Fine Revolutionary War-era map of Manhattan Island and surroundings, issued in the London Magazine for April 1778. The city was at the time occupied by the British Army and would remain so until the end of the Revolution.
The map depicts the whole of Manhattan Island as well as western Long Island, southwest Westchester County, and New Jersey along the Hudson River… in short, the setting of the 1776 New York campaign, which resulted in the British occupation of New York and Washington’s evacuation to New Jersey of the remnants of the Continental Army. The map depicts the region’s topography, albeit sketchily, along with roads, areas of settlement, war-era fortifications and forts, and a wealth of other features such as the difficult waters around Hell Gate at the head of the East River. At the southern tip of Manhattan, the city of New York has extended north toward what is now City Hall Park, with recent growth in the population up the Bowery, then a major highway leading toward the Eastern or Boston Post Road. And yet the map remains an effective visual reminder of just how little of Manhattan was actually settled in the 18th century.
This view appeared across from page 147 of the London Magazine for April 1778, illustrating the article “Description of New York Island, and the adjacent Country, with a new Map…” Manhattan had been occupied by the British since the Fall of 1776, and in April 1778 conditions in New York City must have been somewhat hellish, crowded with refugees, many of its buildings leveled during the Great Fire of September 1776, its trees and fence poles taken up for firewood, and plagued by the wartime afflictions of martial law, scarcity and illness. The Magazine’s readers, many of whom would have been serving with the Army in and around New York, would likely have reviewed this map with considerable interest.
Haskell, Manhattan in Maps, #518. Jolly, Maps of America in Periodicals before 1800, #324. Phillips, Maps of America, p. 522.