The Story of the Great Lakes in 8 Maps

Read the full story in CityLab.

Stretching across eight states and two Canadian provinces, the Great Lakes region contains the world’s largest freshwater system and is likely the greatest single surface aggregation of rare resources on the planet. If it was a standalone country, its economy would be the fourth largest in the world. Yet its natural resources and vibrant urbanity are seldom studied as a unified zone, and have rarely been considered the center of the North American continent’s cultural life.

The book Third Coast Atlas is an expansive attempt to define the Great Lakes region and re-evaluate it as a place with a story to tell beyond its constituent cities. Editors Charles Waldheim, Mason White, Clare Lyster, and Daniel Ibañez have compiled maps, plans, diagrams, timelines, photos, and more. In keeping with the subtitle—Prelude to a Plan—they aim to describe the current state of the Great Lakes more than offer prescriptions for the future. From the intro: “Third Coast Atlas offers a telescopic survey of the synthetic and natural phenomena of a specific place in the world. It is equal parts cartographic compendium, photographic record, resource index, urban analysis, ecological almanac, and design projection.”

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