Hagstrom Map

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Hagstrom Map
Fate Division of Kappa Publishing Group
Founders Andrew Hagstrom
Headquarters Maspeth, Queens, United States
Website www.kappamapgroup.com/c-614-hagstrom.aspx

Hagstrom Map, based in Maspeth, Queens, was the best-selling brand of road maps in the New York City metropolitan area in the 20th and early 21st century. The New York Times in 2002 described Hagstrom's Five Borough Atlas as New York City's "map of record" for the previous 60 years.[1][2]

With the rise of GPS navigation and other electronic maps in the early 21st century, the printed-map business shrunk to a fraction of its former size, undergoing extensive consolidation.[3] Hagstrom maps are still produced by the Kappa Publishing Group, which acquired Hagstrom from the Langenscheidt publishing group in 2010.[4]

History[edit]

Hagstrom Maps began in 1916[5] when Andrew Hagstrom, a Swedish immigrant, produced a map to help customers locate his newly opened drafting business in lower Manhattan. The map featured exaggeratedly wide streets that offered abundant room for clear labeling of addresses, transportation, and other terrain features. Hagstrom began selling the map, soon expanding it to cover all of Manhattan, then all of New York City, then its outlying regions, eventually offering over 100 maps.[2] The New York City Subway used a Hagstrom design for its official subway maps during the 1940s.

The widened-street style was a hallmark of Hagstrom's product line; although it added clarity in navigation and labeling, the widened streets borrowed their space from the surrounding blocks, in some cases reducing them to slivers; for instance, the Flatiron Building appeared as "a speck where Broadway and Fifth Avenue converge". From 1941 to 2002, All of Hagstrom's New York City maps were based on a single master map that was updated by hand. This produced a number of other visual artifacts; new streets and neighborhoods had to be shoehorned into layouts designed around previously existing features. A number of quirky and archaic labels also remained, such as "The Shed", a large disused building on Pier 42 on the East River, and Mussel Island, a long-gone feature of Newtown Creek. In 2002, Hagstrom switched to all-digital master maps using more conventional layouts and labels.[1]

In its heyday, the company's lineup included atlases, borough maps, maps of the Tri-State Region and detailed and quite colorful maps of midtown Manhattan. The midtown maps, which detailed most of the significant buildings and businesses (Rockefeller Center, Pennsylvania Station, Saks Fifth Avenue, etc.) show the changing face of the city's business district, and have started to draw the attention of map collectors.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Hagstrom's catalog included maps of a number of cities beyond the New York area, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, and Philadelphia, though most of these publications were out of print by the 1990s.[2]

Hagstrom had three retail stores; one in lower Manhattan, one in midtown, and one in Washington, D.C.; all had closed by 2010.[4]

Hagstrom was knighted by the King of Sweden for his success in America.

Dating code[edit]

For many years, a code was used to internally identify the publication date for Hagstrom pocket maps. The practice ceased in 1978. The code is as follows:

H A G S T R O M C X
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0

Usually appearing in the lower right hand corner of a map are letters: e.g. G-SR. To decipher refer to the chart to locate the letters and corresponding numbers below each letter. In this instance G is 3 and SR is 46. The date is March 1946. The first letter or letters in the code refer to the month, the next two letters refer to the year.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b [1]
  2. ^ a b c "Hagstrom Map". Archived from the original on 2010-06-29. 
  3. ^ [2]
  4. ^ a b End of the Road for Manhattan Map Store
  5. ^ Note: the archived Hagstrom site gives the year as 1816, but several other sources, including maps put out by Hagstrom, say 1916.

Further reading[edit]