Duck Duck Book

33 – cities of the world
05.17.2006, 1:14 pm
Filed under: history & geography

Cities of the world : a history in maps / Peter Whitfield. 
Berkeley : University of California Press, c2005.
[MCL call number: 911 W595c 2005; two copies, one hold]
On the wall of the staff lunch room at my place of employment there is a large, framed map, a bird's-eye view of the city of Portland.  Looking at it, it is easy to imagine one's self standing at a vista high in the (then) rural West Hills on a clear day, gazing out to the east with the river and the city below, and Mt. Tabor, Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Adams in the distance.  The map, published in 1881, describes a very different city from our present metropolis, but there are many features besides the water and the mountains that remain recognizable to modern residents.

Whitield's book reproduces about 75 ancient, or merely old, maps of cities around the world — though sadly none are of Portland.  Each is accompanied by a page-long history of the city, presenting highlights of its urban development, cultural importance, and economic and political influence.  The maps are beautiful, and are well-complemented by Whitfield's essays.  Slightly more than half of the maps in the book are of European cities; slightly less than half represent cites of the other continents.  The maps are followed by a brief bibliography and an index.


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