The Best, Nerdiest Map of the US Took 6,000 Hours to Complete

Illustration for article titled The Best, Nerdiest Map of the US Took 6,000 Hours to Complete

Meed David Imus, the OCD cartographer behind one masterpiece of a map. It took him two years of daily labor to make his map of the USA, which has been officially named the greatest paper map of the year.


Imus' map, "The Essential Geography of the United States" won the Best in Show award given out annually by the Cartography and Geographic Information Society. While it might look like an ordinary Rand McNally from afar, the 4x3 foot map makes that road atlas in your trunk look like a child's rendering. Imus, a veteran cartographer who's been in the game 35 years, fastidiously obsessed over every detail of the map's design down to the thickness of each line, the color and weight of the shading, and the placement of each letter. And while it was done on a computer, not by hand—that would've taken more like 600,000 hours—Imus' vision of the US is as personal as it gets. The result? Well, see for yourself.

The image above from Slate shows a detail from Imus' map on the left and the National Geographic map on the right. Imus' map includes details which tell you more about what you're looking at than your everyday map. The nuance lies in the choices Imus makes about what information to include, and what to leave out. You don't usually see Wrigley Field on a map of the country do you? Google Maps will get us from point A to point B, but Imus' map gives us a richer view of the world in between. [Slate]

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I like the NatGeo map better. The typeface is clearer. And while it's neat that he lists places of interest, there's no way of knowing where they are (aside from being in Chicago). There are actually more cities, hence more geographic information, in the NatGeo map.

Don't get me wrong. I think well-made maps are a thing of beauty. I even wanted to be a cartographer at one point. Imus' map is quite impressive and beautiful. I just prefer the other one.