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This Old Map: California as an Island, 1752

The first map in an occasional new series depicts one of cartography’s longest-lasting fallacies.
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Glen McLaughlin Map Collection / Courtesy Stanford University Libraries

California could be an island, in all the ways that it is apart from other states. But for a time, it really was detached from the rest of the continent—at least in early maps of North America.

British mapmaker George Foster created “A New and Correct Map of AMERICA” for his Royal Highnesses King George II and Frederick, Prince of Wales. The year was 1752, right around the time when Spain, France, and Britain were battling to colonize America.