03 January 2009


A web site I recently found contains a map project that used a 1937 map of New York City and changed all the toponyms to German to create a germanized and Nazified "Neu-York." The idea is to conjecture cartographically what NYC would have become if the Nazis had won WW II.

The map printed only 20 copies (plus proofs) and were being sold for $2,500 and possibly more as they are sold (few were remaining).

Here are my comments to the cartographer:

Wonderful project, Melissa. You have turned what-if history into what-if geography and what-if cartography.

You might recall that American writer Philip Roth wrote the what-if novel The Plot Against America (2004) and has Charles Lindbergh defeating Roosevelt in the 1940 election and plotting an isolationist course during the war. The novel depicts the beginnings of Jewish persecution in America at that juncture. Roth, in the dust jacket, poses before an old map of Newark, New jersey, where the novel unfolds.

I think you must arrange mass printing of the map for its pedagogical value. Students would be able to better understand historical contingencies and how they might play out literally on the ground.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your intelligent comment regarding Neu-York. I have not read Roth's book but am aware of it, of course. It was published several years after my project.

Unfortunately, my contractual agreement with Rutgers University, who commissioned Neu-York, prevents me from making a mass-produced (and inexpensive) version, much as I agree that doing so would make the project accessible to more people. I put the map on my website, in fact, to reach a wider audience. It's a different experience from viewing Neu-York as a lithograph but in terms of the historical proposal therein the effect is the same.

However, my primary interest in the sale of the remaining prints, is to concentrate on print collections within university and college museums. Not only, as you say, are students better able to understand historical contingencies, but being in a college museum collection insures that Neu-York will be seen by generations of college populations.


MeGo (Melissa Gould)

mego (at) megophone (dot) com