Topographical Map of the City of New York
Viele, Egbert Ludovicus
Date of Creation:
"The most enduring nineteenth-century map of Manhattan is Egbert Ludovicus Viele's Water Map, which was first published in 1859 and is still in use today” (Augustyn & Cohen).
Viele’s iconic map of New York: “Topographical Map of the City of New York: showing original water courses and made land”, includes an inset of the northern tip of Manhattan showing Spuyten Duyvel Creek, and three cross sections of “Across Central Park”, “from 50th Street to Brooklyn Heights”, and “from Hoboken to Brooklyn”.
The Viele map of Manhattan, also published as the “Sanitary and Topographical Map of the City and Island of New York Prepared for the Council of Hygiene & Public Health, of the Citizens' Association”, remains the bible for many of the city's current structural engineers, “John Kyle, who served as chief engineer at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey when the foundation of the World Trade Center was being laid, referred often to his copy of the Viele Map” (Kurutz).
Beneath a grid of the streets of Manhattan the map shows the city's natural springs, marshes and meadowlands, Minetta Stream runs under Washington Square, uptown, near First Avenue and 103rd Street, water pools and collects in a large pond, a creek zigzags under the intersection of Broadway and 25th Street.
“In illuminating what the island looked like before it was filled in, paved over, dug up and forested with skyscrapers, the map provides information Manhattan builders find indispensable: where former underground streams are; where soil quality might be poor because of erosion; where the island's original shoreline ends and landfill begins. Despite its age, the map will most likely never be outdated or improved upon, in part because it would be nearly impossible to trace the island's streams today” (Kurutz).