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Rutgers Farm Historic View Flyover

In this video see how lower Manhattan changed between 1775 and today. Focused on the area that once was Rutger’s farm, we can see how increasing immigration spurred the rapid growth of the Lower East Side in particular by using over lays of some of the maps from the NYPL collection.

These are the maps you will see in the video, in order of appearance

John Montresor. A Plan of the City of New-York & Its Environs…. London, 1775.

We fly first to modern lower Manhattan, seeing from about SOHO to the Battery. Then the above map appears and we zoom to Canal Street, which at that point is actually a working canal, the use of which isn't altogether clear to historians. We then bounce over to east side, zooming to an area from about Grand Street south to about 1/2 way between the present location of the Bklyn and Manhattan Bridges.

John Bute Holmes. Map of the Rutger’s Farm as It Existed in 1784, Accurately Made from Reliable Data. New York, 1874.

After fading into the modern view, we fade back to 1784, to a map that shows the actual farm itself, but on a map printed in 1874, with notations and colorations based on how the land of the farm was sold off. From the whole farm view, we zoom to the actual farmhouse (really a mansion). We then fade out the old map, and reveal what is now on the site, Jacob Riis Housing along the FDR.

William Perris. Maps of the City of New York. New York, 1857.

We then fade back into the historical, to 1857, Perris' Maps of the City... our first building level detailed maps of NYC, revealing the extent to which, in less than 100 years, the farm had been sold and the area fully developed into the vibrant, gritty city, complete with housing, shipyards, and industry all jumbled together. Then we zoom back up to see a collage of many sheets from Perris' Atlas mosaic- ed together.

Matthew Dripps. Sheet 4 from: Plan of New York City, from the Battery to Spuyten Duyvil Creek. New York, 1867.

The Dripps map shows a working port, booming by the 1867, with names of shipyards and all the associated businesses immediately onshore.

Do you want to explore old maps of your on neighborhood and create overlays to show how it changed? Try our digital map warper at!