New York City history, for your clicking and dragging pleasure.
March 21, 2011 9:12 AM   Subscribe

How Manhattan’s Grid Grew. Interactive New York Times map comparing 1811 New York with present day, plus other cool historical stuff. Huzzah, as the kids say.
posted by flyingsquirrel (25 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Cool! It's almost like a - Time Machine! I'd be interested in seeing comparisons for other cities - U.S. or otherwise.

Out of curiosity, do Canadians have to pay to see the map? Ref: prior
posted by Man with Lantern at 9:18 AM on March 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

Out of curiosity, do Canadians have to pay to see the map?

Not this Canadian, at any rate. I have spent maybe a few weeks total of my life in New York City and still I could look at this happily for hours. But yes, I am with you that other cities would be nice to see as well (especially places I have lived).
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:24 AM on March 21, 2011

the amount of Manhattan that's landfill always amazes me.

Thee was a legit proposal back during the "BEND NATURE TO MAN'S WILL!" Gilded Age to connect up Manhattan and Long Island, along with the smaller ones, to create a kind of Greatest New York but my google is failing me right now.
posted by The Whelk at 9:25 AM on March 21, 2011

my google is failing me right now.

Mine isn't: "A Really Greater New York".
posted by 1970s Antihero at 9:40 AM on March 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Cool, but I'm saddened this, and other things like it, will be behind a pay-wall soon.
posted by stbalbach at 9:43 AM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yaay! Thanks Antihero.

I'm not comfortable being that close to Staten Island.
posted by The Whelk at 9:45 AM on March 21, 2011

the amount of Manhattan that's landfill always amazes me.

When I was a kid what is now Battery Park City, was just a high fence and rubble from the building of the WTC, and there were still elevated sections of the West Side Highway all the way down to a few blocks north of the WTC.

Down in the financial district somebody has taken to painting the 1660 waterline in the streets. All of Water street, and Fraunces Tavern, is built on landfill. Coenties Slip, mentioned in Moby Dick, seems to be buit on landfill too.

posted by Ad hominem at 9:57 AM on March 21, 2011

As much as I dislike the Times, it's hard not to appreciate the effort they put into visuals like this. I wish someone would do this for my hometown or my current city, but I can't imagine the papers there putting in this kind of effort. (Please tell me if I'm wrong; I'd love to be!)
posted by immlass at 10:06 AM on March 21, 2011

I'm not comfortable being that close to Staten Island.

Me neither, and I live in Chicago.
posted by enn at 10:07 AM on March 21, 2011 [5 favorites]

Interesting (to me anyway since it's right across the street from my apartment) – the 1811 map has "Sailor's Snug Harbor" on 9th Street between 5th Ave and Broadway – which is where Capt. Richard Randall bequeathed land for an old sailors' home, but not where it was eventually built, on the north shore of Staten Island.
posted by nicwolff at 10:07 AM on March 21, 2011

Enjoy it while it's free!

I love how upper Manhattan used to be farm land. I lived in Inwood for five years down the street from the Dyckman farmhouse (built in the 1780s and still in its original place) and it must have been so beautiful then. If you can brave the trip all the way up there, you can make a great day of visiting the farmhouse and then going to Fort Tryon Park (standing alongside Prospect Park in my eyes as the most beautiful in the city) and the Cloisters.
posted by ReeMonster at 10:15 AM on March 21, 2011

There's an app for that.
posted by blaneyphoto at 10:29 AM on March 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

Another cool piece of New York City history -- still extant and visitable -- is Dead Horse Bay, off Barren Island on the outer edge of Brooklyn. The site is amazing, a living archaeological exhibit of New York City's past. The beaches are littered with slices of horse bones, left over from long-gone horse rendering plants (where they took the poor beasts once their use was up, back in the 1800s when the city harbored more horses than humans). Along with the bones you'll find detritus from bargeloads of personal belongings, dumped by Robert Moses when he razed whole neighborhoods as part of "slum clearance" for the development of his dream child, the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. Everything on the beach can be dated pretty much to 1954 (or thereabouts -- I forget the specific year).

Last year I went on a Gel Conference expedition to the site. We found stockings, shoes, children's toys, intact bottles, roller skates, etc. -- evidence of lives lived (and lost). Also on the trip was none other than MeFi creator Matt Haughey. Here's his blog entry about that day, and here are his photos -- including one of a horse bone.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 10:31 AM on March 21, 2011 [4 favorites]

Maybe it's all the Minecraft but I kind of like the idea of filling in the East River down to the Brooklyn Bridge and up to around 90th street.

Stay with me now, we fill in the East River, leave the bridges so they become spooky (and distinctive!) ground-level streets with usually ornate sides. We move the East River (and bass habitats) to a new river created off the coast of Jamaica down through Far Rockaway (which is now an island, like they always wanted to be), thus freeing the city from the tyranny of Long Island.

Then we get to the fun stuff, a New Urbanist blank canvas of tremendous potential. Create Future Historical Neighborhoods! Start a canal system for Nieuw Old Amsterdam! Put in a huge park between the Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges! Squares! Statues! Rows and rows of Neo-Revival Greek townhouses! A newer, bigger, better zoo! My god! You could do anything!

(I actually used this idea in a short story that Metafilter totally inspired me to write - a story whose check I might add, is still late)
posted by The Whelk at 10:58 AM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

@The Whelk -- Ooooooh! Please link to your short story, if you've got it (and are willing to share)!
posted by flyingsquirrel at 11:05 AM on March 21, 2011

It's not out yet! But the title was taken directly from the last big Steampunk thread on mefi.
posted by The Whelk at 11:07 AM on March 21, 2011

What's with the wide open "Parade" space? I had never heard of that before.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:21 AM on March 21, 2011

Parades where .....much more popular and common a century ago - if you had any kind of major urban planning project had to include space for marching your Grand Imperial Army for the state-required Pomp. Everyone took Napoleon's cue with the Arches and fuax-roman Parades.
posted by The Whelk at 11:29 AM on March 21, 2011

The parade space was mentioned in an accompanying article. It is now the much smaller Madison Square Park.
posted by plastic_animals at 11:30 AM on March 21, 2011

Right, thank you.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:32 AM on March 21, 2011

I hope the map shows where the paywall went up.
posted by bicyclefish at 11:35 AM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Interesting, somewhat-related project: artist Sohei Nishino makes this unbelievable diorama map of New York made of individual images which were shot, hand printed and assembled with scissors and glue.
posted by owlparliament at 12:29 PM on March 21, 2011

What happened to bloomingdale square (between amsterdam and columbus)?
posted by wilful at 7:22 PM on March 21, 2011

Bloomingdale Square was the former name of Pershing Square (Broadway and 106th). Don't know what happened to the one on the 1811 map, though.
posted by gubo at 8:45 PM on March 21, 2011

Aha and I see that particular Pershing Square is now called Straus Park.
posted by gubo at 8:48 PM on March 21, 2011

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