 and lacks Madison Square Park, which was commissioned in 1837. A second issue, also bearing the date 1836, features the park, and likely represents the cartographer’s forward thinking. Map historian Daniel Haskell, who identifies it as ‘The Colton Map,’ lists 3 dated issues 1836, 1841, and 1845. The present printing bears the date of 1840, marking it as a previously unknown state. It differs from the 2nd 1836 edition with regard to the track of the Croton Aqueduct from the Receiving Reservoir on 80th street to the Distributing Reservoir on 40th Street. The earlier state, which predates the construction of the pipeline, assumes it will run along 6th Avenue. The later edition routes the pipeline along Middle Road, or 5th Avenue. The aspect of the Distributing Reservoir also changes, as by 1840, when this map was issued, more advanced plans were in place.

It was engraved by Samuel Stiles and Company of New York. Apparently, some of the plates survived at least until 1868, when the northern

1868 William Rogers’s Battle of Harlem Heights for Shannon’s Manual.
https://www.geographicus.com/P/AntiqueMap/NYCHarlemHeights3-rogers-1868

plate was reused by William Rogers to create Map of the Upper Part of the island of Manhattan Above Eighty-Sixth Street arranged to Illustrate the Battle of Harlem Heights for Joseph Shannon’s Manual of the City and Corporation of New York. That map stands out from all of other lithograph prints in the manual as it is a steel plate engraving. All issues of the present map, with the exception of the partial proof at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, are lithograph. This suggests that the original map was engraved on steel, probably by Burr. Burr probably abandoned the project when he took a position as the head topographer for the United States Postal Service, in 1833. Colton then struck Burr’s name from the plates and turned to Samuel Stiles to complete the engraving and transfer the plates to lithographic stones for publication in 1836.

Today this map is extremely scarce and exhibits no market history in the past 30 years. Intuitional examples are known in the New York Public Library, the Boston Public Library, The New York Historical Society, and the Library of Congress. The Metropolitan Museum of Art owns a partial working proof. One other example is part of the David Rumsey Map Collection. There are numerous citations on the OCLC but all reference the Rumsey digital resource. This is a once in a lifetime collecting opportunity.

One of a Kind Chromolithograph View of New York City

View of Manhattan

1897 Colton Chromolithograph Map View of New York City: Manhattan Brooklyn Queens

A rare possibly unique find, this is G. W. and C. B. Colton’s magnificent 1897 panoramic birds-eye view of New York City. Presented in chromolithograph color this map reveals Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens as seen from high above Jersey City and Hoboken, which themselves appear in the lower left quadrant. The area covered runs from the Bronx to the Statue of Liberty and from Hoboken to Brooklyn and Governor’s Island.

The map is presented as if looking west from high above Hoboken and Jersey City – an unusual take on the city which deviates considerably from the more common south-north Manhattan views by Currier and Ives, and others. This might be explained by the development of Upper Manhattan, most notably the Upper West Side and Central Park, late in second half of the 19th century. The artist would have wanted to represent these newly affluent areas so that his view would appeal to the widest possible audience.

Several bridges are noted including the Brooklyn Bridge (completed in 1883), the Williamsburg Bridge (opened in 1903 but under construction as this view was being drawn), the Queensboro Bridge (proposed but, as this map was being drawn, as not as yet under construction), and a curious bridge that never materialized crossing the Hudson to Hoboken at 59th Street. Central Park is clearly visible, as are the Statue of Liberty in the lower right quadrant, St. John the Divine in the upper left, and Brooklyn’s Prospect Park in the upper right. New York’s signature grid system is clearly represented as are many individual buildings, many of which still stand today. The rivers, and harbor are teaming with life as countless ships of all shapes and sizes visit the many wharves on both size of the River. Smoke escapes many chimneys throughout, though especially in lower Manhattan and Jersey City, giving evidence to New York’s late 19th century industry.

This piece is exceedingly rare and we have been able to identify no record of it in any publication or major collection. It is not referenced by Stokes, it does not appear in the OCLC, has no auction records, and there are no examples in the catalogues of the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, or the New York Historical Society. Since the Colton firm would have produced this map in the final days of operation, in fact it is the latest Colton publication we have come across, it is reasonable to speculate that this view may never reached the production stage and is merely a prototype. Such would account for its uncommon rarity – indeed, this may well be the only example in existence.

