One thing I did lately was to construct a Map of Arkham, so that allusions in any future tale I may write may be consistent.
July 19, 2012 6:23 AM   Subscribe

Here is a hand-drawn map of Arkham, Massachusetts, by H.P. Lovecraft himself.
posted by usonian (53 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
Somebody at Fantasy Flight Games just woke up in the middle of the night, a dark gleam in their eyes, hands and fingers clutching as though grasping an obsidian idol, a slick sheen on a squamous forehead, as something in the darkness slithers and whispers “special third-edition reissue.
posted by Shepherd at 6:28 AM on July 19, 2012 [14 favorites]


Somehow I never imagined Arkham, MA as a well planned grid. I was expecting more meandering alleyways and cul-de-sacs.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:31 AM on July 19, 2012 [11 favorites]


Way, way, way too rectangular for an old MA town. Or at least that's the way I remember my parent's town and the surrounding ones.

On the other hand, very cool.
posted by Hactar at 6:32 AM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Somehow it's not the same without cultists and abomination parading around the streets and also pretzels and soda.
posted by griphus at 6:35 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Someone should post this to Mapstalgia.
posted by bondcliff at 6:40 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lich Street? Get the fuck outta town.
posted by Edison Carter at 6:40 AM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


YOU ARE ONLY HALLUCINATING THAT YOU ARE HERE
posted by Egg Shen at 6:43 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Way, way, way too rectangular for an old MA town.

Eldritch forces from before time began have distorted space so much that the curves became lines.
posted by DU at 6:55 AM on July 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


Way, way, way too rectangular for an old MA town...

"Its construction, over a century and a half ago, had followed the grading and straightening of the road in that especial vicinity; for Benefit Street—at first called Back Street—was laid out as a lane winding amongst the graveyards of the first settlers, and straightened only when the removal of the bodies to the North Burial Ground made it decently possible to cut through the old family plots."
posted by incandissonance at 7:00 AM on July 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Get the fuck outta town.

That is excellent advice.
posted by mhoye at 7:03 AM on July 19, 2012 [12 favorites]


This map was actually created many years before the geological survey had reached Arkham, by the insane and erratic Jesuit missionary Jean d'Arbe. While apparently constructed according to the normal rules of Euclidean geometry, a trained eye familiar with the area could spot a conical deficit, suggesting that the creator was aware of Arkham's embedding in a Higher Dimensional Plane of Reality.

One can detect hints of the conical deficit in the slightly unusual handwriting, the curious qualities of the paper and the gentle flow of air over the sheet's surface. These facts alone were enough to drive d'Arbe to take his own life shortly after creating the map. He was unable to explain how he created the map, either to himself or to others.
posted by Talkie Toaster at 7:03 AM on July 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


Where are the cruising spots?
posted by The Whelk at 7:12 AM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hangman's Hill.
posted by Mister_A at 7:17 AM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's the points that aren't on the map that are of particular interest.
posted by malocchio at 7:20 AM on July 19, 2012


If you're curious about the "really charming Arkham map by Gahan Wilson," it's here (bottom map), along with other curious and eldritch Lovecraft Maps.
posted by languagehat at 7:21 AM on July 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


Way, way, way too rectangular for an old MA town.

Non-euclidean geography
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:23 AM on July 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Lovecraft was as good at cartography as he was at sex.
posted by Mezentian at 7:24 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


At least the map wasn't over-wrought.
posted by Mister_A at 7:25 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


languagehat, thanks for that link! Those are awesome. I have already forwarded the link to my favorite author, widely considered to be an excellent Lovecraftian type of author.
posted by Kitteh at 7:26 AM on July 19, 2012


Somebody at Fantasy Flight Games just woke up in the middle of the night, a dark gleam in their eyes, hands and fingers clutching as though grasping an obsidian idol, a slick sheen on a squamous forehead, as something in the darkness slithers and whispers “special third-edition reissue.

On the photo gallery about halfway down that page, definitely look for the pics of the group playing in full costume. I wish the groups I played Arkham Horror with were half as much fun.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:27 AM on July 19, 2012


Get the fuck outta town.

