While talking with someone recently, we discovered we shared a seemingly rare love of maps. Maps are truly awesome and useful tools and not just for figuring out how to get from one place to another. Maps provide insight into what a place looks like, giving clues about the layout and geography of a place you’ve never been. Street names and other labels can hint at the history of the place. Historical maps show what a place looked like in times past.
I have used maps several times to help me with writing my blog and there are many more times when I should have gone to a map first. As I mentioned in the first Heth’s Run Bridge post, the G.M. Hopkins maps on Historic Pittsburgh are probably my favorite resource for Pittsburgh. Heth’s Run Bridge presented many puzzles that the maps helped me understand. I realized yesterday that I probably should have gone to these maps first when wanting to figure out which bridge remnant I saw from the Fort Duquesne Bridge (see June 19’s post). While writing that post, I did a search on the internet, but came up with nothing. The G.M. Hopkins maps came to the rescue, although there are two possibilities for which bridge the remnant belonged to. The first possibility I found on the 1900 map. This one was called the Union Bridge. By 1929, the Union Bridge was gone and another bridge connected the Point to the North Side. This one was called Manchester Bridge. This bridge was demolished in 1970, by which time the Fort Duquesne Bridge was built (see June 19th post). I made a few other discoveries about Pittsburgh while looking at the 1929 map. First, Penn and Liberty avenues used to come straight through to Water Road which ran along the northern shore of the Monongahela River. Today these avenues stop much further inland. The second major discovery was that Point Park already existed in 1929. It was significantly smaller than it is today, but it is there.
Google Maps helped me with identify the buildings near Lambeth Bridge (see June 28th post) that I didn’t take the time to stop and investigate while I was walking the bridge. Several of the buildings I was able to identify from labels that Google Maps conveniently placed on the map. The Parliament View Apartments weren’t labeled, but using Google Maps’s other wonderful feature–Street View–I was able to find a sign on the building identifying it.
The image leading this post is of another highly convenient map. On my recent trip to Cleveland, I arrived Downtown 2 hours before the person I was visiting finished work. We arranged to meet at their place of work, but I was only familiar with two or three of the streets in downtown Cleveland, and the meeting place wasn’t on any of them. I had just decided to use my skills of logic to find it (which would have been feasible in this case as one of the cross streets was a numbered street and the other was called Lakeside) when I came across this map on a street corner. It turns out that these maps are posted regularly around downtown Cleveland, which I thought was very considerate of the city. It made the city feel like it welcomed visitors with open arms, engaging them in being engaged in the city. Even though I had a plan for finding where I was going without a map, I prefer being safe rather than sorry, so I took the easy way out and used the map to figure out where I was supposed to end up. I also used it to plot out how I could spend the time I had until my friend got out of work to cross at least one of Cleveland’s bridges over the river Cuyahoga. I ended up getting distracted from this goal, but that is a story for another day….(see July 9 post)….