1939 Geographia City Map or Plan of Manhattan, New York City

The Complete Map of New York (Manhattan) Featuring House Numbers, Transit Lines, Playgrounds, Wading Pools, etc. - Main View

1939 Geographia City Map or Plan of Manhattan, New York City


Features manuscript additions tracing eleven different railroads and ferries in and around Manhattan.


The Complete Map of New York (Manhattan) Featuring House Numbers, Transit Lines, Playgrounds, Wading Pools, etc.
  1939 (dated)     71.5 x 17.5 in (181.61 x 44.45 cm)     1 : 24000


This is a unique c. 1939 Geographia city plan or map of Manhattan, New York City with extensive manuscript annotation relating to the infrastructure and operations of the Pennsylvania and other railroads. The map’s coverage incudes all of Manhattan, as well as adjacent portions of Jersey City, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. The I.R.T., B.M.T., and Independent subway lines are identified.
Manuscript Railroad Lines
Focusing on the Hudson River, eleven railroad lines and their associated ferry crossings are illustrated in manuscript, including the Pennsylvania Railroad, the New York Central Railroad, and the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad. Only one of these railroads, the New York Central, was founded in New York City, and only two, the Pennsylvania and the Hudson and Manhattan, had successfully constructed tunnels under the Hudson River to provide direct service into New York City from New Jersey. The Pennsylvania, marked here in solid red lines, completed its North River Tunnels in 1910 and began running service into its newly constructed Penn Station on 34th Street that same year over electrified lines under the river. The Hudson and Manhattan, highlighted by light purple lines, began running passenger service between Hoboken Terminal and 19th Street on February 26, 1908.

All other railroads with terminals along the Hudson, no matter if they were in Jersey City or Hoboken, offered connections between New Jersey and New York City via ferry. These terminals are illustrated along the left side of the map, although not all of them are present. The ferry lines are noted by dashed lines of varying colors to highlight the different routes and piers used by the different railroads. Coincidentally, only two railroads cross the East River into Queens: the Lehigh Valley Railroad and the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, which operated over tracks owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad.
Publication History and Census
This map is most likely one of a kind. While the base map was published by Geographia in 1939 and was commercially available, it was repurposed by the Pennsylvania Railroad to illustrate key infrastructure improvements and assist with the administration of railroad routes and ferries. Examples of the base map are present in a half dozen institutional collections, but we have not located any other known examples of the present map with its extensive depiction of the railroad routes in and around Manhattan.


Geographia, Ltd. (1911 - 1985) was a London based cartographic publishing firm. The company was founded by Alexander Gross (1879 - 1958), a Hungarian immigrant to the United Kingdom. Geographia Ltd. is best known for its folding pocket maps and globes. Many of his maps were drawn by a mysterious 'Mr. Fountain' of which we have been able to discovery little. Gross ran into financial problems around 1940, likely associated with World War II, and relocated with offices in New York at 11 John Street. There he issued a large corpus of U.S. focused maps and city plans. By the 1940s, the branch in the United States had been renamed the Geographia Map Company and experienced rapid growth. By the 1950s Geographia had published maps of dozens of cities across the United States. In 1987, the British branch was bought out by Harper Collins and continues to produce maps under the Collins Bartholomew imprint. Rand McNally bought the New York based Geographia Map Company in the late 1980s, but its original owners repurchased the Geographia Map Company a few years later and still operate the company in Hackensack, New Jersey. Gross's daughter, Phyllis Isobella Gross / Pearsall (1906 - 1996) founded the Geographers' A-Z Map Company in London, the largest independent map publisher in the United Kingdom. In the UK, they offices were originally at 33 Strand, where they published as 'Geographia Designing and Publishing Company Ltd.'. Later, by 1933, they had relocated to 55 Fleet Street, where they remained until ate least 1937. By 1942, they related to 167 Fleet Street, followed by 114 Fleet Street by 1964. It is of note that many of the Geographia Ltd. maps feature a peculiar dating system wherein the letters in the world CUMBERLAND correspond to the numbers 1234567890, such that a date is rendered by substitution, so A.MU would break out like this A = 8, M = 3, U = 2, so 8.32 or, August 1932. Or, MM.YY e.g. E.MC = 5.31 = May 1931.


Very good. Even overall toning. Dissected and mounted on linen in 48 panels. Blank on verso.


OCLC 880824688.