That is excellent advice.


Let us take the road to Innsmouth!
posted by Mezentian at 7:32 AM on July 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


*examines map*





*shakes, gibbers*
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:32 AM on July 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


Let us take the road to Innsmouth!

Are you talking about the boat to Innsmouth that inexplicably lets you off at the bus station?
posted by griphus at 7:35 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Get the fuck outta town.

That is excellent advice.


Indeed, this was as much an exclamation (and exhortation) as it was advice. If ever I am in a town with a Lich Street, I'm Audi, yo.
posted by Edison Carter at 7:37 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sir, I have seen that episode of the Twilight Zone, and I do not alight at strange bus stations.
posted by Mezentian at 7:38 AM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


All bus stations are strange.





I mean, come on.
posted by Edison Carter at 7:40 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


But all people are strange... when you are a stranger.
posted by Mezentian at 7:41 AM on July 19, 2012


Faces get caught in the rain.



Well, when you're strange, they do.
posted by Edison Carter at 7:47 AM on July 19, 2012


(Shit. Did I just mondegreen that? Googling...

"Faces come out of the rain". Fuck.)

posted by Edison Carter at 7:48 AM on July 19, 2012


Well, faces getting caught in the rain is much more in keeping with the theme of this thread.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:20 AM on July 19, 2012


But is Arkham North Shore or South Shore?
posted by maryr at 8:27 AM on July 19, 2012


Or West of Worcester? It's fictional, so that might make the most sense.
posted by maryr at 8:27 AM on July 19, 2012


Arkham Shore featuring the Unspeakable Situation.
posted by The Whelk at 8:28 AM on July 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


Heh. I totally swiped a copy of Marginalia from where this map comes from my library. I am a horrible librarian. But I figure you can't be a good Lovecraftian without pilfering something from a library, right doggie? AAAIIIEEE!!

Anyways.

Now compare that map to a map of Salem Lovecraft drew for Frank Belknap Long and you can see where a lot of the inspiration comes from. I have a (scanned) copy of the guidebook that Lovecraft bought when he visited Salem from the Peabody Essex (Well, just Essex Institute at the time) that served as a foundation for his explorations and the map.

You can use his letters and these maps to link up some locations in Arkham and Salem. The Miskatonic River is the North (Naumkeag) River (which is right next to my house), the University is where the Essex Institute/PEM is, Hangmans Hill is Gallows Hill in Salem, but Hangman's Brook is the South River. Lovecraft's Witch House does not dream where Salem's does - instead it'd be located off of Derby (you can trace that in his letters due to his xenophobia and the story itself - he bemoans the Poles in both real and fictional locations). For awhile, if you went down Derby there was a totally blighted lot next to a condemned house - a great candidate for where the Witch House would have stood before it caught fire.

He leaves out Salem Harbor because that's Kingsport's (aka Marblehead) domain. Innsmouth, a twisted version of Newburyport, is much farther north.

I had hoped to put a little guidebook together for Salem-As-Arkham, but having a kid sort of sucked the time away from me.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:33 AM on July 19, 2012 [11 favorites]


Surprisingly Euclidean.
posted by Artw at 8:46 AM on July 19, 2012


Lovecraft was as good at cartography as he was at sex.

"Adequately excellent" according to Sonia Greene.
posted by Artw at 8:50 AM on July 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Just went from the Amazon page, down to the images looking for the costumed gamers mentioned above... And then I saw the homemade Arkham Horror game boxes.

