The First Survey & Plan of Central Park
"Map of the Lands Included in the Central Park... [on sheet with] Plan for the Improvement of the Central Park... [bound in] First Annual Report on the Improvement of the Central Park, New York",
Subject: New York City, New York
Period: 1857 (published)
Color: Black & White
43.7 x 14.7 inches
111 x 37.3 cm
This pair of maps was printed on a single, large sheet (44.7 x 32.5") and was published by the Central Park Project's first Chief Engineer, Egbert Viele. The New York State assembly approved the creation of Central Park in 1853, which was the first urban recreation park in the United States. It consisted of over 800 acres of mostly swampy land from 59th to 106th Street that required highly detailed surveying in order to transform the land into usable park space. Viele assembled a team to complete the difficult task, and by 1856 he completed the topographical survey occupying the top half of the sheet. The plan occupying the bottom half of the sheet represents Viele's proposed design for the park, which consisted of a botanical garden, parade ground, lake, reservoir, walking trails, and much more. While the winning design for the park ultimately went to Frederick Olmstead in 1857, many of Viele's design features were clearly adopted. The park began construction in 1859 and remains one of the most beautiful and iconic parks in the world.
The maps (each measures 43.7 x 14.7" as noted in the size chart) are still bound into the back of the 192 page report that also includes a folding frontispiece entitled View from Mount Prospect [Central Park] Looking East and a single-page View from Summit Rock [Central Park] Looking West. Octavo, hardbound in brown cloth with gilt illustration on front cover.
The sheet containing the two folding maps has light toning along the folds and several small fold separations with only minimal loss along the top fold. Two larger separations along the top fold measure 6" and 4" . The folding frontispiece is very good with one minor extraneous crease and a bit of dampstaining confined to the blank margins. Text is very good with some dampstaining in the first/last few pages that is confined to the blank margins as well as toning to the title page. Covers are moderately worn, the edges are bumped, and the hinges are starting.