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Mapping Manhattan: Do You Have a Love-Hate Relationship With New York City?

Do you have a love-hate relationship with New York?  You are not alone. So many people who live here say that they never thought they would, and dislike as much as they love about it. With all the things there are to dislike about New York, one thing to love, or at least appreciate, is that there is always something new to see, to help you see life anew, around just about every corner. If you are open to seeing it.

Here is a very cool, and I think therapeutic, project that Harvard graduate Becky Cooper created, with the help of 75 New Yorkers. She hit the streets of Manhattan with hand-printed, simple maps of Manhattan and distributed them to people who appeared to be “open” to the world. She asked them to map the city in any way they wanted and post the maps back to her.

The collection Cooper received back in the mail was phenomenal. She compiled the maps into a beautiful book, Mapping Manhattan – A love (and Sometimes Hate) Story in Maps by 75 New Yorkers.

mapping manhattan

She writes, “These are their maps. Their ghosts. Their past loves..These are their accidental autobiographies; when people don’t realize they’re revealing themselves, they’re apt to lay themselves much more bare.”

mapping manhattan 03

The maps are a web of human experiences; a singular place seen from many different eyes. They create a unique and intimate doorway into the many shapes the world can take, and the common thread that connects us all.


Ask just about any group of people, and they will see and experience different things in the “same” city scene. Cooper’s book is an incredibly touching display of creativity, and reminds us that there are many ways to see and live life, and you can create them.  What a lovely way to see Manhattan.

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Karen Steinberg