For most New Yorkers, "now and then" photo comparisons are so entrancing precisely because they show how drastically their city has changed over time. Now you can do the same thing with topography. The Smithsonian has carefully aligned an ornate map that dates back to 1836 with a modern-day aerial photograph of the area to create an interactive map that allows for endless scrolling, zooming, and ogling. A small oculus is completely movable; viewers can opt whether to reveal a small circle of the black-and-white, hand-drawn map overlaid over the contemporary cityscape, or the other way around. Note the lack of bridges over the East River, how Central Park wasn't even planned yet and uptown was undeveloped, how Queens isn't even filled in with a grid, but rather illustrated with a street scene?and how Brooklyn's borders hover just about where Prospect Park is now. (At least, that's where the map cuts off.) The old map hails from the extensive collection of avid cartography buff David Rumsey; the
colonial 19th-century beauty by famed publisher Joseph Colton is among his favorites. Says Rumsey: "It's artistically quite amazing."
· This Interactive Map Compares the New York City of 1836 to Today [Smithsonian]
· All Cool Map Thing posts [Curbed]