March 28, 2017

Historic GIS of Washington Square Park

[Image: 3D GIS of Washington Square Park: Showing Historic association between the Park, one of Bolton's major Native American roads crossing at Minetta Brook, and east of the indigenous landing and transhipment settlement of Sapohanikan, and the site of two of Manhattan's earliest black farmsteads outsid the walls of mid-17th Century Dutch New Amsterdam (Grossman © 2007)]

By now you know that Washington Square Park not only my neighborhood park but it is my favorite NYC park. I am always on the look out for narrative and visual information about the park for personal reasons as well as for my work at WSP Eco Projects. In January I came across Joel Grossman's historic GIS of the park. If you are not familiar with the acronym, GIS stands for geographic information system within which you store, analyze, and display layers of spatial data. I present the geographic data here with permission of Dr. Grossman. First image shows the use evolution of the land that is now Washington Square Park. The next two images are segments of Viele Map of 1865 showing Minetta Brook with an intersecting Lenape trail. This trail was recorded in Reginald Bolton's Indian Paths in the Great Metropolis (1922). The final two images are of 3D terrain models highlighting the brook, the trail, and Grossman's estimated location of two mid-17th century farms owned by black freedmen.

[Joel W Grossman © 1991 - 2007. All rights reserved.]

[Detail of Viele 1865 with Bolton's Native American path superimposed to scale. Joel W Grossman © 1991 - 2007. All rights reserved.

[3D Scaled Terrain model of Viele, showing Bolton's Native American roadway crossing Minetta brook. Model by Joel W. Grossman, Ph.D.(Grossman ©2007 All rights reserved - Not for duplication)]

[Close-up "birds-eye-view" of 3D terrain model of the 17th Century setting of Washington Square Park showing Bolton's Native American roadway crossing Minetta Brook and two mid-17th Century black farmsteads bordering each bank of the stream. Model by Joel W. Grossman, Ph.D.(Grossman ©2007 All rights reserved - Not for duplication)]

From other sources I learned that Anthony Portuguese, a former slave, was given 6.75 acres of land from Wouter van Twiller's 100 acre farm. Anthony Portuguese's acreage was east of Minetta Brook and extended south beyond the borders of today's Washington Square Park. The farm of Manuel Trumpeter (or Trompetor), another freed slave, only overlapped with the current NE edge of Washington Square Park. Most of Trumpeter's farm was east of the park. See A Brief History of the Minetta Waters in Washington Square Park, 1797-1828 which relied on Geismar's 2005 "Washington Square Park Phase 1A Archaeological Assessment. Another source was "Washington Square Park, a Changing Landscape" by George Vellonakis (undated). The Lenape path that ran through Washington Square Park is shown in Bolton's book as a westward offshoot of  the main north-south thoroughfare (aka Broadway). Bolton recorded the trail's end point as "Sapohanikan". Burrows and Wallace (Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898) list the trail's westward end as "Sapokanikan." A cove existed where the trail met the Hudson River at present day Gansevoort Street and it was used as "a site of fishing and planting."

1 comment:

  1. I too have a love for maps and imagining earlier days of the same territory, and how topography has changed. What a treasure for you to come across and share! I have never been to Washington Square Park, but know other urban parks in my heart. Love the shots of the scale models.


Thank you for commenting on this post!
Sign up to receive new posts in your inbox -