Manhattan, New York County, NY

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NYC Inhabitants in 1703
NYC Farm Map, 1852
(under History)


NEW YORK COUNTY.  The city of New York was incorp. by Gov. Stuyvesant in 1652, and its municipal powers were confirmed and enlarged by Gov. Dongan, april 22, 1686, and by Gov. Montgomery, April 19, 1708.  An act was passed Oct. 14, 1732, confirming its rights; and subsequent enactments were embodied in one act in the revised laws of 1813 and in the revised statutes of 1828.  Numerous changes in the details of the municipal government have been made from time to time.

The co., from the beginning, has embraced Manhattan, Governors, Bedloes, Ellis's, Blackwells, Wards, and Randalls Islands, and the lands under water to low water mark on the shores opposite, in Westchester, Queens, and Kings cos., and in New Jersey.  Manhattan Island is 13 1/2 mi. long, by 2 1/2 mi. wide at the broadest part.  It is centrally distant 130 mi. from Albany, and contains an area of 22,000 acres.  It is separated from Westchester co. by a strait known as Spuyten Duyvil Creek, and Harlem River.  The surface of the island was originally quite broken by ridges of gneiss and hornblendic slate, especially in the N. part; and immense masses of rock and earth have been removed in grading.  A deep valley extended across the island on the line of Canal St., another near Carmansville; a third at Manhattanville; and a fourth at Tubby Hook, near the N. extremity.  The S. part of the island was covered with drift and boulders, presenting conical hills, some of which were 80 ft. bove the present grade of the streets.  Fresh water was readily obtained by wells sunk to the surface of the rock; and the porous nature of the soil has greatly favored the construction of deep foundations and vaults without annoyance from water.

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Along the E. shore, from 94th St. northward, and around Harlem, the surface is very level, and to some extent covered with salt marshes.  On the W. side, toward the N., the valleys are often deep and the hills precipitous.  The highest point, at Fort Washington, is 238 ft. above tide.

Both sides of the island afford ample facilities for commerce; and the noble harbor embraced within the shores of New Jersey, Staten Island, Long Island, and the city has scarcely an equal for extent, safety, and facility of access, and for the amount of its commercial transactions.

The preservation of this harbor from injurious encroachments has been a subject of solicitude; and investigations which these have occasioned have developed many interesting facts connected with its interests.
Gazetteer of New York by J.H. French, 1860 


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Last updated January 20, 2015