A rare map of the island of Manhattan, New York City, that combines parts of the burgeoning metropolis c. 1909 with those of the city just after the end of the American Revolution. This map was issued by Townsend MacCoun and is based, cartographically, on the great 1867 survey of Egbert Viele, which it follows almost exactly. MacCoun blends the old with the new, just as Viele did with his work, and includes the modern street grid over the geography of Manhattan. To this, MacCoun has added, in red, sites throughout the island that played a role in how the Revolution progressed on Manhattan. It is important to remember that the British captured the city in the fall of 1776 and did not relinquish control until 1783, after the war was over. Forts, breast works, batteries, and other military positions are noted throughout, including Fort Washington, the site of the only Colonial victory in the New York Campaign. Other sites, such as the location where the Declaration of Independence was read to the Army in 1776, the location of Columbia College, and several private residences are also labeled.
The Viele Map, which was first issued in 1865, provides the basic groundwork for this smaller and more modern map. Egbert L. Viele's 1865 topography and waterways map of Manhattan is 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 a 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 on 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 - an extraordinary achievement.
This specific map, heir to the Viele map of 1865, was issued by MacCoun as part of series of separate issue maps entitled, collectively, Early New York History, Portrayed in Five Maps
which focused on early New York City. The series in general is quite rare, with the New York Public Library in possession of only 3 of the 5 maps in the series. It was engraved by L. L. Poates, of New York City and in printed in three colors.
Townsend MacCoun (1845 - September 10, 1932) was an American cartographer, publisher and historian active in the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Townsend was born in Troy, New York, the son of John T. MacCoun and Angelica Rachel Douw (Lane) MacCoun. MacCoun attended Williams Collage, from which he was awarded degrees in 1866 and 1869. His composed several cultural and geographical works, including a history of the United States, another of the Holy Land, and a series of five historical maps of New York City. He also developed and proselytized employing a universal color coding system in all maps appearing in a single book or book series - a technique that remains in use today in many text books. He was a member of the Chi Psi Fraternity, the American Geographical Society, and the Paris Société Academique d'Histoire Internationale.
Very good. Even overall toning. Light wear along original fold lines. Verso repairs to fold separations. Closed tears extending one half inch and one inch in upper right quadrant professionally repaired on verso. Blank on verso.