I know you love Manhattan, but you ought to look up more often (A)

With a series of map-making workshops at the Museum of Modern Art less than a week away, I’d like to share some maps of New York City from the archive. While the workshops are not specifically focused on drawing maps of the city, we will be using the museum as a point of reference. This has led me to spend some time thinking about the general geography of the area and how we navigate our way through it as well as how the museum reflects the city surrounding it.

map showing the grid layout of streets in Manhattan
John Hutchison, Homage to My Commute Part C: Grand Central Station to the Office, 2009 [New York, New York]

John Hutchison’s map reveals what happens to many of us when traveling in New York. We exit a train somewhere underground and gradually find our way to the surface. While emerging from the cavernous spaces below-ground can be disorienting, New York can be fairly easy to navigate once you reach the street level. This easy navigation is thanks to the Commissioner’s Plan of 1811 which defined much of Manhattan with a regular, consistently numbered grid of streets.

hand-drawn map of New York City
Kris Harzinski, Penn Station/Berger Forum, 2010 [New York, New York]