Map of the Gulf of Mexico


Pineda, Alonzo Alvarez de


Map of the Gulf of Mexico was drawn in 1519 and printed with the view of Mexico City (Tinochtitlan), which was part of the letter sent by Hernando Cortes to King Carlos V of Spain printed in 1524. Pineda and Francisco de Garay had been instructed to sail all around the Gulf of Mexico to find out whether or not there was an ocean passage or other waterway connecting the Caribbean Sea with the Pacific Ocean (named by Balboa in Panama in 1513). This was an unknown fact as indicated on the maps of Juan de la Cosa in 1500 and the Waldseemüller map of 1507. On that 1507 map the large image shows a passage between the northern and southern hemisphere land masses and the smaller, top insert shows no passage. There the two are connected by a thin strip of land (Central America). The Pineda map confirms that there was no water passage to the Pacific, shows Yucatan more accurately, and shows Florida as a peninsula and labeled as Florida. This is the first printed map to show the name, and a fairly accurate shape and location. The earlier maps had shown either the peninsula or name on an island (da Vinci globe gores). The Freducci map had shown the peninsula most accurately for the time (1514-5) but it was a manuscript map (one of a kind) which was not widely known or publicized until David O. True's publications of 1954 in Imago Mundi. The label on the peninsula says "Florida called Bimini was discovered by Juan Ponce." Can we call the Pineda map "Florida's birth certificate"?


Image scanned from a reproduction in a private collection.

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