|Title||Map of New York City Showing Concrete Socialism in Red, and Private Enterprises in White, 1895|
|Dimensions||101 × 38 cm|
|Location||Leventhal Map & Education Center at the Boston Public Library|
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This map appeared in the book Government Ownership in Production and Distribution by the socialist activist Walter Vrooman. Vrooman was an advocate for public amenities like parks, playgrounds, and educational institutions, and he believed that the government had a crucial role to play in creating a fairer economy. (Citation: Ross Evans Paulson, Radicalism & Reform: the Vrooman Family and American Social Thought, 1837-1937 (University of Kentucky Press, 1968).)
This map uses a clever technique to argue that New York City was already mostly socialist by the end of the 19th century. It uses just two colors: red, the printing color, and the negative white space of the paper color. The red area shows the parts of the the city that were putatively “socialist” already—things like roads, parks, bridges, and wharves that were owned and managed by the public. Only the leftover space was devoted to private enterprises. If the government could already handle so much of the infrastructure that made city life possible, this map seems to argue, couldn’t its role be expanded into a full socialist control of the economy?
Read our copy of Government Ownership in Production and Distribution:
- Paulson 1968
- Ross Evans Paulson, Radicalism & Reform: the Vrooman Family and American Social Thought, 1837-1937 (University of Kentucky Press, 1968).