|Lower left quadrant of 1948 map|
The two exceptions to this that I've come across are the circa 1941 New Castle County Bus Map and the 1948 map shown here. This is actually only a quarter of the entire map, the lower left quadrant to be exact, it doesn't have names of property owners like the earlier ones, but there are several things on and about it that make it interesting enough to take a closer look at.
First of all, it comes from a transitional time in the history of Mill Creek Hundred (and the rest of the Wilmington suburbs, for that matter). 1948 was right near the beginning of the post-war suburban expansion in MCH, and the map reflects that. There are a few new developments shown (Kiamensi Gardens, for example), but not many. You can see the suburbs expanding out of Newport and Elsmere, but for the most part things are pretty clear west of the Red Clay.
The really interesting thing about the map, though, and the reason I call it the Magical Map, is the presence of some streets that didn't actually exist in the real world. One example can be found just to the right of the center of the map, next to the "Kruse School for Colored Girls", which was covered in a previous post. On the southeast side of the school property is shown Woodward Ave, with the cross streets of 1st and 2nd Avenues. As best as I can tell from viewing aerial pictures from just before and just after this time period, none of those streets ever existed, except likely in a developer's mind. The hypothetical Woodward Avenue would have been, of course, named for the former owner of the farm there, J. Paul Woodward.
Another example of these magical streets can be found on the southeast side of Stanton. (And just a reminder, you can click on the map above to see a larger version of it.) On the SE side of Main Street, you can see Mill Rd. (still there) on one end and Chestnut Street (kind of still there) on the other end. I assume New Street is what became the eastbound lanes of Route 4. But then, behind New Street, there are several other streets shown that as far as I know never existed. And I'm sure there were never any streets built over the creek, as the map shows. Was this someone's (maybe Harry Boulden's) plan that never came to fruition?
|Equivalent section from c.1941 Bus Map|
What's also interesting is that the New Castle County Bus Map also shows some of these same aspirational roads. The bus map is probably a few years older, so it's possible that the 1948 map was built on the older one and therefore contained some of the same errors (or wishful thinking). My guess with that map was that some of these streets may have been plans that were interrupted by WWII. There may be more examples of this in areas I'm less familiar with, so let us know if you can find anything else.
Back into the realm of real things on the map, some other potentially interesting items might be the the New Castle County Workhouse, the New Castle County Workhouse Farms, the Brandywine Sanitorium (which I just saw the state is now planning to close), the Veterans Hospital, the DuPont Flying Field, and the Boys Camp. As far as roads go, I've never seen Milltown Road with "Coopers Corner" tacked on to it, the map still shows the full run of the upper part of St. James Church Road, and Kirkwood Highway west of Limestone Road was yet to be built.
All in all, while not fantastically historically significant, this 1948 map is a fun one to look at for a bunch of reasons. If nothing else, it does give a good snapshot of what the area was like as it stood on the brink of the rapid expansion that made it what it is today. Have fun with this map, and feel free to comment on anything you find that catches your eye!