Armed with hundreds of blank maps that she had painstakingly printed by hand, Cooper hit the pavement in New York City, starting at 231st Street in the Bronx and ending at the southern tip of the island, where she plopped down on a bench, exhausted, to watch New York Harbor lap at the base of the Statue of Liberty. Along her journey she met police officers, homeless people, fashion models, tourists and senior citizens who had lived in Manhattan all of their lives. She met Ice-cream van drivers, Wall Street bankers, paint can drummers and street chess players. She handed the strangers the gray outline of the island, asked them to "map their Manhattan" in whatever way was meaningful to them and to mail the personalised maps back to her P.O. Box when they were done. Soon, her post office box was filled with a cartography of personal narratives, intimate and revealing: past loves, lost homes, childhood memories and emotional confessions. One mapmaker charted Manhattan in pools of fear and relief. Another circled the Plaza and enclosed a page long story of her relationship to the fabled hotel. The portraits are striking in their creativity, illuminating in their subjectivity.
Mapping Manhattan is a celebration of Truman Capote's "diamond iceberg," an homage to the people who populate our patchwork isle and the contradictory visions they posit of their New York. With echoes of both the PostSecret series and E. B. White's Here is New York, the book will include approximately 75 maps from both anonymous mapmakers and from notable New Yorkers, including Man on Wire aerialist Philippe Petit, New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov, Momofuku chef David Chang, and New Yorker staff writer Adam Gopnik, who will also pen the foreword to the book. The book will also contain a blank map that can be filled out by the reader.