Maps mesmerize me. Put one in my field of vision, and I’ll have a hard time focusing on anything else. Maybe it’s the way all the messiness of history can be made to seem neat and knowable. Maybe it’s the sense of exploring places one might never actually visit. Maybe it’s the “Here Be Monsters” flights of imagination that take off at a map’s edge. Whatever . . . I just love maps.
So I was both grateful and concerned when a friend told me about the New York Public Library’s digital map collections. Really cool stuff, but also a potential time-sink of alarming dimensions. I’d better swear off this site, but first, let me share this neat map of the New York area depicting Revolutionary military engagements in 1776. You’ll find Westchester (“Weft Chefter”) and Eastchester (“Eaft Chefter’) noted clearly, but in the present-day Bronx. And far to the northeast is “New Rochel.” OK, just one more. Here’s a still-agrarian New Rochelle circa 1868, together with our adjoining community of “Pelhamville.”
Enough! Better go cold turkey on this.