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American Shores Maps of the Middle Atlantic Region to 1850 The New York Public Library
Map Collection
Overview Basics of Maps Maps Through History Geographical Areas

North America

The Middle Atlantic is the gateway to the interior of North America via the Hudson, Potomac and Delaware rivers. Maps of North America display the Middle Atlantic region in the larger continental context from which it cannot be separated.

Looking at the North American maps through time, we can see the growing road and railroad networks edging westward, and settlements moving west along the river valleys and early roads toward the unknown interior.

A new & correct map of the trading part of the West Indies, 1741.
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Yellow tints link the British Isles with their holdings in the Americas from Canada to Jamaica and south to Tobago. There are views of Boston, New York, Mexico, Vera Cruz, Chagre, Porto Bello, Cartagena, Porto Rico, Panama, and Havana. California is shown as an island.
Porto Bello was captured by Admiral Edward Vernon, to whom this map is dedicated, in 1739. The capture was not too difficult, as the Spanish forts protecting the port were in disrepair. It is said that the victory “caused the people of England to go mad with excitement and joy.” Medals were cast with Vernon’s portrait, and “Vernon’s Head” became a popular pub sign. Vernon is most famous as the inventor of “grog,” the watered-down rum issued daily in partial payment to sailors. “Grog” was not well received at first, as it diluted the former half-pint rations of pure rum.

The English empire in America, ca. 1685.
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From Nathaniel Crouch’s promotional book, The English Empire in America, this map includes all the colonies from Newfoundland (inset), New England southward to Carolina, and barely, but importantly, at the lower right, includes “Barmudas” (Bermuda), which was part of the Virginia plantation until 1625. The map is filled with illustrations despite its very small size. Robert Burton (“R. B.”) was Crouch’s pseudonym.

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