Those bloody Great Lakes! Anatomical/cartographical mashup, circa 1889


Another fabulously weird map, from the great blog Strange Maps. This one is entitled "The Man of Commerce" and dates to 1889.

According to the American Geographical Society Library,

The highly detailed 31" x 50" map/chart conflates human anatomy with the American transportation system, in an apparent attempt to promote Superior as a transportation hub.

Its metaphor makes West Superior "the center of cardiac or heart circulation"; the railways become major arteries; and New York is "the umbilicus through which this man of commerce was developed."

The explanatory notes conclude: "It is an interesting fact that in no other portion of the known world can any such analogy be found between the natural and artificial channels of commerce and circulatory and digestive apparatus of man."

Actually, I think you could probably make this kind of bizarre analogy with most countries, by pairing the right anatomical systems with the right transportation systems. It's not like there are no functional parallels between the two types of network.

Wait, is Commerce Man standing on Europe and Africa? Dude, that's not nice! (I think he may also be about to smack Wasilla, Alaska).


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I bet commerce man is in a rather foul mood, what with his genitals having the grand choice of immersion in the ocean or mounting the pointy end of the north-east.

You know, it would have probably been better if they could have made it look less like a chalk outline. "Well, Commerce Man did take in a lot of fat... we should have seen this coming".

Actually, having the figure of American commerce stepping on Africa kind of makes sense with regard to the slave trade...

I'm living near his lower elbow, whatever that means. And Texas is roughly in his armpit.