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Mapping Manhattan: A Love (And Sometimes Hate) Story in Maps by 75 New Yorkers
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Mapping Manhattan: A Love (And Sometimes Hate) Story in Maps by 75 New Yorkers

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  305 ratings  ·  47 reviews
  Armed with hundreds of blank maps she had painstakingly printed by hand, Becky Cooper walked Manhattan from end to end. Along her journey she met police officers, homeless people, fashion models, and senior citizens who had lived in Manhattan all their lives. She asked the strangers to “map their Manhattan” and to mail the personalized maps back to her. Soon, her P.O. bo ...more
Hardcover, 112 pages
Published April 2nd 2013 by Harry N. Abrams (first published April 1st 2013)
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Average rating 4.12  · 
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 ·  305 ratings  ·  47 reviews

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Dec 01, 2019 rated it did not like it
I thought that this would be a fun read and loved the idea, but it just ended up being “meh”. Most of the maps and print were too small and/or illegible. Most of the stories and poems were boring also.
May 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: road-lit
this is a unique format - part essay, part art project, part found media(?). it can be read in one sitting, but is the kind of book that anyone who loves new york will naturally feel drawn back to time and again. there is so much charm and room for empathy in the maps. i have the feeling that this book will resonate less with people who have not spent time in new york. there is something about the richness and intensity of simply being in new york that imbues places and life events with such a s ...more
Sep 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
A beautiful object of a book, and a really interesting concept - the author spent a day walking the length of Broadway with her friend handing ordinary New Yorkers a uniform blank map of Manhattan, encouraging them to map their own experiences. Many different interpretations, some more engaging than others, but both the maps and the occasional added rationale makes this book a worthwhile read for anyone interested in the borough.

Thank you to Barbara for her kind gift of this book!
Jennifer Spiegel
Jan 15, 2021 rated it liked it
I just picked this up on a whim, seeing it on goodreads. Not a predetermined read. It's really more of an Art Book, whatever that actually is. I did, however, read it from cover-to-cover.

Its idea is better than its execution, if I'm being honest. Becky Cooper is this artsy New Yorker with great degrees, and she envisioned this project in which she hit the streets of Manhattan--from the northern tip to the southern tip--and handed out blank maps of Manhattan to random New Yorkers. She asked them
Apr 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
This was a book that although interesting to read, did not live up to my expectations. The concept seemed wonderful, but I felt that some of the maps chosen for the book were just OK.

The book is printed in a small and narrow format, which I felt made it difficult at times to read all the handwriting on the maps.

Though it was interesting to see what individuals decided to create with their blank maps, I guess I just had the idea that there would be more wild and elaborate maps. In general, I fel
Jun 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, new-york
Becky Cooper and friend hiked the entire 13-mile length of Broadway handing out blank maps of Manhattan for people to fill in and mail back to her. The results (by some famous names but mostly anonymous folks) are a delightfully artistic and fascinating ode to the city... and to life and love. Interspersed with the maps are Cooper's own reflections of her project and the history of the city. This is one to savor! I found myself wondering how I would fill in a map of my favorite city (San Francis ...more
Jun 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book, what an awesome idea for a project. I read this with a post it note in the back where I jotted down things to include on my map of Manhattan, so many memories. So glad I bought it, and I highly recommend it to anyone who's been to NYC. ...more
Jul 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, new-york
For all of us who've ever been in a relationship with that little island off the coast of America, this book is a tiny window into her other suitors' souls. I laughed. I cried. It was better than "Cats." ...more
Jul 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely beautiful book - really makes you think about the places where memories are made and how location impacts what you think of a city as a whole.
Suzanne Artis
Feb 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: journals
I love the many layers of this book...tidbits of NYC history, personalized maps by a spectrum of New Yorkers, little illustrations of buildings or landmarks, mini-journal entries about the author's journey and lots of food for thought with bios about each mapmaker and more book recommendations related to NYC. I read it over a long time just examining a couple of maps at a time. My faves include "My Lost Gloves" by Patricia Marx, "Manhattanhenge" by Neil Degrasse Tyson, "Ava is Here," and a "Pede ...more
Justin Mueller
Oct 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
The maps were almost all too small to read on a Kindle. Somehow I thought this would be fun to read but it's really not too suitable for the casual tourist. Also the actual writing was minimal, with the focus in the hand-drawn maps. ...more
Jun 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Creative cartography, psychogeography, or personal mapping-- all apt descriptors of this intriguing collection of hand drawn impressions of Manhattan. Hard to read without being inspired to create your own maps of places that have touched your soul.
May 20, 2013 added it
Shelves: read-in-2013
Achingly beautiful, nostalgic project by a Harvard classmate. If you love maps, wandering, and the stories that stem from them half as much as I do, you will love this book.
Jul 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Entertaining and thought-provoking read for anyone interested in (as you may have guessed) maps, or Manhattan.
Jul 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Awesome. It inspired me to map some of my life.
Apr 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-books
I just wish some of the maps were easier to read. Penmanship, people!
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
A nice look at the different ways people can experience, see, and remember the same piece of land. I read this immediately after "Map" from Phaidon (which shows and example from and cites this book). "Map" is tremendous and wide-ranging, covering maps spanning millennia from around the world, and its main strength is using that variety to highlight similarities and differences between representations of reality across the ages. "Mapping Manhattan" accomplishes much of the same with a tighter foc ...more
Kelly Sedinger
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
I loved this! Just loved it. This is a wonderful "collaborative art" project book that has no through-line, so you can dip in wherever you want (or read it straight through, as I did). I suppose how much one enjoys this will be dependent on how much one likes NYC in general and Manhattan in particular. (I love both.) The creativity expressed in the Manhattan maps that random people marked up and sent to the book's creator is amazing, at times funny and at times sad and a few times heartbreaking. ...more
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What happens when you walk the complete island of Manhattan and hand out hundreds of blank maps printed by hand to random New Yorkers asking them to write/draw/color any significant experience on the map? You get a beautiful treasure of a book that reads like secrets are being unfolded before ones very eyes. I never realized how maps can be used as a vehicle for creativity, storytelling, and self-discovery.

