Explore the Randel Maps from the collection of the Office of the Manhattan Borough President.
Click here to explore the maps!
As Manhattan’s famous grid of numbered streets and avenues celebrates its 200th anniversary, Susan Henshaw Jones, the Ronay Menschel Director of the Museum of the City of New York, and Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer announced the launch of joint websites that make available to the public one of the most important sets of documents in the city’s history. Through the work of the Museum’s innovative Digital Project, 92 early Manhattan maps (the “Randel Farm maps”) have been stitched together into a single image for the first time, providing an unparalleled and unprecedented opportunity to see how the island of Manhattan appeared in the early 19th century. Their on-line presentation complements the exhibition The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of the Manhattan, 1811-2011, curated by Hilary Ballon of New York University, and on view at the Museum through July 15, 2012.
Drafted between 1818 and 1820 by John Randel, Jr., this set of one-of-a-kind documents has long been in the care of the Office of the Manhattan Borough President. The maps, which are hand-drawn and hand-colored, document the island of Manhattan--stretching from today’s Houston Street to the northernmost tip--in meticulous detail. Drawn at an impressively large scale of 100 feet to 1 inch, the so-called “Farm Maps” display the island’s natural and manmade features down to individual buildings. They provide an incomparable online record of the young, growing city.
Said Susan Henshaw Jones, the Ronay Menschel Director of the Museum of the City of New York, “The depth of information in John Randel, Jr.’s astonishingly detailed maps enables us to see the early island of Manhattan as never before. The Museum of the City of New York is honored to work with the Manhattan Borough President’s Office to make this important resource available to the public through The Greatest Grid exhibition and companion publication, and now through this fascinating web presentation.” “I am proud to help make these extraordinary historical maps available to online users for the first time, as a collaborative effort between my office and the Museum of the City of New York,” said Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer. “These remarkable documents not only tell the story of New York City’s growth – they give us the chance to see striking differences between then and now, and to view Manhattan’s fascinating evolution over time. I commend all those involved in this project for preserving these maps digitally and giving all New Yorkers the chance to enjoy them.”
Through an extraordinary public-private collaboration, the Museum of the City of New York and the Borough President’s Office worked together to digitize this unique resource and assure its preservation and access to the public. Under the direction of Sarah Henry, Deputy Director and Chief Curator of the Museum of the City of New York, and Amy DiPasquale, Digital Project Manager, members of the Museum’s digital team – who have to date imaged over 100,000 images from the Museum’s collections for on-line presentation – used cutting-edge technology to image the 92 maps at high resolution. Then they meticulously matched the maps together and digitally created a single image. The originals were returned to the Map Room in the Borough President’s Office, which has a Charter-mandated responsibility to preserve and maintain them. Ten of the maps are currently on loan to the Museum for its special exhibition The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811-2011.