A New Yorker’s Idea of the United States 1922 vs 1936 vs 1970

Did New Yorkers regard the United States differently in 1922, 1936 and 1970? Well, according to these humorous humorous pictorial maps, not really. All three are a parody of the self-centered – and geographically illiterate – New Yorker, with New York shown in oversized proportion to the entire country. To start with, here’s the 1922 map that appeared in the Chicago Tribune:

New Yorkers idea of the United States 1922
The New Yorker’s Idea of the United States by McCutcheon, John T. (John Tinney)

The next map (below) was distributed by the Columbia University Press at the 1936 New York Times bookfair. As the verso shows, it was an advertising flyer for the newly published Columbia Encyclopedia In One Volume. This map anticipates by 40 years Saul Steinberg’s famous New Yorker cover, “View of the World from Ninth Avenue.” Minneapolis and Indianapolis are shown together in Michigan as “The Twin Cities;” four “Swanee Rivers” cross the South; the great lakes include “Great Salt Lake” and “Lake Louise;” Alaska abuts Montana and Oregon; Hawaii is adjacent to Java and Tahiti. The text makes the same point, for example, “We have cousins in the West. . . They live in Wilmington, Delaware.”

New Yorker's Idea of the United States 1922

Finally, laying up New York’s inflated sense of self, the 1970 map depicts New York as not only the center of North America, but also about 80% of it. Meanwhile, San Francisco and LA get a little sliver to the west of the Hudson, just underneath New Jersey. As for the entire Midwest? Didn’t even make the cut.

New Yorker's idea of the United States 1970


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