The 1664 plan of New York, commonly referred to as “The Duke’s Plan”, is one of the earliest hand-drawn maps of the city, and to this day — one of the most attractive. The colorful gold-leafed vellum manuscript claims to depict the city in 1661, yet English warships and English flags are added. It was produced supposedly in 1664, shortly after the English took over the city from the Dutch. The plan was seemingly crafted after Jacques Cortelyou’s 1660 Castello Plan and allegedly presented to the Duke of York, (the future King James II of England), in hope that he would allow the newly acquired English territory to be named after him.
The full map title reads: A Description of the Towne of Mannados: or New Amsterdam as it was in September 1661 lying in Latitude 40 de: and 40 m: Anno Domini 1664. (“Mannados” appears to be yet another unfortunate European attempt to transliterate or pronounce a Native American word, namely Manna-hata, Manahata, or Mannahatta [Manhattan].) The map is oriented with ESE at the top with part of Long Island (Longe Isleland) included in the upper portion of the layout, and the Jersey shore on the bottom, marked as “The Maine Land”.
The invaluable manuscript was all but forgotten at the British Library (then King’s Library at the British Museum), where in 1858 it was discovered by George Henry Moore, the librarian of the New-York Historical Society. The map was first revealed to the general public in 1859 through numerous quickly produced facsimiles. All of the 19th-century lithographic reproductions include the title “The Duke’s Plan” in quotes and brackets, as Moore had made the public claim that the plan was indeed produced for the Duke of York — a claim that has yet to be substantiated.
• New York in 1661, an early manuscript plan of New Amsterdam drawn in 1664, aka The Duke’s Plan
• Title: A Description of the Towne of Mannados or New Amsterdam as it was in September 1661
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