I need an awesome map.
August 3, 2010 8:28 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to buy a cool, large map to hang on my wall.

I have a large open wal space above my couch, and I'd like to decorate with a map. I've always liked maps used for decoration, so why not get one?

The wall can comfortably fit a map four feet high by six feet wide.

It can be any map really - doesn't have to be of the entire world. I just want something that will look interesting. I figure by keeping the description vague, I'll get a wide variety of maps from you guys based on what you consider awesome.

A framed map would surely look nicer than an unframed one, but I'm sure that can make it pretty expensive, so I'm open to both types of suggestions as well so I can decide for myself.

posted by rastapasta to Home & Garden (30 answers total) 104 users marked this as a favorite
I took the 50MB jpg of Tokyo from http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/BlueMarble/ and had it printed poster size. But then I like satellite imagery. You could pick your favourite area, city, state, country...
posted by lundman at 8:31 PM on August 3, 2010 [2 favorites]

I love antique maps.

If you have the cash, you can go with authentic antique maps: Heritage Antique Maps.

If you are poor (like me), you can go with reproductions: Historic Maps Restored.

Either way, it probably beats whatever you'll pull out of the latest National Geographic.
posted by monkey.pie.baker at 8:37 PM on August 3, 2010 [3 favorites]

I love topol maps, and buy them when I am traveling as a souvenir, if possible. I have one of the Grand Canyon, which is fun.
posted by annsunny at 8:41 PM on August 3, 2010

I used to have my main room decorated with maps. We went with an antique map theme and got all our posters from all posters.com This poster is pretty close to the giant 4 by 6 foot one we had.

In order to make it look more "fancy" we used clear spray artist lacquer from the store to coat them. It gave the maps a more shiny appearance and made the posters a little bit stiffer.

Then we took small pieces of balsa wood and made a very very basic frame that was glued to the back of the poster. This made hanging the poster somewhat easier (ie it hid the nails) and it made the poster stick out from the wall a little bit which automatically made it look more like a piece rather than just a poster.
posted by aetg at 9:03 PM on August 3, 2010

I can make one. As for of what, do we have location data for MeFi users? That'd be neato.
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 9:09 PM on August 3, 2010

If I could cover my whole wall with a map, I would make it a map of where I live. And then I would get it laminated, and use whiteboard markers to mark tasty restaurants, good biking trails, neat shops, etc.
posted by that girl at 9:25 PM on August 3, 2010 [13 favorites]

The USGS sells a number of world map series which are pretty damned big and not very expensive at all. The page is old but I ordered from them about 2 years ago with no problems.
posted by crapmatic at 9:25 PM on August 3, 2010

The Peters Projection is my favorite, I've always had one. It's an equal area map that shows all areas of the world according to their actual size. If you haven't seen one, it changes the way you think about the world forever.

A great example of the effect that the Peters map corrects can be seen by comparing Greenland and China on another map. Greenland looks larger than China, even though Greenland is .8 million square miles and China is 3.7 million square miles. Another great example is Europe and South America - South America is almost twice as large as Europe, but you'd never know it from most maps.
posted by jardinier at 9:44 PM on August 3, 2010

These hand-cut maps are the coolest things I've ever seen but, sadly, I can't really afford them. But I did just order an abstract hand drawn version by the same artist.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:45 PM on August 3, 2010 [3 favorites]

This map (re: French military campaign in Russia) has limited geographic detail but it's cool and it's definitely a map.

These maps (re: historical paths of the Mississippi) is limited in scope to a few hundred square miles but it's also pretty.

Metafilter discusses maps frequently. Off the top of my head, I think these were all discussed here at some point: 8 bit maps of major metro areas, maps with neighborhoods deduced from flickr tags, maps of major transit systems juxtaposed for scale, historical transit maps, travel time map for New York subway trips.

There are also a couple map blogs that may be worth browsing: Strange Maps, Map Room.

