1878 Bien and Johnson Map of New York City (Manhattan Island) During the Revolutionary War

Map of New York City and of Manhattan Island with the American Defences  in 1776.

1878 Bien and Johnson Map of New York City (Manhattan Island) During the Revolutionary War


First map to depict in detail the entirity of Manhattan Island during the Revolutionary War.

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Map of New York City and of Manhattan Island with the American Defences in 1776.
  1878 (undated)    14.5 x 35 in (36.83 x 88.9 cm)


An unusual map of Manhattan Island will adjacent parts of Long Island and New Jersey drawn in 1878 for issue in Henry P. Johnson's history of the Battle of Long Island. In compiling his history Johnson was frustrated by the lack of a Revolutionary War period map detailing the entire Island of Manhattan. He thus compiled this map which he published with Julius Bien and incorporated into his book. Though quite late compared to colonial period information it presents, this map is significant in that it is possibly the first map to show the whole of Manhattan Island during the Revolutionary War. Cartographically it is based upon the work of Ratzer and Montressor with regard to the southern part of the Island as far north as 50th street. North of 50th street in incorporates data from the Commissioners plan of 1811 and from Sauthier's map of New York. Beyond the developed southern portions of the city that extend north only as far as modern day Canal Street the city is laid out topographically, with hills, river courses, and plains apparent. Bloomingdale Road (modern day Broadway) is identified as is the Kings Bridge or Post Road. Shows various fortifications throughout as well as military notations regarding the placement of British and American troops. Though fiercely fought the British ultimately won the Battle of Long Island and the Battle of Harlem Heights, thus seizing control of New York City, which they maintained until the end of the Revolutionary War.


Joseph R. Bien was a topographer and an engineer working the later part of the 19th century. His name appears a number of state and regional atlases, including the important 1895 Atlas of New York. Most of Joseph Bien's work was published in conjunction with the New York Lithographing, Engraving & Printing Company, which was founded by Julius Bien. Joseph was almost certainly related to Julien, though whether he was a son, cousin, or brother, remains unknown.


Johnson, H. P., The Campaign of 1776 around New York and Brooklyn     Johnson's New Illustrated Family Atlas was produced in numerous editions from about 1860 to 1887. Johnson's first atlas was mostly likely the 1859 edition of Colton's General Atlas which both aesthetically and comprehensively very similar to the 1860 first edition of the New Illustrated Family Atlas. Johnson's atlas was noteworthy in its day as one of the few commercially produced American atlases that could compete with more established European Atlases. Although he called the atlas 'Steel Plate' on the title page for marketing purposes, Johnson in fact incorporated modern lithographic printing techniques and lower quality woven wood pulp paper to economically produce large format maps in quantity. He also began publishing the New Illustrated Family Atlas on the cusp of the American Civil War, a decision that proved fortuitous, as the war corresponded to a general increased interested in cartography. For the most part, Johnson's Atlas was sold by subscription; nonetheless it became so popular that for at time he was considered the largest publisher in the world. Other than the first edition, the atlas itself has no true editions. Rather, Johnson incorporated updated maps as they became available, so each example of the Johnson atlas might well contain unexpected and scarce individual maps. Johnson's map of the American Southwest, for example, appeared in more than 17 different states, each illustrating minor variations to the rapidly chasing geography of that region. Moreover, Johnson's offered a service whereby he would mail updated map pages that could be tipped into older atlases to keep them current. Generally speaking, Johnson's atlas was issued in four periods - each defined by a distinctive decorative border. The earliest edition featured a strapwork border that appears as rolled and decoratively cut leather. This border work remained in use until 1863. In 1864 Johnson started using an updated fretwork or grillwork border that resembles worked iron - as in a decorative fence. This border was in use from 1863 to 1869. The 1863 edition of Johnson's atlas used both borders and is considered transitional. From 1870 to 1882, Johnson introduced a new border that featured elaborate Spirograph style geometric designs, which was used from 1870 to 1882. After 1880 a new border different but aesthetically similar to the Spirograph border began appearing. Certain editions of the atlas issued from 1880 - 1882 were transitional.


Very good. Archivally backed with linen by a previous owner.