Posts Tagged ‘usa’

Welcome To The United States; A Cold War Tourist Map For Soviet Visitors

Governments and authorities like maps. They’re a useful way of clearly saying this is mine, that is yours. They’re also useful for saying where you can and more importantly, where you can’t go. This is all too evident in a surprising map of where Russian visitors to the US were permitted to visit during the 1950s.

In the mid 1950s America and Russia were in the middle of the game of oneupmanship, with added nuclear weapons, that was the Cold War. Despite the uneasy detente between the two countries, if you were one of an elite group of Soviet citizens you were actually able to visit the United States. But not all of it. Large swathes of the US were closed to prospective Soviet tourists.

ProhibitedMapFinal.jpg.CROP.article920-large

What makes this map interesting is not so much the slice of relatively recent world history that it portrays but more of the questions it poses. What were the criteria that were used to determine where a Cold War era Soviet visitor could and couldn’t go?

You can make some educated guesses. It’s not unreasonable to assume that major ports, coastlines, industrial areas and military and weapons areas were off limits. But that doesn’t cover the full scope of the open and closed areas.

Over at BoingBoing, there’s speculation that this was as much a tit-for-tat set of restrictions as it was a set of restrictions based on what the US Government didn’t want Soviets to see. As Cold War era historian Audra Wolfe, the author of the Slate article on this map, notes

The main premise is ‘strict reciprocity’. X% of Soviet coasts are off-limits, therefore X% of US coasts are off-limits, too.

Photo Credits: Rockefeller Archive Center, Item record: Rockefeller Family Archives (III) Record Group: 4 Nelson A. Rockefeller – Personal, Series: Washington D.C Files, Subseries: O.9 Special Assistant to the President Declassified Materials, 1954-1956, 1969 Box: 4 Folder 94.
Written and posted from the British Library, London (51.53004, -0.12765)

Three Days. Three Cities. Three Continents

There’s a saying that travel broadens the mind. It’s a cliche but cliches generally come about because they’re true. This week my mind has been considerably broadened, visting the Tandale slum on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam and attending and judging the Sanitation Hackathon, but more about that in a later post.

The week started in Chicago, the Windy City, which lived up to its name, being cold, windy and with crystal clear skies. It’s a classic example of the American style of high rise architecture and the view from one of the meeting rooms in Nokia’s offices were spectacular.

Then I was at home for just under a day. Cold, clear skies and a typical suburban London street scene, surrounded by Victorian era terraced cottages.

Then I was under a blazing sun in the capital of Tanzania. The contrast between an American city, a British city and a Tanzanian one couldn’t have been more marked.


Three days, three cities, three continents and a well and truly broadened mind.

Written and posted from the Sanitation Hackathon, COSTECH, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (-6.77457, 39.24125)

Curiously Cartographic Creations #3 – The Special Relationship

Odd map of the London Underground? Check. Maps of how Swedes and Hungarians see Europe? Check. Ah … but what about how our neighbours across the Atlantic see the world? You know, the country that has a special relationship with the United Kingdom? I have just the very thing for you. Let’s start with a nice simplified version of the world.

The World according to America

He may no longer be Mr. President but apparently George. W. Bush had a curious grasp of the world’s geography.

The World According to Dubya

Keeping with the theme of President of the United States, this highly colourful view of the world comes from the mind of a Mr. Reagan. Allegedly.

The World According to Ronald Reagan

Photo Credits: irobot00 on Flickr.
Written and posted from the Yahoo! London office (51.5141985, -0.1292006)