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Through the Eyes of California

Check out this 1947 map called Map of the United States as Californians See It. The proportions are a little bit off. The state boasts the world's finest harbor in four locations, movie stars everywhere, and claims a few landmarks that aren't actually in California. The rest of the country is pretty bleak: people are cold, even in Florida, and death awaits them. No wonder everyone is headed to the West Coast! If you like this, you're going to love the book that it's from.

Picturing America: The Golden Age of Pictorial Maps, a new book by geographer Stephen Hornsby, collects 158 of these charming visuals, largely drawing on the Library of Congress’s extensive collection. “Because contemporary curators and librarians generally did not consider pictorial maps ‘geographic’ or ‘scientific,’ most libraries did not collect them and they are quite rare today,” as Ralph Ehrenberg, who heads the Library of Congress’s Geography and Map Division, writes in the book’s introduction. Though the first real pictorial map depicted the London Underground, artists and cartographers across the pond embraced the style wholeheartedly, forming what Ehrenberg calls “a uniquely American art form.”

See the above map and eight others from the book in large size, so you can read them, at mental_floss.


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