In the late 1800s, merchants in the city of Superior, Wisconsin needed a way to convince other companies that their fair hamlet deserved to be a national center of manufacturing and shipping. To advance their cause, the Superior business interests created this rare map of a skinless, naked giant splayed entirely over the North American continent. Behold one hell of a sales pitch.

Here's some background on this map from the American Geographical Society at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee:

Published in 1889 by the Land & River Improvement Company of Superior, Wisconsin, the map promotes Superior as a transportation hub and shows the routes of 29 railroads across the United States. The outline map of North America is superimposed by a cutaway diagram of the human body. The map's metaphor makes West Superior "the center of cardiac or heart circulation." The railways become major arteries. New York is "the umbilicus through which this man of commerce was developed." The explanatory notes conclude: "It is an interesting fact that in no other portion of the known world can any such analogy be found between the natural and artificial channels of commerce and circulatory and digestive apparatus of man." [...] The cartographer was A.F. McKay, who in 1889 briefly served as the editor of the Superior Sentinel newspaper. The map was engraved by Rand McNally.


There are only two known copies of this incredible map, which imagines "The Man of Commerce" as having a brain made of Washington State gold and fruit and a colon the size of Lakes Huron, Erie and Ontario put together. For an even larger scan of this cartographic oddity, visit the World Digital Library.


[Via Cartophile]