The famed Castello Plan offers a rare view of New Amsterdam—located at the southern tip of what is now known as Manhattan—during the forty year period of Dutch rule. Surveyor General Jacques Cortelyou made a map of the Dutch settlement in 1660, which was subsequently lost, but an unknown artist happily made another copy. This is the earliest map of the city existing today. It was sold to Cosimo de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, around 1667, and “rediscovered” 233 years later at the Villa di Castello near Florence. The American illustrator James Wolcott Adams redrafted the map in 1916; this hand-drawn copy of the original Castello Plan is housed in the library’s print collection.
In 1664, the British captured New Amsterdam by order of James Duke of York. An unknown draftsman prepared a revised version of Cortelyou’s plan for the Duke, with the addition of the triumphant British men-of-war. Gone are the smallholdings and kitchen gardens of the Costello Plan; still visible are the wall at the northern end of the settlement, now Wall Street; the fort or battery; and the canal curving inward through the center of town.
John Tallis, a renowned nineteenth-century British map publisher, produced the lavish illustrated atlas of the world for the 1851 Great Exhibition in London. The atlas is considered a decorative masterpiece. Tallis worked with the highly skilled engravers John Rapkin and Henry Winkles to create the atlas and other cartography that was both accurate and elegant. Their collaborations included the detailed city plans such as this view of lower Manhattan from Forty-Second Street South to the Battery, with Governors Island and parts of Jersey City, Hoboken, Williamsburg, and Brooklyn. Illustrated inset views depict a steamer, Brooklyn, City Hall, the customs house, the Narrows from Fort Hamilton, and Manhattan as seen from Williamsburg.
Henry Wellge was a German-born map artist and publisher who produced more than 150 perspective renderings of small cities, mainly in the Midwest, ranging from Texarkana to Billings, Selma to Duluth. He made this map six years before his death, in 1917. Bird’s-eye views became a popular cartographic form in the 1840s through the early twentieth century. They offered oblique, aerial vistas as seen from imaginary perspectives—a tricky mapmaking skill, combining an architect’s draftsmanship with an artist’s aesthetic sensibilities.