User Guide

By Peter Eberhardt, Geographic Editor

This new map by national award winning cartographer David Imus portrays the geographic essence of the USA. On it you'll see the geographic arrangement of our iconic natural and cultural features. Allow me to make six points that I believe will help you get the most out of this remarkable work:

1. To heighten contrast and make reading easier, view it in abundant light.

2. Familiarize yourself with content by reading the legend across the bottom of the map and glancing over the eight-part index.

3. The color scheme allows you to focus on one geographic element at a time. For example, as you focus on red freeways and highways other features seem to drop away. Use the same visual process for blue water features, black city names, and yellow urban areas.

4. You'll find one thousand iconic American landmarks - places like Temple Square in Salt Lake City, UT, the Gateway Arch of St. Louis, MO, the Rosa Parks Library in Montgomery, AL, and the International Powwow in Bismarck, ND. Use the map to expand your awareness of the many ways of life in America.

5. To fully appreciate this map, view it from various distances. From across the room you see the entire country with its expansive forests, the Great Lakes, and adjacent oceans. From six feet away our states, major urban areas, and landforms appear. At close-up reading distance you find carefully interwoven details like the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers joining in Pittsburgh, PA to form the Ohio River. It is from close up that this map is meant to be studied.

6. Find a place to start your study of the USA. One place you might start is in the Rocky Mountains of Montana at Triple Divide Peak. There, the Northern Divide meets the Continental Divide marking the spot where three oceanic watersheds converge - the Pacific watershed to the west, the Arctic to the northeast, and the Atlantic to the southeast.

Wherever you start, don't let your study end. Let The Essential Geography of the United States of America continue to enrich your life with an ongoing appreciation of how the human story overlays land and water to create our extraordinary part of the world.