If one picture is worth a thousand words, then a map is worth a million. Maps are powerful and engaging forms of visual communication that show us our world, and the myriad smaller places within it. Using line, shape, and color, they simplify and organize what would otherwise be too large and complex to be seen. From political maps, waterway maps, and tax maps, to Mapquest and Google earth, maps are irresistible and invaluable resources for learning about our world in all its diversity.
Historic maps fill these same roles, and show our environments as they were before we came on the scene. There is nothing so interesting as tracing our evolution backwards, seeing our county and our city as it was 150 years ago.
The History Center has opened a new Map Room in our small gallery, with several historic maps of Ithaca and Tompkins County, dating back to 1853. It is possible to see the development of downtown Ithaca, noting the business district as it spread out from Owego Street, now State Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Property owners in Groton, Danby, and Newfield, farms in Dryden and Enfield, villages like Trumansburg, Slaterville Springs, and Ludlowville; all manner of local names from the past illuminate a county map from 1853. Come see how Ithaca and Tompkins County came to look the way they do now.