A New Perspective
May 22, 2014 8:59 AM   Subscribe

Richard Edes Harrison was a trained architect, artist and mapmaker whose maps in the years leading up to and through WWII gave Americans a new perspective on the world.
World War II Led to a Revolution in Cartography. These Amazing Maps Are Its Legacy

Google Books: The Geographical Imagination touches on Harrison's work as well.

Europe From The Southwest (The Not-So-Soft Underside)
China From The East
Russia From The South
One World, One War

Richard Edes Harrison's maps for Fortune, more at the Boston Public Library.
Harrison's working methods included photographing globes to get the right curvature for his maps.

Imago Mundi: Richard Edes Harrison and the Challenge to American Cartography (JSTOR, T&F)
Richard Edes Harrison's innovative maps of the 1940s are critical to the history of American cartography. His techniques defied convention and created a new standard for the look and shape of the world on a map. Harrison designed the maps to be both visually appealing and politically charged, reflecting the urgency of the war while also maintaining an elegant artistic dimension.

Look At The World: The Fortune Atlas For Word Strategy is his most famous atlas: WorldCat, Kirkus Review, cover.

NY Times: Richard Harrison, Avid Bird-Watcher And Map Maker, 92 , 7 JAN 1994.
posted by the man of twists and turns (3 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Man, those are great maps. I'm copyediting a history of American geography now, and I just checked the chapter on WWII—Harrison is mentioned only in a footnote (The Fortune Atlas for World Strategy is one of "Four notable atlases aimed at the American public" published in 1944), which illustrates the gulf between specialists and popularizers, also seen in this quote (from the second link):
Cartographers were quick to point out that no such perspective existed in nature, yet by drawing the topography with such care Harrison made the terrain far more real than it had been in the abstract representation of mountains used on traditional maps.
I guess cartographers are as liable as anyone else to the "Well, actually..." syndrome.

Thanks for the post!
posted by languagehat at 10:07 AM on May 22, 2014

They are beautiful, especially Europe from the South, which makes me think of Hannibal (the one with elephants).
posted by thelonius at 10:31 AM on May 22, 2014

Thank you, these are amazing. I love the link that shows some of his working methods.

This map of Ottawa from the Fortune link is not as stunning as most of the others, but Harrison still shows his ability to skillfully and subtly manipulate perspective with mostly linework. Even the 3D compass rose reinforces a sense of depth. Together with the description it makes for a charming snapshot of Ottawa in 1940 (Supreme Court building just completed, no national flag yet, no smoking in the Rideau Club till after 2 o'clock…).
posted by Kabanos at 12:54 PM on May 22, 2014

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