Is a city more than just the sum of its streets? In her new book Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas, Rebecca Solnit reinvents the traditional atlas and provides a revelatory reworking of the notion of place.
Roaming the streets of her native San Francisco, Solnit takes themes such as history, culture, politics, counterculture, film, nature, murder, and blues clubs, and presents 22 rich and colorful maps that show a familiar city in ways never before seen.
Solnit, the author of 13 books on subjects that range from the history of walking to the life of 19th-century photographer Eadward Muybridge, gives a free talk on Tuesday, February 28, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. in the Central Library, 14 W. 10th. RSVP online to attend.
Infinite City is the product of 30 writers, artists, and cartographers, and, frankly, we’ve never seen a book quite like it.
One of the maps compares the locations of queer public spaces with butterfly habitats. Another juxtaposes the routes of migrating salmon in Bay Area rivers with the spread of Soto Buddhism in the city. (Visit her website to view more.)
The maps are accompanied by essays that delve into the landscape through the lives and perspectives of the inhabitants.
Spending time with this quirky and inspiring book gave us the idea: What if there were an “infinite” atlas of Kansas City?
Infinite KC Reader Contest
To celebrate Rebecca Solnit’s arrival, we are going to give away a signed copy of Infinite City, plus a vintage Kansas City map from the Gallup Map Co. of Kansas City.
Here’s how to enter...
1) Think about the people, places, and stories that make up Kansas City’s unique character. They could be parks, fountains, jazz clubs, barbecue joints, or past events, such as concerts or gangland killings. Include your own perspective, too, things about KC that you connect with that are part of the overall cultural terrain.
What would be on the map? What theme would tie it all together?
- Perhaps you could make a “Pouring Out One for Pendergast” map of all the illegal distilleries that thrived during Prohibition, when Tom Pendergast was boss of the town.
- Or maybe a map called “Painting the Town” of artists’ residences and galleries compared with coffee shops and nightclubs where they hang out.
Get as creative and off the wall as you want. Originality is what we’re looking for.
2) Enter our contest by posting a short description of your map – or, if you’re feeling artistic, the map itself – on our Facebook Wall at facebook.com/kclibrary. You can also send us your idea via Twitter: @KCLibrary (hashtag: #infiniteKC). Feel free to post your map idea to your own blog, if you have one. Just be sure to tweet us the link or post it on our Facebook page.
Deadline: Noon, February, 28, 2012.
All ideas will be judged by Eli Paul, director of the Missouri Valley Special Collections, and the winner will be announced online and in person when Rebecca Solnit speaks at the Central Library at 6:30 p.m. on the 28th.
If you’re looking for inspiration, take a peek at some digitized maps from the Missouri Valley Room at kchistory.org.
About the Author
Jason Harper is the web content developer and social media manager at the Kansas City Public Library.