History unfolds in a single map image. Amazing. THIS is the power of an archival collection.

MCNY Blog: New York Stories

Not too long ago, I was looking through our map collection with Andrea Renner, one of the Museum’s Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Curatorial Fellows, who assisted curator Hilary Ballon on the The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811-2011, on view at the Museum through July 15.  We came across the map below. I’d seen it before, but been puzzled by the what it was meant to depict.

The map shows the intersection of Spring and Varick Streets. A barricade of sorts has been erected at the west side of the intersection, running across Spring Street, and two figures are fighting in the middle with what appear to be swords.

On closer inspection, it becomes apparent the barricade is made of carts, and in addition to the two figures fighting in the center of the streets, the intersection is completely surrounded by armed figures.  Andrea viewed hundreds of…

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