Bellin, Jacques Nicolas

Antique Colonial-era Plan of the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana

Plan de la Nouvelle Orleans sur les manuscrits du Depot des Cartes de la Marine

DESCRIPTION: Antique French plan of the city of New Orleans, Louisiana ("la Nouvelle Orleans") from the period of French colonization ca. 1753. This antique city plan of New Orleans by Nicolas Bellin was based on a manuscript map created by Pauger approximately 15 years after the city was founded on the east bank of the Mississippi river.

Bellin's plan shows the city laid out with French Quarter streets most residents would recognize today including Bienville, Bourbon, Chartres, Royale and at the center of the plan- Jackson Square. Note the spelling of the Mississippi River below the town with one "P" as "Fleuve Mississipi".

On this old uncolored, copper-plate engraved map nineteen key points within the city are keyed to a legend on the map just below the title. These important locations within early New Orleans include:
  • Prisons
  • Place d'Armes (today's Jackson Square)
  • l'Eglise Paroissiale (parish church)
  • Poudriere (powder magazine)
  • Magasins du Roi (Royal stores)
  • Nouvelle Maison du Urselines (or new home for the Ursuline nuns, an important force in early New Orleans)
  • Forges du Roi (the King's forge or metalworking shop)
  • Moulin a vent et a Cheval (a mill operated by the wind and horse )
The plan is based on a design initially created by military engineers Adrien de Pauger and Le Blond de la Tour in 1722. That plan envisoned a street grid extending six blocks northward from the Mississippi River, a plan that was likely scaled back in 1729 as a result of the Natchez Indian massacre of settlers at Fort Rosalie near Natchez Mississippi. At that point security became paramount, reflected in some of the other features found in Bellin's plan: guardhouses, a powder magazine, and a single bridge controlling access across the moat to the city. Plate number 19.

Jacques-Nicolas Bellin (1703-1772)

Jacques-Nicolas Bellin was a prominent French hydrographer and geographer, recognized for his significant contributions to the development of cartography. For over half a century, Bellin served as the first Ingénieur de la Marine of the Depot des cartes et plans de la Marine (the French Hydrographic Office) and was appointed Official Hydrographer to the French King. His expertise and precision led to the production of thousands of significant nautical charts and maps, enhancing maritime navigation.

Petit Atlas Maritime Title Page, Jacques Bellin, cartograpger. 1764.

Petit Atlas Maritime Title Page, 1764

One of Bellin's most notable works, "Le Petit Atlas Maritime," was published in 1764, encompassing five volumes of detailed charts and maps covering every part of the world. Bellin's cartographic legacy extends beyond France; his comprehensive maps and atlases were highly influential in shaping European understanding of global geography during the 18th century. His passion for accuracy and vast output have ensured his place in the annals of cartographic history.

CREATOR: Bellin, Jacques Nicolas



BODY OF WATER: Mississippi River

CONDITION: Very Good.  Strong impression. On strong, chain-laid paper. A few light spots, most outside the neatline. Ample margins. Two vertical folds, flattened. Washed.

COLORING: Uncolored


SIZE: 10 " x 7 "


PRICE: $600


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