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Has a Map Changed Your Life? Tell Us About It.

As part of our series The Maps That Make Us, we’re asking readers to share mini-essays about a map that is especially important.

Has a Map Changed Your Life? Tell Us About It.

As part of our series The Maps That Make Us, we’re asking readers to share mini-essays about a map that is especially important.
Have a map in your life that is meaningful? Share your story with CityLab.
Have a map in your life that is meaningful? Share your story with CityLab. Shutterstock
Have a map in your life that is meaningful? Share your story with CityLab.
Shutterstock

How do we find our way through the world? We follow maps, and we make our own. Sometimes we wander off the map entirely.

The special CityLab series The Maps That Make Us is creating space to talk about the life-shaping role maps have on us. In her introduction to the series, Laura Bliss writes: “Because they can be so curiously emotional, maps are as capable of directing the way we relate to our world as they are of reflecting it.”

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We invite you, our readers, to share with us a short story about how a map has left an impression on you, or defined an important moment in your life.

Need inspiration? So far in the series, you can read about one artist’s quest to map the ever-changing Rio Grande. Nicole Antebi, an animator and filmmaker, writes how she was captivated by the “meander maps” of the Lower Mississippi River made by Harold Fisk, an Army Corps of Engineers cartographer and geologist. “Like the unmoving lines of a traditional map, the border imprints one idea of how the river should move onto the landscape,” Antebi writes. She created this animation of the restless river that defines a high-stakes portion of the U.S.-Mexico border.

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A clip of Nicole Antebi’s animation of historical meanders of the Rio Grande/Río Bravo from 1827 through 1960.
Courtesy of Nicole Antebi

In another essay, Laura Bliss reminisces about how she unraveled the mysteries of Los Angeles from the backseat of her dad’s car using the Thomas Guide, the definitive pre-smartphone street atlas for the sprawling city. “Depicting L.A. in sweeping relief, it provided Angelenos with a common picture of the city and language for navigation. My dad has an old copy of it stashed away as a keepsake, and my generation may have been the last to absorb its innate wisdom,” she writes.

relates to Has a Map Changed Your Life? Tell Us About It.
A page from a 1960s-era Thomas Guide.
Courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library

If you have more to say than a short paragraph, we’re accepting pitches for contributors who have a longer personal essay to share. Email your ideas to series editor Laura Bliss.

You can also follow the #MapsThatMakeUs series on Instagram and Twitter, and sign up for MapLab, our biweekly newsletter for map lovers.

We look forward to reading your map story.

(We’ve closed reader submissions at this time. Thank you to everyone who sent in a contribution. In the coming weeks, we’ll publish a selection of reader-submitted stories. Stay tuned here.)