Links:
http://www.geographicus.com/P/AntiqueMap/NewYorkCityView-colton-1897

The first map to depict Manhattan as an Island and depict a beaver

Blaeu's 1638 Nova Belgica et Anglia Nova was the first map to depict Manhattan as an Island and depict a beaver

The first map to name Manhattan.

A beautiful old color example of one of the most important maps in the history of America, Blaeu’s 1638 Nova Belgica et Anglia Nova. Oriented to the west, this map covers the American coast from Virginia, past New York and Long Island to Cape Code, New England, and Quebec. It is cartographically derived from data accumulated by Adriaen Bock and other Dutch fur traders active in the early 17th century. It is known for a number of important firsts, including the first full representation of Manhattan as an Island.

Burden, in his Mapping of North America, notes:

This important map was one of the most attractive of the Americas at the time. It is noted for the fact that its primary source is the first manuscript figurative map of Adriaen Block, 1614. Indeed it is the first full representation of it in print. It is one of the earliest to name Nieu Amsterdam. Block, a Dutch fur trader, explored the area between Cape Cod and Manhattan, examining the bays and rivers along the way. This helped to create an accurate picture of the longitudinal scale of the coastline. His manuscript map is the first document to delineate an insular Manhattan; it also provides the earliest appearance of Manhates and Niev Nederland.

It has been noted that the time difference between 1614, the date of the manuscript, and Blaeu’s map whose first appearance is in 1635, appears long for such an important advance. It would seem highly feasible that Blaeu, who published many separately issued maps, would have wanted to produce one like this sooner. However, evidence points to the fact that it could not have been made before 1630. The Stokes Collection in New York possesses an example of the map on thicker paper without text on the reverse which could well be a proof issue of some kind.

There are features on Blaeu’s map that differ from the Block chart. Some of these could be accounted for by the fact that the surviving figurative map is not the original, and that the copyist omitted some place names that are referred to in the text of de Laet’s work. Block drew on Champlain’s map of 1612 for the depiction of the lake named after him, but it is here called Lacus Irocoisiensis. … The lack of interrelation between the Dutch or English colonies and the French, led for some time to the eastward displacement of this lake when its true position would be north of the Hudson River.

Some nomenclature has its origins in Blaeu’s second Paskaert of c.1630, and others, such as Manatthans, in de Laet. The colony of Nieu Pleimonth is identified. This and other English names along that part of the coast are largely derived from Smith’s New England, 1616. Cape Cod is here improved over the Block manuscript by being reconnected to the mainland, the narrow strait having been removed. The coastline between here and Narragansett Bay, which can be clearly recognized, is not so accurate. Adriaen Blocx Eylandt leads us to the Versche Rivier, or Connecticut River, which Block ascended as far as was possible. ‘t Lange Eyland is named; however, it is incorrectly too far east, being applied to what is possibly Fishers Island. De Groote bay marks Long Island Sound. The Hudson River is still not named as such, but is littered with Dutch settlements, and the failed Fort Nassau is here depicted renamed as Fort Orange. He does, however, improve on the direction of its flow. Blaeu separates the sources of the Hudson and Delaware Rivers which had been causing some confusion. Nieu Amsterdam is correctly marked as a fort at the tip of an island separated on the east side by Hellegat, or the East River. The coastline south of Sandy Hook also shows signs of improvement.

The whole map is adorned by deer, foxes, bears, egrets, rabbits, cranes and turkeys. Beavers, polecats and otters appear on a printed map for the first time. The Mohawk Indian village top right is derived from the de Bry-White engravings.

It is of note that this map was issued in a number editions but only a single state. Editions are generally identified by the text appearing on the verso with twelve documented editions, three each in Dutch, Latin, German, and French. This example corresponds to the 1638 French edition and was included in Le Theatre du Monde.

The Viele Map of Manhattan’s Topography and Waterways

Viele Map

The Viele Map - One of the most important and enduring maps of New York City ever published.

This is Egbert L. Viele’s 1865 topography and waterways map of Manhattan, one of the scarcest, most important and most enduring maps of New York City ever published. Covering the entirety of Manhattan Island, Viele’s map details the canals, swamps, rivers, ditches, ponds, meadows, and drainage basins of Manhattan as they existed prior to the city’s urban development. A version of the Viele map remains in use today by architects and contractors who need to be certain they are not building over underground rivers and swamps that may destabilize a new construction’s foundation.

