The use of maps, long before GPS, has been a very helpful tool, not just to find places, but for someone doing genealogy to better understand the areas their ancestors lived. True, you can visit an old family neighborhood today, but that general store or the three neighbor houses across from that of your grandparents might not be there anymore. However, on a vintage map / atlas — it is as if time stood still.
The New York Public Library has a massive collection of vintage atlases and maps for the New York City locations – Staten Island, Manhattan, Queens, Bronx and Brooklyn. There are some 11,600 timeless maps to view on the site. Many are the Perris maps, done as many fire insurance maps were done over the decades. There pinpointed businesses, homes, roads, public buildings, parks, churches, etc.
Look to the left on the site page and there are the different locations and types to select from.
Also, a number is shown of the number of maps / atlas for each. So detailed that most maps are just of places of a couple city blocks. There is also a search box in the upper right corner to assist your investigation. When you find a location of interest, click on the thumbnail to view it with greater detail. Then scroll down for more information, including dates.
To save a map to your computer, select from the sizes just under each map image. From 760 pixels to larger 2560 pixels is the range of sizes. Selecting the larger sizes does make it clearer especially when reading the details on a map. The Manhattan map shown for 1894 gives a good deal of details of each block in the neighborhood.
So with any ancestors from Staten Island, Manhattan, Queens, Bronx and Brooklyn, you will want to examine these maps and atlas by the NYC Public Library.
Photos: Atlas of Staten Island, Richmond County, New York, from official records and surveys; compiled and drawn by F. W. Beers; Bronx 1890s at Bronx River, Mechanic Street; Manhattan Map bounded by Murray St., Broadway, Dey St., College Pl in 1894 and Sanborn map of Bronx in 1898.
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