From the 16th to 18th centuries, many European mapmakers were convinced that California was an island — an Edenic paradise populated by black Amazons. The error persisted for over a hundred years after expeditions had proven that California was, in fact, firmly attached to the mainland. The idea of California as a fierce paradise appealed to Europeans, who were reluctant to let the mundane reality interfere with their vision of the world.
In that spirit, the American History Guys at BackStory Radio are devoting an episode to maps — asking what they show us about who we are and and where we want to go? How do maps shape the way we see our communities and our world? What do they tell us about the kind of information we value? And what do they distort, or ignore?