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Mapping Manhattan: A Love (and Sometimes Hate) Story in Maps by 75 New Yorkers

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Photograph courtesy Becky Cooper/ Abrams Image

Mapping Manhattan: A Love (and Sometimes Hate) Story in Maps by 75 New Yorkers by Becky Cooper; foreword by Adam Gopnik. Published by Abrams Image.

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Photograph courtesy Becky Cooper/ Abrams Image

“The love-life (mis)adventures of a gay man coming into his own in his mid-twenties in Manhattan. I love the honesty and the self-aware humor of his prose.”

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Photograph courtesy Becky Cooper/ Abrams Image

“My favorite part of this map [by Harvey Fierstein]: Turn the map sideways and check out the ‘Moving Violation.’”

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Photograph courtesy Becky Cooper/ Abrams Image

“Matt Green is in the middle of his three-year quest to walk all the streets in New York City. I love that he mapped every way to get out of Manhattan and explore the world beyond. A former civil engineer, he drew a wonderfully accurate map.”

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Photograph courtesy Becky Cooper/ Abrams Image

“Mapping is an act of selection. The power of this moving map is that in the noise of city life, the only thing that filters through is this singular moment.”

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Photograph courtesy Becky Cooper/ Abrams Image

“One anonymous mapmaker’s beautiful spin on the New York stereotype.”

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In the summer of 2009, writer Becky Cooper began handing out prints of Manhattan to strangers on the street, asking them to personalize the images and mail them back to her. She hatched the idea a few years earlier while working as a cartographer to create a public-art map of the island. “Instead of hiding the subjectivity of the mapmaker, as I felt like I was doing, I would celebrate it,” she says. “And from the collection of these personal portraits, the city would emerge.” The results are compiled online at mapyourmemories.com, as well as in her new book, Mapping Manhattan: A Love (and Sometimes Hate) Story in Maps by 75 New Yorkers, which includes a foreword by New Yorker scribe Adam Gopnik. (He isn’t the only notable local to get onboard; well-known Gothamites such as Yoko Ono and David Chang contributed their own geographical scribbles to the project.) On Monday 29, Cooper and Gopnik will talk about the book and what this city means to them at 92YTribeca; in the meantime, we asked Cooper to pick a few of the more memorable drawings to have dropped into her mailbox.
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