Neighborhood Memories

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


hand drawn map of Woodbridge Connecticut
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.

See you tonight!

hand drawn map of paris
Amanda Vincent, Rue Tourlaque, 2011 [Paris, France]

Amanda drew this map for her family when they came to visit her while she was studying abroad in Paris. Since they were arriving while she was still in class, she mapped out her neighborhood and included some recommendations for things they could do until she came home that evening.

Neighborhood maps: Berlin

Unknown (drawn for Martin Voorhorst), Everything Is Not To Scale, 2008 [Berlin, Germany]

Martin’s friend drew this map for him when he was visiting Berlin. While there, he wanted to explore the Wedding neighborhood of the city via bike. I particularly like the use of office supplies. Highlighters provide the absolute best colors for map-making. Please buy some and use them in your cartography.

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

hand drawn map of san anselmo california
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.

piece of paper for identifying damaged videos

Neighborhood maps: Venice

hand drawn map of the venice neighborhood in los angeles california
Justin Thiele, Venice, c. 2012 [Los Angeles, 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: Syros

Dimitris (drawn for Krista Muir), Hermoupolis-Syros, 2012 [Ermoupolis, Greece]

Krista’s friend, Dimitris, drew this map for her when she was traveling through Greece. No one could remember the exact address of her friend’s mother’s place where she would be staying, so she used this map to find the house after arriving on the island.

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!