Santa Cruz Conceptualized As A Giant Hand

The geography-as-person trope goes back a long time, and remains haunting — are cities sentient beings? As we traverse streets and subway systems, are we merely red blood cells coursing through a giant body? And when a place’s key locations and arterials seem to mimic the human form, is it just our imagination? This idea is illustrated beautifully in a 1912 map, via Big Think:


The map, designed by Polly Hill, was part of a promotional brochure extolling the beauties, joys and pleasures to be sampled in Santa Cruz and environs — centred on the Casa del Rey Hotel, and the adjacent Casino.

More than a cartographic gimmick, the hand shape is also a clever way of representing the local geography, with the two outer fingers representing the coastal corridor and the three middle ones some of the valleys radiating northward through mountainous terrain.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    Uh-oh.  Santa Cruz’s got a pretty shallow life line there, and the ring finger/index finger ratio’s way too short for comfort.  I’m predicting a major cardiac incident in the next 2-5 years.

  • Jin The Ninja

    it’s difficult to personify urban spaces, when urban planning and architecture is so de-humanising.

  • Monkey See Monkey Do

    I’d say we’re more of a synapse than a blood cell.