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OpinionColumnistsMark Chiusano

Not your typical Long Island road map

Credit: Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress

The Twitter account for the Library of Congress’ Geography and Map Division tweeted out a gem for Long Island commuters earlier this week: an 1885 map of New York City including a detailed, close look at the suburban rail lines out to Nassau and Suffolk counties.

The hi-resolution image is fun to explore, so The Point asked the Library’s maps shop for more of its historical Long Island maps that can be accessed digitally.

Library reference specialist Cynthia Smith sent along close to 100.

That includes an 1884 map of neat red railroad lines all the way out to Greenport, and a "travellers map" of the whole Island from 1857.

The maps were made for many purposes from real estate use to magazines.

There are "aero" or "bird’s-eye" views of Patchogue, Lindenhurst, Freeport and other municipalities from the early 20th Century, drawn with incredible detail down to water towers and chimneys.

There is Revolutionary War-era material, including a "Plan of the East Part of Long Island Sound from Remarks made on board His Majesty’s Ship the Lark, A.D. 1777," a painstakingly drafted piece which includes some 20 lines of navigation instructions about shoals, nautical dangers, and places for "good wooding." Other maps show British and American troop positions and armaments at the time of the Battle of Long Island.

Some of the most intriguing items are fading nonmilitary specimens from the 18th century that include soundings shown in fathoms, important for the time. The notations from early periods often make clear what an unknown world Long Island was to relative newcomers: See the "New and accurate Map of Connecticut and Rhode Island, from the best Authorities" from a 1788 periodical.

These segments do not comprise all of the library’s LI map collections, according to Smith: There are also uncataloged historical maps that have not been digitized.

Take a look at the pre-iPhone cartography here.

— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

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