And, while I was confirming the urls for those blogs, I stumbled on these maps of the moon. Googling for maps of the moon and other objects in the solar system may also be fertile territory.
posted by stuart_s at 9:58 PM on August 3, 2010

The Agile Rabbit Book of Historical And Curious Maps contains tons of interesting old maps, and comes with a CD that has very high resolution versions of all maps in the book.
posted by neushoorn at 10:01 PM on August 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

You might like to search through [metafilter's own peacay's] BibliOdyssey.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:16 PM on August 3, 2010

"These are Things" are local (to me) designers who sell interesting map prints.
posted by neda at 10:28 PM on August 3, 2010

Something like this. I don't know if that's large enough, but we have a similar one at the museum I work at and it's really pretty neato.
posted by IvoShandor at 10:29 PM on August 3, 2010

Not sure if you are interested but you could also consider with a world map decal from here
posted by clarkie666 at 10:53 PM on August 3, 2010

These maps (re: historical paths of the Mississippi) is limited in scope to a few hundred square miles but it's also pretty.

I just had a few of these printed.

Here is a download link for some amazingly high res pdfs.

I had them printed at perfectposters.com

They look amazing.
posted by St. Sorryass at 11:13 PM on August 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

I like the terrain maps from Raven. Since I live in the US, this would be my purchase.
posted by salvia at 11:16 PM on August 3, 2010

Check out nautical and aeronautical charts on eBay and Amazon. Functional, fascinating and often beautiful.
posted by Mr Mister at 12:06 AM on August 4, 2010

You could go to an antique store and try to get some of the cool old school cloth maps (you know, the ones that rolled down from the holder above the chalkboard). My ex had a couple (I was sad to return them) and they were big, cool and easy to display.

One was a world map from 1920,
posted by bibliogrrl at 5:27 AM on August 4, 2010

One of my favorite maps is the general soil survey of my state (you can see a corner of it here). Every state should have one from the USDA extension ... they're huge, they're colorful, they're terrifically detailed, but in an unusual way that you haven't seen before. They're absolutely fascinating to look at.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:40 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Here is the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection for your viewing pleasure. There's a link for "Reproductions" on the right side--you can crop any image to your specs before purchase and choose a size.
posted by BlooPen at 8:28 AM on August 4, 2010

Like Salvia, I like the Raven maps and have a few large ones from states that I've lived in. The great thing about them is that not only are they attractive, but they are very useful in planning trips and answering those 'where's such and such at?' questions. Unfortunately, having them framed, while it makes for a better appearance, hasn't been the best thing since we've moved a few times and those end up being very bulky items (and the weight of the plexiglass cover has broken the frames on my own private Idaho map). As another suggestion for thematic maps, you might find geologic maps as very colorful and abstract looking (in addition to providing huge amounts of practical information).
posted by pappy at 10:02 AM on August 4, 2010

If there's a map store in town, you can buy a topographic map of your local area (not interesting if it's flat tho).

I'd print one of these out and frame it:

The Carta Marina by Olaus Magnus (1490-1557) is the earliest detailed map of the Nordic countries.

World Map 1689
posted by jayne at 11:10 AM on August 4, 2010

I second Raven maps.
I've bought two and they're beautiful.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 12:31 PM on August 4, 2010

The Future Mapping Company has some nice ones.
posted by healthytext at 1:27 PM on August 4, 2010

It may be a little small for your needs, but the Atlas of True Names seems like it'd be a pretty cool wall map.
posted by JDHarper at 1:56 PM on August 4, 2010

If you're on a budget and don't necessarily care about the look of the map, then try calling up your local libraries, schools, universities, etc. A lot of institutions have maps laying around that are in great quality, but are sitting in storage because they're outdated. If you don't get one for free, you could probably bribe someone with $20.

Good luck!
posted by _superconductor at 4:42 PM on August 4, 2010

I have this world map in my living room, laminated, with wood rails along the top and bottom. It looks great, we refer to it often, and it helps to stimulate lots of discussion. I bought it from Wide World of Maps for less than $100. The rails were something I'm sure I could have done myself.

I hope to someday find a classroom roller map - the kind with two or more maps - they're not terribly expensive new but I love the idea of getting one from a school or library as superconductor recommended.
posted by kbar1 at 12:29 AM on August 5, 2010

Edward Tufte's Napoleon's March is the best informational map I've ever seen.
posted by talldean at 9:23 AM on August 18, 2010

Okay, Charles Minard's map sold by Edward Tufte's site.
posted by talldean at 9:26 AM on August 18, 2010

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