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Over against the Sign of the black Horse: Landmarks and wayfinding in early eighteenth-century New York City

Author(s): Theodor Maghrak

Year: 2014

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Summary

Navigation can prove a challenging task regardless of one’s familiarity with any specific environment, especially dense urban environments. As New Amsterdam grew and became New York in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the city increasingly became a jumble of streets, lanes, parks, markets, and buildings. How did residents of eighteenth-century New York materially and conceptually navigate the city? An examination of historical newspaper advertisements provides an answer to this question. By interrogating the advertisements for landmark and spatial references in addition to information about the merchandise for sale, a picture of the city appears in detail, highlighting important places in the city, while at the same time providing a window into the nature of the city’s market. Integrating psychological theory, this project reveals that residents of the city had access to a vast array of material goods and were faced with an increasingly complicated physical environment. To navigate the city’s winding streets, residents integrated landmarks into their cognitive maps of the city, helping to guide their way. A similar pattern continues into the present-day city.


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Over against the Sign of the black Horse: Landmarks and wayfinding in early eighteenth-century New York City. Theodor Maghrak. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 437374)


Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-82,02

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America