George Glazer Gallery’s example of this map was included in Forged by Fire, an exhibition at India House (September 2002 to January 2003) to honor the anniversary of September 11, 2001. It was also displayed 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. Burr’s map is also described in the book accompanying the exhibition, which points out the diagonal path of Bloomingdale Road cutting through the grid. Over the course of the 19th century, it was widened, straightened and joined with sections of Old Broadway to become the Broadway of today.
David H. Burr studied under Simeon DeWitt, New York State’s Surveyor General at the beginning of the 19th century. Burr had a brief career as a lawyer and an aide-de-camp for New York Governor De Witt Clinton before being appointed to his first position in charge of a team surveying a portion of the state for a proposed road in 1825. He then succeeded in getting approval from the state legislature to compile an atlas that included maps of each county as well as a separate map of the entire state. These were dated 1829, but not actually published until early 1830. Burr’s atlas has the distinction of being the second atlas published in the 19th century of one of the individual states in the U.S., preceded only by Mill’s Atlas of South Carolina (1825).
In the 1830s, Burr was topographer of the United States Post Office, and late in the decade he was appointed Geographer for the House of Representatives, a position he held until 1846 or 1847. Afterwards he served as surveyor to the states of Florida and Louisiana, then returned to Washington and became geographer to the U.S. Senate. In the 1850s, President Franklin Pierce named him the surveyor general of Utah Territory, where as the top ranking federal official in the territory, he was “heavily involved with the legal and jurisdictional disputes between Mormon leaders and the U.S. government” (Ristow). He was in Utah until 1857 and little is known of his activities afterwards. Burr’s maps are notable for their attention to detail.
Full title: “Map of the City and County of New York with the Adjacent Country by David H. Burr, Published by Simeon DeWitt, Surveyor General, Pursuant to an Act of the Legislature. Second Edition. 1832.”
Text in lower border provides the following almanac type data: “Census of the City Population of New-York in 1830; Public Buildings in the Park; Banks; Insurance Companies; Other Institutions; Literary & Scientific Societies; Churches, Markets; Theatres; Public Gardens; Museums; Ferries; Public Houses” and the credit, “David H. Burr, Geographer & Map Publisher, 189 Broadway, Oct. 1831.”
Condition: This example was issued as a wall map, found with a thick coat of yellow varnish and on rollers. The varnish and rollers were removed and the map rebacked on canvas. It is generally in very good condition, with the usual toning, wear, soft creases. There are a few scattered cracks to the surface, as is common for varnished wall maps. Original hand color. Now in a fine ebonized wooden frame with cream toned white mat.
Ballon, Hilary, ed. The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan 1811-2011. New York: Museum of the City of New York and Columbia University Press, 2012. Item 153. p. 157.
Haskell, D.C. Manhattan Maps. 725. Cited online at the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection for Item No. 0103002.sid. 2005. http://www.davidrumsey.com (22 May 2008).
“Map of Texas Land Grants.” Gallery of the Republic. 2001. http://www.galleryoftherepublic.com/pages/mapreps/burr.html (28 May 2002).
Ristow, Walter W. American Maps and Mapmakers: Commercial Cartography in the Nineteenth Century. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1985. pp. 103-105, 106, 108.