Tuesday, May 31, 2011

the earliest map of Manhattan

The "Castello Plan", the earliest known map
of what is now New York City, drawn by
Jacques Cortelyou in 1660.
My ancestor Jacques Cortelyou was half-French and half-Dutch and was born and raised in the city of Utrecht, in what is now the Netherlands.  In his youth, he studied at the University of Utrecht.  He spoke French, Latin and Dutch, and was a mathematician, land surveyor, and was well-grounded in medicine. 

In 1652, Jacques (aged about 27) crossed the Atlantic and settled in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam (now Manhattan).  In 1657, Jacques was appointed Surveyor General for the colony of New Netherlands (in 1670, after the colony had been acquired by the English and renamed New York, he was again appointed Surveyor General).  As Surveyor General, Jacques founded and laid out two new towns.  First, in 1657, after buying the land from local Indians, Jacques surveyed and platted the town of New Utrecht (now in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of southwest Brooklyn).  Then in 1660, Jacques laid out the townsite of Bergen (now Bergen Square in Jersey City, New Jersey).  Jacques was also instrumental in helping to build the wall in New Amsterdam to guard against Native American attacks, for which the present day Wall Street derives its name. 

Jacques is most famous for his 1660 map and survey of New Amsterdam, which details what is now the southern tip of Manhattan.  His survey is the earliest known surviving map or plan of what is now New York City.  In 1667, the map was sold to Cosimo III, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and it remained in Italy for several hundred years.  The map is today called The Castello Plan because it was discovered in the Villa de Castello near Florence, Italy in 1900. 

It has been argued that the lands Jacques surveyed and platted are today among the most expensive real estate in the world.

My descent from Jacques:

Jacques Cortelyou
-Maria Cortelyou
--Jacques Barkeloo
---William Barkelow
----James Barkelow
-----Flora A. Bartlow
------Mary E. Murray
-------Vera V. Merriman
--------Ben Plymale
---------Barbara Plymale
----------Ryan Wadleigh

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