A Bird’s Eye View of New York | A Continuous Lean.

A Bird’s Eye View of New York

Nov 30th, 2010 | Categories: History, New York City | by Michael Williams

These bird’s eye view maps of New York and Brooklyn from the late 1890s and early 1900s really jumped out at me as something cool. I want one to become a giant mural in my apartment or office — that would be really amazing. I stumbled across hundreds of panoramic maps while digging around on the Library of Congress website and was immediately enamored. It would be cool to see a modern interpretation of this.

My apartment building was actually completed in 1905 and could have potentially showed up on a map like this, but these particular illustrations take a more simplistic view of the city showing mostly low rise buildings. Either way these are awesome and there are hundreds of cities in the collection. You can check them all out here.

Comments: 26

26 Comments to “A Bird’s Eye View of New York”

  1. unitedstyle
    on Nov 30th, 2010
    @ 10:23 AM

    I was looking at these same images for a project I had to do back in October. The LOC has a ton of great stuff in the public domain. Most are available to download in hi-res formats.

  2. Joel
    on Nov 30th, 2010
    @ 10:41 AM

    Very Cool. Are these for sale anywhere?

  3. Jeremy
    on Nov 30th, 2010
    @ 11:27 AM

    Check out the following book “Bird’s Eye Views: Historic Lithographs of North American Cities ” published by the Princeton Architectural Press – beautiful !

  4. greg chapman
    on Nov 30th, 2010
    @ 11:33 AM

    There is a book, Historic Maps of New York avaiable at the Tenements Museum!
    For those of you who haven’t been, awsome place, go see!

  5. AdamFitz
    on Nov 30th, 2010
    @ 11:36 AM

    This is one I have always loved. Not quite what you were mentioning but cool nonetheless.


    The Library of Congress is an amazing resource.

  6. ASM
    on Nov 30th, 2010
    @ 1:16 PM

    Go to Argosy on 59th St. in NYC – they have a whole floor dedicated to these things. I have a number of maps from there, they do a great job.

  7. Michael
    on Nov 30th, 2010
    @ 1:38 PM

    Modern interpretation? How about a scale model? Made for the World’s – effin’ – Fair, son!


  8. Jonathan Gatlin
    on Nov 30th, 2010
    @ 1:39 PM

    I love the LOC site! They are a great find and resource for maps, as well as documents. One of the best typgraphy sources! I always appreciate “inspired” design. Great Post!

  9. James C
    on Nov 30th, 2010
    @ 1:48 PM

    I have a great one of Brooklyn – high res. Let me know if you’d like it…

  10. Tintin
    on Nov 30th, 2010
    @ 2:01 PM

    The 2nd floor at Argosy has some mind blowing stuff. Amazing what you can get at the LOC. I was doing research there on Benedict Arnold and they wheeled out a cart of papers, game me cotton gloves and let me have it. One document was Arnold’s commission. Amazing to hold something like that.

  11. DSU
    on Nov 30th, 2010
    @ 2:06 PM

    I love these kind of images. You can find lots more old maps online at the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection: http://www.davidrumsey.com/

  12. Mary
    on Nov 30th, 2010
    @ 3:38 PM

    I’m downloading a high res image of Boston to print and frame right now – thanks!

  13. Philip
    on Nov 30th, 2010
    @ 3:52 PM

    Very cool!

    I found an old map of my city York, PA …and then found a zoomable version here: http://www.stockmapagency.com/1879_Map_of_York_UC-PENN-YORK1879-ANT.php

    Then, I found the building that I live in, old Masonic Hall built in 1863. http://i.imgur.com/Pjz6f.png

    This is what it looks like today: http://www.yorklinks.net/VirtYork/masonic.htm

  14. S M
    on Nov 30th, 2010
    @ 5:05 PM

    do you still have the links to where on the LOC site you find all of these maps?

  15. TMH
    on Nov 30th, 2010
    @ 7:13 PM

    Whats not to like? Thanks again Michael.

  16. Joseph
    on Nov 30th, 2010
    @ 9:33 PM

    It makes me so happy that you think these are cool.

  17. Anu
    on Dec 1st, 2010
    @ 12:35 AM

    You may also be able to find some maps on the New York Public Library’s “Digital Gallery”. They have free access to quite a few historical maps like this. What’s neat, though, is that you can order prints of various sizes from them (even framed ones) for a pretty decent price. Perhaps large enough even to make a “giant mural.”


    By the way, in no way do I work for NYPL. It just happens to sound that way. I’m Canadian and live in Canada.

  18. jc
    on Dec 1st, 2010
    @ 11:11 AM

    try also: http://www.philaprintshop.com/views.html

  19. Chris
    on Dec 2nd, 2010
    @ 12:27 PM

    That Brooklyn one is off the chain.

  20. Hopping Frog
    on Dec 2nd, 2010
    @ 3:56 PM

    What you really have to wonder is how they knew what it looked like from up there. They weren’t standing on a ladder.

  21. Thom
    on Dec 3rd, 2010
    @ 1:59 PM

    “These bird’s eye view maps…really jumped out at me as something cool….that would be really amazing.”

    Something has happened to the writing on this site…

  22. Michael Williams
    on Dec 3rd, 2010
    @ 2:14 PM

    Amazing to hear from you Thom. It would be really cool if you could continue to share your amazing feedback.

  23. Thom
    on Dec 6th, 2010
    @ 2:23 PM

    Yeah, as soon as I hit post I regretted it, but it was too late. The internet – letting you be a jerk at the speed of light.

    Like shopping when hungry – never comment when bored/annoyed.

  24. Todd
    on Dec 7th, 2010
    @ 12:35 PM

    If you watch the film “The Roaring Twenties” Jimmy Cagney has a large poster of this “birds eye view” of Manhattan on the wall in his office. The office for his illegal hooch operation. Good flick, it’s got Humphrey Bogart, 1939, classic Warner Brothers stuff.

  25. spencerque
    on Dec 13th, 2010
    @ 4:17 PM

    There’s a pretty cool bird’s eye interactive exhibit of NYC at the New York City Info Center.

  26. Wrecked Stellar
    on Dec 18th, 2010
    @ 10:18 AM

    My favorite part of these are the beautiful boats. I love that there are so many of them- it makes for a very communal vibe.