Earlier this week, Ephemeral New York posted an image of the first known map of Manhattan, the 1660 Castello Plan. It shows a charming little settlement with canals along Broad Street and a real 12-foot-tall wall at Wall Street, and it inspired Gizmodo to dig up other historic maps. They mashed them together into a cool GIF that shows Manhattan's ever-expanding border, and we picked out five of our favorites. The colored map above dates to 1770, when most of Manhattan was covered with farms. Across the river, Greenpoint, Brooklyn was mostly forests and meadows.
1814: The Great American Grid explores this 1814 map created by William Bridges, and they highlight the area around 34th and Fifth Avenue: "At the time this map was originally drawn, that area of town was inhabited mostly by squatters, pigs, trees, and hills. The city commissioners had no idea the Empire State Building?let alone elevators, steel, or a city population of 7 million?was just over 100 years away." Click through for a huge 12,000-pixel wide image of the map.
1836: One of the more interesting maps, this image shows a stark contrast between the north and south. The southern tip is developed and the street grid is starting to creep higher, while the northern end is still very rural. Gizmodo writes, "The city began selling 'water lots' along the shore, where daring entrepreneurs could create their own plots. Sometimes, engineers would sink entire ships to create a solid foundation for landfill."
1900: At the start of the 20th century, Manhattan's borders had expanded nearly 1,000 feet on each side. By 1904, dozens of streetcar lines criss-crossed the city, and
Early 1960s: This map is undated, but a Gizmodo commenter says that it's likely from the early 1960s, for a few reasons. The Hudson Terminal, which closed in 1971, is still marked on the map, as is Radio Row, which was a thing until 1964 until the electronics businesses were relocated to make way for the World Trade Center superblock. Also, Roosevelt Island is labeled as Welfare Island, the name it had name until 1973.
· Watch Manhattan's Boundaries Expand Over 250 Years [Gizmodo]
· When Wall Street Was a Wall: A 1660 Map of Manhattan [Curbed]