Research

Whiteprint copies of maps of lands permanently appropriated by the state for canal purposes

Held by the New York State Archives


Overview of the Records

Repository:

New York State Archives

New York State Education Department

Cultural Education Center

Albany, NY 12230

Summary:
This series, known as the "blue line maps," depict lands acquired for canal purposes up to and including the time of the Barge Canal was constructed. The maps show inner angles of the towpaths on the old canal; state owned property prior to Barge Canal construction; property appropriated for the Barge Canal projects; various structures, roads, streets, and other landmarks; and the names of owners of private property adjacent to the canal.
Creator:
Title:
Quantity:
ca. 62 cu. ft.(69 portfolios containing 805 maps) ;whiteprints :maps 55 x 84 cm on portfolio sheets 59 x 93 cm.
Inclusive Dates:
1917-1948
Series Number:
B0252

Arrangement

Geographical by portfolio and therein numerical by map number.

Scope and Content Note

The series consists of a set of whiteprint copies of original survey maps, commonly referred to as "blue line" maps, of lands appropriated by the state for canal purposes. The maps depict in minute detail lands acquired for canal purposes up to and including the time of construction of the Barge Canal.

The term "blue line" originated from the use of blue ink by early cartographers of the state's first canal system to show the boundaries of lands acquired by the state for canal purposes. Through the years the term became (and still is) synonymous with state owned canal land boundary lines.

The original maps were produced by the office of the State Engineer and Surveyor. When this office was abolished in 1925, the Department of Public Works' Division of Engineering continued the work. Until 1925 the original maps were submitted to the Canal Board for approval and then filed in the State Engineer and Surveyor's office. In addition, whiteprint copies were filed with the Comptroller, Secretary of State, and the Superintendent of Public Works. After 1925, whiteprints were filed with the former two officials, while the latter retained the originals. The set in this series was previously filed in the Secretary of State's office.

The original blue line maps were executed as a result of State Engineer and Surveyor Frank P. Williams' insistence that new surveys were needed to document state land claims. Arguing in 1909 that since the state owned valuable property within the old canal blue lines and that the description of much adjoining property depended on them, Williams pointed out that it would be almost impossible to retrace the former blue lines after old canal banks and structures were eradicated during the construction of the proposed Barge Canal. The resulting confusion in land ownership rights would necessitate lengthy and expensive legal contests.

To avert this potential problem the legislature passed Chapter 199 of the Laws of 1910, which authorized the production of the blue line maps. It directed the State Engineer and Surveyor to make necessary surveys, field notes, and manuscript maps of canal lands "not within the lines of the improved Erie, Oswego and Champlain canals" and of all adjacent lands belonging to the state, together with the names of adjoining property owners. It also designated that a transcript from the original map or of a copy certified as correct by the Comptroller or by the State Engineer and Surveyor was presumptive evidence in all legal or judicial proceedings. This act was later amended by Chapter 51 of the Laws of 1917, which specified the filing of "white print copies...in the office of the comptroller, the secretary of state, and superintendent of public works" and that each certified copy would be "regarded as an original map." It also provided that a blue or whiteprint copy of portions of maps relating to any particular county of the state be filed with the county clerks as notice of the state's title to and ownership of the lands.

The maps usually depict: the inner angles of the tow paths on the old canal; property owned by the state prior to Barge Canal construction; property appropriated by the state for the Barge Canal project; the former limits of state property; locations of the old canal lines; the location of the proposed Barge Canal; and various structures, roads, streets, and other landmarks and the names of owners of private property adjacent to the canal.

The whiteprints have blue colored lines on a white background. Maps have full titles, including reference to authorizing legislation and signed and dated attestations of examination and approval by officials of the office of the State Engineer and Surveyor and the Canal Board. Maps measure 55 x 84 cm within neat lines. Portfolios have a cover sheet that includes a description of methods used in locating and drawing lines for state owned lands, and various blocks (signed and dated by respective officials) attesting to submitting, certifying, and filing the maps. Portfolio size is 59 x 93 cm.

The maps are arranged by portfolio or "sheet" letter. Each portfolio covers a general geographical area of the Barge Canal and individual maps, each assigned a number and depicting a smaller limited area, are filed numerically within each portfolio.

The series may contain some gaps. Researchers may consult portfolios of series A0867, Blue Line Maps of the Canal Lands Owned by the State, which is the set that was previously filed with the Comptroller's office.

Use of Records

Access Restrictions

Restricted: Some portfolios unusable because of physical condition.Use under supervision or with assistance of archivist due to poor condition.

Related Information

Related Materials

Series A0867, Blue Line Maps of Canal Lands Owned by the State, contains the whiteprint copies that were originally filed with the Comptroller's office. Series B1761, Maps of portions of canals lands belonging to the State of New York, contains the original linen maps for the copies in this series.

Other finding aids

A portfolio list gives inclusive map numbers and brief description of canal and geographic area.

Access Terms

Personal Name(s):
Corporate Name(s):
Geographic Name(s):
Subject(s):
Genre(s):
Function(s):
Title(s):