Discovering New Amsterdam – 1600’s Cartography

One of the earliest maps of New Amsterdam is displayed right below this paragraph. The map displays a very basic illustration of lower Manhattan and was originally produced in 1664. The map was produced for James the Duke of York in order to lay down the first plans for the construction of a new Colony. Below the map we will examine and explore various cartographic attributes that make this map absolutely stunning. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them below!

Quite an interesting early map of New Amsterdam we have displayed above! There is no doubt in my mind that this map was originally produced in 1664 as you can see a developmental and early illustration of lower Manhattan. The other aspects that overwhelmingly confirm the publication date is the spelling as well as the labellings throughout this map. Longe Isleland is obviously spelled quite different then it is today and to the left of the map you can clearly see the labeling “The Dukes Plan” “A Description of the Towne of Mannados-(Manhattan) or New Amsterdam”. Also if we look at the river on the opposite side of long island we see “Hudfrons River”, an old spelling of the Hudson River no doubt.

This map presents many clues to us about what New York City was like back in 1664. For example look at the plentiful amount of ships over in the East River. What this tells me is that many ships back in the mid 1600’s were landing and porting their ships along this area and were provided with easier access to the Atlantic ocean from side of New Amsterdam. Its even true today that more ships are in port along the East River, look at where the U.S. Naval Shipyard is… located on the East River for easy access to the Atlantic.

We can obviously see that lower Manhattan in this map is somewhat underdeveloped. From the looks of it, it seems there were only 3 avenues and mini neighborhoods scattered throughout Manhattan’s lower quarter. Beyond these locations we see sporadic illustrations possibly detailing the planning of new neighborhoods and or developing and clearing the land on the island. The lower quarter of New Amsterdam is drawn with a vertical line with 5 pointed dividers. This line on the map represents the fortifications built on the upper section of this colony. I have evidence to support this finding that this is a fortification by cross-referencing it with another map of New Amsterdam below:

Fortifactions new amsterdam numbered

Notice the 5 points in the image above, well there are also 5 points in the same location on the map above this one. So without a doubt I can tell you that they fortified this section of New Amsterdam.

Another aspect that stands out to me that are on both of these maps is the fortification located at the southern tip of lower Manhattan. This fort has been called so many different names throughout time. It has been called Fort Amsterdam, Fort George, Fort William Henry and much more. But as you can see on both maps It gave the dutch a strategic advantage to defending lower Manhattan. Not only did it provide an advantage with line of site scouting for invaders coming from the Atlantic or the Hudson, but it also contributed and gave the Dutch a strategic vantage point for their cannons to fire upon incoming ships as well a fall back location for the island as a whole. The 1st map displayed does not display the cannons in the 4 quadrants of the fort. The 2nd map displayed though overwhelmingly does.

fort amsterdam cannonsThese are just a few of the various historical aspects that we’ve explored and uncovered on these old vintage maps of New Amsterdam. Please feel free to subscribe to our blog on the right hand side! We will be continuing this exploration of History of New York City and we blog constantly. If you have any questions or comments about this post please feel free to comment below!


New York City Map – Messenger Bags

Introducing…. drumroll please…… New York City map messenger bags! That’s right, sport your love for the greatest city in the world on these customly design Rickshaw messenger bags. The bags are manufactured with a rugged polyester material, their dimensions are 11″ hieght x 18″ width x 6″ Depth. The bags are also water resistant and machine-washable. The inside of the bag has 1 large main compartment accompanied by 2 front pockets. It’s extremely lightweight and comfortably accompanies a persons body. The bag can easily hold a 13″ laptop and comes with a quick adjust should strap. The maps that are designed on these messenger bags range in publication dates. Some were originally produced as early as the 1600’s all the way to the 1900’s. The maps also range in perspective in that some are birds-eye perspective maps and others are overhead 2D maps. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to leave them below. Also feel free to click on the images and link to take a closer look at these wonderful New York City Map messenger bags.

