Maps of New York, Part 2: You Are Here
It is a truth universally acknowledged that my sense of direction is not what you’d call sharp. (I’m talking about a physical sense of direction here. I’m sure we can all agree I’m not fab when it comes to other, larger, more meaningful senses of direction either, but let’s stick with this one for now. Cheers.) I’m one of those people that turns maps upside down and takes a couple of moments to remember their left from right. Forget about the points of the compass. As far as I’m concerned, North is the direction ahead of me, South behind me, East to my right, West to my left. Never Eat Shredded Wheat, done and done. Ask anyone who knows me well, who has been on a long drive or on holiday with me, what my sense of direction is like and and they’ll nod their heads, then shake their heads, then chuckle a little as they recall the pity, or (more likely), exasperation they felt as I hopefully pointed one way to our destination, and they gently guided me to the correct path, in the other direction. Sometimes I am lucky and figure it out quickly, and once I get to know a place I know it well, and can happily go exploring using that knowledge as my reference. But otherwise, I’m fairly craptastic.
So it might come as a surprise to you just how much I love maps. In truth, I rarely think of them first with regard to their practical function, but more of their connection to adventure, a unique point of view, pirates and X marking the spot. I think of the people making the maps, of the choices they made. Lately I’ve been noticing personal maps all over the shop and while I was in New York I was keen to visit this exhibition, You Are Here, to see a collection of personal maps of New York by the Hand Drawn Map Association. Yes, that’s right, there’s a Hand Drawn Map Association – seriously – how great is that?! Freaking awesome, says I.
The exhibition included a map of someone’s first few months in New York, one featuring the hotspots of Missed Connections, a culinary map, a scratch and sniff map and loads more, including a 3D map of Manhattan made out of jelly with a sign telling you to jump up and down to make it wobble. Their aceness knew no bounds.
They’ve managed to add something to my list. I’ve been thinking about what kind of maps I could make, and I think, what I want to be, besides all the other things, is a mapmaker of the kind of maps that require no sense of direction whatsoever.