“Maps are the places where memories go not to die, or be pinned, but to live forever.”
Brooklyn Eagle recently featured Becky Cooper, who — armed with hundreds of blank maps that had been painstakingly printed by hand — walked Manhattan from end to end, asking strangers to map their city and mail in the results. Soon, her P.O. box was filled with an atlas of intimate narratives: past loves, childhood memories, and surprising confessions. Some well-known New Yorkers then joined the project, including Yoko Ono, Momofuku chefDavid Chang, Tony-award winner Harvey Fierstein, and tightrope walker Philippe Petit, as well as the New Yorkers behind New York—the head of the Public Library’s map division, a former police lieutenant who responded to the call on 9/11, and many more.
Cooper’s project turned into a book titled “Mapping Manhattan: A Love (and Sometimes Hate) Story in Maps by 75 New Yorkers” (Abrams Image; April 2013), and the author will celebrate the book’s release on Thursday, June 6, at BookCourt in Cobble Hill. With a forward by New Yorker staff writer Adam Gopnik, “Mapping Manhattan” comprises 75 extraordinary maps created by New Yorkers both anonymous and notable. The maps are organized roughly geographically from 228th Street to Battery Park, mostly thematically, and always visually. Interspersed throughout the pages are sketches of everyday New York scenes and anecdotes from the characters Cooper encountered along the way. Together, they form a portrait of Manhattan that vibrantly illustrates that in a city of 8 million people, there are 8 million stories, and 8 million New Yorks.
A book with no true end, “Mapping Manhattan” features a blank map that invites readers to share their Manhattan and partake in this unconventional public art project.
The June 6 event will begin at 7 p.m. BookCourt is located at 163 Court St. in Cobble Hill.
Becky Cooper is an award-winning writer and cartographer. Born and raised in Queens, she recently graduated from Harvard University with a degree in comparative literature. She is the creator of the website mapyourmemories.com and lives in New York.
New Yorker staff writer Adam Gopnik is a three-time National Magazine Award winner and the author of multiple national bestsellers, including “Paris to the Moon.”