Vintage Map of New York City (1911) Courier Bag
Vintage Map of New York City (1911) Courier Bag by Alleycatshirts
Look at more New york city Messenger Bags at zazzle
Vintage Map of New York City (1886) Messenger Bag
Vintage Map of New York City (1886) Messenger Bag by Alleycatshirts
Check out New york city Messenger Bags online at zazzle

New York City History in 1787

The city received a sudden, strong, healthful, forward impetus in the spring of 1787, through large accessions of its population. Every dwelling-house was occupied. Rents went up, doubling in some instances, fresh paint and new shutters and wings transformed old tenements, and carpenters and masons found ready employment in erecting new structures. The streets were cleaned and pavements mended. New business firms were organized and old warehouses remodeled; the markets were extended and bountifully supplied, and stores blossomed with fashionable goods. Wall street, the great center of interest and of fashion, presented a brilliant scene every bright afternoon. Ladies in showy costumes, and gentlemen in silks, satins, and velvet, of many colors, promenaded in front of the City Hall – where congress was holding its sessions. At the same time Broadway, from St. Paul’s Chapel to the Battery, was animated with stylish equipages, filled with pleasure-seekers who never tired of the life-giving, invigorating, perennial seabreeze, or the unparalleled beauty of the view, stretching off across the varied waters of New York Bay.

The social world was kept in perpetual agitation through distinguished arrivals from various parts of the United States, and from Europe. Dinners and balls were daily occurences. Secretary and Mrs. Jay entertained with graceful ease, gathering about them all that was ost illustrious in statesmanship and letters; they usually gave one ceremonious dinner every week, sometimes two. Their drawing-rooms were also thronged on Thursdays, Mrs. Jay’s day “at home”; and evening parties were given at frequent intervals. The manners of Secretary Jay were described by Europeans as affable and unassuming; and his purity and nobility of character impressed the whole world in his favor. He dressed in simple black, wearing his hair slightly powdered and tied in the back. His complexion was without color. His eyes were dark and penetrating, as if the play of thought never ceased, but the general expression of his face was singularly amiable and tranquil. Mrs. Jay was admirably fitted, through her long residence in the Spanish and French capitals, and her own
personal and intellectual accomplishments, for the distinguished position of leader of society in the American Capital. She dressed richly, and in good taste, and observed the most rigid formalities in her intercourse with the representatives of foriegn nations.

Nothing better illustrates the spirit and character of this formative period than the movements in its polite and every-day life. But a mere glimpse must suffice. The infant republic was interesting, and vastly promising, while it had not yet learned to walk. Its capital was the sea of a floating community composed of the most diverse elements. Curiosity, critism, and cavil were in the air. The importance attached to the doing of national hospitalities in the Old World, could not be ignored in the New. Entertainments were something more than mere profitless amusements; then, as before and since, there were strong links in the chain which binds nations together.

New York City Historical Street Scene Photography

In this post we are going to take a look at a few photographs in our collection that consists of various aspects and perspectives relative to the streets of NYC. Below each photograph we will give a brief synopsis pertaining to various elements of the photographs. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below!

Elevated Railroad on 110th street NYC – 1896

Interesting photograph we have here. What we can see is an elevated railway about 8 stories in elevation. Based on the leafless tree in the foreground what I can assume is that this photograph was taken either during the fall, winter, or early spring. Underneath the elevated train we can see people walking along the roadway. To the bottom right of the photograph we see excavated land which might be the early stages of the construction of a new building. What I find most interesting about this photograph is the fact that the train on top of the elevated railway is a steam engine. Very rarely throughout history has there ever been Elevated Steam Engine trains, the exception for this is of course trains that traveled over rivers and valleys (bridges). Seeing a steam engine though on an elevated railway just seems abnormal.

