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    About Coast Survey Charts

    While many other types of rare maps and historical charts can be found, Coast Survey Charts are our favorite and primary focus on this website. The Office of the Coast Survey is the oldest scientific organization in the U.S. Federal Government. The Office of the Coast Survey was founded in 1807 (Called survey of the coast) an act of February 10, 1807 “Provides for the systematic coastal survey under the department of Treasury” The nation realized the importance of accurate Charts of our coast to accommodate the explosion in waterborne commerce. And President Jefferson wanted the entire coast survey out to 20 Leagues(60 statute miles)The need for more accurate charts was apparent, and the decision to change from more descriptive charges to charts based on pure mathematics was proposed by Ferdinand Hassler, a Swiss mathematics professor at West Point Academy,  but delays started almost immediately due to the fact that the scientific instruments needed for the survey work were not available at the time and Hassler travelled to Europe to obtain the much needed instruments. The war of 1812 broke out and Hassler was unable to start his first survey of New York Harbor until 1817. Congress however was not happy with the progress of his survey work and the law that allowed citizens to do survey work was repealed and the responsibility for survey work was turned over to the US Army until 1832 when Hassler was appointed the first superintendent of the coast survey and the first hydrographic soundings were taken two years later 27 years after Hassler’s first proposal! According to Publication 10-1 authored by Aaron L. Shalowitz, the first chart published by the Coast Survey was of Bridgeport Harbor in 1835. In 1843, following Hassler’s death, Alexander Bache was appointed superintendent of the Coast Survey.  Bache was a true American hero and served through the Civil war, the Coast Survey changed its name to the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1878 and today is known as NOAA.