National Geographic's Collectors Corner

Collaborative site for collectors, dealers, & anyone interested in our history.

The Map Series of the Society’s Neighborhood

Throughout its long history the National Geographic Society has produced so many maps, either as a supplement or as a standalone map, that it was impossible not to make maps of the same area, be it continent, country, or region.  Many of times these similar maps were in the form of a series of the same map revised over time (See my “Lands of the Bible Today” discussion from a year and a half ago).

One of these series, while technically not a set of revisions the same map, did have the same dimensions and cover the same area.  It is of the National Mall and its environs in downtown Washington, DC.  Of course, this area is where the Society’s headquarters is located.

While I knew about the first map (March 1915) I wasn’t aware of map number two (January 1983) until I stumbled across it while doing research on an unrelated topic.  At that point I didn’t think of these two as a “series”.  My opinion changed when I was informed recently of a third map by Scott Shier (June 2004).


The Related Articles:


March 1915

The 72-page article, on our nation's capital, was written by then departing president William Howard Taft.  He reviews the history of the city from the bidding wars for its location; though the compromise that got it its current location; the design work of Washington, L'Enfant, and Jefferson; the 1840's, a time of state’s rights and small government (or as he referred to them as "little Americans"): "when Congress seemed determined to minimize everything national, it retroceded to Virginia the part of the ten miles square on the south side of the Potomac River..."; and finally to its last few decades of growth.

He then went on to discuss his life in DC and shows a genuine love for the city, its architecture, and its vistas.  The article contains 33 black and white, and 32 color photographs of buildings and scenery, most are full page. On page 245, it also has a color map of the ten-mile square (100 square mile) nation's capital envisioned by our founding fathers.


January 1983

This 42-page article entitled “Washington, D.C. Hometown Behind the Monuments” contains 33 color photographs, mostly of the people who live and work there.  It was written by Henry Mitchell with photographs by Adam Woolfitt.  As the title implies, the article is not about the National Mall but the rest of the city, its neighborhoods and residents, as well as the “Outer City” of Virginia and Maryland suburbs with its population of about two and a half million people.

As mentioned before, the article is 42 pages long but the attached perforated map uses six of those pages.  The map is two-sided and is a three-page foldout.  This is unique to any other “attached” supplement, be it a frontispiece, a tip-in, or a perforated poster.


June 2004

This 12-page article entitled “The Battle for America’s Front Yard” contains 2 color and 14 black and white photographs from around the mall.  All of them are dated by year and have extensive captions.  Eleven of those photos are numbered and the locations the photographs were taken are marked on the attached perforated map.  The photos are dated from 1865 to 2004.  The article itself is only one column of one page long and deals with the balancing act of development and preservation.  The latest example of which is the construction of the World War II Memorial.

The article also includes two color drawings.  The first is an aerial view of the mall dated 1902 drawn up by a commission designed to redevelop the Mall which had fallen into disrepair.  This drawing is also the frontispiece for the March 1915 article.  The other drawing is from 1946 and shows plans, that were later scrapped, for twin expressways and underpasses for north-south streets.


The Map Series:


March 1915

This map is a three-page foldout between 244 and 245 of the related article.  It is one-sided and is of the same glossy paper stock as the rest of the magazine.  Unlike other foldouts or frontispieces, it has a crease along the edge nearest the magazine to facilitate a clean tear.  This indicates that this map was designed to be removed (apparently, this was before perforations).

The map has a white border on the top and sides and is about the standard size for borders of photos or drawings in the magazine.  The border is enlarged on the bottom to allow room for a title and caption (in the center), and an index (on either side).

The map shows the “plan showing building development to 1913 in accordance with the recommendations of the park commission of 1901”.  The index lists buildings (numbered on the map) color coded by whether they were “Public buildings existing in 1901 to be retained”, “Public buildings for which plans have been prepared in accordance with the scheme”, Public and semi-public buildings undertaken since 1901 in accordance with the scheme”, “Buildings under construction or authorized”, or “Other proposed building sites” (not numbered).


January 1983

This map is also a three-page foldout. It is two-sided (the flip side to be discussed later) and is perforated for easy removal.  It is located between pages 92 and 99 of the article and uses page numbers 93 through 98 (three pages for each side).  The paper stock is thicker and is not glossy like the other magazine pages.  It appears to be the same type paper used for loose map supplements.

The map is indexed with the index itself taking up one page of the flip side.  It has the standard number/letter grid with numbers 1-12 across the top and bottom and letters A-F down the sides.  The buildings of interest are numbered with their names appearing in the index. They are also color coded to specify whether they are a “Major Point of Interest”, a “Hotel, Hospital, Terminal”, or “Government Offices and Other Buildings”.  (Society headquarters is number 101.)

This map was reprinted and revised over time, and sold at the gift shop of the National Geographic Headquarters.


