Bootlegger’s Map of the United States, 1926

Kate Wiles on an illustrated map of the US responding to the Prohibition with puns.

David Rumsey Map Collection/David

Following in the tradition of medieval maps, which were illustrated with people, places and animals  (‘here be monsters’), America saw what geographer Stephen J. Hornsby has called a ‘Golden Age’ of pictorial maps during the 1920s-70s, used for satire and advertisements. 

From the late 1920s, and particularly following the Wall Street Crash of 1929, Prohibition became a rich source of satire and humour for mapmakers and cartoonists.

Edward Gerstell McCandlish (1887-1946) was a toy-maker, children’s author and newspaper cartoonist. In the early 1920s he was the principal cartoonist and children’s columnist at the Washington Post. While there, he produced a map, upon which this version is based, which was the largest cartoon to be published in a US newspaper to that date. It was later repurposed as a broadsheet and syndicated to anti-prohibition campaigns and breweries who adapted it, adding their own advertising slogans and making it one of the most circulated comic maps of the Prohibition era. 

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