The Greatest Paper Map of the United States You’ll Ever See
Not by a respected institution, but by one man named David Imus, who spent 6,000 hours total working on this map (that’s 8.22 hours a day, 7 days a week, 2 years straight).
David Imus worked alone on his map seven days a week for two full years. Nearly 6,000 hours in total. It would be prohibitively expensive just to outsource that much work. But Imus—a 35-year veteran of cartography who’s designed every kind of map for every kind of client—did it all by himself. He used a computer (not a pencil and paper), but absolutely nothing was left to computer-assisted happenstance. Imus spent eons tweaking label positions. Slaving over font types, kerning, letter thicknesses. Scrutinizing levels of blackness. It’s the kind of personal cartographic touch you might only find these days on the hand-illustrated ski-trail maps available at posh mountain resorts.
Consider Imus’ take on Chicago. Imus’ map, on the left, includes a list of the city’s major attractions and institutions. The thick black T’s trace the time-zone division as it snakes its way east of Gary and then bisects Lake Michigan. The red dotted line marked “FY” indicates a ferry route between Milwaukee and Muskegon. Imus omits some the smaller towns included on the National Geographic map on the right, making thoughtful choices to provide a richer portrait of the area’s culture and geography.