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Watch New York City As We Know It Take Shape Over 388 Years

The website MapStory has a mission: to chronicle, in cartographic form, "how every municipality in the world has evolved over space and time and load this open data into the MapStory.org global data commons for the world to see, share and improve upon." The hugely ambitious endeavor launched in 2012, and users have uploaded all manner of projects—many relevant to New York City obsessives. From tracking how the subway system expanded since 1860 to identifying existing bike lanes and paths, there are a host of intriguing projects. But City Lab astutely plucked from the fray the initiative by Karl Philips, pictured above, which graphically presents the historic evolution of New York City's boundaries from 1626 on. It's instructive. And the most fun.

Geographic units include Dutch and English land purchases from the Native tribes, individual land patents, towns, villages, shires, ridings, counties cities and boroughs. The MapStory reveals the patterns of early colonial settlement, municipal reorganization after the American Revolution, urban expansion and suburban growth over a four-century period.

Have fun!
· MapStory [official]
· New York City Historical Boundaries [MapStory]
· Mapping city boundary change over time with open data [Sunlight Foundation]
· One Mapping Service To Rule Them All [City Lab]