Map overlays

Ever since I was a kid, I have always had a great interest in geography, whether it be a map of the United States or California or the entire island of Manhattan. I don’t know if this attributed in any way to my better than average sense of direction, but either way, I remember poring over books and maps, studying locations of famous landmarks and trying to relate to the distances between one city to the next. I even fancied the thought of becoming a cartographer.

A couple years ago, I created a map overlay of Manhattan and the San Francisco Bay Area. I was curious to see how big the Big Apple really is compared to the City by the Bay. I went onto Google Maps and downloaded a map of each city and its surrounding metropolitan areas and then scaled them proportionally to one another while centering the map of New York City somewhere in the middle of the SF Bay. I outlined the island of Manhattan using Photoshop while inverting the rest of the layer so that it almost looked like an X-ray scan. If you were to align the tip of Harlem with the Presidio, the length of Manhattan would stretch all the way down to SFO International Airport.


I did another map overlay of Central Park and Golden Gate Park, and to my surprise, the width of both parks are nearly the same, but the latter is longer by 10 blocks running east-west. I rotated the map of Central Park so that its north-south axis is aligned with the east-west orientation of Golden Gate Park. Regardless of size, I will always have a fond connection with Central Park despite having grown up in the Bay Area, but that’s another story.


A few weeks ago, I came across a website titled ‘Manhattan Elsewhere’ and someone was thinking the same thing on the size comparison of Manhattan with San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, to name a few.


To see other comparisons of Manhattan, click on

I think that this fascination stems from the fact that I have dreams where I’m in the middle of Manhattan (or some version of it) and then I’m crossing a bridge or riding in a subway and then I end up in San Francisco or Hawaii or some distant location. I realize that each place that I visit in my dreams is recognizable although the locations and orientations of familiar landmarks and streets are distorted. My collection of conscious memories become distorted and inserted into a subconscious world. When the 1998 film noir Dark City, directed by Alex Proyas, came out in theaters, it reminded me of my dreams, minus the Orwellian depiction of urban repression, propaganda, denial of truth and mechanism.

If such technology exists, I often wondered if it is possible to record the places that we visit in our dreams. How real would it be if we were able to consciously watch our own dreams?


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