A Bird’s Eye View of New York

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 on “A Bird’s Eye View of New York

    unitedstyleon November 30, 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.

    Joelon November 30, 2010 @ 10:41 AM:

    Very Cool. Are these for sale anywhere?

    Jeremyon November 30, 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 !

    greg chapmanon November 30, 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!

    AdamFitzon November 30, 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.

    ASMon November 30, 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.

    Michaelon November 30, 2010 @ 1:38 PM:

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


    Jonathan Gatlinon November 30, 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!

    James Con November 30, 2010 @ 1:48 PM:

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

    Tintinon November 30, 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.

    DSUon November 30, 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/

    Maryon November 30, 2010 @ 3:38 PM:

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

    Philipon November 30, 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

    S Mon November 30, 2010 @ 5:05 PM:

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

    TMHon November 30, 2010 @ 7:13 PM:

    Whats not to like? Thanks again Michael.

    Josephon November 30, 2010 @ 9:33 PM:

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

    Anuon December 1, 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.

    jcon December 1, 2010 @ 11:11 AM:
    Chrison December 2, 2010 @ 12:27 PM:

    That Brooklyn one is off the chain.

    Hopping Frogon December 2, 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.

    Thomon December 3, 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…

    Michael Williamson December 3, 2010 @ 2:14 PM:

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

    Thomon December 6, 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.

    Toddon December 7, 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.

    spencerqueon December 13, 2010 @ 4:17 PM:

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

    Wrecked Stellaron December 18, 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.

Comments are closed.