A Better Distorted View

The physics of diffusion offers a new way of generating maps

11:34am, August 24, 2004

A map can show much more than rivers, roads, and political boundaries. It can express an attitude. Saul Steinberg's famous New Yorker cover illustration, called "View from 9th Avenue," shows a foreshortened map of New York City and its environs. Beyond the city's avenues and the Hudson River, Steinberg's map looks westward toward vaguely defined regions: Jersey, the rest of the United States, the Pacific Ocean, and a barely visible Asia and Europe. The map neatly encapsulates a Manhattanite's self-centered perspective on the world.

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