Roughly translated “Manhattan” is an American Indian term meaning “Island of Hills”. The American Indians living in the region prior to the Dutch settlement of Manhattan treated the island as a huge hunting and fishing reserve full of trout streams, bass swamps, and sunfish ponds. Viele contended that as streets and buildings were constructed the city’s natural drainage retreated underground where, stagnating, it led to a “humid miasmic state of the atmosphere” conducive to yellow fever, malaria, plague, and other epidemic illnesses.

Viele dedicated nearly 20 years to researching and perfecting this masterpiece of cartography. The basic map and above ground topography of the Viele map is drawn from John Randel’s surveys of 1807 and the Commissioner’s Plan of 1811, which formally laid out New York City’s grid system. Viele then used early survey work, new survey work, and studies of older maps to recreate Manhattan’s water system as it must have existed when the first Dutch settlers built a fur trading post of the tip of the island. Viele presented an unfinished early state of his map, covering only lower Manhattan to the New York State Senate in 1859, claiming, “The Sanitary condition of any city or district or country is intimately connected with its proper drainage . . . that any inquiry into causes or remedies for sanitary evils . . . shall be based upon a thorough knowledge of the topography of the island”. It took another six years of meticulous study to produce the final product – this extraordinary achievement.

Though Viele may never have imaged his map’s most important legacy would be as a construction aid, architects, engineers, and contractors were quick to grasp the usefulness of the map. Paul Starett, who built the Empire State Building and Stuyvesant Town, used this map to prepare estimates of construction costs. Melvin Febish, part of the team constructing the Citicorp Center, “found that it’s accurate within feet”. The builders of our own apartment building, at 105th and Amsterdam, may not have consulted this map, for had they done so they may have noticed the underground river that has caused innumerable foundation problems in the 80 plus years since it was built.

Inscription

Inscribed by the Author to "Ches Davis"

This edition of Viele’s “Topographical Map of the City of New-York” was issued to accompany his manifesto calling for future city development to take natural waterways and drainage into account when planning expansion. It is the first complete state of Viele’s map and comes with its original green leatherette binder and text, which the author (Viele) has inscribed to a mysterious “Ches Davis”. Haskell, in his cartobibliography of Manhattan maps, for some reason identifies this map as being issued in 1864, but no known example exists from that date, nor are there any recorded copyrights on this map from 1864. The first complete edition is this, 1865.

In closing we would like to make a final comment on condition. This map was issued on two joined panels, printed on fine bank note paper, and folded for issue in various publications. Consequently most examples exhibit considerable wear and damage along the original fold lines as well as cropped or off-center borders, general wear, soiling, water damage, and color loss. This example, on the other hand, is in near pristine condition. We have had it professionally removed from its original binder and flatted with archival tissue added for backing and support. Its color is original and remarkably vivid with no signs of the degradation typical on maps from this period. If you hope to add an example of this map to your collection, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

http://www.geographicus.com/P/AntiqueMap/NewYorkWaterways-viele-1865

References: Rumsey 3723.000. Augustyn, R. T. and Cohen, P. E., Manhattan in Maps, p. 136 – 139. Haskell, Daniel, Manhattan Maps, A Co-operative List, 1132. Stokes, I. N. P., The Iconography of Manhattan Island, 1498-1909, Compiled from Original Sources and Illustrated by Photo-Intaglio Reproductions of Important Maps, Plans, Views and Documents in Public and Private Collections, vol 3, p.777-778.

Antique Map of the Week: 1768 Holland / Jeffreys Map of New York and New Jersey

1768 Holland Jeffreys Map of New York & New Jersey

1768 Holland Jeffreys Map of New York & New Jersey

The Provinces of NEW YORK and NEW JERSEY with part of PENSILVANIA, and the Governments of TROIS RIVIERES, and MONTREAL. A first issue first edition example of a seminal map. This is a rare and unusual version of the 1768 first edition of Holland and Jefferys seminal map of New York and New Jersey. Depicts the important trade corridor between New York and Montreal, specifically detailing from Delaware Bay northward including parts of eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Long Island, New York Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont as well as the Iroquois League, the Trois Rivieres territories and Montreal, as far as Lac St. Pierre in modern day Quebec. Lower right quadrant features a pictorial title cartouche showing the Hudson River.

