Stokes, I. N. Phelps The iconography of Manhattan Island 1498-1909 (v. 4)

(New York :  Robert H. Dodd,  1915-1928.)



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  Page [ix]  


Ante oculos errant domus, urbs, et forma locorum;

Succeduntque suis singula facta locis.

Ovid, Trisiia.

IF the historian's knowledge of his subject were complete, and his
judgment unerring, the writing of history would be a simple matter,
depending only upon the writer's power of expression, and the
amount of space available. As, however, these ideal conditions prac¬
tically never exist, his task usually resolves itself into an attempt to
draw conclusions from tt)o meagre records, and to reconcile or explain
contradictory, or seemingly contradictory, statements. The result is that
the facts are often ctjmplicated and obscured, sometimes even hopelessly
distorted, and not infrequently quite overwhelmed, by the writer's indi¬
vidual interpretations and opinions, the expounding of which is apt to
occupy as much space as the recital of the facts themselves.

It has long seemed to the author that the ideal method of presenting
history would be to arrange all of the available worth-while material in
strictly chronological order, and to allow the facts and the myths, together
with the interpretations of competent authorities, and even the casual com¬
ments of intelligent observers, to speak for themselves. The present Chro¬
nology is an attempt to carry out this idea; in it are recorded, in brief form,
but with sufficient detail to make easy reading, all procurable information
of real importance or interest relating to the history and development of
Manhattan Island, special emphasis being placed on inftDrmation regarding
the physical growth of the city of New York.

In the search for such material, all known and available sources have been
examined, or at least inquired into, and a consistent effort has been made to
trace each material fact or statement to its original source, and to quote from
that source, retaining, wherever practicable, the language, and thereby the
  Page [ix]