Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Best Map in the US

I've written several times about my fascination with maps, I find them endlessly entertaining.

Put 2 boys who like maps together, mix in beer and soon they'll form a map club. After a while they'll find another few wayward souls and get them to join, soon thereafter a girl or two will show up, just to make sure the rent money isn't blown on something she finds useless, like antique maps. Since boys like to show off, conventions of map stuff aren't far off. That may or not be how the Cartography and Geographic Information Society was formed, but it wouldn't be a bad bet, especially if the earliest members were teachers.

The Society held its annual convention last December and the map above "The Essential Geography of the United States of America" won the award for Best In Show. Created by David Imus who spent some 6,000 hours laboring to get everything correct, the Essential Geography, is the only true map of US geography.

Copies of David's US map and other more specific maps he has created are available for sale here.



Scott Alexander said...

Quite the informative post. I gained an early interest in cartography from my father. I honestly believe it was countless games of Risk that first sparked my interest. I now have several old maps throughout the house, and a small but growing collection of globes.

Shelley said...

This is a brilliant map. I like the way the yellow spotches highlight the size of various urban areas at a glance.

BetaGoat said...

Last month while visiting my parents, my father pulled out a huge book of maps of the St Louis area (I think from the early 1900's) - really a book of plats and real estate from the government. Along with my brother we spent a couple of hours pouring over it until our better halves intervened. On one hand I'd love to cut out a few pages and frame them, but on the other I would hate to cut up the book.

Toad said...

Andy, you may have been looking at the Sanborn Insurance company maps of STL. They may be found on-line here:;page=index;c=umcscsanic

Michael said...

Mapmakers employ dirty tricks to ensure their maps are not being ripped off by competitors. Generally their approach is to insert a road, lane, creek or river that does not exist. Great way to establish ownership.

Perhaps an apocryphal story but I had heard that Rand McNally had a Gay Lane placed in San Francisco years before the area became a mecca for gays. Stores in the area were later plagued with people asking for directions to the nonexistent street.

Toad said...

I'm going with apocryphal on the San Fran story.

Anonymous said...

I've heard several interviews with this mapmaker...and wondered how to acquire the map and how expensive it might be. Thank you for the link.

BetaGoat said...

Toad - out of curiosity I went back and found the book. It's quite large, about 30X15 - The Plat Book of St Louis County, Missouri compiled from county records and actual surveys, published by the Northwest Publishing Co of Des Moines, Iowa 1909.

In color as well.

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