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The Measure of Manhattan

The Tumultuous Career And Surprising Legacy Of John Randel Jr., Cartographer, Surveyor, Inventor

By Marguerite Holloway

The first biography of a nineteenth-century genius, the man who plotted Manhattan’s famous city grid.

John Randel Jr. (1787–1865) was an eccentric and flamboyant surveyor. Renowned for his inventiveness as well as for his bombast and irascibility, Randel was central to Manhattan’s development but died in financial ruin. Telling Randel’s engrossing and dramatic life story for the first time, this eye-opening biography introduces an unheralded pioneer of American engineering and mapmaking.

Charged with “gridding” what was then an undeveloped, hilly island, Randel recorded the contours of Manhattan down to the rocks on its shores. He was obsessed with accuracy and steeped in the values of the Enlightenment, in which math and science promised dominion over nature. The result was a series of maps, astonishing in their detail and precision, which undergird our knowledge about the island today. During his varied career Randel created surveying devices, designed an early elevated subway, and proposed a controversial alternative route for the Erie Canal—winning him admirers and enemies.

The Measure of Manhattan is more than just the life of an unrecognized engineer. It is about the ways in which surveying and cartography changed the ground beneath our feet. Bringing Randel’s story into the present, Holloway travels with contemporary surveyors and scientists trying to envision Manhattan as a wild island once again. Illustrated with dozens of historical images and antique maps, The Measure of Manhattan is an absorbing story of a fascinating man that captures the era when Manhattan—indeed, the entire country—still seemed new, the moment before canals and railroads helped draw a grid across the American landscape.

24 illustrations

Format

Book

Availability

1 available at Main (Downtown)
  • BIOGRAPHY Randel, John, Biography

Publish Date

2013

ISBN

9780393071252


Format: Book
Author: Holloway, Marguerite
Title: The measure of Manhattan : the tumultuous career and surprising legacy of John Randel Jr., cartographer, surveyor, inventor / Marguerite Holloway.
Publisher Date: New York : W.W. Norton & Company, [2013], ©2013.
Subject: Randel, John. Randel, John -- Influence. Surveyors -- United States -- Biography. Surveying -- New York (State) -- New York -- History -- 19th century. City planning -- New York (State) -- New York -- History -- 19th century Cartographers -- United States -- Biography. Inventors -- United States -- Biography Manhattan (New York, N.Y.) -- History -- 19th century.
Isbn: 9780393071252 (hardcover)
Current Holds: 0
System Items Available: 1
System Items Total: 1
Call Number: B Randel
Oclc:
Upc:
Bib Id: 418198

Format: Book
Author: Holloway, Marguerite.
Title: The measure of Manhattan : the tumultuous career and surprising legacy of John Randel Jr., cartographer, surveyor, inventor / Marguerite Holloway.
Edition: First edition.
Publisher, Date: New York : W.W. Norton & Company, [2013], ©2013.
Description: x, 372 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
Subjects: Randel, John.
Subjects: Randel, John -- Influence.
Subjects: Surveyors -- United States -- Biography.
Subjects: Surveying -- New York (State) -- New York -- History -- 19th century.
Subjects: City planning -- New York (State) -- New York -- History -- 19th century
Subjects: Cartographers -- United States -- Biography.
Subjects: Inventors -- United States -- Biography
Subjects: Manhattan (New York, N.Y.) -- History -- 19th century.
Notes: Includes bibliographical references (pages 329-352) and index.
Contents: Prologue: Big Rock -- In Which Reuben Skye Rose-Redwood and J.R. Lemuel Morrison Set Out To Find the Imagined City -- In Which John Randel Jr. Affixes the City to the Island -- In Which Rose-Redwood Surveys the 1811 Grid and Morrison Surveys Today's -- In Which Randel Keeps Seeking the Most Eligible Routes -- In Which Mannahatta Lifts Off -- In Which Is Described "The Ingenuity of the New" -- Epilogue: Randel's Rock.
LCCN: 2012044735
ISBN: 9780393071252 (hardcover)
Requests: 0
Available Copies: 1
Total Copies: 1
Call Number: B Randel