Thursday, August 16, 2007

Lower Manhattan, then (in 1757) and now

Lower Manhattan today...

...and as it was in 1757. In both views, the street running up the center is Broadway.

Note the "Collect Pond" in the historic map, near present-day Foley Square. This spring-fed pond was once New York City's main source of drinking water, until the pollution from tanneries and thousands of chamberpots made it unfit for consumption. After one too many typhoid outbreaks, the City drained the pond by digging a 40-foot trench that drained into the Hudson. That trench is now Canal Street.

Also note how Lower Manhattan's original Hudson River waterfront was beneath present-day Greenwich Street.

As with last week's historic map of Portland, Maine, you can download this overlay as a Google Earth KML file. Use the opacity slider to transition between the 1757 map and the present-day satellite view - it's pretty neat.

Also, if you enjoy these historic map overlays of modern-day cities, you might also be entertained by the Strange Maps blog, which kind of inspired this little project. And here's a Brooklyn blogger's investigation into the history of his own neighborhood's street grid.

Previously: The Sepulture of Portland Harbor. Next week, we'll head out west to Los Angeles!

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