The original 13 Colonies were just that: colonies, not states. Some of them had boundaries that were precursors to current state boundaries, but that really only applied to smaller now-states that were bounded in by then-colonies, like New Jersey (by NY, PA, DE), Delaware (by NJ, MD), Connecticut and Rhode Island (by each other, MA, and NY). Otherwise several of them were ‘incomplete’ by today’s outlines, and Georgia notably was just a blob on the map compared with its current borders. Other interesting tidbit facts from that era are that Virginia at that time (and for nearly 100 years) included the eastern portion of West Virginia (which only broke away from VA during the Civil War as an objection to VA’s support of slavery – not a well-known fact); Maine didn’t exist as a colony contrary to popular map-finger-pointing (people frequently assume New England now-states were all included in the original Colonies administration) and was instead part of Massachusetts; parts of Vermont (which didn’t yet exist, not until 1790/1) instead belonged to New York; and it seems South Carolina, for as far south as it was, did pretty much maintain boundary continuity from their time as a colony until statehood – fascinating.


The above map shows what I talking about. You can also see parts of then-Mass-Maine included parts of now-Quebec, and even a sliver of now-New Brunswick. Also of note is that the Proclamation Line doesn’t appear to be largely drawn along any river route – in places, yes, but not at large, not like the Louisiana Purchase in later American history – but instead in places along Appalachian ridge lines, and elsewhere mostly arbitrary as far as I can tell. That’s an OK map (from Wikipedia), but I prefer this one for its color compartmentalization too:


In this map New York did always identify more as a Mid-Atlantic region rather than with New England (the name stuck because of the weather, even though Massachusetts is latitudinally more in-line with Portugal and Spain!).

But I digress.

During a recent 17+ mile walking tour of Pittsburgh I came upon the 40th Street Bridge, officially the Washington Crossing Bridge but named on most maps as the former. The north or west side of the bridge is in the suburb of Millvale, while the south or east side of the bridge is in Pittsburgh, bisecting the neighborhoods of Lawrenceville and Lower Lawrenceville. On the Millvale side of the bridge the bridge very much wants you to know its name, the pier adorned with large serif lettering declaring its title, and the year of its construction:


On the Pittsburgh side of things I didn’t get to poke around as much but there didn’t appear to be any large lettering, however there was a plaque that told a tale about George Washington the Messenger:


What the plaque fails to mention is that Washington’s boat capsized during the crossing, and that at that time Pittsburgh was not named Pittsburgh (it wouldn’t be named that for 5 more years – and I’m uncertain what it was referred to at the time).

Getting back to the colonies!

The 40th Street Bridge was already on my footpath route, and it rewarded me with these really interesting reliefs, one for each future state which again at the time were colonies; also included is the Allegheny County seal, for the county in which the bridge spans the Allegheny River:

Made of metal, there were multiples of each seal sprinkled over the course of the bridge, with some having a bit more damage than others and all weathered to some degree – the bridge was not incredibly well maintained (the story of American infrastructure these days).

But a great bit of American colonial history depicted on a bridge in the great city of Pittsburgh!