Maps Reimagine American Cities as Tolkien-esque Fantasylands

We all have our escapist fantasies. Some might live them out by going on, say, a Quilting or Saw-themed cruise (same crowd, really), some might steal away to an idyllic countryside Boot and Breakfast; others escape simply by re-imagining the places in which we live — and of which we so often tire — as fantastical settings. For example, in just about every city, it’s quite easy to translate Lord of the Rings locations to various neighborhoods: any city’s stagnant body of water/ mafia dumping-ground is obviously the Dead Marshes, any city’s mayoral office could be the Eye of Sauron, and any junior high could be that muddy mess where the Uruk-Hai are made.

Pittsburgh artist and Etsy purveyor Stentor Danielson plays with our notions of the familiar in exactly this way with Mapsburgh (spotted via A.V. Club), a series of Tolkien-style fantasy maps of cities you’ve likely come to know and… be kind of bored by. It’s hard to tell whether, suddenly, they transform the banal into wonder, or just make it seem more drab by comparison. Ultimately, despite the lovely cartographic flourishes, we still know that the charming clusters of trees are probably just billboards plastered in Duck Dynasty ads and the rolling hillocks are really just landfill(ocks). But we can, and we shall, continue to fantasize.

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Image credit: Stentor Danielson
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Image credit: Stentor Danielson
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Image credit: Stentor Danielson

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Image credit: Stentor Danielson
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Image credit: Stentor Danielson