Wednesday, August 5, 2009

FREE MAP (if you can get your hands on one): NYC's best map

Doncha hate maps that ...

a) Tear along the creases, especially when flapping about on a windy street corner, and get soggy when wet

b) Omit streets. I'm sorry, a useful map has to have EVERY STREET marked, to be called a map

c) Are super detailed in some respects, but not the way you really need it

d) Fold stupidly, so you can never get it folded right again

I've discovered what I consider York's best map - all things considered being a freebie, assuming you can get your hands on one. It's by a company who call themselves NYTAB.COM - New York Travel Advisory Bureau, sounding as government-sanctioned as "Department of the Interior".

The map concertinas to a nice, standard envelope shape that slips nicely into a pocket. The subway lines crystal clear. It names every street. The best feature is you can fold to precisely the area you're traveling in "page" forward or back with a simple flip as you go up or downtown. No massive unfolding or refolding.

Admittedly, the paper stock is just a simple semigloss that will deteriorate over time, so I got mine laminated at Staples for $5. It was worth it. Now it's ballistic.

I would love arrows to indicate if a street is one-way, and have the bike lanes superimposed too, but that's the cyclist in me.

And yes, the typeface might be a leeeeetle small for some.

And if they could somehow incorporate the elusive restroom circuit without the map becoming busy ...

But all things considered, it's been my saving grace when out boulevardeering this expansive, diverse city.

Entranced by this map, I tracked down one of the owners, Jim Sorrell, and met him at his favorite coffee nook in the South St Seaport.

"It's actually a map for concierges at hotels," he explained. Yes, it does indeed have the usual loud tourism ads on one panel - Jim does need to eat once in a blue moon - but they are carefully placed to not overwhelm the map itself. And apparently, the ads really sell, says Jim.

"Amazingly successful, we have a waiting list for space."

Of course, concierges are wined and dined once a year to make sure they keep handing out the map, but since it's so useful it deserves to be supported.

Go track one down now, I expect to have mine in the orange pocket of my Traffic Cone Bag for many years to come. Now if they would just do one that goes up past 135th street to the very tip ...

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