Mapping New York: Illustrated Urban, Social History Survey

I love maps, so when I heard about Mapping New York, the follow-up of Mapping London from Black Dog Publishing, I had to get a copy to review – I was not disappointed. Mapping New York is a richly illustrated survey of the urban and social history of New York City. From early woodblock engravings to the latest satellite images available of Manhattan, these maps show the intricate story of the development of one of the world’s most populous cities. One of my favorites is an early topographical map from the Report on the Social Statistics of Cities, compiled by George E. Waring Jr., in 1886.

The distinctive maps in this volume date back to the 16th Century, when New York was a commercial trading post scattered with farms, right up to the present day. This book shows the complexity of early land transfers (like Henry Tyler’s 1897 map of the original grants of village lots from the Dutch West India Company) up to its current role as one of the most built up urban areas in the world.

Although there are plenty of early maps here, Mapping New York does not neglect maps from the 20th and 21st century. These are arranged thematically and featuring maps on population, military, water, transport, commerce, crime as well as planning and developing maps and boundaries of the five boroughs. Well known maps such as the New York City subway map are tracked through their history and in artist representations. Additional map as art pieces include Claes Oldenburg’s Soft Manhattan #1: Postal Codes from 1966 and the poem, Manhattan, in the shape of the city by Howard Horowitz. This book is an amazing look at typography and design in the history of mapping as told through one location.

The latest satellite images are included along with a fantastic projection on the growth of the city “Manhattan 2409″- by Heidi Neilson showing her vision of what the city will look like in the future based on current satellite imagery (greener than you might expect).

Illustration: Sanitary and Topographical Map of the City and Island of New York, 1865 from Mapping New York.

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