By: Lauren Weissman, Alec Meacham, Nareena Imam, Huiwen Guan
1660 Map of New Amsterdam (New York City):
What is It?
Our artifact is a 1660 map called The Castello Plan. While the original is lost, it was last seen in 1916 in Villa di Castello when it was redrawn. The map shows Manhattan in the 17th century, a time when Wall Street was literally a wall built to section off the Dutch from the natives. While there are several street names that sound familiar to us today, such as Broadway, Wall Street, and Pearl Street, there are also a series of canals that are unfamiliar to us today. Reminiscent of life back in the Netherlands, the Dutch built these canals for easy transportation of goods in and out of the city. And even though the original map is lost, there is a popular 20th century copy currently on display in the New York Public Library.
1660 vs Today:
Our artifact is the Castello Plan, a 1660 redraft of an original Dutch map of New Amsterdam. It is one of the earliest known maps of Manhattan created by Jacques Cortelyou (ca. 1625 – 1693), a surveyor in the New Amsterdam. While the original survey has since been lost, a copy was created in 1665 by an anonymous individual. Presently, it is located in Italy, in a collection of Dutch maps that belonged to Cosimo de’ Medici III, who acquired it during a trip to Holland in 1669 from the cartographer Johannes Blaeu, who put it into an atlas.
Created only four years before the city would be renamed New York, the Castello Plan represents the progress towards colonization which the Dutch made between the years 1609, when Henry Hudson first discovered the region, and 1660. The infrastructure of the rising city is shown as seen in the layout of the streets but also included are elements of Dutch design and architecture as seen in the buildings and the inclusion of numerous gardens within the city walls, showing evidence of Dutch traces in horticulture in New York.
We chose to feature this artifact because of our connection with New York City, due to its proximity to New Jersey. It is a city we have been exposed to for years, and may have even walked past or seen things outlined in the Castello Plan. Previously, we did not consider the impact the Dutch had on New York because of the amount of time that has elapsed since they were here. However, this artifact shows us that we should be more aware of the Dutch presence, because it is deeply embedded in the history of the city.
As one of the earliest known maps of New York City, the Castello Plan is a symbol of how entwined the histories of America and the Dutch are. There is evidence that places relevant to residents even now have Dutch influences, such as buildings that still line the streets drawn carefully in the map. Documents along with the Castello Plan record the owners of buildings and what they did, showing that even back then New Amsterdam already had the diverse culture characteristic of modern day New York City.