Check Out A Newly Found Map Of Detroit From 1790

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What was Detroit like in 1790? Well, now we have a map.

The University of Michigan has added a rare of Detroit from 1790 to their William L. Clements Library.

The map was found in an Almonte, Ontario home by the grandson of the original owner. He contacted the Clements Library to check the authenticity of the map. It ended up being a rare and previously unknown map of Detroit.


The hand-drawn, hand-colored map is titled “Rough sketch of the King’s Domain at Detroit,” and was signed by D.W. Smith.

This is the second map that the Clements Library has from Captain David William Smith. Smith was a Captain in the British Army. He was best known for as the surveyor general of Upper Canada from 1792 to 1802.

“This is a really special find because there aren’t any other maps that depict Detroit at this particular time period,” said Brian Dunnigan, Curator of Maps and Associate Director of Clements Library. “Which was about six years before the British peacefully evacuated the town and fort to make way for the arrival of United States troops.”

The map of Detroit as a frontier city shows the location of Fort Lernoult which was constructed during the American Revolution. The fort stood at what is now Fort and Shelby streets downtown.

There area additional details on the map, like numbered parcels of land. Dunnigan suspects that there were additional items like a key or a report that accompanied the map. It measures 21 inches by 40 inches.

It features Fort Lernoult, which was located roughly at the intersection of Fort and Shelby streets in downtown Detroit.

This new map acts as yet another puzzle piece that historians and researchers can use to figure out what Detroit was like during the frontier times. Clements Library also has the papers of Josiah Harmer that reveal the U.S. plans to occupy Detroit the same year the map was created.

The Clements Library is planning on having an exhibition surrounding the map in 2017. I for one can not wait to check it out.

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