Shanghai Maps of the 1920s and 1930s

A map of Shanghai. I think it's from Paul French's book on Carl Crow. Its beautifully drawn

A map of Shanghai. I think it's from Paul French's book on Carl Crow. Its beautifully drawn

I love old maps, particularly city maps. They are a pictorial insight into a city and it's environment. They are not real, no map ever is. Rather they are a representation of how the designer's imagined the city to look. Even in the choice of what to represent, the designer and illustrator, Carl Crow and V Kovalsky, reveal who they are talking to - tourists to the city. The choice of subject matter, the chinoiserie, even the lettering, are selling the image that Shanghai wanted to portray. And sitting in the middle, dominating the river in both size and prominence, are the ships of the Western fleets, displaying graphically who controlled the city.

In the Inspector Danilov novels I use three maps to imagine the city. This one, a more detailed street map of the time and a map from an earlier tourist directory. All give me slightly different vision of the city. I have tried to be as authentic as I can, detailing the streets and areas that Danilov and Strachan inhabit and walk around. For me, the city is as important a character in the novels as any of the people, possibly more so.

I love maps, in all their shapes and sizes. It's no coincidence that the first explorers proclaimed their ownership of new territories by mapping them. And the Pope, when he wanted to divide the world between the Spanish and Portuguese spheres of influence, simply drew line down the centre of a globe, dividing the New World in half.

Maps show more than just streets and alleys, blocks and buildings, they show who owned what and when. They are a guide to the minds of their creators as they are a guide to the reader.

Finally, I'm not sure if anybody owns copyright to this image, but if they do, simply message me and I will be happy to attribute it.