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100 Years of Artists’ Maps of New York City

Some maps are geographically and/or historically interesting, but not much to look at aesthetically. Other maps are gorgeous, as the artists intended. This article is about the latter, specifically maps that artists have made of New York City. And they serve all kinds of purposes, like this fantasy map from 1969.

This conceptual design by New York architect and city planner Oscar Newman proposed a sci-fi-esque solution to creating more space in Manhattan. After learning that an atomic test in Nevada had produced a massive underground cavern, Newman suggested developers use nuclear explosions to create similar subterranean spaces under the city. They’d be equipped with air filters reaching to the streets above—as well as Coca-Cola ads.

“Manhattan could have half a dozen such atomic cities strung under the city proper,” Newman wrote in Esquire, alongside this drawing. “The real problem… in an underground city would be lack of view and fresh air, but consider its easy access to the surface and the fact that, even as things are, our air should be filtered and what most of us see from our windows is someone else’s wall.” Made as the city was entering its grimiest decade, the satirical map is a departure from the more idealistic designs of previous years.

Katharine Harmon compiled 200 different maps of New York City, from 1660 to the 21st century, in her new book You Are Here: NYC: Mapping the Soul of the City. Get a preview by looking through an excerpt of New York maps from the last 100 years at Hyperallergic.  -via Nag on the Lake

(Image credit: Oscar Newman/Esquire)


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