Monthly Archives: April 2017

Valentine’s Manuals of the Corporation of the City of New York

David T. Valentine was born in East Chester,  Westchester County, New York, on September 15, 1801. He came to New York City at the age of 16 years and, like many of us, never left. From 1830 until 1868, a period of over thirty-seven years, he was Deputy Clerk and Clerk of the Corporation of the City of New York. Most importantly, perhaps, beginning in 1841-42  until he was forced to retire in 1868, he was responsible for the issuance of what initially  was called “The Manual of the Corporation of the City of New York,” and which, as time passed, became known to lovers of New York City history as “Valentine’s Manuals.”

As clerk, he had access to the records of the city that had been maintained (sometimes haphazardly) since the time that New York was a Dutch metropolis. The first Valentine’s manual had a folding map of New York City in 1841.  The second contained a fold-out view of the new Croton Dam and another showing the shore line of the city from the time it was called Nieuw Amsterdam.

NY Scene 1

[Copyright Kenneth Hicks, added colors only, 2014]

Over the course of his 37 years working for the City and producing the manual, over 800 illustrations and maps were published as well as random documents snatched from the archives such as, for example, the proceedings of courts from the earliest times.

Many of the illustrations were intended to preserve the views of the land and the buildings that were even then quickly disappearing, to the dismay of many.

Bwy 17th 1823

[Copyright Kenneth Hicks, added colors only, 2014]

Needless today, we owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Valentine and to all of those who helped him put together these volumes.

I have scanned certain of the lithographs from copies of the Valentine’s Manuals in my possession and have added color to some. I will publish more in the future on this site.