Map Quest

February, 25 2013
Posted in Inspiration, San Francisco
Posted by Christine

There are few things I love more in this universe than a well-designed map. Something about all those little lines intersecting to form geometric and organic shapes, and the delicate lacy pattern that emerges from a distant view. And besides just their aesthetics, I’m intrigued by their variety. They can be literal, with usability and function as the primary goal, every street precisely drawn to scale. Or, they can be more thematic, highlighting characteristics of a city in unique and unexpected ways. Either way, I’m drawn to them like a moth to a flame, and find them to be extraordinarily beautiful.

Over the past few years, I’ve noticed an increased interest in map art. I think that this is largely due to intense local pride that seems typical now in most major cities. We crave a common bond and shared experiences with other residents, and what better way to achieve this than by plastering a giant map of our fair city on the wall?

Of course, I’m totally guilty, and am in the process of amassing an SF map collection myself. Here are some that I’ve acquired so far, and others that I’m coveting. To all you SF-dwelling readers out there, I know you get me.


The first in my collection, the one that got it all started (which I’m sure most of you have seen, and which prompted many knockoffs):



And the awesome topographic one from my previous post:



My favorite so far is from a 1950′s visitors guide I found for a dollar at a flea market in Boston:



And now, on to the wishlist …

Even though I don’t need another map highlighting SF neighborhoods with condensed typography, I can’t help but love the colors and vintage feel of this poster:



I’m digging this black and white map that depicts building density in the eastern half of the city:



While not cut by hand like the maps by Karen O’ Leary in my previous post, this laser cut version is equally as awesome (and a bit more affordable):



I really love the quilt-like effect of the technicolored blocks in this map:



I also thought this map-themed cuff and necklace were fun:



And finally, the pièce de résistance (why oh why didn’t I put this on my wedding registry??):



And before we say adieu, I’ll let you in on a little secret — all of this map business is research! Remember those small businesses you wrote on our wall at our 13th anniversary party? A little bird tells me that there’s a map involved somehow … so stay tuned!

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