This extraordinary map is unusual on many levels in addition to its status as the first edition first state of an extremely rare and important map. Unlike most examples, this map is in an independent issue and has no suggestion that it may have been bound into an atlas. Instead it is linen backed in wall map format. Secondly, though most examples of this map, even other first editions, show the New York-New Jersey border much where it is today, our example was colorized to show the line running considerably south of its currently location – a rarity which can be seen in only three other known examples. While we would not describe this as a different state, as the essential engraving is the same as was used in other 1868 editions, the difference in coloration is fascinating, unusual, and bears attention. This requires a bit of explanation:

Much of the cartography for this map was derived from the work of surveyor Samuel Holland produced in his roles as New York – New Jersey boundary commissioner and later as “Surveyor of the Northern District” for the Board of Trade which governed the crown colonies in America. As this map was being prepared a fierce legal battle raged between the colonies of New York and New Jersey regarding the position of their western border.

The dispute between the New York and New Jersey regarding their western border was long standing and complex. New Jersey contended that its northern border accorded with the findings of a survey issued in 1719, which extended the border northward as far as Station Point, well north of the current line. New York, on the other hand, contended for a southerly border based upon surveys performed in 1686. The Board of Trade commissioned Samuel Holland to create a map of this disputed region. Holland’s work resulted in a manuscript map , now lost, that was submitted to the Board of Trade in England. Holland, who favored New York, argued that the original crown charter defining the New York and New Jersey border was based upon intersecting lines referencing a branching of the Delaware River and the old divide between East and West Jersey. This would put much of what is today northern New Jersey firmly in New York. The dispute was finally settled in 1768 by agreement to a compromised line roughly where it stands today – note 1768 is the same year that Jefferys engraved this map.

In his role as Geographer to the King, Jefferys would have had access to the Holland maps which were prepared for the Board of Trade and sent to London. It is likely that Jefferys used these materials, along with the works of Evans and Colden to compile this much grander map. As the official Royal Geographer, Jefferys would not have been required to ask permission to use any of these materials and indeed, as Powell suggests, it is likely that the “Name of Capt. Holland is put, without his Knowledge or Consent”.

Most likely, Jefferys ordered the peculiar coloration of this map, which follows the southern border NY-NJ border following recommendations in Holland’s notes. Holland advocated for the southerly border that we see colorized here. Probably this is a preliminary state of the map, printed sometime early in 1768, before the compromise boundary was formalized. We have been able to identify only three other examples of this map with the same New York-New Jersey border coloration. One example rests in the Library at Harvard University, another is located in the New York Public Library in New York, and a final example in the New York State Library in Albany. Other examples of the first edition, including those held by the Library of Congress follow the line of the 1868 compromised border.

Holland’s work is also evident in the detailing of New York’s land grants to Vermont and the excellent detail offered in the Albany area.

Notes forts and military installations along the Hudson and elsewhere. Though surprisingly accurate in reference to the heavily populated part of New York and New Jersey, accuracy falls off considerably in the west and in the American Indian regions to the North. Jefferys also notes the influence of other cartographers including Evans, Bond, Morris, and of course Holland.

In the years to follow this important map would go through several subsequent revisions and reissues. The most notable later version is the 1775 Sayer and Bennett atlas issue of the map, which is somewhat common. Our issue, the first state of the 1768 first edition, has not appeared on the market in the last 30 years.

The original owner of this map, whose bookplate is on the verso, appears to have been William Lyon of New Haven Connecticut. In 1775 Lyon was a Lieutenant in the Continental Army who is recorded as serving in Boston. A gravestone near New Haven Connecticut bears his name and the rank of colonel. It is conceivable that Lyon examined this very map to plan strategies during his time of service with the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.

For More Information: http://www.geographicus.com/P/AntiqueMap/NewYorkNewJersey-sayer-1768


REFERENCES:
Allen, David Y., “Comparing Eighteenth-Century Map of New York State Using Digital Imagery”, http://www.nymapsociety.org/FEATURES/ALLEN.HTM.

Schwarz, Philip J., The Jarring Interests New York’s Boundary Makers, 1664-1776 p. 133 – 190.

Tooley, R. V. The Mapping of America, #44. Library of Congress, G3800 1768 .H6 Vault (1868 edition).

New York Public Library, Map Div. 97-6176 [LHS 815], Map Div. 01-5334 (similar NJ-NY border).

Phillips, Maps of America, p. 502; Phillips 1196. McCorkle (#768.3, 775.6, 776.13).

Sellers & van Ee (#1039-40, 1042-43, 1045-46).

Ristow, Walter W., American Maps and Mapmakers, page 52.