Lower Manhattan has effectively been America’s town square since its discovery in 1524. Virtually every major event of local, national and global significance has played out in some way on this stage. Some have been forgotten and some have been transformative in our culture and many have fallen between. This is both a project in urban archeology and a way of describing the city over time in a printed map. The map captures the multiple and overlapping stories that are woven throughout our city’s life in a single document. It embraces America’s history as the museums, monuments and memorials that dot its streetscape do. It highlights many of the concerns, events and places that the people who lived, fought, worked and visited here thought were important at their moment in time. It takes another look at the issues that they were preoccupied with and how they solved them: their politics, religion, social protest, health and safety, commerce, disasters and defense, scandals and crime, education, publications, art and culture, parades and celebrations, architecture and engineering. It encapsulates the events that shaped the physical and cultural landscape within the changing geography at the water’s edge. And it raises questions that need to be considered as we plan a more resilient city in our future.
Lower Manhattan Then Superimposes the historical maps that mark different periods with a snapshot of the city as it looked at each era: 1800 using the Ratzer 1767 map (cut off at Chambers Street which was the northern boundary of the city at the time.), 1860 using Harrison’s 1852 map which was the first to show the buildings and streets (below Canal Street), 1900 (using the current GIS) showing how dense the blocks become, 1867 Viele’s topographical map, and the 2016 GISThese maps are heavily photoshopped to accommodate surveying discrepancies to make the streets align. Shown also are infrastructure: ferries, horse carriage routes, elevated trains. Future infrastructure of significance such as the bridges are dotted in.
The events are depicted with the year cross referenced to the timeline as are places of significance and some memorials.The historic maps are shown at the same scale on the right panel