Mar 10, 2020 - Sale 2533

Sale 2533 - Lot 169

Price Realized: $ 2,125
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 700 - $ 1,000
(NEW YORK CITY.) Group of manuscript field notebooks of the Bridges family surveying firm. 4 manuscript volumes, most about 40 pages, 12mo, most in original wrappers; a few leaves detached or lacking, many pages marked with later references to an index (not present), one leaf with a tape repair, moderate wear consistent with regular use. New York, 1824 and undated

Additional Details

William Bridges (circa 1773-1814) was appointed as a New York city surveyor in 1806. His sons Edward W. Bridges (circa 1797-1851) and Joseph F. Bridges (circa 1805-1883) followed in his footsteps. Most interesting of these 4 volumes is one titled on the rear wrapper "Canal Street Assessment No. 1," by E.W. Bridges as city surveyor, February 1824. It contains 73 pages of detailed block-by-block plat maps for an area bounded approximately by Broadway, Broome, Eldridge and Canal (now Little Italy and Chinatown). Property owners and boundary measurements are shown.
Another volume, numbered 79 and bearing the E.W.B initials, consists of pencil notes and rough sketches of the properties of Daniel D. Tompkins on Staten Island. Tompkins died in 1825 after serving as Vice President under James Monroe; these notes may have been compiled in relation to his estate. The island's Tompkinsville neighborhood was established by him.
The other two volumes were the result of work outside of New York. One is undated and bears the stamp of Joseph F. Bridges. It gives surveying measurements for several blocks of Newark, NJ along Broad and Orchard Streets between Garden and South Streets; its maps do not show property lines or owners. The other is titled "Potomac No. 4."
The Bridges surveys have long held great interest for those interested in Manhattan's geography. Upon the death of Joseph F. Bridges in 1883, parts of the collection were scattered, but the bulk were acquired by rare map dealer Richard D. Cooke in 1885. In 1899, the city attempted to buy out the entire archive for the then-majestic sum of $30,000. A trade publication argued that "the Bridges collection . . . apart from books and manuscripts, is the most important source in existence for the history of New York City during three-quarters of a century. Besides, it has an extremely practical bearing on practical interests, for should the information it contains regarding old boundaries and surveys be lost, a cloud would be thrown upon many titles to real estate" (New York Real Estate Record and Builders' Guide, 9 December 1899, pages 877-8). However, a bargain was not reached and the collection was dispersed among private collectors.