Large Photographic Aerial Maps of NYC Neighborhoods
Hamilton Aerial Map Service: 1927

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Detail of Central Park Detail of inset map

Above left: Detail of the northeast corner of Central Park and surrounding streets.
Above right: Detail of diagram of Manhattan that appears in the right margin of each map.

W.L. Hamilton
The Hamilton Aerial Map of Manhattan
Hamilton Maxwell Inc., New York: September 1927
Photographic prints on paper
28 x 27.75 inches, image
31.5 x 34 inches, overall
Price on Request

This is a selection of rare, large, photographic aerial maps of neighborhoods in Manhattan in 1927. The maps show the exact layout of New York City, including streets, buildings, parks, rivers and waterways, bridges, railways, piers, etc. Each map includes a small diagram of Manhattan in the right margin, showing the location of the applicable section, and a compass pointer indicating north. In the left margin is a street index. Each map is labeled in white lettering with names of streets, bridges, and rivers. Also indicated are subways and elevated train lines, and some street numbers.

Among the neighborhoods represented in these aerial maps (though not denominated as such) are the Upper East and West Sides, Midtown, Gramercy, Murray Hill, Kip’s Bay, Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, Union Square, Greenwich Village, SoHo, Chinatown, Little Italy, the East Village, the Lower East Side, Tribeca, the Financial District, East and West Harlem, and Upper Manhattan.

George Glazer Gallery's copy of the Hamilton map of Midtown between 22nd and 42nd Streets was included in The Greatest Grid, an exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York (December 2011 through July 15, 2012) of maps documenting the development of the grid system of mapping Manhattan. The wall label accompanying that map explains that it clearly shows how the blocks on the West Side are significantly longer than those on the East Side. In 1961, "when the Manhattan grid was under attack by superblock planning," Jane Jacobs argued in her influential book The Death and Life of Great American Cities that the East Side's shorter blocks were preferable because they created "more intersections and corners" for social interaction to take place.

Read more about The Greatest Grid exhibition and book, or order the book here.

These maps were published as a set by The Hamilton Aerial Map, one of the two pioneering firms in this field for New York City cartography. In the 1920s, commercial aviation, still in its early stages, combined with photography, gave a new dimension to map making, enabling the production of photographically accurate aerial maps. The Fairfield Aerial Camera Corporation published an aerial map of Manhattan in 1921 and one of Greater New York City in 1924. The Hamilton Aerial Map Service project published in 1927 by Hamilton Maxwell Inc. was reproduced at a larger scale (1 inch = 200 feet) and consisted of 31 maps of neighborhoods in the Borough of Manhattan.

We currently offer a wide selection of maps from this series. Several are shown on this page in the viewer above. Please inquire as to current availability of others not illustrated.

Full publication information: Hamilton Aerial Map Service, 101 Park Avenue, New York City. Copyright W.L. Hamilton. Photography and assembly by Hamilton Maxwell, Inc.

Condition: Each generally very good with the usual overall light toning and wear. Some marginal dampstains, unobtrusive. Some short marginal tears, professionally restored. Some faint cellotape stains from former repairs, generally confined to the margins.

References:

Cohen, Paul E. and Augustyn, Robert T. Manhattan in Maps: 1527-1995. New York: Rizzoli, 1997. pp. 156-157.

A similar set in the Mark D. Tomasko Collection was exhibited in Two Hundred Years in Maps, The Grolier Club, New York City, November 29, 2000 to January 12, 2001.

inv_item sheet neighborhood boundaries features fullimage tn
1 5 Lower East Side Houston Street, East River, Warren Street, Allen Street Manhattan Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge hamilton05.jpg hamilton05-2.jpg
2 10 Midtown 42nd Street, Third Avenue, 22nd Street, Eighth Avenue Madison Square Park, (Former) Penn Station hamilton10.jpg hamilton10-2.jpg
3 11 Murray Hill, Kips Bay 42nd Street, East River, 22nd Street, Park Avenue East River hamilton11.jpg hamilton11-2.jpg
4 13 Midtown, Theater District 59th Street, Third Avenue, 42nd Street, Eighth Avenue Bryant Park, New York Public Library hamilton13.jpg hamilton13-2.jpg
5 17 Upper East Side, Yorkville, Lenox Hill 79th Street, East River, 59th Street, Fifth Avenue Fifth Avenue bordering Central Park hamilton17.jpg hamilton17-2.jpg
6 22 Harlem, Spanish Harlem, Upper West Side 120th Street, Lexington Avenue, 100th Street, Columbus Avenue Central Park, Morningside Park hamilton22.jpg hamilton22-2.jpg