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Once, every car had one of these, usually under the front seat

Old map book

Ari Ofsevit recalls the atlases of yore, back in the pre-Google Maps days.

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Comments

Though you had to pity the poor out of staters trying to navigate our fair commonwealth.

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I believe the orthodox school of thought on that is that there's no excuse for being from out of state, so no reason to cater to outsiders.

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Oh, not at all! I think a lot of care was taken to ensure that there were plenty of street signs that would direct one to various highways that lead out of Metro Boston. That way the people who didn't already know where they needed to go could be led away.

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OK, so it's a win-win.

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Best lobster pie I ever tasted was in a restaurant in Athol.

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Athol to Orange river rat canoe race. Entering Athol signs painted over to spell RAthole. Much genuine good-natured rural New England debauchery.

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Your dad could whap you from the front seat back to you in the back seat with that thing if you and your siblings were too noisy back there.

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…. wrapped in outdated pages from a thoughtful and creative friend.

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For many years, the E. Mass. book had Middlesex Turnpike crossing the Concord River in Billerica. Once upon a time, I guess it did, but in my lifetime, that would have been a bubbly drive.

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I might still have mine ... under the pile of Delorme Atlases (& Gazetteers) of Maine, New Hampshire, and other assorted states we'd drive through/to.

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The only way in Maine to get there from here is with a Delorme.

The Delorme map store in Yarmouth was one of my favorite places to browse/shop.

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that the final 'e' is silent.

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but different - we'd go to the Yarmouth headquarters and watch the giant globe spin ... as well as shop around. I've just learned that the globe has a name: Eartha.

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I used to love looking through my parent's Maine Atlas and Gazetteer. Got one for myself this year even though I can easily look on my smart phone.

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9 or 10 books in a Shaw's bag in my trunk. Still there. Why not?

Sometimes it is easier with paper if you have to go multiple places and / or want to avoid Interstates so you can take in the local scenery.

Route 119 will take you from Brattleboro to Groton which takes you through to Lexington and almost no one else on it. Google will make you go 91 to Route 2 and then you get pulled over in Erving because the local cops like sticking it to outsiders. Blah.

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By sticking to the speed limit signs there. They make them pretty obvious! It is a bit of speed trap, slightly better since the realigned the roadway around the paper mill a few years ago so the 30 mph section isn't quite as long. I did kind of like the old version, where you basically got to drive through the paper mill.

I'm with you, though, on 119, it's a lovely drive, and only adds about 20 minutes, saves you several miles and with lower speeds is probably better for your gas mileage, too.

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In some states, a speed limit drop is not enforceable unless there's a Reduced Speed Ahead sign in advance. In Erving, this one shot is all you get: https://goo.gl/maps/6f4oNXMrxSjne66X6

But it's only the main east-west corridor for the northern half of the state, maintained by the state highway agency. It's not like we should expect any professionalism.

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I agree that reduced speed signs are a good idea; I don't know why they're not more common. However, even if you're the sort to ignore speed limit signs, it doesn't take super-keen powers of observation to realize that you're driving through a built-up area and you maybe ought to dial it back. Route 2 goes right through the center of a few towns, as it happens (Williamstown, for example). The towns were there before the highway, and if the state decided to route the highway through their main street, well...

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I guess we already knew that.

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I used to read your words in Pee Wee Herman's voice.

Now its more like Bowen Yang.

Also, I have never been pulled over in Erving. Thanks though. Have fun laughing at homeless people on fire and your inability to understand Newton Corner.

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…. is the trash gas burn off where your brain used to be. Back when you were issued a driver’s license.

Just a matter of time before speeding through Erving or using the wrong ramp at NC ends in disaster.

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Adam recently scolded some commenters for remarks that seem a lot less preemptive and personally-directed than this ad hominem baloney.

Can we’all please take it down about three notches and act like decent adults?

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… get back to you on this.

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ROFL!

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Even if mostly let the GPS pick the route these days, the maps require no batteries nor cables nor electronic signal and it never yells at me when I decide to ignore a turn.

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Lost cell service somewhere in New Brunswick. then the Garmin lost signal on the south shore of the Minas Basin. Had a map book, so we were OK.

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When the zombie apocalypse comes, I want to be able to navigate over that mountain range 10 miles west of Boston in the absence of cell service.

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Central MA is in my trunk, and Western MA and the Cape volumes have survived several moves, and a couple cars, and are in the stacks if I need them. Metro Boston got lent out like 20 years ago and never returned :(

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But these were no less useful to me because of that. There have been times when my work or interests have taken me all over and into every corner of Boston.
Smart phones and GPX are great but I still often just look at a map online and memorize it or screenshoot it.
As Boston evolved, it was necessary to buy new ones and try to remember the mistakes discovered when using the previous one.
The last one I put in the recycling bin was in tatters.

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But these were no less useful to me because of that. There have been times when my work or interests have taken me all over and into every corner of Boston.
Smart phones and GPX are great but I still often just look at a map online and memorize it or screenshoot it. Those methods know their place and don’t interrupt or spin around or direct me to step off a wharf into the harbor.
As Boston evolved, it was necessary to buy new ones and try to remember the mistakes discovered when using the previous one.
The last one I put in the recycling bin was in tatters.

