soviet cold war maps_NYC-Untapped Cities2South Ferry, Liberty Island, Brooklyn, and Staten Island, and Jersey City on a Soviet-era map dating back to 1982. Image via Wired

With its final days almost 25 years passed (though historians disagree on the exact date), the Cold War-era tension between the United States and the former Soviet Union has passed into faded memory for those who were alive to witness it, and remain completely alien to everyone else. Never before had two superpowers capable of destroying the world with their masses of weapons been so close to pulling the trigger. Students as young as kindergarteners in school were trained to hide under their desks at the hint of attack. Nowadays, we fear lone gunmen instead of nuclear bombs, but the shape of the world during the Cold War was always hard to see, even now.

The Soviet mapmakers who created upwards of 1.1 million maps of the world, sometimes in street-level detail, held a different view. Wired recently published a collection of the found maps dating back to the 1980s. Apart from the unsettling detail with which some of these maps depict civilian areas of New York, Washington, D.C., and many more areas of military interest, they portray world power seeking the Google Maps-level perspective on the entire world almost 30 years early. What they intended to use this information for, one need only guess at.


nobutaka aozaki form here to there fun maps-NYC-Untapped Cities2All images via Nobutaka Aozaki

Back in 2012, a Japanese conceptual artist by the name of Nobutaka Aozaki started walking around New York City wearing a blue ‘New York’ baseball cap and toting a plastic bag from Century 21. Though not a tourist himself, he posed as one and approached real tourists in the street, asking them for directions to a well-known city attraction, landmark, or building. When they would offer to show him the way on their phones, he’d refuse, saying he would remember better if they drew a little map for him on pieces of paper he provided. Most tourists, unlike busy New Yorkers with little words and even less patience, obliged.

From their drawings sprung ‘From Here to There,’ a ‘map’ of Manhattan made entirely of hand-drawn pointers to famous landmarks and buildings.


Surging Seas Maps-Climate Central-Flood-Sea Level Rise-Global Warming-Climate Change-NYC.22 AM

As seen on Gizmodo and Curbed NY the interactive “Surging Seas” maps by Climate Central depicts what New York City would look like if global temperatures rose 2 degrees by the end of the century. And for New York City, that’s not so promising. As you’ll see from these maps, more than waterfront condos getting flooded, much of the city’s major infrastructure will too from an approximately 20 foot sea level rise in this scenario.


New York is an accessible place. Tunnels and bridges connect boroughs across water, but for the most part, this city’s enormity is made small by the subway lines that spread like webs from the busiest centers of town to the furthest reaches of the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island. Covering most of the city, they can take you pretty much anywhere for $2.75.


horizonless-manhattan-NYC-Untapped CitiesImage via berglondon.com

We all remember that scene in the 2010 film Inception where Leonardo DiCaprio invites Ellen Page inside one of his dreams and turns a city inside out, curving it on itself with his mind. It blew our minds; it was one of the most talked-about special effects stunts in the entire movie. However, the horizon-less projection the film achieves appeared a year before the film, this time designed by a London design firm called BERG. ‘Here & There‘ is a visualization of a horizon-less Manhattan, curled in upon itself and allowing a viewer to see every building and street tilting upwards.


strings conductor subway map alexander chen-nyc-untapped citiesImage via mta.me

Stick to Youtube for music videos and funny cats. This Vimeo project is fairly old, but never fails to amaze us with its simplicity. This is ‘Conductor,’ by artist and videographer Alexander Chen.