Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Paradise Deserves a Better Fate

"Paradise in Panorama" is a giant relief map of California built in the early 1920's by a team of sculptors, engineers and geographers. Scientific American called it the largest map in the world when it was unveiled in 1924. The map is made of plaster, wire, paint, and "bits of rock and sand", is "as long as two football fields" and weighs about 70 tons. It showed California before the age of freeways, suburbs and major bridges.

A somewhat mysterious article appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle in October saying that the map has "turned up at an undisclosed location on the city's waterfront" without describing how or why. The article details a bit of its history. The map was on display for many years at the San Francisco Ferry Building, the country's busiest transit terminal at the time, before being damaged in that building's renovation project in the 1950's. It was then cut into sections and put in storage. The city offered the map for $1 for anyone willing to restore and display it but found no takers because of the map's size and the expense of moving it. Various schemes have been devised to redisplay the map but it remains in storage with an uncertain future.


Michael5000 said...

I pledge $10 towards Map of the Week's purchase and installation of this historic treasure at MotW headquarters.

Dug said...

Thanks for the seed money. MotW is going to need some additional cash to purchase a few football fields to display it on.