About the Maps
These maps of imaginary cities were drawn by me from about 1969 - 1973 between the ages of 12-15. Most of them were drawn on standard notebook paper with a felt tip pen and then taped together as they grew. I've since categorized the maps into 3 periods, Early, Mass Transit and Post Mass Transit. Each period hascertain characteristics in the way the cities were planned and developed, and each section of this site explains some of the specifics.
To understand the scale of these cities, a good rule of thumb to use is 20 blocks per mile. The topography of these cities is essentially flat. Other than water, there are no geographic obstacles to growth or street layouts such as mountains.
I moved from the Suburbs of New jersey to the West Village of New York with my family when I was 11. New York for me then was both fascinting and frightening. Everything outside of my neighborhood was just some "other" place, vaugely mysterious and intimidating. For the most part, I was just too young to explore the outer boroughs on my own, so I was left to look at maps and imagine life out there among the miles and miles of monotonous blocks. Reading maps, exploring the subway system, and exploring the city over time became great hobbies of mine and I think these maps reflect both that love. they also show a coming to terms with my new urban surroundings and gave me a way to make some sense of it perhaps. My map making, for the most part, ended around 10th grade and was replaced by life drawing and painting.
I've often thought about and been asked what these cities were like, what they looked like and who the poeple were who lived in them. I never really delved into this aspect of fantasy too much when I drew them, but I do remember regarding these places and the people who inhabited them as much like any American City, a bit dull perhaps, certainly monotonous and gritty with occaisional moments of granduer. Architecturally they were identical to American Cities. My cities were hardly utopias, and if anything were to describe them best they should be called dystopias. They were frankly depressing places to live and work. As far as I was concerned, everyone spent their time getting from one place to another and thought about little else. As such, these cities were really about transportation - Streets, Highways, Bridges and Subways. The most fun for me was creating landscapes that presented problems in need of solutions in managing transportation.
There have been two showings of some of these maps. In 1980, I was given a show at the Children's Museum in NYC, and in 1981 a map was selected to be included in a show entitiled "Mapped Art, Chart Routes and Regions" that toured the US. Since then, these maps have been left in a large envelope to gather dust. I'm happy to present them here and hope you enjoy looking at them.
Clicking on each map thumbnail will activate a Flash zoom feature.
David Hyman, March 2012