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17 Feb





Plan of New Orleans The Capital of Louisiana; with the Disposition of its Quarters and Canals as they have been traced by Mr. de la Tour in the year 1720 . . .


This early English plan of New Orleans was drawn by Thomas Jefferys, one of London’s top map makers during the period prior to the American Revolution.

The map shows a detailed plan of New Orleans, at the start of the French & Indian War, providing a detailed overview of the town, including street names, building locations and the names of important public locations, civilian and military, with a inset key of other place names in the upper left corner.  The four major roads into New Orleans are also shown, along with a detailed study of the Mississippi River in 2 insets on the right side of the map.   Following the Treaty of Paris in 1763, New Orleans would become one of 2 French Outposts in North America, after the French conceded their rights to all of their North American colonial possessions, except New Orleans and two important islands for retention of fishing rights in the Grand Banks.

Jefferys’ finely executed map is one of the earliest obtainable maps of city of New Orleans itself, founded in 1717 by the Sieur d’Iberville. As noted in the title of the map, it is largely based on the original manuscript plan of the city drafted by Pierre Le Blond de la Tour in 1722, and draws also upon Bellin’s plan of 1744, which had first appeared in Charlevoix. 

The outlines of the buildings are detailed, and major structures are labeled, such as the “Parish Church” of St. Louis, the monastery of the “Capuchin-Fryars”, the ‘House of the Indendant”, and the “Hospital and Convent of the Ursulines,” the latter being the oldest building in the city that survives to this day.

In Charting Louisiana, Magill states that Jefferys’ map includes several interesting and important details that Mr. de la Tour’s map lacked or were constructed after his manuscript was constructed, having primarily to do with flood control, which had been an important problem for the French from the initial years of the City.  

On the banks of the Mississippi, Jefferys notes a “Bank to preserve the Town from the Inudation.”  Just beyond this are moats created in 1729. The map also shows gutters and footbridges, as well as buildings built after 1721.

The map appeared in The natural and civil history of the French dominions in North and South America. Giving a particular account of the climate, soil, minerals, animals, vegetables, manufactures, trade, commerce, and languages … Illustrated by maps and plans of the principal places, collected from the best authorities, and engraved by T. Jefferys, Geographer to his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. Part I. Containing a description of Canada and Louisiana. London, Printed for Thomas Jefferys at Charing-CrosMap Maker: Thomas JefferysPlace / Date: London / 1759, Original Coloring: Uncolored, Original Size: 20 x 14 inches
Estimated Price for an original map in 2013: $2,400.00  Lisa’s Painting is based on a specific print obtained from the Library of Congress.

Additional Information

·  New Orleans was founded in 1718 by Jean Baptiste le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, governor of the French colony of Louisiana. Bienville named the town after Philippe, Duke of Orléans, regent for King Louis XV. This map, published in London in 1759 by Thomas Jefferys, displays the focus and symmetry of the town plan, which was designed by or under the direction of Bienville. The “Mr. de la Tour” in the title refers to one of the earliest detailed manuscript plans of the city and denotes Pierre Le Blond de la Tour (circa 1670–1723), a Frenchman who was the chief royal engineer in Louisiana. Important places, such as the house of the intendant, the jails and guard house, and the hospital and convent of the Ursulines, are marked on the legend. The Mississippi River is referred to by the French designation “River Saint Louis,” but the indigenous American name that ultimately would prevail also is given, spelled as both “Mississippi” and “Meshassepi.” The inset maps show the course of the Mississippi from Bayagoulas to the Gulf of Mexico, and the east mouth of the Mississippi with a plan of Fort Balise, the French bastion defending the entrance to the river. The “Bayagoulas” were Indians living near the present-day town of Bayou Goula, Louisiana, in Iberville Parish. Their name was derived from the Choctaw or Mobilian language meaning “bayou people.”


About the Artist


Lisa Middleton grew up exploring the Mississippi River Valley with her family. Many of her subjects are drawn from life experiences in Nepal, China, Haiti, the South Caribbean, her beloved Western Mountains, and the coulees of the Upper Mississippi River.  Lisa’s art has embellished book covers, CD covers, and Madison Avenue brochures. Visit to see all of her hand-painted map reproductions on line.


Art work is copyrighted by the Artist, 2013.






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