The Center for Land Use Interpretation Newsletter

Map of the Meadowlands


2842The Center’s Meadowlands map is usually available to the public free of charge in the brochure racks at the Vince Lombardi Service Area, on the New Jersey Turnpike. Otherwise it can be purchased at some retailers in New York City, and through the Center’s website. CLUI photoTHE CLUI PUBLISHED a map of New Jersey’s Meadowlands, as part of our ongoing efforts to find meaning and significance in this remarkable landscape, America’s ultimate urban antipode. The map locates and identifies more than 75 selected points of interest in the region that reflect the dominant land uses there.  These include logistics and transportation sites (such as airports, truck yards, rail yards), waste management sites (industrial clean-up projects, landfills), communication sites (data centers, radio transmitters), cultural sites (local museums, displays, memorials), and selected businesses and industries. The project is the culmination of several years of research and photography in the Meadowlands, that included field trips with students, excursions in canoes and powerboats, bicycle trips, hikes, train rides, and 4x4 adventures.

Though the project is available online, with a clickable, scalable map, the Center still believes that physical, paper maps have a function in these digital times. Paper maps can be used more easily in the field, where internet connections can be spotty and distracting. A map is safer and easier to manipulate and consult while driving, and the option of adding geographic annotations on it makes it useful as a recording tool, as well as a navigating tool.

The publication of the map was announced and celebrated in August 2012 at a public presentation about the Meadowlands by CLUI director Matthew Coolidge, in New York City, delivered to a packed house at Studio-X, the lower Manhattan outpost of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Preservation, and Planning. The presentation was in the form of a digital slideshow, 80 minutes long, with a constant, subjective, and interpretive narration. Copies of the map were distributed for free at the event. On the following day, a group headed out for an urban safari, field test and ground truthing of the map, in a rented passenger van. ♦