If you do a Google search for "Castello Plan," most of the results will be about a wine bar in Ditmas Park, which no doubt makes history buffs cringe and Jacques Cortelyou, creator of the real Castello Plan, roll over in his grave. The Castello Plan is the earliest known map of New Amsterdam, and it was created by Cortelyou around 1660. The map, pictured above (zoomable version here), shows a quaint little settlement with a handful of blocks. Ephemeral New York notes that while Manhattan looks rather charming, it was pretty much the opposite: "New Amsterdam in in the middle of the 17th century was 'a thinly populated, uncomfortable and muddy place with few creature comforts and much lawlessness.'"
The above replica, redrawn in 1916 with more detail and color, better shows the lay of the land. Wall Street is actually a 12-foot-tall wall running along the northern most border (at the right of the image), built to keep the natives out. Broadway begins at the star-shaped Fort Amsterdam and travels northward, crossing Wall Street. Pearl Street runs along the East River, with Broad, William, and Whitehall Streets branching out and intersecting with Exchange Place and other small streets. To make this foreign land feel more like home, the Dutch dug canals along Broad and Beaver Streets. The first bridge built over the canal is now, obviously, Bridge Street.
So why does this Dutch map have an Italian name? From Racontrs:
The map dates from 1660, but it remained lost to history for hundreds of years. Around 1667, a Dutch map maker sold it to Cosimo III de Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. In 1900, it was found in an old Medici palace, the Villa di Castello near Florence. And that's how a Dutch-made map of an American colony acquired an Italian name: The Castello Map.Several years ago, Yahoo! created an interactive feature that overlaid the original map with a current map of Lower Manhattan, and while that no longer exists online, there are some screenshots that show the comparison:
And now you know what 350 years of landfill looks like.
· A 1660 map depicts New York's humble start [Ephemeral]
· The Castello Plan of 1660 [Racontrs]
· Original Castello Plan photo [NYPL]
· Castello Plan [Wikipedia]