"The city is home to me, but it's always been tricky to put into words what makes it feel that way. (It's like with family; I'm allowed to complain about it, but I find myself getting horribly defensive if I hear other people bashing the city, even when they're right.) So the drawings all say (to me): "I don't know why I like it here, but I do. I fit." The funny fish and mermaids come from me looking at sea-monsters in old-fashioned maps."
"I was looking at a book of hand-drawn maps called Mapping Manhattan, and decided to make my own. For me, visiting New York feels like entering the Total Perspective Vortex from Hitchhiker's Guide. The city has a way of making me feel small and insignificant like nowhere else in the world.
All of the quotes from the map are my own; bits of thoughts, conversations I've had with people, that sort of thing. Someone once told me that the "worried well" all go to therapy on the upper west side, so I have a few images related to that. And there are a few sketches strewn in from places in New York I actually do like; the Bethesda statue, a bag from The Strand."
"I had a half-share in a house in Newport with some friends one Summer and had a great time. A few years later, some friends of ours were heading up there and wanted advice on what to do. I didn't set out to draw such a detailed map but once I started, I really got into adding notes about all the little details I remembered. It quickly became a labor of love."
Newport, Rhode Island. Mapped by Andy Proehl
See his flickr collection of maps here.
On the origins of the map
"I had a nagging feeling that the geography of London was not as complicated as it seemed, and while it mentally felt like a grid I wanted to get it down to clarify it for myself. I first drew it using Microsoft Visio, which I use for work, but then wanted to draw it out on paper to chew it over more carefully."
On the grid structure and his engineering background
"It's true that [other] maps of London are mostly chaotic, and the town has grown up that way, but the major points tend to be neatly joined up, and the rest is just noise and shortcuts. I think London felt like a grid because as a student I tended to take the bus rather than the underground, primarily because it's cheaper but you get a much better idea of how places join together, that way. Realising that all of the major northern railway termini sat in a row across the town, parallel with Oxford Street, parallel with the river, it was then just a case of joining the dots vertically. I think again my engineering background always wants to simplify and approach things systematically."
On accuracy of the map
"In making the map I realised that my model wasn't as watertight as I expected, and there are some huge holes in my knowledge as soon as you're outside central London - I've no idea about Chelsea or much of central South London at all, once I'm away from the river. But similarly I was pleased with how complete the map was. And I also discovered that I couldn't find a convincing map that defined all of the folk-named areas, while Bloomsbury, Mayfair, and Soho for example all have their own feeling, there's no strict definition on where one area starts and the next one stops. So it was fun to try to settle on a definition for each of them, though I'm sure others would disagree."
Tips for Travelers
"They could see it that wherever they are, there's something of interest nearby, and that as long as they keep their wits about them they shouldn't be too afraid to get lost and wander, especially between Oxford Street and the river. Don't be afraid to try to walk between places that look like they might be vaguely close, it's time well spent.
You can't go too far wrong with the museums, mostly clustered in the bottom left corner of the map, though the British Museum and British Library are huddled in the centre. Walking along the south bank of the river is also worthwhile, there's plenty to see there."
mapped by Matt Lancashire.
"I woke up this morning and felt like drawing a map. Once I get one of these silly ideas in my mind, POW!, it's hard to stop me doing it for the rest of the day."
Mapped by Anika Mottershaw
"Georgia is where I learned to smile at strangers and take for granted miles of green and lazy purple skies. This is a map of Georgia, as it is on my mind, scaled by memories rather than distance."
Georgia, mapped by Esther Kim.
"Seoul is a massive metropolitan city, but for a year I got to call this little corner cafe district my home. The Hapjeong-Hongdae-Sangsu triangle is located in western side of town, sitting just above the Han River. It houses Hongdae University, known for its outstanding art program, and a maze of side streets lined with cafés, hip clothing boutiques, restaurants and bars. The area is busy 24/7 - during the day, cafés offer quiet places to study, and at night the bars become loud boisterous places for mingling. Luckily my friend and I lived in a neighborhood just outside of the triangle called Seogyo-dong. Our apartment, including the surrounding neighborhood, was stuck in Korea circa 1980, and it's side roads are lined with bundles of tangled telephone wires stretched from building to building.
From the late spring to early fall, I would run from my apartment to the Han river, where there's a paved route alongside the river for cyclists. Jogging along the Han became part of my daily regimen. Not many people jog around the streets of Seoul (perhaps a side effect of watching too many Korean dramas in which the protagonist dies in a car accident) but alongside the river, you can find Seoulites doing all kinds of exercise and recreation; cycling, jogging, swimming, windsurfing, in the fall people fly kites and in the spring people tread along the Han in duck-shaped paddleboats."
Seoul, Korea mapped by Andrew Arnold, after a year on the Fulbright scholarship in Korea.
check out his documentary on little Korean monks here
"I spent my spring semester abroad in Mongolia, based in Ulaanbaatar. At first the city-- with its freezing temperatures, dizzying traffic, post-Soviet buildings, and ger camps-- felt impenetrable. But gradually, my friends and I created a home for ourselves; we took pleasure in each little cafe, buuz restaurant, each wheezing bus route and monument we passed. Eventually, we got around through landmarks, just as the Mongolians do."
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia mapped by Kening
This map is our record of an unforgettable summer's worth of delicious food, adventure-hungry weekdays counting minutes in corporate offices, and exhausted weekends wading through humid wilderness and getting eaten alive by mosquitos.
Hong Kong mapped by Kening
Notes from Wendy, fellow adventurer
"My favorite adventure was Sai Kung (top right corner) So many things could have gone wrong but they didn’t, and instead it put the EPIC before adventures. Trying to get on the rickety speed boat in dark, turbulent, hip-deep waters was a scary experience! You can feel the panic because everyone was trying to get on at the same time, not noticing that they were actually pushing the boat further away from shore. It felt like a dream because the water was ink black while the sky was lit up with lightning forks in the distance. Future travelers - you can never buy too much MopiDick because the mosquitoes in HK are deadly. Friends are essential to an awesome time!"
"Manhattan as I knew it at the end of my sophomore year at Columbia. Each a friend would help through the city, my head would swirl with places to recommend, until eventually, I made this map to show them. Places like Cha-An teahouse, where I had spent many Friday evenings with people dearest to me, and the Strand, where I spent many hours standing and reading."
Manhattan mapped by Kening
She has a gift of making any sleepy southern town seem magical. Durham, North Carolina: painted in watercolor, soaked in (coffee?), edges burnt off like the true treasure-hunting pirate she is. We rolled it up and took it on our adventures to hidden nooks and secret forests. This is the map that inspired this project.
Durham, North Carolina mapped by Esther Meeks.