Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas
Unfathomable City is no standard atlas. Rebecca Solnit (The Faraway Nearby) and filmmaker Rebecca Snedeker bring together writers, artists and cartographers to consider New Orleans, a city where the lines between races, cultures and even water and land blur and shift. Environmentalists, geographers, scholars, local experts and newcomers to the city explore New Orleans through the lenses of their respective concerns, their findings represented in 22 full-color, two-page maps as well as related essays.
The initial map and essay illustrate "How New Orleans Happened," outlining its colorful and exotic 300-year-old history. The book then explores both the things "everyone knows" about New Orleans and unexpected aspects of an eternally surprising city. Maps on cemeteries, the petroleum and natural gas industries and carnival parade routes are juxtaposed with maps on Arabs in New Orleans and the city's role in the international banana trade. Several maps join topics that at first seem unrelated--seafood and the sex trade, housing developments and the music industry--but prove revelatory.
With beautiful maps and challenging essays, Unfathomable City presents New Orleans as infinitely complex and ultimately unknowable. The result is not a comprehensive guide, but an invitation. --Pamela Toler, blogging at History in the Margins