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I have always loved maps. I loved to look at these as a kid. I really loved AAA's trip thing where you could flip the pages as you drove the way it was marked. I was a weird kid.

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It used to be you could order them for free if you were an AAA member, which my parents were.

As a kid I'd put in a request saying I was driving an RV across the country and wanted to avoid highways in order to get the most number of maps. A few weeks later a box would arrive with a dozen of the flip books, each page with the proposed route highlighted.

Whoever had to process that request at AAA must have hated me. :)

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My father got us US government topographical maps for hikes and exploring. Still have a framed molded one for a frequently visited area. It is astonishingly accurate. Couldn’t be stuffed in a pocket but great for planning or reliving an outdoor adventure.

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I remember that they were called "triptiks" but not sure of the spelling.

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I remember these quite fondly. Are they still available? (I haven't owned a car or been an AAA member since 1999)

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You can still get them. My wife insisted on getting one when we had to make a long drive last year, despite my insistence that the GPS and phone would suffice. When it arrived, the route that they highlighted looked ridiculous to me, so I never consulted it on the trip.

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It's hard to get the big picture on a small screen. Before venturing into terra incognita we always spread out our old AAA or Arrow maps on the kitchen table (and then tape them back together).

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Buy two atlases and carefully tape them together such that you have a huge wall map.

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Before I spent significant time each day browsing Google Maps, I spent significant time each day with this atlas.

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… other cities I’ve lived in or spend time in regularly.
You can really get lost in looking at those and imagining a different time. I especially like the ones that show property lines and owner’s names.
Some good websites for these too.

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Ward Maps has a retail location near Porter Square and can print you a map of just about anything

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On a shelf with other atlases.

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I don't seem to have that one, but I have:

Hagstrom Metropolitan Boston Atlas and vicinity (yes, that's the real name of it) - 1991

American Map by Kappa Map Group - "Boston Greater" (copyright inside says Arrow Map Inc) - 2008

DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteers - 1998 Massachusetts and New Hampshire, 2003 Vermont

Rand McNally Road Atlas of US, Canada, and Mexico, sponsored by the St. Paul Insurance Companies. I can't find a copyright date anywhere inside, but the index refers to the 1960 US census and the 1956 Canadian census for population figures. The Boston inset map doesn't include the Mass. Pike inside Route 128, even as a proposed route, so this must be from the early 1960s

Rand McNally Road Atlas - 1999

AAA Road Atlas - appears to be from 1992

None of these are really practical to use on a bike, because of their size and bulk.

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If they're grocery bag size, you can get about three of those atlases in there.

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I've had five different cars since roughly 1990, and my Boston/EMass road atlas has ridden in every one of 'em. Lost a few pages over the years (including Athol), but still intact otherwise. Not gonna ditch it anytime soon.

In a related matter, does anyone still scribble down directions on a piece of paper or index card and take it with you?

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For most trips I just memorize the route. If I'm unsure, I'll take a few photos of the map. (I don't have a smartphone, but I do carry a digital camera around!) And sometimes I draw a little map annotated with exit numbers, miles, and road names.

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Till I’m there.

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In the 80s they had a Street and a Road with the same name on opposite sides of my town, and the atlas that everybody had a copy of only listed the Street in the index.

Despite my detailed instructions over the phone on how to get to my house and specifically mentioning that if they were using the Atlas it was going to bring them to the wrong place, more often than not if I was trying to get something fixed or delivered, I'd get a phone call past the estimated arrival time that they went there and couldn't find house #64..

Once the 9-1-1 system went into effect they had to eliminate duplicate street names, so the Street got renamed to something else.

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That somehow never happened in Boston (multiple Washington Streets), Cambridge (two Elm Streets), Somerville (two Oxford Streets, not to mention Highland Avenue and Highland Road, Pearson Avenue and Pearson Road, Hall Street and Hall Avenue, Boston Street and Boston Avenue, and likely others I've forgotten)

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Summit Ave versus Summit St in Somerville. Church in Boston (think there might actually be three Church Sts in the city limits), and of course, Boylston--a mistake many of us make once.

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Maybe it wasn't a hard requirement, but it was enforced as such in my former town of Dedham.

This mentions how it was being handled in Danbury.
https://www.newstimes.com/news/article/Duplicate-street-names-a-concern-...

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Some places (I think) didn't rename redundant streets, but did renumber houses (all houses on a given street) so there was no duplication of numbers

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If drivers still relied on maps?

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The Universal atlas was terrible. The Arrow atlas was much more readable, and was ordered geographically so it was easier to navigate between towns.

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Growing up in upstate New York, I used Jimapco a lot. For those who don't know, New York has a lot of numbered county roads, and they can be super confusing. Jimapcos were the way to figure them out (and may still be the best way, given my Garmin's tendency to refer to roads by some obscure name that is not the highway signs..."Turn right on...Elmer...Flarglebargle...Highway."). These were absolutely essential for navigating around the 'dacks. I love the convenience of GPS, and not having to stop and look at a map (which isn't always possible or safe), but it's probably worth picking up an up-to-date Jimapco book if you plan on spending much time in that area.

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...don't ask me the last time I used it....

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