June 2004

As with the other two maps, this is a three-page foldout.  It is also two-sided and it is made with the same glossy paper as the pages of the magazine but of a thicker stock.  As with the previous map, it is perforated for easy removal.  Unlike the previous map it does not use up any page numbers.  It is located between pages 66 and 67 of the article.

Another difference between this map and the previous one is that this map is not indexed.  The points of interest and building are colored purple and labeled right on the map.  (Society headquarters is five blocks north of the White House.)  Scattered around the map are eleven numbered bullets showing the location of the numbered photos in the associated article.


The Flip Side:


March 1915

The companion poster to the map discussed above is a three-page, one-sided poster with an aerial view drawing of the mall as seen from across the Potomac.  It is from the original rendering by F. V. L. Hoppin (1902).  It is entitled “The Ultimate Washington” and shows “the plan laid out by the Commission of 1901 for the national capital of the future”.

The commission was headed by U. S. Senator James McMillan.  The decades of neglect had left the original vision of Pierre Charles L’Enfant barely implemented.  Railroad tracks, power plants, fish-breeding ponds, cheap housing, and brothels marred the area.  The plan added reclaimed land from the Potomac and surrounded the area near the White House and Capitol with monuments.


January 1983

The flip side of this three-page map is comprised of two parts.  The first page is a double index for the map of the mall and the map on the next two pages.  That map (obviously) is index with a number/letter grid of 1-10 across and A-F down.  It is of the entire city of Washington and its surrounding suburbs out beyond the beltway.  It is aptly titled “Washington, Inside the Beltway”.

It contains red and blue bullets scattered throughout both the city and the surrounding counties in Virginia and Maryland.  The red bullets are for points of interest and the blue bullets are for hospitals and hotels.  The bullets are numbered linking them to the names appearing in the index.  The map also marks the location of the boundary markers laid out in 1791 through 1792.  They are one mile apart and mark the original ten-mile by ten-mile square district.


June 2004

The flip side of the last three-page map is an array of four maps of the mall showing its development over time.  It is an excellent companion to the article with its dated and numbered photos and associated bullets on the main map of the mall.  The maps are laid out diagonally and show the progression of the mall’s construction for 1860,1900, 1940, and 2000.  It is entitled “The Making of the Mall”.

It shows, among other things, Constitution Avenue being a canal back in 1860 as well as the location of the Washington Monument being in the middle of the Potomac.  Each progressive map shows more land being reclaimed from the river as well as more buildings being constructed.


As with my other posts to the ‘Corner, this is just an expression of my enjoyment in collecting the greatest magazine ever.  I’d like to give a special thanks to Philip Riviere for the images posted throughout this discussion.


Tom Wilson

Views: 78

Replies to This Discussion

Excellent, excellent Tom. Thank you for this !


Still waiting (impatiently) for your other two "surprises".



I was recently informed of another map of the Mall area of DC by Scott Shier.  Unfortunately, it is not a supplement but it is the same three-page size with two pages being a fold-out and the third being the facing page.  The following two pages contain the index for the map. They are embedded within a forty-page, related article.

April 1967

The Related Article:

The Article is entitled "New Grandeur for Flowering Washington".  It was written by Joseph Judge, National Geographic Senior Staff, and was photographed by James P. Blair, National Geographic Photographer. (Note: Photo courtesy of Philip Riviere.)

The Map Series:

As you can see, the map is the same size and style of the maps in the series, but is not a supplement. Pages 515 and 516 are a two-page fold-out while page 517 is the facing page.  No perforation exists.  This is definitely part of the magazine.

The Flip Side:

While there is no true "Flip Side" to this map, the following two pages, numbers 518 and 519, do contain an index to identify buildings and other sites.  It references them in two ways: 1) Each location is numbered, and 2) There is a number/letter grid to zero in on its location on the map.

Tom Wilson

great footnote !


The March 1915 issue also had this map included in the article:

The June 1923 issue had these two maps embedded in another DC article:

All Photos courtesy of Philip Riviere.

Tom Wilson



Legal notice about this site

Note: Any sales or trade arrangements are solely between users of this site; The National Geographic Society is not a party to and does not endorse or promote any particular sales or trade arrangements between collectors, dealers, or others. Due to the immediate nature of this medium, National Geographic Online also does not review, censor, approve, edit or endorse information placed on this forum. Discussion boards on National Geographic Online are intended to be appropriate for family members of all ages. Posting of indecent material is strictly prohibited. The placement of advertisements or solicitations unrelated to National Geographic also is prohibited. National Geographic Online shall review information placed on this forum from time to time and delete inappropriate material that comes to its attention as soon as it is practicable, but cannot guarantee that such material will not be found on the forum. By posting material on this discussion board you agree to adhere to this policy prohibiting indecent, offensive or extraneous advertising material, and to legally assume full and sole responsibility for your posting.

© 2018   Created by Cathy Hunter.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service