The Trip Calculator of Another Time
Published: January 19, 2012
BEFORE GIS, before GPS, before Google Earth, there was the milestone. These heavy markers, inscribed with distances to City Hall or other locations, went up in series as early as 1769, and once numbered 40 or 50 in all. About two dozen now survive, mostly in museums. Even at several feet high and weighing 200 pounds, the markers have proved remarkably difficult to track.
In 1910, a milestone dating to 1741 still stood at 82nd Street and 18th Avenue in Brooklyn. It is now at the Brooklyn Historical Society. New York once had as many as 50 milestones; today most have vanished.