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About this collection

Plan de la Ville et des faubourgs incorpores de la Nouvelle Orleans, accession number 1966.33.30, The Historic New Orleans Collection
Plan de la Ville et des faubourgs incorpores de la Nouvelle Orleans,
accession number 1966.33.30,
The Historic New Orleans Collection
The Historic New Orleans Collection has extensive holdings of significant manuscript and printed maps. Acquisition was begun by The Collection’s founder, General L. Kemper Williams, in the 1920s and ’30s. Since then considerable additions have been made including a wide range of maps dating from early colonial times to the present.
The map collection extends far beyond the New Orleans region to take in the Gulf Coast as well as eastern North America. Several of the earliest of these holdings-including a map of the Atlantic Ocean by the German Martin Waldeseemüller (1514) and a map of North America by Alexis Jaillot (1674)-predate France’s initial 1683 claim to the Louisiana territory.
Louisiana’s rich and diverse history is not confined within the boundaries of the present-day state, as demonstrated by the broad reach of the Louisiana territory depicted on eighteenth-century maps from mapmakers such as France’s Guillaume de L’Isle (1718) and Britain’s John Senex (1710, 1718). Late eighteenth-century maps of the Mississippi River and the Gulf Coast by British cartographers such as Thomas Jeffries and Lieutenant Ross illustrate the importance of these areas for military and trade purposes.
Following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the modern contours of Louisiana began to take shape. A map of the territory of Orleans by Barthélémy Lafon (1806) is the earliest large-scale printed map to show the basic configuration of the region that, in 1812, would become the state of Louisiana. The prominent American cartographers Mathew Carey (1814), William Darby (1816), and Maxfield Ludlow (ca. 1820) were among the first to produce printed maps of the state. The Collection’s holdings also include maps from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries depicting the state’s topography, municipalities, transportation networks, economic development, and natural resources.
New Orleans, founded in 1718, has long ranked among the most important strategic sites in North America-and, through much of the nineteenth century, stood as the financial hub of the South. Early eighteenth-century maps by Gonichon (1728), Thomas Jeffreys (1759), and Jacques Bellin (1764) reveal settlement concentrated in today’s French Quarter, while later maps by Barthélémy Lafon (1816), Jacques Tanesse (1817), Charles F. Zimpel (1833), Francis Barber Ogden (1829), J.Hirt (1841), and S. Pinistri (1841) show the city’s expansion into subdivisions along relatively high ground adjacent to the Mississippi River and atop nearby ridges in the area’s swampy terrain. A superb map by Thomas Sydenham Hardee’s (1878) and the detailed fire insurance atlas of E. Robinson and R. H. Pidgeon (1883) document continued expansion in the later decades of the nineteenth century. Of more recent vintage are transit, topographic, and tourist maps that provide further insight into twentieth-century growth of the metropolitan area.
One of the defining events in American history is the Battle of New Orleans, staged just downriver from the city in January 1815. Among the related holdings at The Collection are surveyor Arcène Lacarrière Latour’s published plans of the battle, Barthélémy Lafon’s manuscript drawings of nearby forts, and a manuscript plan of British and American battle lines drawn by British soldier John Peddie.
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