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This perspective view, or vue d'optique, ostensibly of New York, was originally made to be seen through a viewing machine, through which it would appear as a three-dimensional scene. This engraving is a reversed version of one made by Balthazar Frederic Leizelt and published in Augsburg in 1776; that engraving copied the right half of English artist William Woollett's engraving View of the Royal Dockyard at Deptford (itself after a painting by Richard Paton and John Hamilton Mortimer). St. Alfege Church can be seen in the middle-ground.

Rue St, Jacques, in Paris' Latin Quarter, was the home of a number of establishments that made vues d'optique.

The inscription, translated, reads, "City situated in North America on the island of Manhattan near the mouth of the Hudson River, the Dutch started to build it in the year 1615 and named it New Amsterdam, but in 1666 they were deprived of it by the British, who named it New York."