Busy Broadway Street – 1897

Wow is Broadway in New York City busy or what in this photograph! Look at the amount of people on the sidewalks as well as the carts going down the street. In the foreground of the photograph we can see a trolly car with a few passengers upon it. In the middle of the photograph on the left side of the street we can see scaffolding with what appears to be 4 men on the very top of it. I’ve zoomed into the photograph and it’s quite grainy, but I can make out that 1 man is on his hands and knees (repairing something?), while 3 other people watch over him. Behind the men on the corresponding building there is a large sign that reads “To Lease”. I’m guessing that these men are working on the build (remodeling) for which to hopefully get it lease out for someone who would like to start a business. On the far right side of the photograph in the foreground we see a lamp post (oil lamp post) that extends to about 2-3 stories high. Ultimately though if we look at the photograph as a whole we get the idea of how busy Broadway was and the amount of commerce that was going on.

Union Square in NYC – 1893

This photograph displays Union Square in New York City in 1893. In the photograph we see many horse carriages as well as many NYC patrons walking on foot paths throughout the square. The trees along the footpaths have no leaves and are bare, telling us that this photograph was probably taken around the winter months. On the left and the bottom of the photograph we see trolly railways that extend and fork off at Union Square. At the bottom of the photograph we also see a small monument.

Immigrant and a Pretzel Vendor in NYC – 1896

I like this photograph a lot because you get to know the population and the individual street life of people in New York City in 1896. What we see here is an immigrant on the left and a female pretzel vendor on the right. The man on the left is holding a pipe in his hand. The woman pretzel vendor on the right looks like she is holding a handful of pretzels in his left hand and possibly some potatoes in her right hand. To the right of the woman there seems to be many different baskets of food. The baskets in the backgrounds seem to consist mostly of pretzels or some other type of pastry food.

Postman at a Letterbox in NYC – 1896

In this photograph we obviously can see a United States Postman retrieving mail from a letterbox. The New York City postman uniform is quite interesting if you taken notice at his hat. His hat in a sense almost resembles that of a policemen or military helmet. It looks like he wears a suit-like uniform with leather shoes.  His leather mail-bag is HUGE, I’m guessing he travels down numerous streets throughout various parts of New York City.  From looking at the background architecture of the buildings in this photograph, I have ascertained that this is 5th avenue. The organization of the streets, the overwhelming lack of businesses, the lack of densely populated crowds absolutely says that this is 5th avenue.

Chatham Street in NYC History

The oldest inhabitant cannot remember when Chatham street did not exist. It still contains many half decayed houses which bear witness to its antiquity. It begins at City Hall Place, and ends at Chatham Square. It is not over a quarter of a mile in length, and is narrow and dirty. The inhabitants are principally people of the Jewish faith and low class foreigners. Near the lower end are one or two good restaurants, and several cheap hotels, but the remainder of the street is taken up with establishments into which respectable buyers do not care to venture. Cheap lodging houses abound, pawnbrokers are numerous, several fence stores are to be found here, and some twenty or twenty-five cellars are occupied as dance houses and concert saloons. These are among the lowest and vilest of their kind in New York.

Chatham street is the paradise of dealers in mock jewelry and old clothes. Some of the shops sell new clothing of an inferior quality, but old clothes do most abound. Here you may find the cast-off finery of the wife of a millionaire—the most of it stolen—or the discarded rags of a pauper. It seems as if all New York had placed its cast-off clothing here for sale, and that the stock had accumulated for generations. Who the dealers sell to is a mystery. You see them constantly inviting trade, but you rarely see a customer within their doors.


Honesty is a stranger in Chatham street, and any one making a purchase here must expect to be cheated. The streets running off to the right and left lead to the Five Points and similar sections, and it is this wretched portion of the city that supports trade in Chatham street. The horse car lines of the east side pass through the entire length of the street, and the heaviest portion of the city travel flows through it, but respectable people rarely leave the cars in this dirty thoroughfare, and are heartily glad when they are well out of it. The buildings are generally old and dilapidated. The shops are low and dark. They are rank with foul odors, and are suggestive of disease. The men and women who conduct them look like convicts, and as they sit in their doorways watching for custom, they seem more like wild beasts waiting for their prey, than like human beings. Even the children have a keener, more disreputable appearance here than elsewhere.

