Club Josh / Maps

Map Monday #1 – A Tale of Two Thomas Guides

Starting a new feature here on Club Josh. Every Monday I will highlight a favorite map of mine – similar to how I showcased one of my favorite maps in my collection a few weeks ago.

Today’s Map Monday is a 2-fer! Today we are going to look at the 1945 and 1951 Los Angeles County Thomas Guide. For non-Los Angeles natives, Thomas Guides were (and to me still are) the most popular street guide for the city. They are so popular that Real Estate agents and most companies that dispatched people to locations use their famous page and grid references so people know where to go. With the advent of GPS and Smartphone mapping applications, less and less people purchase the Thomas Guides, but I love them. In the early 2000s they ceased being their own company and were bought by Rand McNally. I still like the pre-90’s hand drawn maps – some of the cartography lasted from the 1920s until they converted to digital cartography in the 90s. Some of the early digital years were rough (another blog post) but nowadays, the cartography is just as good as the old hand drawn maps – even if they are made in India with people who have no idea what Studio City is.

The historical guides have always been my favorite just for showing what the city used to be like. I remember when they used to push how many updates were made to get people to buy the new maps, but in my eyes, its great to go back and see what was once there. The first two maps are from pre-freeway Los Angeles in the postwar boom. People were moving to the suburbs in droves and as you can see in the 6 year gap in Studio City, not a lot has changed, but you start to see the beginning of the mass building in the hills that would really take off in the 1960s.

First up: the 1945 Guide – Each example shows the cover, the copyright notice and our sample page, which in the first two examples happens to be page 23 which corresponds to a part of Studio City.

Second: The 1951 Guide – it looks pretty much the same. I would say my copy of the 1951 Guide is in a bit worse shape than my 1945 guide, but it is interesting to see that there are still no freeways through this section of Los Angeles. It’s not until my 1960s Guide that you start to see them pop up. It is also fascinating how many streets are still the same ones 70 years later.

Thomas Guides are my favorite map and I will certainly be highlighting my collection here on Map Mondays. I know my fascination with them was driven by the gift of an old 1978 LA and OC Thomas Guide from my grandma – one that I still have in my collection today! But again, that is another entry..