Vintage Road Map Week, Part II

It’s Vintage Road Map Week 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). 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!

Missed Part I? You can find it here.

The Netherlands in 1914 – Zeeland

Source: Michiel2005, http://www.flickr.com/photos/govert1970/4315005304/sizes/l/in/pool-1018564@N25/. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) licence.

This 1914 map of Zeeland is not only missing much of the infrastructure present today; it’s even missing much of the land itself. Most of these islands have been added to with polders and joined either to each other or to the Dutch mainland. Rather than ferries, bridges, dams and dykes built as part of the Delta Works project connect the islands to each other as well as provide protection from potentially devastating flood floods. It’s similarly notable to look at the holes in the former Zuider Zee where giant polders have since been reclaimed, creating an entire new province of the Netherlands, Flevoland.

Hammond's new road map of eastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire

Source: Norman J. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library, http://maps.bpl.org/id/10799. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) licence.

This Hammond road map of eastern Massachusetts dates from 1917, as you may have guessed from the total lack of numbers on the roads. Suburban growth is only just in its infancy here at the beginning of the automobile age, so while the suburbs around the regional centre of Boston are in bloom, the distinctions between the various cities in the Boston-to-Nashua corridor still readily perceived compared to the nearly solid block of development that exists today.

Michigan 1920 Hi-Way Map

Source: M, Hogan, http://www.flickr.com/photos/smartee_martee/1618300371/in/pool-1018564@N25/. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) licence.

Oh, wow – a hand-drawn-to-scale highway map of Michigan from 1920 (produced fittingly by the ‘Highway Map Co.’). Kind of neat to see the limited number of road signs in use at the time. This map also probably represents the last time anyone used the term ‘macadam’ on a road map. Other than a font change, Michigan still uses the same style for its highway markers more than 90 years later. Without the Mackinac Bridge, the Upper Peninsula must have seemed even more isolated from the rest of the state than it is today.

cuba 1955

Source: davecito, http://www.flickr.com/photos/23465812@N00/5556827763/in/pool-1018564@N25/. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) licence.

On the back of a 1955 Rand McNally Florida map is this insert of Cuba, oddly oriented to the east in order to fit on the map. The map is filled with little cartoons and numbered species of fish (presumably there is a guide elsewhere on the map). Note the interesting caption ‘Petroleum Promotes Progress’, which given Cuba’s dependence on energy imports over the past half-century, seems somewhat ironic. Sancti Spiritus shares second billing here with Santiago de Cuba; today the city doesn’t even rank in the top dozen in terms of population.

1949 Road Atlas 6

Source: E. Lipson, http://www.flickr.com/photos/misselaineous1/5107360795/in/pool-1018564@N25. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) licence.

From a different Florida map; this one dating from 1949. Not only are there far fewer cities in the region, but the Everglades also push much closer to the coast.

Pend Oreille recreation map, circa 1960

Source: Seattle Municipal Archives, http://www.flickr.com/photos/seattlemunicipalarchives/3466957318/in/pool-24677344@N00. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) licence.

This 1960 tourist map of recreational sites in the Pend d’Oreille River valley in northeastern Washington was produced by the United States Forest Service, and is full of whimsical drawings of people recreating in the woods (although the gratuitous use of red ink to colour in noses makes it look like there are a lot of alcoholic campers in this region). Also notable is the purple stamp in the upper left corner marking the site where the Boundary Dam would ultimately be built in 1967; today, Boundary Dam provides nearly one-half of Seattle’s electrical power. The two state highways on this map were renumbered in 1963 as part of a statewide reorganisation of the highway grid.

Come back later this week for Part III!

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