Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Traveling via the Green Book

The Green Book was a travel guide for African Americans published 1936 and 1966. The prevalent racism of the era necessitated a guide directing travelers to places they would be welcome. The New York Public Library (NYPL) Labs created an online tool where you can plan a trip from and to anywhere in the country using this resource. For example, here is a 1947 trip to Miami to Los Angeles.
You can choose a trip using the 1947 or 1956 edition of the book. Notice the (literal) lengths taken to avoid almost all of Texas. A click on the hotels and restaurants will take you to the corresponding page in the scanned book.
Curious about the avoiding Texas phenomenon I plotted some other routes that normally go through Texas (using the 1947 book). Here, a trip from Philadelphia to El Paso not only takes special pains to avoid Texas but also appears to be recommending avoiding El Paso completely and going to Tucson instead.
A New Orleans to Tucson trip follows almost the same route, veering way north in order to avoid Texas. Even traveling to central Texas using the 1947 book results in some obvious Texas avoidance. Here is Cleveland to San Antonio.
Using the 1956 book routes still avoid much of Texas but not as strenuously. The 1956 book has a much higher number of listings so that is probably the main reason for this though conditions for travelers may have also improved over this time period in Texas.

Plan your own trip here or view all of the green book data on a map here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

A Plan for a Canadian Attack on Russia, 1919

After World War I, many Allied troops remained in Russia to help anticommunist forces fight against the Bolsheviks. This map was made for Canadian troops to plan a February 1919 surprise attack on Segezha in the northwest corner of Russia.
The map shows terrain features, gun positions, firing ranges, bridges and buildings along with instructions such as "cut wires" and "stop communication between Station and Bridge." Some of the text is hard to read but here is a detail of the area around the bridge over the Segezha River.
Post-war public opinion turned against the Canadian Prime Minister and it was difficult for him to justify keeping troops overseas. Troops were gradually withdrawn from Russia and the planned attack was abandoned. - via Canadian Geographic

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Cards Against Humanity Stops the Wall

Cards Against Humanity is a self-described "party game for horrible people." As a protest against a border wall that is by any objective standard an ineffective waste of huge sums of money, they have purchased a plot of land along the US-Mexico border and hope to delay construction by forcing a lengthy eminent domain case. Since the wall is "12th Century Technology" they have also purchased a trebuchet, a medieval device (not the font) for catapulting objects to destroy walls.

What does this have to do with maps? Well, they made one.
The map is filled with puns and some other strange things that I don't understand such as Smashmouth playing a concert in Mexico. You can also see the trebuchet doing some damage and people climbing over the wall with ladders.

More on the project here.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

A Night Club Map of Harlem

This map was created in 1932 by E. Simms Campbell, the first nationally syndicated African-American illustrator in the United States. It appeared in the first issue of Manhattan Magazine, and was republished nine months later in Esquire.
The map features the most famous speakeasies and night clubs of Harlem (but not all of them as indicated in the title block below) during the Prohibition era.
For example "Gladys'" (Harry Hansberry's) Clam House where Gladys Bentley, who performed as a cross dressing lesbian, "wears a tuxedo and high hat and tickles the ivories."
The map is full of charming details such as "Seventh avenue or heaven", various famous personalities like Cab Calloway and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, an "actual size" picture of a "shorty" of gin, Harlem's "national drink" and this unique north arrow.
The map also takes some interesting cartographic liberties such compressing the blocks along Lenox Avenue in order to reach up to the Cotton Club. The numbered streets are also deliberately misaligned on either side of Seventh Ave in order to emphasize the important clubs. The blocks between 131st and 110th street are compressed to allow Central Park to be shown.
The map, along with additional details can be found here.  A full resolution version can be found here.