Long Island Unveiled: Early Colonial Maps


It took European explorers and colonists more than 200 years to determine the shape of Long Island. The earliest maps, which are based on the voyages of Verazzano, show Long Island as a peninsula named "Flora." The first map to show Long Island as an island was made by the Dutch explorer Adriaen Block in 1614. Gradually the Dutch colonists and their English successors, made increasingly detailed and accurate maps. A highpoint of the early mapping of Long Island is the Ryder map of 1674 (shown below), which is the first map of Long Island made by a professional surveyor. But the Ryder map was not well known, and subsequent mapmakers continued to produce highly distorted maps of Long Island well into the eighteenth century.

Giacomo di Gastaldi [New France], 1556.
Detail showing Long Island as "Flora."
(Courtesy of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University.)




William Janzoon Blaeu, New Belgium and New England , 1635.
Detail showing Long Island and Natives in canoes.
(Courtesy of SUNY Stony Brook.)




Anonymous, Manhattan on the North River, 1639.
Detail showing Dutch settlements on Manhattan and Native longhouse in Brooklyn.
(Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.)




Nicholaes Visscher, New Belgium and New England, 1656
Detail from a facsimile showing Long Island.
(Courtesy of the State University of New York at Stony Brook.)





Arendt Roggeveen, Map of New Netherland, 1675.
Detail showing Long Island.
(Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.)



John Seller, A Chart of the Sea Coasts of New-England, New Jarsey, Virginia, Maryland and Carolina--from C. Cod to C.Hatteras, 1675.
Early English map influenced by Dutch maps and by John Scott map.
(Courtesy New York State Library.)



Robert Ryder, Long Island Sirvaide by Robartte Ryder, [1674].
First map of Long Island based on an actual survey.
(Courtesy of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University.)



Philip Welles, [Draught of a Tract of Land on the East Side of Cow Neck on Long Island], 1683.
Map of Hempstead Harbor showing property boundaries and possible Native wigwams.
(Courtesy New York State Archives.)



John Thornton, Part of New England, New York, East New Iarsey, and Long Island, 1689.
Famous nautical chart based in part on the Ryder map.
(Courtesy of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University.)



Robert Morden, A Map of ye English Empire in the Continent of America, 1690.
Detail showing whaling off the coast of Long Island.
(Courtesy of New York Public Lbrary.)



Johann Baptista Homann, New England in North America, 1710.
Detail showing Long Island; copied from a variety of Dutch maps.
(Courtesy New York State Library)



Cyprian Southack, A Map of the Coast of New England, [1730].
Detail showing an elongated Long Island.
(Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division)



Jacques Nicolas Bellin, Map of New England, 1757.
One of the many 18th-century British and French maps showing influence of Southack.
(Courtesy of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University)



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