How People Navigated The Streets Before The Introduction Of Map Apps
Before Google Maps, there were the traditional paper maps that people used for navigation purposes. There were also map illustrations that businesses used for advertising purposes. The paper maps were geographically accurate while the map illustrations often sacrifice accuracy for the sake of aesthetics. Both types of maps were very popular decades ago until map apps took over.
The Thomas Guide was used by drivers in Los Angeles for generations. A metal binding held the 3,000 pages of Los Angeles street maps. It covered 5,000 square miles and 88 municipalities. For the better part of the 20th century, the Thomas Guide was kept inside the glove compartment and backseat pouches to guide drivers through the streets of Southern California.
However, there were people who did not need the Thomas Guide because they know the streets like a cab driver. The Thomas Guide bird’s eye view maps are imprinted in the minds of the Los Angeles residents. Now, the screen-sized view of Google Maps, Waze and Apple Maps have taken over the cumbersome atlases of old.
Navigation apps have democratized access to roads with their easy to follow algorithms and traffic responsive routes. In the congested cities of California, constant alerts allowed drivers to discover new and faster routes with ease.
According to the latest survey of Pew L.A., 90% of Americans are using their smartphones to get directions. However, progress comes with a decline. The last print edition of Thomas Guide was published in 2015 because drivers prefer navigation apps. Mapping apps dominate the market but they have a fatal flaw compared to their paper-based ancestors.
Drivers have become blind to their surroundings because of what cartographers call as the egocentric view. Do navigation apps really save time? Drivers avoid a jammed highway based on the app’s recommendation and find out later that the surrounding streets where they were directed to are also congested.
Many of the maps featured at IllustratedMaps.com are featured in books or printed as posters to become a marketing tool. Illustrated maps are being used by tourism destinations, resorts and cities to attract visitors and businesses to the area.