I now have a new project.
posted by Urban Winter at 9:02 AM on July 19, 2012


I wish I'd known about those other maps before I found out about this one. The one that Lovecraft drew kind of takes the wind out of the sails of the other ones, for me -- I mean, they're all wrong.
posted by gurple at 9:09 AM on July 19, 2012


The towns I always wonder about geographically are Dunwich and Aylesbury; Dunwich was at least partially inspired by the actual town of New Salem, which Lovecraft visited and which also has a place called The Bear's Den. Given its proximity to Dunwich in stories, it seems to me that Aylesbury might be a fictionalized version of Athol, but I always get the sense that both Dunwich and Aylesbury a little bit closer to the Miskatonic valley than their real-world counterparts are to Salem.
posted by usonian at 9:25 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Kingsport is halfway into the Dreamlands isn't it?
posted by Artw at 9:36 AM on July 19, 2012


Looks a lot like a map of Newburyport MA; the approximate positions of water street and high street line up, and Garrison street is right where we've got the current statues to William Lloyd Garrison (the abolitionist). Aylesbury street is approximately where you'd go to get to Amesbury, MA (home of Al Capp). I live there, so may be biased in interpretation, of course.

I think a lot of river towns probably follow this geography; the Guide to Lovecraftian Sites in Massachusetts seems to think Newburyport was more of a model for Innsmouth instead, or at least a few of the buildings in town.

I'm not sure about the placement of hangman's hill- it seems as though one would want to keep the dead bodies pretty far away from the water supply. I bet they were aware of that back then.
posted by jenkinsEar at 10:05 AM on July 19, 2012


But I figure you can't be a good Lovecraftian without pilfering something from a library, right doggie? AAAIIIEEE!!

Right!
The thing that lay half-bent on its side in a foetid pool of greenish-yellow ichor and tarry stickiness was almost nine feet tall, and the dog had torn off all the clothing and some of the skin. It was not quite dead, but twitched silently and spasmodically while its chest heaved in monstrous unison with the mad piping of the expectant whippoorwills outside.
posted by Zed at 10:32 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


1.5 miles between those roads? Way too big.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 10:38 AM on July 19, 2012


1.5 miles between those roads? Way too big.

I am guessing that's the distance across the whole map, which looks about right from the blocks. Although the East Side of Providence has really tiny blocks -- the city has about 50% more streets than the average American city -- Lovecraft's experience of city scales could be way off. On the other hand, Rhode Islanders traditionally feel that anything more than 10 minutes away is too far to be traversed, so who knows. On the less describable hand, Lovecraft was quite the walker, and would have known what a mile was....
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:23 AM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


One of those hands is made of wax!
posted by Artw at 11:25 AM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is one of those things I've known about for some time and, thinking probably everyone else knew about it too, never thought to post to Metafilter. Particularly this map is the basis of the more professionally drawn ones in the Call of Cthulhhu rulebook, and the much much more extensive map Chaosium put together for their Arkham game setting book. (Said book is amazing by the way. It has a complete business directory for Arkham, 99% of it invented, but still, put together by people who obviously love Lovecraft and know the stories. It is lovely.)
posted by JHarris at 1:01 PM on July 19, 2012


Ok, so I am at the corner of Rugose and Gibbous, do I head bleen or grue?
posted by fallingbadgers at 1:48 PM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Which direction is more squamous? Go the other way. If both are equally squamous, look for batrachian people- they generally know where to go.
posted by Hactar at 2:46 PM on July 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


One of those hands is made of wax!

Wax from... no earthy bees!

This would have been more scary in the Dutch language!
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:21 PM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, I own this! It comes with the book Keeper's Guide to Arkham, for the Call of Cthulhu RPG.
posted by Canageek at 6:11 PM on July 19, 2012


But I figure you can't be a good Lovecraftian without pilfering something from a library,right doggie? AAAIIIEEE!!

That last bit is you failing your SAN check, right?

Because no good comes from arcane tomes removed from libraries. NONE.
posted by Mezentian at 6:30 PM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is a lot like a squared-off version of College Hill in Providence, right down to the direction of the river and the location of the University. Up on this map would be West on the Google Maps link.

There's no graveyard on the South end, but if you go North until the river bends strongly, there is a really creepy, long spot in front of a particular building...
posted by 23 at 6:31 PM on July 19, 2012


Lovecraft was as good at cartography as he was at sex.

It's the H.P. bit that really stings, but I'll let that slide.
posted by Talkie Toaster at 3:16 AM on July 20, 2012


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