This 1940 pictorial map titled America Goes Westward and Fairward in '40 by Cornelius Sampson is a vibrant, immersive, and somewhat whimsical representation of the western United States.
This map was designed for the 1940 Golden Gate International Exposition, a World's Fair event held in San Francisco to celebrate the completion of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. The Tower of the Sun, the exposition's primary symbol, occupies a prominent place on the map, reflecting its centrality to the fair.
The artwork is rich with lively scenes that depict an idealized version of the American West. The region is personified through a variety of stereotypical figures, including cowboys, Native Americans, hunters, fishermen, and miners, invoking the romantic, adventurous spirit often associated with the West. The map also features diverse wildlife, such as bison, bighorn sheep, and deer.
Hollywood's influence is represented through a director and his leading lady shooting a film, illustrating the burgeoning film industry's role in shaping the perception of the West.
Major natural landmarks and sites are highlighted, including the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Zion National Park, Yosemite, Crater Lake, and Carlsbad Caverns. The inclusion of Mount Rainier, Mount Hood, and the Redwoods underscores the region's diverse and stunning landscape.
In the right margin, Sampson has illustrated crowds of people rushing westward, presumably to visit these attractions and partake in the fair. This visual element not only encapsulates the appeal of the West but also serves as an apt metaphor for the historic westward expansion of the United States.
By combining art, geography, and culture, Sampson's map encapsulates the spirit of the era and offers a fascinating perspective on the American West as it was perceived in the 1940s.