The Chatham street merchants are shrewd dealers, and never suffer an opportunity to make a penny to pass by unimproved. They are not particular as to the character of the transaction. They know they are never expected to sell honestly, and they make it a rule not to disappoint their customers. One of their favorite expedients to create trade in dull times is called a “forced sale.” They practise this only on those whom they recognize as strangers, for long experience has enabled them to tell a city man at a glance. A stranger walking along the street will be accosted by the proprietor of a shop and his clerks with offers of “sheap” clothing. If he pauses to listen, he is lost. He is seized by the harpies, who pretend to assist him, and is literally forced into the shop. He may protest that he does not wish to buy anything, but the “merchant” and his clerks will insist that he does, and before he can well help himself, they will haul off his coat, clap one of the store coats on his back, and declare it a “perfect fit.” The new coat will then be removed and replaced by the old one, and the victim will be allowed to leave the shop. As he passes out of the door, the new coat is thrust under his arm, and he is seized by the proprietor and his assistants, who shout “stop thief!” and charge him with stealing the coat. Their noise, and the dread of being arrested upon a charge of theft, will frequently so confuse and frighten the victim that he will comply with their demand, which is that he shall buy the coat. This done he is suffered to depart. A refusal to yield would not injure him, for the scoundrels would seldom dare to call in the police, for fear of getting themselves into trouble with the officials. They have reckoned with certainty, however, upon the stranger’s timidity and bewilderment, and know they are safe.

Decorating with New York City Maps

Let’s face it, we all have an inherent love for New York City and often times individually we strive to find ways to express that love. Whether you have a New York City apartment or you live in far and distant places throughout the world, there is something special about bringing NYC decor to a bedroom, living room, kitchen, game room etc. The desire to decorate a space with the most popular metropolitan city in the world, sends the message that you adore urban landscapes, modernism and have a romantic relationship with metropolitan culture. New York City maps I believe are great decorative items that fully infuse the decorative appeal of the NYC culture and modernism as a whole. So lets examine the various ways New York City maps can be used in terms of decorating a space.

Obviously we should start off by saying that framed wall prints are the easiest way to decorate a room with New York City maps. They’re perfect in almost any working or living space. They add value, charm and nostalgia to room. They can be produced at home for a minimal cost simply by using a home printer and searching online. Professional looking prints can be purchased at numerous different online sites in various different styles and paper types and often times never break a budget.

There are many other items perfect for adding New York City decor to any room. For example a New York City Map throw blanket would be absolutely perfect to hang on the back of a couch. A New York City map wall clock would be perfect to hang in an office or a garage. A New York City map lamp and lamp shade would be perfect for an end table in either a bedroom or beside a couch. New York City map throw pillows can make a bed or a couch look like a NYC haven. A New York City map dart board can add fun an enjoyment to any game room. The possibilities are literally endless. These are just a few of the decorative ideas that we’re putting out there. If you can think of some more examples, we’d like to hear what you guys think! Below are a few decorative items that we have on our shop just to spark your imagination. Tell us what you think!

