On the Map: Rocque’s Plano Particular

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Elevacion, Vista, y Perfil que pasa por la Linea 1.2.3. [plan of barracks], Mariano de la Rocque. 1785. University of Florida Digital Collections.

Ponce de Leon, Menendez, Flagler; these are the names that first come to someone’s mind when they think of the history of Saint Augustine. But what about Rocque? Mariano de la Rocque, although perhaps not as well known, made many significant contributions to Saint Augustine and the way we understand the city’s history today.

Mariano de la Rocque was an architect and engineer who spent nine years living in St. Augustine as the Chief Engineer of Spanish East Florida. On April 25, 1788 he completed the Plano Particular de la Ciudad de San Agustin, a plat plan for Manuel Zespedes, the governor at the time. It is similar in some ways to de la Puente’s map from 1764, but shows the city in much greater detail and documents the changes in the built environment that occurred during the two decades of British occupation.

On his map, Rocque documented streets, houses, lot lines, structural conditions, and building materials. The footprint of every structure in St. Augustine is included in Rocque’s map, noting even the presence of kitchens, wells, and outhouses. The specificity of the Rocque map makes it an extremely valuable resource to historians and archaeologists who use it to pinpoint exact locations of historic structures and understand colonial architectural styles. When the Preservation Board began their restoration work in the 1960s, they relied on Rocque’s map to check for accuracy in location and building style. It is the most accurate map of the city from the 18th century, and today it’s regarded as one of the most important maps in St. Augustine history.

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Plano particular de la Ciudad de Sn Agustin de la Florida, con el Detall de sus Mansanas, Casas y Solares, Castillo, &c., Mariano de la Rocque. 1788. University of Florida Digital Collections.

In addition to his famous map, Rocque also oversaw the plans for the Cathedral Basilica, a remodeling project of the Castillo de San Marcos, and restoration plans for the Convento de San Francisco, also known as the St. Francis Barracks, and today used as the headquarters of the Florida National Guard. Rocque works continue to tell us a great deal about the layout of St. Augustine during the Second Spanish Period.

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Plano del Castillo de San Marcos, Mariano de la Rocque. 1785. University of Florida Digital Collections.

The original Plano Particular left Florida in 1821 when it became an American territory and was part of the East Florida Papers at the Library of Congress. Its whereabouts were unknown for many years to local historians, who worked off of a black and white copy of the map to help them in their research. The maps whereabouts was discovered in the late 1990s, now housed at the Bureau of Land Management office in Washington, D.C. with other national town plats. Thanks to the Bureau and the PGA/World Golf Village, two full scale color facsimiles were donated to the City of St. Augustine and the St. Augustine Historical Society, making it much easier to use and study.

5 thoughts on “On the Map: Rocque’s Plano Particular

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