Make a Map of Your Daily Life

Becky Cooper of the tumblr Map Your Memories printed blank maps of Manhattan, gave them to New Yorkers and asked them to fill them out however they saw fit. What she got in return was some completely unexpected maps of New York (and of the lives lived here). It made us open our eyes wider to the many levels on which we can travel around a place. She’s compiled 75 of the maps in her book Mapping Manhattan: A Love (and Sometimes Hate) Story in Maps by 75 New Yorkers.

Each map presents a completely original view of the city, and a life. Here are some of our favorites from Cooper’s tumbler:

From writer Stephen Wolf, who’s at work on his own book on Central Park’s long-lost casino. His map is littered with cryptic landmarks that refer to a micro-collection of minimal, nostalgic poetry (which you can read  here).

Stephen Wolf

Stephen Wolf

This map is by Peter Sylvester, a talented photographer who tends bar at Old Town on 18th Street (in operation since 1892, it’s one of the oldest bars in the city.) 

Peter Sylvester

Peter Sylvester

Cartoonist and essayist Tim Kreider, author of the illuminating Time’s blog post ”The Busy Trap” that made the rounds last summer, made this map that reminds us a little of a little of Saul Steinberg’s famous New Yorker’s map of the world. His latest book is We Learn Nothing 

Tim Kreider

Tim Kreider

Dese’Rae L Stage, who first alerted to Mapping Manhattan, noted that “when you live in New York City, you feel the geography of the land you live on daily because your feet are, in most cases, your main mode of transport. You have a different relationship with the physical geography of your space than you might, say, if you drove a car”. She considered several different maps she could make: “the dissolution of my marriage, falling in love again, best dive bars (with and without jukeboxes), best Bloody Marys, places I’ve photographed my favorite bands.”

You don’t have to live in New York City to track your life and map it. Cooper offers a PDF template of Manhattan. But it would be easy enough to make a template of wherever you live…

Becky Cooper

Becky Cooper

Even better is what teenager Lily Wolf did:  she just drew her own…

Lily Wolf/Becky Cooper

Lily Wolf/Becky Cooper

What would your maps look like?

2 Responses to Make a Map of Your Daily Life

  1. Susan Taylor 04.21.2014 at 11:45am #

    Love this idea in any of the above iterations! Wishing I could find or draft a reasonable facsimile of San Diego County for mapping most of my life. “Course, there’s the three plus years I spent in Manhattan right out of college, away from the home zip code and learning urbanity and culture on the fabulous Manhattan. Thanks for the idea.

  2. Sally 04.23.2014 at 1:13pm #

    Perhaps a way to get yourself a map of San Diego County is to do what I do when I am trying to “see” the possibilities in an apartment or other space. I get the floorplan and use White Out to remove all the interior walls and notes, so I end up with the outline. Then I make copies of it, and start filling it in MY way. (You might need a lot of White Out, but you get the idea…) There’s also tracing the outline and copying/printing it onto more solid paper.

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