This book is the ultimate tribute to New York and to the people who live there.
Jesse Richards
Sep 08, 2017 rated it liked it
This was fun, and the highlights were the celebrity contributions and the more professional artists. But the rest of the maps just show similar memories (this was my first apartment, this was my first Broadway show) from people we don't know. ...more
M- S__
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really cute concept. Some of these maps are so imaginative.
Nov 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I love New York. So do a lot of other people. The concept of this project is fascinating in itself.
eindra lin
Jun 06, 2021 added it
Shelves: for-school
a cute project! personal mapping is always fascinating. a lil window into people's lives. ...more
Chris Reid
Jan 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing

I have a large map of Manhattan that was given to me by my parents quite a long number of years ago now. The map is an early version (mid-19th Century) of the various planning maps that were creates at the time NYC went through the grid planning process, which gave the island its particular character for the next soon to be 200 years. This is a scaled down version of that - and a book that has the stories, hopes, dreams and losses of a number of folks who chose to participate in the author's ide
Jan 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014-reads
Stop. Take a moment. Think. Now draw the world around you. Not as it is, but as it is to you.

This is the challenge Becky Cooper presented to hundreds of New Yorkers (and a few tourists, accidentally) with her brilliant art project, marching up Broadway armed with hand-printed maps for them to fill in any way they chose. The concept is amazing, and the maps frequently quite revealing, whether or not they come complete with the artist's name - chocked with kisses and first trysts, places to grab a
Dec 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult
I have been obsessed with this book for a while, but never picked it up. I suggested it to our literary committee, since the theme of our annual Literary Evening was NYC stories. The chair got in touch with Ms. Cooper, and she came to the event. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend! But I finally got the book and I really loved it. Maps as biography, political statement, love letter.... I definitely want to take this idea to our Faculty for a community building activity. What I love is that the ...more
Apr 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
Despite the fact that some of these feel like cheating (i.e. paintings/photos that do not point out specific locations), this book is based on a great idea and seems to genuinely capture a good range of New Yorkers. I would have loved to see longer annotations and stories, but it might have been best to limit how much each person could tell in the interest of not going overboard. This inspired me to make my own map of the city (including Queens and Brooklyn) on Google Maps and I already have ove ...more
I bought this book prior to visiting Manhattan for the first time in 40 years. I thought it would help put me in the right frame of mind before tackling such a huge, complex city. And did it ever!!
I imagine that the future of hardcover printed books will be similar to this. It is not only a delightful project, but the physical design is so beautifully in keeping with its subject - proportioned to match the geography of the island, lovingly illustrated and the maps themselves so beautifully rende
May 20, 2013 rated it liked it
I think I ended up liking the concept of this more than the book. I found some of the maps hard to read, so that's kind of disappointing, but it was fun to read all those antidotes about my city and to read the maps of both strangers and some well known people. Unfortunately, I think I may have just expected more. ...more
Jan 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who has a deep love of NYC
Recommended to Anthony by: NYTimes
very well delivered recording of a wide collection of public personal accounts of their encounters with Manhattan (encounters ranging from the minimal to life-defining) -- however, it is just not the original idea a number of reviewers have praising it for (the creation of cognitive maps of cities was an exercise in the first week of my 1989 Intro to Architectural Theory class)
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27 likes · 22 comments
“Even after three hundred maps have been handed out, Ama and I still melt the moment people switch from being suspicious that we want to sell them something--"Hey? What do you want? Money? Directions?--to realising that we just want to know their stories, their memories, what they love--"Oh, in that case, thanks, sweeties!” 3 likes
“Part of why I love New York so deeply is exactly this elusiveness. This refusal to be caught is what allows it to carry such fantasy, mystery and myth, yet also be home. It is simultaneously no one's city and everyone's city.” 3 likes
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