New Castle, Delaware
Community History and Archaeology Program 

Blaney Survey of 1797

Renaming New Castle Streets and Setting City Limits

New Castle County Deed, Vol. 2, Book R, page 428, 1798, photographed at Delaware Public Archives as 12 separate images
with partial correction of perspective distortion. See scanned image from c1940 for undistorted view. Click on images to enlarge.

New Castle never had publicly elected officials prior to 1798. First it was ruled by the Dutch West India Company, then by the Burgomasters of Amsterdam, then until 1681 by the English in New York (Delaware was a territory of New York), then by William Penn and his heirs.

In 1797, an act of the General Assesmbly created a commission and appointed five men who would afterwards be annually elected to survey the town, create an official boundary, oversee building, collect taxes for the market etc.
This survey is the earliest extant map of New Castle, though far less detailed than the Latrobe survey commissioned just a few years later. At this time, the commissioners changed the names of many of the streets. They were to be changed again in the late 1800's

Union Otter Fifth
Vine Beaver Fourth
Orange Minque East Third
Market Land Second
Front Water The Strand
South Susquehanna South
Pearl Susquehanna also West Third
Delaware Wood Delaware
Harmony Hart or Mary
Chesnut Thwart Chesnut
North -- --

This is to certify that Mr. Daniel Blaney of the County of New Castle, Surveyor, came before me, George Read, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of Delaware and was duly sworn to make an accurate Survey of the Town of New Castle afsd and to ascertain and fix the boundaries and limits of the same and to lay out, open and regulate the Streets and Alleys within the said Town, and under the superintendance and direction of the Comissioners in the "Act for establishing the boundaries of the Town of New Castle, and for other purposes therein mentioned Act it is particularly prescribed and directed passed June 3, 1797. Given under my hand this 25th April 1798
Recorded, Novr 8th 1798 Geo Read

We the Subscribers, Commissioners nominated and appointed in and by an Act of the General Assembly of the State of Delaware, entitled "An Act for establishing the boundaries of the Town of New Castle, and for other purposes therein mentioned," passed June 3, 1797, do certify, That We took with us Daniel Blaney a skilful Surveyor being first qualified on his solemn oath and made an accurate Survey of the Town of New Castle aforesaid, and have ascertained and fixed the boundaries and limits of the same as mentioned in the within Plot or Map, viz Beginning at the intersection of the external margin of Union and South streets / formerly Otter and Susquehannah Street and running thence along the external margin of Union street North fortysix degrees east to the intersection thereof with the external margin of Harmony formerly Hart street; thence along the external margin of Harmony Street south forty-eight and one third degrees East to the intersection thereof with the external margin of Vine (formerly Beaver) Street, thence along the external margin of Vine Street North forty six degrees East to the north-eastern termination of Vine Street, thence crossing the said street south-easterly to a corner stone placed on the eastern side of the Broad Dyke at the termination of the center of Vine street; thence along the eastern margin of Orange Street south twelve and three fourths degrees West to the intersection thereof with the .....

[from THE HISTORY OF NEW CASTLE, DELAWARE, Under William Penn and His Heir, Part X, By Alexander B Coooper Esq., Wilmington Sunday Star, May 20, 1906]

Penn visited the town of New Castle at intervals during his stay in America, and encouraged, by his suggestions and directions the general improvements of the town. The streets were newly and regularly laid out by Ephraim Herman, the surveyor and were for the first time given specific names to identify them. The streets running parallel with the river and beginning with the one nearest the river were named as follows: the "old strand" was called Water street, subsequently Front street, which it has continued to be so called to the present time, (although it is sometimes referred to as Water street, the original name before "Blaney's survey," in 1798). The next street, now called Market street, was first called Warmoes street, then Land street. The next street, now called Orange street, was then called Minqua or Mink. The next street now called Vine street, was then called Beaver street. The next street called Union street was then called Otter street. The streets running up from and at right angles to the river, beginning at the northwesterly end of the town, were named as follows North street, which runs along the ditch running from narrow to the great dyke, was then and still is called North street. Chestnut street still retains the name it was then given. The present Harmony street was called Hart street, sometimes interchangeably Mary and St. Mary street. The present Delaware street was at different times called Susquehanna street, Market and Wood street. The present South street was also called Susquehanna street originally. There were also two smaller streets at or about that time called Calves and Merchants street, the location of which is not now known. As a matter of fact, there was much confusion in relation to the names of the streets of New Castle until about the year 1798, as several were called by the same name. Under the provisions of an act of General Assembly, passed on June 3, 1797, James Booth, George Read the younger, Nicholas Vandyke, Archibald Alexander and John Crow were appointed commissioners to fix the limits of the town, and to lay out and name the streets, lanes and alleys. Daniel Blaney was appointed their surveyor to make the survey. The only substantial restriction of the powers of the commissioners was that they were not to open any new streets, and were limited to conform to the then existing limits or boundary of the town, as nearly as they possibly could. When their work was finished they were to return a report of their proceedings, with a map or plot of the town so laid out by them. This map usually called the "Blaney Survey," is now a matter of record, and was returned and recorded in the office of the recorder of deeds for New Castle county, (See deed record R, Vol. 2, page 428). It shows a radical change of the old names of the streets. Water street became Front street. Land street became Market street. Mink street was changed to Orange street. Beaver to Vine; Susquehanna to Pearl; Otter to Union. The other streets running at right angles with the river were changed as follows: North street remained the same; Thwart street to Chestnut street, as it is now; Hart or Mary street to Harmony street; Market or Wood street, to Delaware street, as it is now; Another Susquehanna street, which ran from Pearl to the present Delaware railroad station, to South street, by which name it is still called. (Pearl street is practically an extension of Orange street). And so the names of all of these streets legally remains to this day, although subsequently, and in recent years the City Council, during the administration of Mayor F. E. Herbert, passed an ordinance changing the names of all the streets, (except Front) which run at right angles to the river to numerical names, to wit: Front, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, etc. The names which existed prior to this ordinance having been given, under an act of the Legislature, however could not be legally changed by an ordnance of the City Council. But it may be said that, notwithstanding this, many of the inhabitants, particularly those of a younger generation, have acted under the ordinance, and accordingly now call the streets by such numerical names. The older inhabitants still call them by the old and proper names.

James L. Meek '12