Neighborhood Memories

Today’s maps from the archive will hopefully inspire you to draw a map of your neighborhood.


Aura Seltzer, 2010, [Woodbridge, Connecticut] original HDMA web archive: map 291

Drawn entirely from memory, Aura depicted her hometown of Woodbridge, Connecticut as it existed during her childhood. The map includes travel time (in green) to reference the distances between places as well as details such as the best trick-or-treating and a stop sign that was repeatedly vandalized by teenagers.

Sabine Schmidt, 2011 [various locations] original HDMA web archive: map 302

Sabine’s map combines memories of her childhood growing up in Germany with glimpses of her current life in Arkansas. She uses the street layout of her German neighborhood to create a visual structure. She then fills the blocks with text derived from the free association of childhood memories and her contemporary daily routine.

Stairs up to our apartment

Ace Kieffer (drawn at Baltimore DIY Festival), Stairs up to our apartment, 2009 [Baltimore, Maryland]

Ace drew this diagram to document the apartment he shared with two roommates. I’m posting it today it to provide some additional inspiration for Activity 3: Home Poem. Imagine, for example, a similar diagram of your home where the names of rooms are replaced by text found in each space. Ding ding ding! Light bulb!

Turn left under Michigan Ave.

Unknown, The Film and Tape Works, 2008 [Chicago, Illinois]

Drawn on the back of a fax cover page, this map provides directions from 237 East Ontario Street to two of the tallest buildings in Chicago: the Sears Tower (Willis Tower) and 311 South Wacker St. The HDMA received this anonymous submission in an envelope along with a pink Post-it stating “my boss, owner of the Film and Tape Works, makes these all time. It’s hilarious.”

Charlie’s Place

Unknown, (drawn for Amanda Vincent), Charlie’s Place, 2011 [Gloucester, Massachusetts]

Amanda received this map from a hotel bartender in Gloucester, Massachusetts who recommended Charlie’s Place for breakfast. She writes, “the gist was to turn left at the hotel [INO] onto the coast road, bear left at the Y-intersection, turn left at a stop sign, and Charlie’s Place was on the left, across from the Stop and Shop. If you get to the White Hen, you’ve gone too far.” As of today, the restaurant is still there, so now you have the recommendation too.

Neighborhood maps: Waynesboro

Unknown (drawn for Tony Gonzalez), Police Chase, 2009 [Waynesboro, Virginia]

This map traces a police chase that grabbed the attention of people living in the Tree Streets neighborhood of Waynesboro, Virginia. One of Tony’s coworkers witnessed part of the chase, and drew this map to show where he was standing when the cars came around a corner.

Neighborhood maps: San Anselmo

Unknown (drawn for Renee Sharp), Damaged Videos, 2008 [San Anselmo, California]

This is a map worth keeping. Even though it’s not particularly practical for navigation, it’s a cool piece of ephemera with a fun story. A video store clerk drew it for Renee and her boyfriend when they stopped to ask for directions to a popular sushi restaurant. The clerk quickly drew a few lines on the back of a slip of paper used to label videotapes damaged by customers. Even in 2008, this object was a relic of the past. The rendering was not only incredibly vague but also completely wrong. Despite the map, Renee and Bruce eventually found the sushi restaurant. They also kept the piece of paper using it as a bookmark before eventually sending it to the HDMA.

Neighborhood maps: Venice

Justin Thiele, Venice, c. 2012 [Venice, California]

The neighborhood maps I’ve been sharing recently are some of my favorites in the collection. This drawing hits on all of the best qualities of hand-drawn maps. It includes personal recommendations, can be used for navigation, and has a striking visual appearance. Justin drew it for his friends when they were visiting him in Venice, California. They wanted to spend some time checking out what made the neighborhood unique, so he recommended the canals and included his favorite pizza place.

Neighborhood maps: Philadelphia

Will Haughery, Fishtown, 2010 [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]
Janel Olah, FWM VIP Party, 2007 [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]

The maps pictured here are of the Fishtown neighborhood in Philadelphia. Like many neighborhoods, there are no true boundaries of the area, and the definition is somewhat malleable. Haughery’s map makes the case that Frankford Avenue can be considered a boundary between Fishtown to the southeast and Kensington to the northwest.

Olah drew the second map for guests attending a party held for Fabric Workshop and Museum apprentices. She idealizes the somewhat confusing layout of streets and highlights the triangular structure of the area where William Penn’s original grid plan for the city breaks down in unexpected ways.

Neighborhood maps: Chicago

Unknown, Lounge Ax, Empty Bottle, BFA Show, c. 1998 [Chicago, Illinois]

As far as I can tell, this is the first map I collected. Drawn 10 years before I founded the Hand Drawn Map Association, it provides directions to three places in Chicago: the music venues Lounge Ax (now closed) and Empty Bottle, as well as the BFA graduation exhibition for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Sadly, I can not remember who drew this map. Whoever it was, they were a SAIC student living in the loft on Wabash Avenue where we stayed. If it was you, please let me know!

Mount Whitney Mountaineering Route

Unknown (drawn for Mark Morey), Mt. Whitney, c. 1991 [Sequoia National Park, California] original HDMA web archive: map 54

After not receiving one of the few daily hiking permits to climb Mt. Whitney via the standard Whitney Trail, an experienced hiker suggested Mark Morey and his friends take the lesser-used Mountaineering Route. He sketched this map for them which they used to navigate the nine-mile route in the early 1990’s.

Mark recounts, “over the next two days, we saw no other people except at the summit. We had a lot of route debate [as well as] the most glorious hike and summit of Whitney. On the way up, we found all of the landmarks drawn on the map, however, on our way down, we realized that none of those were the ones he meant us to find.”