May 2, 2011

The Geographer's Blog: Cuba on My Mind

New and Complete Map of Cuba, supplement to
National Geographic magazine, October 1906; NG Maps.

Since our first post, this blog has addressed the history of cartography at National Geographic, geographic names (toponyms), and even the cartographic exploits of James Abbott McNeill Whistler, the American artist best known for the painting "Whistler's Mother." I hope that these topics have proven of interest to some if not all of you. But what we have not addressed is the personal more intimate side of cartography here at the Society.

Unquestionably, National Geographic is the place to be if you love the science as well as the art of mapmaking. Our production schedules are full of stimulating and challenging projects that often test our knowledge of the cartographic profession. Once in a while, we will be assigned a project so close and near to our hearts that it becomes an overriding passion. Several months ago, I was given such an assignment—a large format (36" x 24") political map of Cuba.

The last time the Society published such a map was in October 1906! Those of you in the exiled Cuban community, both in the U.S. and abroad, know the significance of this map. Anyone who has visited Miami's Little Havana, Tampa's Ybor City, or even Union City, New Jersey, can't avoid seeing maps of Cuba painted on walls, plastered on windows, or even printed on the sides of grocery bags.

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