The Girl who Mapped Manhattan’s Memories


4th Apr, 2013

ever underestimate how far your little art project can go. In her freshmen year of college, Becky Cooper discovered she had a ‘thing’ for cartography after she was hired to help map all of Manhattan’s public art. Soon enough, she was inspired to embark on her own idea– to map Manhattan’s memories. Becky hand-printed a few hundred schematic maps of the borough on a letterpress in the basement of her college dorm and set out on foot across Manhattan to hand them out to strangers she met; from homeless people to fashion models. Soon enough, her P.O. box was filled with replies from caring citizens who had mapped everything from their past loves and childhood memories to comical moments and embarrassing confessions. Fast-forward to today and Becky has just published her first book. It features the cartographic memories of 75 New Yorkers, some anonymous and some not so anonymous, such as Yoko Ono, Man on Wire‘s Phillipe Petit, Paris vs New York’s Vahram Murayan and The New Yorker‘s Adam Gorkin.

Here is Becky’s story all mapped out for you in this charming little video:

YouTube Preview Image

I went through Becky’s Tumblr which is where it all began before she had the book and picked out some of my favourite submissions to get an idea of what awaits you in the book.

This one says:

1- Mom/Dad “set up housekeeping” without benefit of clergy — an act of deliberate defiance. 1921.

2- I [was] born 6/5/1928 — a cheerful bastard

3 – Grammar school/ high school/ colleges

4- 1st teenage innocent sex

5- 1st sex with a professional sex worker

6- Lived with “love of my life life”!

7- Marriages one/two/three

8. Children one/two/three/four/five/six

9. Affairs 10/20/30/40/50/60/70+

10. Stocks/bond Wall St. layabout

11. Psychological therapy one/two/three

12. Living alone at last

13. In relationship, hopefully the last at 83; still a cheerful bastard, still in therapy.

And good cheer to you!



I have a good feeling Mapping Manhattan will quickly become a coffee table classic (and the perfect gift) for any New Yorker. I just hope she might hop across the ocean and do one for us in Paris some day!





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