The age of the automobile and of road mapping was in its early stages when artist Willard Cundiff spent many months studying the highways and byways of the area to create this little gem of cartography, which he later touted by saying “ it does not worship any fetish in its illustrative treatment…but embodies a minute reflection of intimate and repeated contact with the roads.”
This sheet is but one of 180 pictorial maps Cundiff created. Instead of just putting single lines on a map, the panoramic guidebook shows a literal landscape that gives a big picture of the entire journey a motorist might undertake on the network of the sometimes-paved roads in the southland.
This map shows just one of four routes one might take from the U.S. Post Office Building in downtown Los Angeles to far-off Pasadena over eleven miles of level asphalt road. Cundiff was an “authority on good roads,” but he also had an artist’s eye for a scenic journey that is demonstrated in his choice of route. Drivers using the map would head up Broadway Street through the Broadway tunnel while being tempted to veer off toward Tropico, where famed photographer Edward Weston had his portrait studio. Using Pasadena Avenue, the journey would continue past the Sycamore Grove, where Angelenos picnicked for generations, and Garvanza, the birthplace of the Arts and Crafts movement. Motorists would continue on Mission Street toward South Pasadena, where the birds of the delightful Ostrich Farm called out, then via either Orange Grove or Fair Oaks complete the drive up to Colorado Boulevard, where the famed Rose Parade took place each New Years Day in old Pasadena.
Above: Panoramic Automobile Road Map and Tourist Guide Book by Willard Cundiff, 1915
Los Angeles Public Library map librarian Glen Creason shares a map from the Central Library’s collection at CityThink each week.