This humorous map of the United States takes the perspective of a chauvinistic Bostonian for whom the rest of the country is irrelevant, at best. New England is shown oversized relative to the entire country, and the eastern half of Massachusetts, including Boston and Cape Cod, are drawn at even larger proportions. Indeed, the importance of Cape Cod is emphasized by the inclusion of an image of a codfish over the cartouche. The rest of U.S. geography reflects the Bostonian’s lack of knowledge and interest in other parts of the country, with the Midwest a vast void labeled “Western Prairies” and “Texas,” and a few cities clustered around a miniscule Great Lakes and Mississippi River.The cities of Omaha, Denver, Reno and Houston are incongruously placed near the Pacific Coast lumped together into a generic West dominated by California. The Mid Atlantic and South are also blank except for Florida and a few major cities with concentrations of wealthy, high society families such as Philadelphia, Washington, Richmond and Palm Beach. An inset map of “Boston and Environs” shows various actual suburbs along with six variations on the prestigious address of “Newton,” and several satirical inscriptions that purport to explain this and other notions held by wealthy Bostonians. Other notes on the map also suggest that certain members of the social elite consider themselves as the only true Bostonians.
Daniel K. Wallingford created and published two famous humorous and satirical pictorial maps, each of which exaggerated the United States from a local perspective: A New Yorker’s Idea of the United States of America, and A Bostonian’s Idea of the United States of America. Both maps were printed in a small black-and-white format by Wallingford in Boston about 1935-36 and also by the Columbia University Press, New York, in 1936 for the Times Book Fair. A New Yorker’s Idea and A Bostonian’s Idea were also variously reissued in different sizes and in color, by various publishers over a long span of time. In 1939, A New Yorker’s Idea was printed in larger format and in glossy color for the World’s Fair. An example of this map, from the collection of the George Glazer Gallery, appears in the book You Are Here by Katharine Harmon, New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2004, p. 102. A Bostonian’s Idea was also printed in this glossy color format, in the 1950s and 1960s.
“A Bostonian's idea of the United States of America.” Norman B. Leventhal Map Center, Boston Public Library. http://maps.bpl.org/details_10494/ (21 July 2009).