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John Anderson's Plan of New York City -- The First Large Format Plan of the City Published After the American Revolution

Virtually unknown first state of the first large-format plan of New York City published after the American Revolution, depicting a city fully recovered from the depredations of the war and beginning the explosive growth that made it the commercial capital of the world.


The plan (historically referred to as "the Maverick Plan", but now known to be the work of John Anderson) depicts the southern end of Manhattan Island, with streets laid out as far north as present-day Broome Street. Comparison with earlier plans reveals the rapid development of the city in the post-war years: the boundaries of the city's seven wards have been reorganized; the old Anglo-Dutch fort at the Battery razed and replaced with Government House; Broadway extended and Greenwich Street completed; the huge De Lancey and Rutgers estates (either side of Bowery Lane, and east of Catharine Street, respectively) surveyed in anticipation of development; and numerous public buildings, churches, markets and wharves constructed. Beyond modern-day Broome and Montgomery Streets dotted lines indicate the beginnings of work to extend the street grid further into what had been the old Stuyvesant Farm and became Bowery Village. The very western tip of Long Island is seen at lower right, linked to Manhattan by ferries to the Fly Market, Ferry Street and Catherine Street. A table at upper left identifies 43 landmarks including government buildings, churches, markets, and even "Bakers Tamony Museum" established by the (Jeffersonian) Republican-leaning Tammany Society.

The only post Revolutionary War plans of New York City which pre-date the Maverick Plan are the small maps which appeared in editions of The New-York Directory and Register beginning in 1789. These were modest in size, less detailed, more crudely engraved, and showed the city at a somewhat earlier stage of development.

Peter Rushton Maverick (1755-1811) was the patriarch of a family of New York engravers. His son Peter Maverick engraved among other things the seminal Mangin-Goerck (1803) and Bridges (1811) plans of the city.

John Anderson -- Mapmaker

While until recently, the identity of the mapmaker "J.A." was unknown, Ashley Baynton Williams reports as follows:

John Anderson can be conclusively identified as the mapmaker "J.A.:, who drew this plan of New York. The plan is referred to in John's diary for the period from 1794 up to his illness and death in September 1798 (now in the New York Historical Society). In the diary, he records that he "began to draw a plan of the city for Mr. Longworth ..." on 21st April, 1796; on 3rd May Longworth took delivery of the plan, for which Anderson charged him eight dollars."

Dating The Map and Its Different States

The plan is undated, but from internal evidence can be placed with confidence somewhere between late June 1795 and some time in the first part of 1796, a dating which is corroborated by the above referenced diary entry for John Anderson. Item 37 in the table of references identifies "Baker's Tamony Museum," a museum handed over by the Tammany Society to curator Gardiner Baker on June 25, 1795, "on condition that it was to be known for all time as the Tammany Museum and that each member of the society and his family were to have entrance free." (Gustavus Myers, History of Tammany Hall, p. 8). On the other hand the plan does not include important developments that appear on the monumental Taylor-Roberts plan of 1797, in particular the development of Stuyvesant family lands north of Grand Street.

The date of the map can be further narrowed to June 1795-mid/late 1796, based upon the following notice placed in the New York Daily Advertiser for May 9, 1796: "A large plan of the city of New York, is now engraving for Longworth's American Almanac and NEW-YORK DIRECTORY. Subscriptions for a few copies of said Plan separate from the Directory, price only four shillings, will be received by the Editor No. 66, Nassau Street." (p.3) Though the Almanack accordingly advertises that it is "embellished with an accurate Map of the City," the plan may never have been bound in; according to Wheat & Brun #391 and 395 "no copy [of the Almanack] is known with the map."

The plan was revised and reissued at least four times, with successive revisions reflecting the rapid development of the city and bearing the added imprint "Drawn and Engrav'd for D. LONGWORTH Map & Print Seller." The last known state is dated May, 1808. The sequence appears to be as follows, though it is possible there are additional states not identified by this writer:

  1. No date (but June 1795-1796), 43 references in table at upper left, no Longworth imprint (Probably Haskell, Manhattan Maps #630, possibly Wheat & Brun #391. The example offered here.)
  2. No date (but May 1796 or later), 45 references, Longworth imprint added (Probably Haskell #631 and Stauffer and Fielding, American Engravers #1047. For image see New York Public Library digital gallery #1650699.)
  3. Dated May 1803, 52 references (For image see NYPL digital gallery #434799.)
  4. Dated May 1804, 61 references (Arkway Catalog #39, item 30, incorrectly described as "third state.")
  5. Dated May 1808, 61 references (Haskell #632. For image see NYPL digital gallery #434800.)

There is also reason to speculate that the plan may have been published prior to the Daily Advertiser notice, as our first state of the plan does not reference Longworth, whereas all subsequent editions include the Longworth imprint. Therefore, it is also plausible that this the Daily Advertiser notice references the second state of the plan.

The map is likely the same edition as identifed by Haskell, Manhattan Maps, #630 (giving only an example at the New York Historical Society).

The plan is rare in all states, and it goes unnoticed in most of the standard references, including Augustyn & Cohen, Manhattan in Maps; Phillips, A List of Maps of America; Ristow, American Maps and Makers; Rumsey; Stokes, Iconography of Manhattan Island; or Stokes & Haskell, American Historical Prints. Antique Map Price Record lists only the Arkway example of the 4th state, offered for sale in 1992. It appears that there are perhaps 10-15 institutional examples of the various states of the map, but only one example of this first state is known, as only the example in the New York Historical Society does not include the attribution to Longworth.

A fine example of this remarkable survival.

Condition Description
Minor tears and cracks, repaired on verso. Minor loss at the bottom left and right corners, expertly restored in facsimile and a few other small losses in the blank sections.