I heart Google Maps.

I’m in the home stretch with the prelim reading, so of course every possible thing around me is a potential distraction or worthwhile procrastination. This evening I ended up supplementing my work with a little geographic grounding, and I have to say that it was a very effective tool. While reading Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner’s Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution, I decided to familiarize myself a bit more with Louisiana’s Cancer Alley. At the beginning of their chapter on a minority community’s successful protest of a vinyl chloride plant, Markowitz and Rosner describe south from Baton Rouge along the Mississippi River to Convent, LA. I was curious, so I popped it into Google Maps too see what I could see. As it turns out, you can see a great deal because of the street view option. And even just the satellite view.
I spent some time poking around the area (I mean, wow) and getting a very good feel for what I had already gotten to know somewhat in Blue Vinyl. When you can’t put your feet literally on the ground, this is a good next-best-thing.
I also got derailed today by historical maps of New York City while reading Charles Rosenberg’s The Cholera Years and thinking about Winter’s Tale — though I never was able to figure out, in my brief searching, whether there ever was a hospital in Printing House Square. No matter — historical geography rocks. I think it’s pretty much that simple.

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