No straight lines in nature
At first glance this map is confusing because north is at the bottom of the page. The upside-down orientation suggests that the maker was an amateur. From the map we can see how dramatically the shape of Auckland’s waterfront has changed.
The curving foreshore was once at Fore Street (renamed Fort Street). By 1870, when this drawing was probably done, land had been reclaimed and the waterfront was at Custom House Street (today’s Customs Street).
The jutting pink triangle to the left is Point Britomart, the site of the town’s first military barracks, built in 1841. When the soldiers moved out in the early 1870s the barracks became a home for orphans. Soon afterwards the buildings were removed and a large chunk of the hill was demolished with explosives. Eventually the whole headland was swallowed up by reclamation. As one commentator observed, the city’s ‘open bays and towering promontories’ disappeared, leaving the waters of the Waitematā lapping ‘drab stone walls’.
Auckland’s coastline has edged out into the sea more than a kilometre since European settlers arrived. Its straight-edged docks now stretch from Mechanics Bay to Freemans Bay.