Mapping Manhattan: A Love (and Sometimes Hate) Story in Maps by 75 New Yorkers

Mapping Manhattan: A Love (and Sometimes Hate) Story in Maps by 75 New Yorkers

Becky Cooper

Language: English

Pages: 120

ISBN: 1419706721

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Armed with hundreds of blank maps she had painstakingly printed by hand, Becky Cooper walked Manhattan from end to end. Along her journey she met police officers, homeless people, fashion models, and senior citizens who had lived in Manhattan all their lives. She asked the strangers to “map their Manhattan” and to mail the personalized maps back to her. Soon, her P.O. box was filled with a cartography of intimate narratives: past loves, lost homes, childhood memories, comical moments, and surprising confessions. A beautifully illustrated, PostSecret-style tribute to New York, Mapping Manhattan includes 75 maps from both anonymous mapmakers and notable New Yorkers, including Man on Wire aerialist Philippe Petit, New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov, Tony award-winning actor Harvey Fierstein, and many more.

Praise for Mapping Manhattan:

“What an intriguing project.”—The New York Times

“A tender cartographic love letter to this timeless city of multiple dimensions, parallel realities, and perpendicular views.” —Brain Pickings

“Cooper’s beautiful project linking the lives of New Yorkers is one that will continue to grow.” —Publishers Weekly online

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of the Year, and one of “the most influential people of the 21st century” by Esquire. He is also the cocreator and editor of Lucky Peach, a quarterly journal of food and writing published by McSweeney’s. RANDY COHEN is a writer and humorist. He was the original writer of The Ethicist for the New York Times. Before that, he was an Emmy Award–winning writer for Late Night with David Letterman. He and Nigel Holmes once made a literary map of Manhattan for the Times, which documented “where

imaginary New Yorkers lived, worked, played, drank, walked, and looked at ducks.” KATE CORDES is the head of the Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division at the New York Public Library. EUGENE DRUCKER is a founding member of the Emerson String Quartet, with which he has won nine Grammys and the Avery Fisher Prize. He is also the author of the novel The Savior, published by Simon & Schuster. He lives on the Upper West Side with his wife, cellist Roberta Cooper, and their son, Julian.

to show us, and that is a way home. Making Invisible Cities Visible All maps tell stories. Stories of their mapmakers. Stories about the circumstances of their creation. Stories about their intended use. They’re all biased in some way. Even the subway map of New York—the iconic John Tauranac blue-beige one that hangs in every subway car—is distorted. Manhattan is squished. Downtown luxuriates while poor Inwood and Washington Heights, served only by the 1 and A trains, are forced to fit

subjective decisions about what “public” meant (for example, the paintings in city schools: should they be considered public?) and about what counted as art (a carousel?). Instead of making the map thorough and unbiased, the amount of information I crammed on the page muddled the portrait of the city. I decided that in order to make a map that told an honest story of a place, I would need to celebrate—not hide—the subjectivity of the mapmaker. Instead of striving for one giant, “complete” map, I

immigrated to the Lower East Side of Manhattan: my father’s grandparents from Russia in the 1890s, my mother’s parents from China in the 1920s and ’40s. After moving from the other side of the world, they were tired of schlepping, and stayed. I like to imagine the two sides bumping into each other, unknowingly, in front of Hop Kee on Mott Street, which my mother’s father would pass after closing his watch repair shop on the corner of Mott and Worth and where my dad’s father used to eat after his

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