William Penn appointed Thomas Holme (1624-1691) to produce a survey of 'Pennsilvania' to promote the new province. The
"Map of The Improved Part of The Province of Pennsilvania in America" , finally produced in 1687, is now on display in
a National Historic Trust site in Germantown,
6 miles from Philadelphia.
New Castle (in the lower left corner) is not mapped with the detail given to Philadelphia or the surrounding Penn properties but appears to be
sketched in a somewhat symbolic non-realistic style. Holme was in Pennsylvania, and the map was drawn from actual surveys and survey
How accurate is the depiction? What did New Castle look like
in 1687? The map shows perhaps 30-40 houses in 3-5 rows parallel to the river. No wharves are shown, nor are the
streets. Perhaps 5 houses are two or more stories. In the center is a space, perhaps a commons
or green with perhaps a post or statue.
Probably none of the buildings pictured
survive today, though the
Dutch house Museum
of the New Castle Historical Society
on 3rd street is probably of the period, as was the
" (which had the date "1687" on its walls since the early 1800s).
The Front Street
(The Strand) elevation by Latrobe
in 1804 shows
28 and 30 The Strand
before they were
destroyed by the 1824 fire. The latter may be the structure built by
Bernard Ekon c1670
According to Eckman
there were no houses on the river side
of The Strand until after 1701. Harmony Street
existed in 1687
as did Delaware Street
and the Green.
In the northeastern corner of town on the site of Immanuel Church, we would expect to see the two story
blockhouse that replaced the riverfront Fort Casimir. Roberts' 1987 archaeological
on the excavation under Immanuel
summarizes the history. Fort Casimir was in disrepair by the arrival of the English in 1664 and
replaced in 1677 by a blockhouse on the town square. This was a two story structure surrounded by a wall or palisade
and entered through a gate. During the excavation
under Immanuel after the fire of 1980, no definitive remains of the fort were discovered, although a cannonball was one
of the artifacts found.
We might expect to see a windmill on 2nd street (dyke street) above the
remains of Fort Casimir. According to the Cooper (1903) redrawing of the
Lagrange deed of 1681, a windmill
did exist at that time.
What else is there in the way of drawings of New Castle in the 1600's? Perhaps nothing but the sketch of its predecessor Ft. Casimir
by 'fortifications engineer' Pehr Lindestrom in 1653.