“Paradise in Panorama:” A Giant Map for a Giant State

Giant Map.jpgHave you ever seen or even heard of a map as long as two football fields? Well, one exists, but the reason you haven’t heard of or seen it is because it’s been in hiding for the past 50 years!

SF Gate, the online companion to the San Francisco Chronicle, published an article about the map on October 3rd. “Paradise in Panorama,” as the map is called, was recently found in the San Francisco Port. You must be asking yourself: Where, how, and why would you hide a map of this size? Let’s start from the beginning of the story…

Unveiled in 1924, a three dimensional relief map of California lived on the second floor of the Ferry Building in San Francisco, which was then the busiest transit terminal in the United States. It showed the state of California in all its Roaring 20s glory, and was, at the time of its unveiling, the largest map in the world.

The map was damaged during renovations to the Ferry Building in the mid-1950s, and when the last ferry steamer left the San Francisco Bay in 1958, the Ferry Building and map attracted far fewer visitors than in previous decades. In 1960, the map was cut up into sections and put into storage. The map has been moved around a bit since being put into storage, but it currently lives at the Port of San Francisco, contained in 230 crates and weighing in at 70 tons.

Unfortunately, there are no plans in the works to restore and display the map once again. Apparently it is too expensive – and way too big – to restore and display. Perhaps one day the map’s historical and cultural value will outweigh the cost of restoration, and tourists in California will be able to marvel at not only a gigantic three dimensional relief map, but at what California looked like when it had a population of fewer than four million people, and Southern California was nothing but open country.

Can you think of a plan for the map? Where should this map live, and what should be done with it? Let us know what you come up with!

Thanks to Joseph Kerski of ESRI for sending us this idea for a blog post. If you have a story idea, please email scaban@ngs.org.

Countdown to Geography Awareness Week: 24 days! As promised, here is our first of many favorite resources from the Geography Awareness Week website:
    ∙ Freshwater Calculator: Find out how much water you are using in your daily geography – around the house, on the road, in your diet, and through the products you buy. Then, pledge to cut it by 20%!

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