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New York Harbor Quadricentennial Saluted with Extensive Exhibition
These antiquarian maps tell the story from a centuries-old perspective. Photo: Courtesy of The New York Public Library.
NEW YORK, NY.- The New York Public Library celebrates Henry Hudson and Dutch acumen with "Mapping New York's Shoreline: 1609-2009," a comprehensive exhibition featuring rare and extraordinary maps, atlases, books, journals, broadsides, manuscripts, prints, and an animation superimposing historical maps on a three-dimensional Google Earth model drawn primarily from the Library’s Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, and from other New York Public Library collections.

In September 1609, Henry Hudson sailed into New York Harbor and up the river that would later be named in his honor, performing detailed reconnaissance of the Valley region. Other explorers had passed by the hidden harbor, but did not fully comprehend the commercial, nautical, strategic, or colonial value of the area. Once these explorers returned to Europe, much of the information they had gathered was presented to mapmakers, whose works were engraved on copper and printed on handmade paper. These maps were then distributed to individuals and coffee-houses (the news outlets of the day), and pored over by dreamers, investors, and potential settlers in the “new land.” Four hundred years later, some of these same materials are on view at The New York Public Library.

Mapping New York's Shoreline explores the achievements of the Dutch in the New York City region, especially along the waterways forming its urban watershed, from the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound to the Hudson (or North) River and the Delaware (or South) River. Inspired by The New York Public Library's collection of Dutch, English, French and early American mapping of the Atlantic coastal regions, this exhibition features the best early and growing knowledge of the unknown shores along our neighboring rivers, bays, sounds, and harbors.

From the earliest mapping (1598) reflecting Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazano's brief visit, to the first English map of the area in 1664, to magnificently decorative Dutch charting of the Atlantic and the New Netherland region, these antiquarian maps tell the story from a centuries-old perspective, allowing visitors a glimpse at the modest beginnings of what is now one of the world’s great cities. A section on the Rutgers farm, an early Dutch brewery and farm situated in the present-day Lower East Side, illustrates the evolution of the metropolitan area from rural landscape to urban region in the course of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Contemporary issues confronting the area today are also represented in maps and text exploring growing environmental concern for this harbor and for the river enriching it. The exhibition includes a video of NYPL staff in the conservation division demonstrating the delicate work involved in protecting and preserving artifacts. The exhibition also includes a dynamic map animation superimposing the Library’s historical map collections on a rotating, three-dimensional Google Earth model. From paper maps to vapor maps created with computer technology, the rich and colorful story of New York’s shoreline is brought to life.

"Mapping New York’s Shoreline, 1609–2009" will be on view through June 26, 2010 in the D. Samuel and Jeane H. Gottesman Exhibition Hall at The New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.

The New York Public Library | Henry Hudson | Mapping New York's Shoreline |




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