In the English-speaking world, the emergence of modern post-medieval mapping coincided with the emergence of modern land markets. Maps were found, very quickly, to be a useful tool in defining the extent of land and thus in adjudicating land disputes between owners. They soon became part of a proto-planning system used to envisage, to describe and to talk about future growth. Naturally maps became an important way to describe land legally and envisage future uses of land in English colonial settlement, first in Ireland and then in the New World. Maps were not only used in the Settlement of Ireland but in financial disputes about the pace of colonization. As the English cast their territorial net more widely, so map-makers and then surveyors became proto-urban designers laying out towns, and their uses, in increasing detail and across the globe. This is true first in the original American and Caribbean colonies which experienced rapid European settlement, but later true through much of empire, including towns that were never meant to have much in the way of European settlement. Map making had two distinct but related roles. On the one hand it defined private property where none had existed. On the other it provided the basis for “planning” the future of development, although that word was not used in the modern professional sense at the time.
The author 2016
Proceedings of the 13th Australasian Urban History Planning History Conference 2016