American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Reason

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A Colonial Road Atlas

Annapolis to New Kent Court House
"Annapolis to New Kent Court House"
A Survey of the Roads of the United
States of America. New York: 1789.
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Geography & Map Division

Irish-born engineer and surveyor, Christopher Colles produced what is considered the first road map or guide book of the U.S. It uses a format familiar to modern travelers with each plate consisting of two to three strip maps arranged side by side, covering approximately 12 miles. Colles began this work in 1789, but brought the project to an end in 1792 after obtaining relatively few subscriptions. But in that time, he compiled an atlas covering approximately 1,000 miles from Albany to Williamsburg, and is invaluable today for understanding the developing road network in the new nation.

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