"The island of California. A huge triangle of land called Florida. A great ocean that cut down from the Arctic into the Midwest. As the New World came into focus beginning in the 17th century, explorers and cartographers struggled to measure a massive expanse of land that would take centuries to accurately map.
Take the long-accepted idea that California was actually its own island, popularized by explorers who had seen Baja and assumed the inlet was actually a continuous straight separating present-day Cali from the rest of North America. For a number of reasons—including economic and political ones—the myth stuck around for centuries. In fact, there's even a dedicated collection at Stanford devoted to this geographic non-truth, of which there are at least 800 maps. So what reconnected California to America? In 1747, less than 300 years ago, King Ferdinand VI of Spain cleared up a popular misconception with a royal decree: California, it turned out, wasn't an island after all.
But that's far from the only cartographic myth that wound its way into legend during the age of exploration. Some of these maps were drawn for navigation, others were drawn with hidden agendas—to, say, spur a particular monarch to fund new journeys.
Take a look at 12 below, which include the first to use the name "America" and the first map printed in the new world. And please, add any we've missed in the comments."
More at: http://gizmodo.com/12-maps-of-america-from-before-we-knew-what-it-looked-l-1488315681
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