Map of Louisiana, View of New Orleans


The French royal engineer, de Beauvilliers, drew this 1720 map of the entire hydrographic network of the Mississippi River, from the Illinois Country to New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico, and the regions west of the Mississippi, stretching through present-day Texas and into New Mexico. The map was made in Paris, based on the journal of Jean-Baptiste Bénard de la Harpe (1683–1765), “commander on the Red River.” De la Harpe was a French officer, trader, and explorer who explored much of present-day Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. He sailed from his native Saint Malo to New Orleans in April 1718. He was sent by the governor of Louisiana to establish a trading post on and explore the upper reaches of the Red River. He followed the river upstream, becoming the first European explorer to enter the present-day state of Oklahoma. De la Harpe encountered Indians of many tribes, including Wichita, Osage, and Apache. He returned to New Orleans in January 1720 and from there to France, where he circulated a detailed account of his travels. The map shows de La Harpe’s route, rivers, Indian villages with the numbers of their inhabitants, Spanish missions, and locations where boeuf sauvages (bison) were plentiful. An inset map at the upper left shows the Mississippi River and its entrance into the gulf. Inset within the inset is an illustration of the city of New Orleans.

Last updated: January 8, 2018