Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas

Regular price $ 29.95

by Rebecca Solnit and Rebecca Snedeker

University of California Press

11/18/2013, paperback

SKU: 9780520274044


Like the bestselling Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas, this book is a brilliant reinvention of the traditional atlas, one that provides a vivid, complex look at the multi-faceted nature of New Orleans, a city replete with contradictions. More than twenty essays assemble a chorus of vibrant voices, including geographers, scholars of sugar and bananas, the city's remarkable musicians, prison activists, environmentalists, Arab and Native voices, and local experts, as well as the coauthors' compelling contributions. Featuring 22 full-color two-page-spread maps, Unfathomable City plumbs the depths of this major tourist destination, pivotal scene of American history and culture and, most recently, site of monumental disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill.

The innovative maps' precision and specificity shift our notions of the Mississippi, the Caribbean, Mardi Gras, jazz, soils and trees, generational roots, and many other subjects, and expand our ideas of how any city is imagined and experienced. Together with the inspired texts, they show New Orleans as both an imperiled city--by erosion, crime, corruption, and sea level rise--and an ageless city that lives in music as a form of cultural resistance. Compact, lively, and completely original, Unfathomable City takes readers on a tour that will forever change the way they think about place.


"This series of atlases is one of my absolute favorites. Vivid, beautiful, and deceptively meaningful, Unfathomable City successfully pushes cartographic conventions. It explores what it means to know a place, not just the street grid. A delight to behold, this is an incredible achievement rarely seen in modern cartography." --William McNulty, cartographer, former director of maps at National Geographic, former graphics editor, New York Times

"This bright, rolling river of a book carries a chorus of mapmakers, writers, and artists singing of deep memory in New Orleans. Unfathomable City is a book to cherish--and sure to be a classic." --Jason Berry, New Orleans-based journalist and coauthor of Up from the Cradle of Jazz: New Orleans Music since World War II

"Race, space, and place: this atlas is a people's ecology of persistent resistance, an open-ended historical geography guiding toward an indomitable future--a permanent revolution no less likely than the city itself. Read this book!" --Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences, CUNY Graduate Center


Rebecca Solnit is the author of many books, including Savage Dreams, Storming the Gates of Paradise, and Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas, all from UC Press.

Rebecca Snedeker is an Emmy Award-winning independent filmmaker and native New Orleanian.