It’s the second annual Vintage Map Week here at The Basement Geographer. If you, like me, are a map freak, then you’ve probably tracked down your fair share of old road maps over the Internet, where good cartographic Samaritans have uploaded hundreds of images of old road maps that one can lose hours looking at (and if you haven’t, easy places to start are the Vintage Road Maps and Old Maps pools on Flickr. For those wishing to dig really deep, stops at the David Rumsey Map Collection and the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center are very much recommended. It’s quite fun to look at all of the things that have changed over the decades. Here are just some of the highlights you can find browsing these old maps. You’ll definitely want to click on each map to view them full-size and absorb every detail!
Part I of this series can be found here, and our final post in Vintage Road Map Week 2012 will be posted in the Thursday update.
Source: Oklahoma Department of Transportation, http://www.okladot.state.ok.us/hqdiv/p-r-div/maps/state-maps/pdfs/1927.pdf. http://maps.bpl.org/id/14592. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic licence.
This is the official 1927 state highway system map of Oklahoma. Compared with the couple hundred or more numbered highways in the state today, it’s a far cry, but it’s still a fairly dense network by the day’s standards. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation has archived on the website every single edition of their state highways map back to 1907, throwing in an 1873 map of the then-named Indian Territory as a bonus. Many of the highway numbers shown here have long been usurped by new designations, primarily within the US Highway system (although the most famous of all US Highways, Route 66, which is shown here dissecting the state from west to northeast, was decommissioned in 1985). Not much of the highways system is paved at this point.
Source: R. Ketcherside, http://www.flickr.com/photos/tigerzombie/6114132690/sizes/o/in/pool-87939355@N00/. Licensed under the Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic licence.
Here’s an oddity: a railroad map of Japan and Korea (with an inset of Taiwan) produced for the US consumer market in 1942 in the middle of World War II. Called the Indispensable Map of Japan And Its Possessions In Beautiful Colours, the map was intended to aid US residents in orienting themselves with regards to the news they were getting from abroad. At this time, Japan controlled Korea and Taiwan (Korea is here called Chosen and full of place names mostly unrecognisable to the modern eye thanks to both changes in translation and the Japanisation of place names during the period; Taiwan is also shown covered in Japanese place names). We also see southern Sakhalin and the entirety of the Kuril Islands under Japanese control. Southern Sakhalin was part of Japan from 1905 to 1945 as Karafuto Prefecture, and had a peak population of 400 000. The capital of Karafuto, Toyohara, is today the Russian city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and is now the capital of the entire island. The modern-day population of the island includes. 43 000 Sakhalin Koreans, descendants of the 150 000Koreans relocated to the island forcibly during the 1930s and 1940s, remain on the island today. Being 1942, the Manchukuo puppet state is present on the map, and the Liaodong Peninsula is shown as an integral part of the Japanese Empire. Also interesting is the sub-labeling of the island of Hokkaido as Yezo, a generic term applied to the north lands of Japan between the 15th and 19thcenturies and most often associated with Hokkaido.
Source: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/ams/formosa_city_plans/txu-oclc-6565942.jpg. Courtesy of the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection at the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.
Speaking of Taiwan during World War II, here’s a 1945 US military map of Tainan, again filled with Japanese place names that would be very unfamiliar to a modern visitor to the city. Also, could you imagine a modern day map using a term like ‘Blind & Dumb School’? Not likely.
Source: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/historical/baghdad_bus_1961.jpg. Courtesy of the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection at the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.
Here’s a city bus map of Baghdad from 1961, just three years after the establishment of the Republic of Iraq in the 14 July Revolution, in which King Faisal II and his government were overthrown by the Iraqi Army. Already, we see the city full of revolution-based place names (Tahrir, or Liberation, Square; 14 July Park, Street, and Fair; Jumhuriya Square and Street; Republic Club) and a major thoroughfare named for the then new prime minister, Abd al-Karim Qasim. Very noticeable is that the buses did not go into the northeast portions of the city, which are largely left blank.
Source: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/islands_oceans_poles/tongatabu_1943.jpg. Courtesy of the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection at the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.
This road map of the main Tongan island of Tongatapu dates to 1943. Interestingly, this is the only map of the island I can find where the main roadways are actually numbered. Even-numbered road run west-east; odd-numbered roads run north-south. I’m not certain what the numbers in circles are. Given the date, I would imagine this is some sort of military road map as well.
Check back in 3.5 days as we wrap up Vintage Road Map Week 2012 with Part III.
Droz, R.V. (2006). In the Beginning: The early years of Route 66. U.S. Highways, 10 December 2006. Available at http://www.us-highways.com/early66.htm. Accessed 27 April 2012.