The oldest known historical visualization of the city of Albany seems have come from a faded sketch/drawing that was found among the New York Land Papers and is now in the collection of the New York State Archives. Written on the parchment manuscript is the after-the-fact notation "French Map 1676." No other information was associated with the document.
The image shown here is a retouched but relatively faithful engraving of that sketch. Produced during the latter part of the nineteenth century, the engraving has appeared in a number of publications including the Bicentennial History of the City of Albany, compiled by Howell and Tenney and published in 1886. This image is from the Bicentennial History.
Historians have been speculating about the source and authenticity of this relic for more than a hundred years. We believe it to be useful for the history of Albany because it conforms roughly to subsequent cartography and thus provides one of the earliest visual links to the early Albany past.
The Colonial Albany Project actively seeks more information about this important resource!
The manuscript map is in volume 1 of the "Land Papers" as described in Calendar of . . . Land Papers, 1643-1803 (Albany, 1864), page 6. The sketch originally was undated but was placed between two items dated October 20, 1674 and March 1, 1675.
first posted: 4/26/00; last revised 12/12/07