I’m a huge map nerd and a history buff, so finding this illustrated layout of early Los Angeles (the city I’m currently living in and exploring) is like unearthing an ancient treasure map of fun discoveries. Los Angeles is an interesting place as it didn’t grow to prominence until recent times — things only really started clicking around 80-90 years ago, thanks to the oil and entertainment industries. This map from 1932 is interesting as it shows how many landmarks were already in place then, yet still shows the large tracts of undeveloped areas that remained in this region in those times.
Maybe the most fascinating thing about this map: NO FREEWAYS. No 101 cutting through Hollywood. No 405 crawling past LAX. Heck, no LAX for that matter. Remember, the Model T Ford had only been introduced 18 years prior, and the winding Arroyo Seco Parkway (Interstate 110, otherwise known as the first freeway in the USA) wouldn’t be built for a few more years. It’s no wonder the map maker drew Pasadena, Burbank and Universal City as far-off destinations, approaching and beyond the horizon — it must have taken a full day to drive to any of those spots. Not that it’s much better now.
One other interesting note is that Los Angeles hosted the Olympic games in 1932, and you can see the Olympic Village drawn in just south of USC’s campus.
Click and zoom on the map, explore, pan around. I haven’t seen zoom.it before, but I love the functionality. Make sure to go full screen on this thing.
You can also find this map on bigmapblog.com, which has a number of their map findings available for purchase. I might look into getting this one for my wall.
And next time you need some maps for your project, historic, modern, or otherwise, check out the amazing collection available at University of Texas’ Perry-Castañeda Library. It’s an amazing resource that has just about everything I can imagine online to browse through.
Here’s an image of 1902 Hollywood/Silverlake area Los Angeles
and 1915 San Francisco Bay Area (no bridges back then).
Finally, for you map geeks, make sure to check out David Imus’ award-winning map of the US. He spent 6000 hours over the course of 2 years to make it, working along at home, then won “best of show” against the huge map makers (Rand-Mcnally, National Geographic, CIA, etc) in 2010.
The Greatest Paper Map of the United States You’ll Ever See
The longer you look at Imus’ map, the more deeply you feel the complexity and the artistry.
It is delightful to look at. Edifying to study.
Read the full article about Imus here — this is one of those “ultimate DIY” accomplishments.