New York State Parks. Albany, N.Y. : New York State Council on Parks, ca. 1952. Brooklyn Historical Society Map Collection.
I selected this month’s map, New York State Parks, in a lull between February snowstorms. The illustrator, C. Kroetzer, was clearly counting on exciting viewers’ imaginations with tableaus of outdoor leisure: the map is strewn with pictures of people sunbathing, horseback riding, swinging golf clubs, picnicking, and fishing. (Yes, there are skiers and tobogganers as well, but let’s not linger on them.) I will admit after selecting this map, I spent the last snow day looking at train schedules and thinking about places to visit once spring thaw is over.
Detail of Long Island. New York State Parks. Albany, N.Y. : New York State Council on Parks, ca. 1952. Brooklyn Historical Society Map Collection.
The pictorial map is an old genre. Early maps used illustrations to characterize the journey itself as well as the destination. One of the best examples is the Carta Marina of Olaus Magnus, printed in 1539, a map profusely illustrated with animals, coats of arms, armies at war, natural landmarks, personified winds, and of course, sea monsters. The bird’s eye view, a genre touched upon in the November 2013 Map of the Month post, is also in this tradition.
While this month’s map is clearly a pictorial map, it is also a road map, a genre which reached great popularity in the United States during the post-World War II period with the rise of automobile tourism and the passage of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956. The map itself plainly shows state roads leading to the parks, and a close look at the legend reveals a table of miles of parkway completed and under construction by region. (The map is dated ca. 1952 based on the state of parkway completion depicted.) On the legend under Binghamton, we learn that Robert Moses was the Chairman of the State Council of Parks (in addition to several other state and city appointments, including New York City Parks Commissioner). Moses and other state planners believed that the parkway system was integral to the state park system.
Other details underline this map’s affinity to the road map. The entire sheet folds to standard road map dimensions–at 23 x 11 cm., it is perfect for the glove compartment–and the cover depicts a generic cloverleaf traffic exchange—a curious choice for this advertisement for the recreational wonders of New York State Parks.
Cover. New York State Parks. Albany, N.Y. : New York State Council on Parks, ca. 1952. Brooklyn Historical Society Map Collection.
There is much more to this sheet. The map is only half of one side. Stop by and see for yourself. You can view the BHS map collection anytime during the library’s open hours, Wed.-Sat., from 1-5 p.m. Appointments are not required to view most maps.
This map was cataloged with funding provided by a Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) “Hidden Collections” grant.