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Description

Laying Out Plots in Midtown, including the Location of Studio 54.

Two highly finished large manuscript maps of real estate in Midtown West, comprising land between 9th Avenue and Bloomingdale Road (i.e., Broadway), bounded by 53rd Street on the south and 54th street on the north. Altogether the two maps cover 133 plots. Both maps are dated "July 1848" and signed "John J Serrell".

These maps are characteristic of the slow subdivision and sale of the large 17th and 18th century Manhattan estates. At one point, the Harsen family owned hundreds of acres of land in Midtown West and the Upper West Side.

John J. Serrell

John J. Serrell was City Surveyor in New York throughout the 1840s and '50s. Most of his maps seem to be focused on the Upper West Side and Midtown, which makes sense given the development of New York City in this period.

Serrell also surveyed for Jacob Harsen, M.D., the grandson of the owner of the present property. Those surveys can be differentiated by his use of "John Harsen, M.D." as opposed to "John Harsen, Decd."

John J.'s younger brother, John E. Serrell, was also a surveyor. Much of the latter's cartographic output is in the collections of the New York Public Library, in the Serrell-Opdycke-Patrick Papers, ca. 1828-1963.

Jacob Harsen

The Harsen family were among the earliest Dutch settlers of Manhattan.

The New York State Library includes papers of the Harsen and Dyckman families and gives the following biography of Jacob Harsen:

In 1773 Jacobus Harsen (1750-1835), the eldest son of Johannas Harsen and Rachel Dyckman Harsen, married Catharine Cozine (1750-1835), whose family had immigrated to Manhattan in 1684. The approximately 122-acre Cozine family estate, the title to which was given by the Duke of York, stretched between the North and East rivers in northern Manhattan that adjoined the Dyckman family estate.  Jacobus Harsen, who is sometimes referred to by the Anglicized name "Jacob", was active in New York City's political life, serving as both alderman and city magistrate. Jacobus was also an active member of the Reformed Dutch Church, serving as a ruling elder. 

Jacob's children and grandchildren were prominent in New York City life. His grandson, also Jacob, was a prominent Manhattan physician.

"Harsenville" -- named for the family -- is a "lost village" of the Upper West Side. The website 6sqft gives the following description:

Harsenville ran from 68th Street to 81st Street, between Central Park West and the Hudson River. It began in 1701 when Cornelius Dyckman bought a 94-acre farm at Broadway and 73rd Street. His daughter Cornelia then married a farmer named Jacob Harsen, and they built their homestead at Tenth Avenue and 70th Street in 1763. Other farming families began to follow suit, setting up what became a small village, complete with schools, churches, and shops. At its height, it had 500 residents and 60 buildings, thanks largely to the perfect-for-tobacco soil and waterfront views. Harsenville Road was the main street, and it ran through present-day Central Park.

Condition Description
Ink and watercolor manuscript. Laid on original canvas with original selvage. Watermarked "JWhatman | Turkey Mill | 1847".