Vintage Map of Lower New York City (1807) Desk Lamps
Vintage Map of Lower New York City (1807) Desk Lamps by Alleycatshirts
Find other New york city Lamp-In-A-Box Lamp at
Vintage Map of New York City Harbor (1864) Desk Lamp
Vintage Map of New York City Harbor (1864) Desk Lamp by Alleycatshirts
Shop for New york city Lamp-In-A-Box Lamp online at

Irish Pioneers of New York City

Among the North of Ireland emigrants to New York are many who figured prominently in the religious life of the colony. Rev. Charles Inglis, afterwards Rector of Trinity Church, came here as a missionary in 1759. In 1766 Philip Embury arrived, and founded the John Street Church. He is among the pioneers of the Methodist Episcopal Church in America. In that year Paul Runkle, Luke Rose, Jacob Heck, Peter Barkman and Henry Williams, all referred to as Irish Palatines, landed. Charles White and Richard Sause, prominent in Methodist circles, came from Dublin in 1766, and later, John McClaskey and Paul Hick.

Major Henry Dawson left Dublin in 1760 and resided here for many years, serving as Clerk of the Common Council for twenty-six years. Among the freemen of the city we find the
following significant names: 1740, Bartholomew Ryan; 1741, John Ryan and John Lamb; 1743, Patrick Phagan, John McGie, John Christie, John Brannigan, John Connelly, Andrew Cannon, William Blake; 1744, Andrew Carrol, Anthony Glin; 1745, Benjamin Daly, John Carr, Bryan Nevin; 1746 Donald McCoy, Hugh Rogers; 1747, Timothy Allan, Hugh Mulligan, James Welch, Hugh Gill, John McGoers, Jr., Alexander McCoy; 1748 Philip Hogan, Matthew Morris; 1749, Alexander Connelly, physician. In 1761 the poll list included seventy-four characteristic Irish names.

Immigration from Ireland to the colonies in general did not become noticable until 1718. It was then a steady influx, though not very large in numbers, until 1755, when it fell off and remained of less amount until after the American Revolution. At the outset, the Irish families immigranting were almost entirely Presbyterians. The first Presbyterian clergyman in New York was Rev. Francis McKemie, born in Ireland, who arrived here in 1707. He was a brave and fearless man, whose pulput utterances led to his trial for libel, upon which he was aquitted. The large Catholic exodus did not begin until after
American Independence had been achieved.

A prominent citizen of New York in the eighteenth century was Sir Peter Warren, born in County Meath in 1702, and the uncle of the famous William Johnson, also born in County Meath in 1715, whose life is a romance. Warren was a very heavy real estate holder in the city, owning 260 acres here, much of his holdings being of land which since has become enormously valuable. Warren Street is named after him. He was a prominent social figure in Colonial life. Among the names of those who were active in commercial life in New York City, prior to the American Revolution, are many Irishmen, who figured as some of the most successful and reputable merchants of their time. Such were the two Wallances, Alexander and Hugh, who were in business from 1750, Hugh being the second President of the Chamber of Commerce; Miles Sherbrooke, one of the founders of the Chamber
in 1768, and a member of the Committee of Correspondence, the advance guard of the Revolution; Patrick McDavitt, an auctioneer in Kings Street, from 1768; Alexander Mulligan, an importer of Irish goods, beef, linen, and other commodities; Hercules Mulligan, a merchant tailor; Oliver Templeton, an auctioneer; Daniel McCormick, also an auctioneer. During the time of the Revolution and following it, we find the names of Michael Connolly, dealer of lumber; William and James Constable, in the West Indian, China and Indian Trade; the Pollacks, Carlisle, George and Hugh; John Haggerty, an autioneer; William Edgar; John Glover; John W. and Philip Kearney, commision merchandise; John and Nathan McVickar, linen drapers; Alexander McComb, a fur dealer and then a land speculator, who invested heavily in city real estate; and Michael Hogan, in the commission and shipping business, who owned, and in memory of his birthplace in County Clare, named the northern part of his holdings, Claremont. All these men were reprentative, flourishing men, who stood as high in public esteem as any of the residents of the city of that day. They were all either Irish by birth or by immediate descent. How many of their poorer fellow-countrymen were then here we have no means of knowing, but it is signifigant that while the Jewish people had a synagogue here from 1730, there was no Catholic place of worship from the time when Dongan had Mass said within the Fort until the year 1786.